THE BLOG

A Pyrrhic Victory?

16/09/2013 13:56 BST | Updated 16/11/2013 10:12 GMT

This morning a huge number of Liberal Democrats called for the government to implement existing Party housing policy. At the behest of the party leadership, this existing policy was voted down.

Not only does this cause the Liberal Democrats a short-term policy difficulty in working out what its housing policy is - a pity as it was a good one - but it hands our political opponents a completely unnecessary political vacuum where Liberals are the only British party representing Liberals should be.

Some disaster was avoided by the retention of our call for the Liberal Democrats to have an independent economic strategy in the 2015 General Election and beyond, amending a motion which called for the party's fiscal strategy to be compromised beyond the life of the coalition government.

As Stephen Tall said this morning, the Party leadership created a wholly unnecessary Manichean dust-up. It was predictably and entirely self-defeating. It will result in Liberal Democrat members doing less, which reduces our capacity to fight and win elections. For the party's leadership, it truly was a Pyrrhic victory.

Some may even consider abandoning it altogether. Well, on this I can disappoint a number of people. I and other social Liberals will stay. We will fight and work within the Party to defend its Liberal heritage as a party that has stood proudly on the left of centre of British politics for more than a century.

The Social Liberal Forum will stay and campaign for policies that reduce inequality, tackle poor living standards, provide secure pensions and defend freedom in all its guises. Not hysterical, as one disgraceful and ridiculous comment claimed - but in our work on issues such as a living wage, a fair welfare policy and race equality, all passed this week.

As a party that also seeks to tackle unacceptable concentrations of power, we now have to look at how our party itself is run. We have asked the question: 'Whose Party Is It Anyway?' to which the answer must be: in a democratic party, the members. We will fight what appear to be continuing amendments to objectify our activists as fossils, when in fact they are the dynamic part of political parties that win elections.

Party politics in the UK has never been in the worse state. However bad it gets, we Liberal Democrats must continue to fight for our independence, our core values and our vitality: even if that means the fighting must sometimes take place within.