What with all these people braying that one person must be in the wrong party, or should be thrown out of the one he’s been in and worked for for a couple of decades, because of a conscientious decision made nearly two years ago now and communicated to his party’s leadership even before being re-elected to parliament, makes me think I must be the one in the wrong party. Or I don’t understand the words in the party’s very name at least, or the bit of the preamble printed on our membership cards.
I guess we’ll have to reinvent a liberal party anyway if Brexit happens and there isn’t one with a manifesto about how to govern a liberal Britain outside of the EU because the current one that calls itself liberal and democratic has spent two years futilely whoring its credentials as a single issue party in a vain attempt to garner the votes of millions who were never particularly liberal but happened to be running alongside our bandwagon.
Look, I get it, I really do. I don’t trust the neo-feudalists or soi-dissant socialists at Westminster to “run” our country, and I only marginally trust Brussels to run the competencies it has been assigned, because they have to work with dozens of different constituencies amongst 500 million people most of whom have had a far harder time with governments in living memory than we have.
But to sacrifice liberalism of conscience, to force one person to conform, in the name of that threatens a good deal more than the “optics” of how that one person’s vote will look to millions who won’t vote for us anyway. Personally, I doubt you can reconcile the “deal” on offer with a commitment to your constituents to deliver a Brexit you think they voted for, but persuasion, not punishment, is the way to change a mind. And the online hysteria now over one person’s two year old commitment is unseemly.
We will need liberalism in the months and years to come whether we are in or out of the EU. Neutering it now by forcing conformity, even on an issue dear to many’s hearts, is not the way to bring it back from the parlous state it is currently in.