Thursday, September 21, 2023

GUEST POST Many liberal Conservatives are becoming conservative Liberals

Buddy Anderson
 traces his path from Conservative voter to Liberal Democrat councillor - and a Liberal Democrat councillor in Market Harborough at that.

       One flew east, one flew west,
       One flew over the Conservatives nest.

Like many who perhaps now find themselves more like conservative Liberals, I once was a liberal Conservative - a title that David Cameron had imposed upon himself even before his bromance with Nick Clegg. 

Something resonated with me back then at that idea. Labour had supposedly spent all our money, and everybody was jolly fed up. 

Along came the new 21st-century Tories who apparently didn’t hate poor people and were going to balance the books for us. What joy!

Fast forward 13 years and my friends on the left will cry "same old Tories!" at every opportunity they get. I don’t agree with that, because it wasn’t always this bad. There used to be Tories you could work with, as the Coalition proved for better or for worse. 

Boris Johnson and the Brexit civil war purged almost every Tory with a shred of decency out of the party. Liz Truss tortured the survivors. 

So where are the liberal Conservatives now? Well, many, like me, have found a new home in the Liberal Democrats.

When I joined the Lib Dems I was sheepish about my previous voting record. I was never a Conservative Party member, but I was worried about how my new friends would react. 

To my surprise they barely battered an eyelid. The Lib Dems are truly a broad church, a middle-ground for the politically homeless, and not just for disillusioned blue voters. 

Some of my colleagues used to be Red - too sensible to vote for Corbyn, too progressive to vote for Starmer. We don’t care where you came from, what matters is why you are here. I have never felt more at home.

To those of you who voted for a party you no longer recognise, you were not wrong to follow your heart at the time, but you are very much welcome in the Lib Dems. 

We do not agree on everything, but we are compassionate and pragmatic, with a shared disgust for selfish career politicians. 

Liberty, freedom and equality are at the forefront of our social policy. But we also understand responsible fiscal policy, as the only party to have a full-costed manifesto in 2019.

Take it from me, there is a home to be made in the house of yellow.

Buddy Anderson is a Liberal Democrat councillor in Market Harborough. Follow him on Twitter.


Anonymous said...

It strikes me that we activists in the Lib Dems are often too dismissive of voters like Buddy Anderson. No doubt he himself is now fully accepted, as a councillor and activist, but I wonder if other potential converts are put off by the rest of us poncing around claiming to be "radical" as if that's the only true sign of virtuous Lib Demmery. There's a story told by David Steel about his by-election campaign in 1965: he wanted to give a task to a new activist, but was solemnly warned that she had once been a Conservative. Steel explained that there were another 20,000 Tories in the area, and it was his job to allow them to change.

Cllr Buddy Anderson said...

I agree with you on this, and truth be told the Party did feel too radical for me in 2019. Ed Davey has taken a much softer approach and it has clearly paid off. I do think it’s important not to belittle Tory or Labour voters as they may well need a new party to call home one day, and that should be the Liberal Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Buddy. It was once said that the purpose of diplomacy was to provide the other side with a ladder so that they could climb down gracefully. Perhaps the Lib Dems need a few more ladders for former Conservative voters? All too often, all we seem to have to offer is the chance of a public statement of Repentance, with associated ritualised humiliation.

Cllr Buddy Anderson said...

I very much agree. We don’t simply just want dismayed Tory voters simply lending us their vote as a one off after all all.