The LibDems and the “meh” effect

This was another spontaneous rant for AnyVoices, I was fed up with the LibDems & Carmichael (still am to be honest)

Carmichael may have won his case – by the tiniest of margins- but I’m not sure how the LibDems must feel seeing nearly 10k Orkney Four supporters raise over £200,000 to cover the court costs. 

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Tim Farron has been declared the new leader of the Liberal Democrats this week, and a huge cry of “who?” was heard throughout the land. Do you remember the Lib Dems? They’re the party that used to be in coalition with the Tories. For those that enjoy the figures, in the General Election they went from 57 to 8 seats, losing nearly £150,000 in deposits. Slow clap, boys and girls, slow clap.

Actually, saying a ‘huge cry’ was heard is a bit of an over-statement as the Lib Dems have reached the unenviable position of becoming utterly irrelevant. Right now they are a party that desperately needs to rouse their grassroots support and shout about what (if anything) they actually stand for. (The same goes for you too, Labour.)

I know that parties should be about policies and not really about those who lead them, but at least you could despise Clegg for being an easily swayed turncoat to Liberal values, whereas the Party now seems to have chosen a leader with no visible charisma or personality…at all.

So what do we know about this man, who even Vince Cable thought was wrong for the job? Well he did retain his seat with over 50% of the vote, and is seen to be hardworking by his constituents. He also opposed the trebling of tuition fees, rebelled against his party by voting against Secret Courts, was one of only two Lib Dems MPs to oppose the bedroom tax and recently rated the party’s handling of the coalition as low as 2/10. A tad generous, but maybe not as much in denial as certain other parties are. (Yes, I’m still looking at you, Labour.)

My favourite description of him has to be from one senior Lib Dem who declared

Which bit of the sanctimonious, God-bothering, treacherous little ****is there not to like?

And so on to religion, which I think will be the easiest target for the media to aim for. Farron is a born again Christian, which doesn’t bother me as long as it’s kept out of his politics. However, in less than 24 hours of becoming leader, he was asked by Cathy Newman three times whether he believed homosexual sex was a sin. He is going to have to come up with a better answer than “we are all sinners” because non-answers and deflections on a subject such as this does stretch the “Liberal” part of the Lib Dems a bit too much.

I hope if I ever became “born again” (less likely than Scottish Labour ever actually ‘getting it’) I’d at least have the strength of my convictions, or have enough sense to say what happens in other peoples bedrooms is none of my damn business.

And now we move on to his views on homeopathy. In 2007 he was one of 206(!) MPs to sign an Early Day Motion calling for positive recognition of NHS homeopathic hospitals. His views seem to have changed since then, as he quickly removed his signature and has recently tweeted “I do not support homeopathy. It’s anti science.”

Having said that, he was one of three MPs who in wrote in February 2012 in support of the group “Healing on the Streets – Bath” after the ASA ruled they could not claim to heal various diseases through prayer

We write to express our concern at this decision and to inquire about the basis on which it has been made. It appears to cut across two thousand years of Christian tradition and the very clear teaching in the Bible. Many of us have seen and experienced physical healing ourselves in our own families and churches and wonder why you have decided that this is not possible. On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based this decision?

He later backtracked on the website LibDem Voice saying the letter was badly written, adding:
“However, my reasons for agreeing to raise a concern with the ASA are simply these:
a) The ASA genuinely do a brilliant job, but they really aren’t appointed to be the arbiter of theological matters, I think they’ve overstepped their remit
b) As a Christian I believe that prayer helps – although my belief is that God mostly heals through medicine, surgery and human compassion and ingenuity.
C) Freedom of speech – an organisation that makes a faith based claim that is clearly subjective (in the same way that a political party makes subjective claims) should be able to make those claims within reason.

To be honest with you, the ASA decision offends my Liberalism far more than it bothers me from a Christian perspective.”

I’m not sure which worries me most, his belief in the power of prayer or his habit of signing things and then changing his mind after an outcry. Less of a signpost, more of a weathercock.

But at least he’s off to a good start in Scotland, with the backing of Willie Rennie (no sniggering at the back).

A new beginning for the Liberal Democrats means regaining trust, speaking up for liberalism and winning again.

Trust, that thing that happens when you don’t think your MP is an out and out liar. And what did he have to say about the delightful Alastair (who makes up 12.5% of his MPs)?

Most decent people, and most people are decent, think people deserve a second chance.

Hmm, how about a by-election which would give Alistair Carmichael his second chance, rather than having his own constituent’s being froced to fundraise £61,568 in order to take their own MP to court!

If a handful of people want to pursue it, that is their right but I think it speaks more about them than they would want it to be said.

So 3,979 people who felt strongly enough to fund this are a handful? Not a good way to ensure their votes in the next set of elections.

I’m not sure about the Tim Nice-but-Dim image that is currently playing out in the media. You don’t get to be leader of any party, even the Lib Dems, without some degree of ruthlessness and a steel backplate. It will be interesting to see if this man can rally his troops, but I do think that unless they start shouting what they are for, the public’s apathy will finish them off.

Image from flickr by Rick Harris

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