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Why I joined the Liberal Democrat Party

On leadership integrity, economic competence, and belief in international cooperation, I prefer the Liberal Democrats to the Conservative Party or the Labour Party.

Posted 28 November 2018

I joined the Liberal Democrat Party a month ago, on 28 October, around the time the general election was called. This page explains why.

My thought process

We have to make decisions in the real world that we live in.

Real politics is always about choosing between imperfect alternatives

I often speak to younger people about the importance of being politically engaged, and preferably joining a political party. One common push-back is that there is no political party they really like.

My response is that real world politics is about making choices. The person or party you vote for will never be perfect, because all of us are imperfect. Even me! You only need to decide which party you support more than the others. To ask if it is perfect is to ask the wrong question.

How you decide between parties depends on what matters to you. Let me explain what I care about.

Why I do not support the Conservative Party: Integrity matters to me

If I am going to follow a leader, they need to be a person of integrity; someone I trust. Despite the general cynicism about politicians, after nearly 60 years of following politics closely, I believe that most politicians honestly seek to do their best and seek to be truthful. However earlier this year the Conservative Party selected a Leader, Mr Johnson, who I regard as untrustworthy.

I resigned after 36 years of Conservative Party membership, because I regard integrity as fundamental.

Why I do not support the Labour Party: Economic competence matters to me

As a chartered accountant and someone who has studied a fair amount of economics, I require the party’s policies to be economically rational, rather than policies that would wreck the economy. In my view, that rules out today’s Labour Party.

More surprisingly, it also another reason for deciding against today’s Conservative Party, which is so deeply infatuated with Brexit that it has lost the traditional Conservative claim to being economically sensible.

Being willing to wreck our overall relationship with our largest trading partner, risking ruining Britain's international financial services industry, risking ruining UK manufacturing, because you do not want to abide by collectively made EU rules, shows that the Conservative Party can no longer claim to be economically sensible.

International cooperation and the EU are vital to me

I believe in international cooperation. The European Union is the most successful peace-making project in history, and has transformed Europe, including the UK, for the better. I cannot support any political party that wants to take the UK out of the European Union, which categorically rules out the Conservative Party.

Or indeed the Brexit Party which is more of a Nigel Farage vanity project than a real political party.

The ability to win elections matters

The political party needs to be able to win. I haven’t spent too much time looking at the Green Party, partly because its focus is too narrow. However, an even stronger reason is that I think it is simply does not have a realistic chance of winning serious political power at present.

How the Liberal Democrats pass my tests

The Liberal Democrat Party passes all the above filters.

It is led by people of integrity, who are economically rational and internationally minded, and it has a long track record of making a serious impact on our politics. This was strongest during the 2010-2015 coalition, when many of the best coalition policies were Lib Dem policies that the Conservative Party then stole the credit for!

It gets stronger than that. As well as being pro-EU, the Liberal Democrat Party values Britain’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights, whereas the Conservatives keep wanting to leave it.

The Party believes in proportional representation; something I have supported all my life. I describe myself as socially liberal, and that is what the Party is.

Historical footnote

In March 2018, long before I left the Conservative Party, I had tea one-to-one with Nick Clegg. I had bid for him in a charity auction to support the Patchwork Foundation.

At one point, he said to me something like: “Amin, given that we seem to agree about everything we have talked about, why are you not a Liberal Democrat?” I found that question very difficult to answer.

Now I have answered it!

 

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