Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Yes, celebrate our success, but respect those who dissent

I am pleasantly surprised that opinion amongst the Liberal Democrat blogosphere is, broadly speaking, supportive of the coalition agreement - we are almost proud of our contrariness sometimes. Yes, there are things that we won't like as individuals, but overall, I think that the package is pretty amazing.

However, there will be some losses, as those we think of as friends decide that they just cannot accept the price of the deal. Rob Fenwick, whose role in founding Liberal Democrat Voice can never be appreciated enough, has decided that he falls into that category.

I cannot pretend that I am not saddened by his decision, and that of any other member who has chosen to give up on the Liberal Democrats. As a relatively small party, there is a sense of family amongst us. Yes, we squabble sometimes, but we generally respect our differences and shake hands afterwards.

So, I would like to express a hope that those people who have left, and those who oppose the coalition at our Special Conference, are not a target for abuse. Those that choose to go are still our fellow liberals and, one day, we might be able to welcome them back with open arms. Those who oppose the coalition but stay on board have genuine reasons for dissent, and their stance should be respected.

At our moment of triumph, let us not be enslaved by conformity, or even the desire for it.


Richard Gadsden said...

Let us also remember the bitterness and rancor over those that left in 1988 over merger with the SDP, and how many years it took to get good Liberals like Michael Meadowcroft and Nigel Ashton back into the fold when a more generous spirit to our friends could have saved several years in the wilderness

Caron said...

A wise post, Lady Mark.

I've gone through every emotion in the last few days, I think, and I understand the pain around this - and there is bound to be more to come.

I hope that our new ministers also realise this and don't expect the blogosphere to become slavishly loyal and toadying. For one thing, nobody would read our blogs if we did, and secondly, they have better things to do than to try to control the uncontrollable.

The more I read of the Coalition Agreement the more I like it. I feel particularly pleased at the moment that the Human Rights Act stays.

I am really proud of our negotiating team and our leader. At times during this process it was only my faith in them as individuals that kept me going.