I sometimes look at other political parties and think about how closely their policies align with my own. As I have blogged about before on here I only joined the Lib Dems 4 years ago at the age of 34. It took me a long time to "pick a team" as it were and I think it is only healthy for me to keep this under review.
To be honest though the very strong continuing feeling I get is that the Lib Dems are the right political home for me. Even when I disagree with things the party says and does I know that I will be able to debate with my party colleagues and ultimately get a chance to vote on issues to help formulate the party's policies. And as my political centre of gravity seems to be in a similar position to many of the other activists I know within the party I don't feel that it is likely I will be making a move any time soon.
In the case of Labour, their terribly authoritarian approach to civil liberties made them an absolute no-go area for me in the previous decade. I am yet to see compelling evidence that they have changed their spots on that. Now they are in opposition their sheer opportunism and lack of a credible and coherent programme is also a big turn-off for me. They do not seem to have any proper guiding philosophy to their approach other than opposing almost everything the government does, taking no account of the compromises my own party has inevitably had to make and accusing us of anything from naivety through to utter betrayal of our principles. There are however areas of their approach and their historic positions that I retain some affection for. I did after all come from a family of staunch socialists and whilst I would not describe myself as such (and am much more a liberal than a statist) there is bound to be some residual identification with their core beliefs.
In the case of the Conservative party however I am starting to realise just how deep my differences with the core beliefs of the vast majority of its members run.
My differences with the blues are multifarious. But the area that has been most sharply brought into focus with me most recently is their approach to most constitutional reform.
I'll just run through a quick list of the changes that I either was in favour of or would be in favour of and that the Conservatives have either opposed within campaigns or never even allowed to get as far as a campaign as they are so opposed they have ensured we do not get that far*:
- Proportional Representation for the Commons: During the coalition negotiations it was made clear that a referendum on a proportional system would never be sanctioned by Tory MPs. So it was never made part of the agreement. The idea was killed on the starting blocks.
- Alternative Vote for the Commons: Allowed a referendum on AV and then pulled out all the stops to kill it during the referendum campaign. Many of the arguments they used were at best disingenuous and at worst outright lies. As Tim Gowers blogged about at the time, many of their arguments were actually provably wrong mathematically!
- Scottish devolution: After the failed 1978 referendum where they were firmly in the No camp the Conservatives held power at Westminster for 18 years and made very sure that the Scottish devolution issue was kept on the political back burner. Once Labour got in in 1997, the Tories were viscerally opposed to devolution again. They failed in their attempts to stop it second time around.
- Welsh devolution: Again Tories were agin. They (only just) failed to prevent the formation of the Welsh Assembly.