Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Merger with the Conservatives? I think not...

It is a sign that we may be the only ones playing the 'new politics' game, but I'm intrigued by the mutterings coming out of the Conservative right wing, and the conjecturing of the supposedly intellectual media that there will be some sort of deal between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives before the next General Election, perhaps even a merger.

Intrigued because I find myself wondering which Liberal Democrats they are talking to when journalists write this stuff. Nobody ever talks to me about electoral pacts or merger, either within the Party or without. That could be because none of us are interested - we're Liberal Democrats, not Conservatives or Labour. If we were either of the other two, we'd have joined, after all, it's so much easier to get on in the 'ugly sisters', with their safe seats, relatively vast resources and cosy media supporters.

No, for those of us for whom ideology or philosophy is important, being a Liberal Democrat is a matter of what is in our intellectual DNA. And so, presuming anyone was daft enough to propose a closer working relationship with the Conservative Party, I would expect it to be rejected by our Conference overwhelmingly.

And that is where all the intellectual waffle runs into the sand. Yes, I acknowledge that, in the Conservative Party, the idea that members and activists are consulted on big decisions is almost absurd. They're used to doing what the Leader tells them to do, without questioning why. But Liberal Democrats are different. We're argumentative, analytical, and sometimes, as far as our leaders are concerned, a pain in the neck. But it's our Party and not theirs.

For the most part, that is respected, even if it is discomforting. It's the reason why, at every Conference, we have a debate that is presented as a potential rebuff to the leadership, generally by journalists who haven't bothered to do anything more the peremptory research. And we debate, and passions are raised, and at the end we say "goodbye, see you next year". It's about mutual respect, when all is said and done.

So, until we see on a Federal Executive or Federal Conference agenda an item on closer working relationships with another Party, relax, it won't happen. And, if that day comes, and the Party votes to go along with it (both astonishingly big ifs, I'd say), they is clearly a body of people who would go off and form a continuing Liberal Democrat Party. And I'd probably be one of them...

1 comment:

Richard Gadsden said...

We did merge with the Pro-European Conservatives without a second glance. We could merge with the rest of the Conservatives on the same terms.