Asghar Bukhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Council thinks that Zionist conspirators broke into his house to steal a single shoe of his. Seriously. “ARE ZIONISTS TRYING TO INTIMIDATE ME?” read his rather bonkers Facebook post on the subject.
I start my article on growing Lib Dem factionalism with this snippet to demonstrate clearly the madness that partisanship can lead to. And because elements of Mr Bukhari’s explanation for losing a shoe down the back of one of his sofas remind me, sadly, of some of what we see happening within the Liberal Democrats at present.
Basically, you have the left of the party and you have the Orange Bookers. Even during the Coalition, the discussion between both sides was rather civil, at least most of the time. However, post-election, the battle between the two groups threatens to become genuinely nasty. I thought about citing examples, but that would probably just make things worse; if you really want to understand what I’m talking about, simply go to the comments section under almost any Lib Dem Voice article written after the election.
I became a Lib Dem for two main reasons. The chief one is because I’m a liberal and the Lib Dems are the only explicitly liberal party we have in Britain. There are liberals in the Conservative and Labour parties, but one of those organisations exists to further the cause of conservatism, the other to further democratic socialism. I’m not interested in doing either of those things. The second reason I’m a Lib Dem is because I’m not someone who really joins anything most of the time. I’m a real individualist and don’t enjoy being in large groups; mostly because I don’t like other people speaking on my behalf. Thus the idea of joining some faction of a political party holds little appeal.
More to the point, the factionalisation of the Liberal Democrats in earnest would be the final death sentence of said party. Because both sides would be fighting for eight percent of the electorate between them. Which is rather silly when you stop and think about it.
I would be characterised as being on the Orange Book side of the party, but I like the fact that the left is there and voicing their opinion; I feel comfortable with the terms which frame the debate within the party. I just don’t like being told it’s “not my party”. Perhaps in the end, I will end up leaving. Not by penning another entry in what has become an enervating series of self-aggrandising articles, all of them inevitably entitled “Why I’m Leaving the Lib Dems”. I’d just let my membership renewal slip quietly and leave it there.
But I hope it never comes to that. Liberalism is in too perilous a state for liberals to be at war with one another. For the future of us all, I hope we can get back to healthy debate and get away from the pointless internecine conflict. Otherwise, we could end up like Asghar, blaming each other for missing footwear.