If all that I knew of the Liberal Democrats was the pronouncements from the centre and the debate on Liberal Democrat Voice, I would probably be pretty depressed. That isn't to say that it hasn't been a bit grim of late, as the fire of the Party seems to be turned on itself, aided and abetted by outsiders with little fondness for liberalism or, in some cases, interest in its survival in our country.
In some cases, where people have been hurt, or failed by the Party, I understand their unhappiness, even whilst wishing that it wasn't so. And if they feel that, having tried every other way to seek remedy for what happened, their only option is to attack the Party in a public forum, then those of us who remain will just have to take it on the chin.
We are promised change by our leaders, and maybe it will come. But it won't be quick, and it won't be certain. Not every member of the Liberal Democrats is a liberal or a democrat, political parties attract some people who, given half a chance, will demonstrate just how astute Lord Acton's comment on power and its ability to corrupt was, and one person's morality is not that of another. And, in judgement of such things, we are ultimately reliant on humans, with all their multiplicity of faults and failings.
Process is not, in itself, the solution to the mess that the Party finds itself in, as, unless the culture changes, the process is only good for punishing people after they have hurt others. It might act as a deterrent, and I hope that it does, but it won't prevent such events entirely, and I worry about the current level of expectation that it might. In an organisation which is predominantly run and led at local level by volunteers without experience of handling complaints, and where awareness of best practice is patchy at best - trust me, I have plenty of practical experience on the subject - you are only as strong as your weakest link.
So, we must strive to build confidence in our members and supporters that, where wrongdoing is discovered, that it will be acted upon swiftly, and with due process. But we must also stand prepared for the weaknesses of individuals and the randomness of misfortune...