Wednesday, January 11, 2006
MORE ON THE PURGING
It is now a month since the Scottish Lib Dem Executive made a preliminary decision to expel me on the grounds that letters I had written to newspapers & my blog were "illiberal & inconsistent with membership of the party". On receipt of your letter I immediately, not only denied having done any such thing, but asked you to justify your allegation by the expedient of saying exactly what "illiberal" things I had said. Or indeed what things more inconsistent with party policy than the remarks of John Thurso sympathetic to nuclear power, with which I agree, or of Jenny Tonge sympathetic to suicide bombers, with which I don't.
I have written in favour of nuclear power, of growing our economy by the methods recommended by Adam Smith & against illegal war & the censorship of the mass grave of 210 bodies at Dragodan created by our KLA allies during the period of & within the UK occupation zone, but I dispute that any of this can properly be described as "illiberal" - quite the opposite.
You have asked me to supply you with, in what is now less than 6 days time, my defence for remarks you refuse to specify, despite an email assurance from you that you would do so. I consider this illiberal.
I wish to quote from Mr Kennedy's resignation speech, since it shows understanding the party will dearly need in the future:
"there is a genuine debate going on within this party -
somewhat crudely caricatured at times as being in rather redundant terms as between left and right; in rather simplistic terms as between social liberals and economic liberals; in rather misleading terms as between traditionalists and modernisers.
I have never accepted that these are irreconcilable instincts - indeed, quite the opposite.
And I believe that unity remains fundamental to our further advance and success.
It should be a debate driven by ourselves.
It must not be allowed to become dictated by others who do not share our long-term hopes and goals.
We must stand and argue - politically independent and intellectually self-confident.
And it must be based on time-honoured, sound philosophic liberal principles - principles which have stood the test of generations and remain not just as relevant to but even more essential in British politics today.
The leadership personalities change from time to time in politics, but principles should not. Civil liberties; justice and rule of international law;"
If we accept that free trade & the principles of Adam Smith also form part of these time honoured principles along with the already mentioned respect for international law then it must be obvious that I have been in no way "illiberal" & I do not think that anybody who knows history could dispute that. Everything I have written has been according to liberal principles & I stand by them.
I firmly believe that it is in the interest of the party to stand for liberal values & particularly for the individual against the state (nanny or otherwise). The other 2 parties are fighting, like WW1 generals, over every nuance of ground of the statist wing of the "left right dispute" - we should stand for the individual not the state & when that means, as it will, that some policies can be portrayed as "left" & some as "right" we should not let ourselves be drawn into that outdated political morass.
This is not merely a matter of leadership's abuse of executive power against a single member. It is a matter of whether there is intended to be any place in the Scottish party for traditional liberals. I note that of the 10 motions (excluding business & holding motions) chosen for debate at conference, 5 (#1,2,7,8,10) specifically conform to the luddite side of the green movement & not one represents the above mentioned liberal values. Indeed only 3 come from constituency parties, 2 of them the same constituency.
In the circumstances I think it not unreasonable to insist that if you wish to put forward a specific allegation you do so within the next 48 hours or else completely withdraw.