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I wish Gavin Webb well in the Libertarian Party, but here’s why I won’t be joining him…

September 9th, 2009 Posted in UK Politics by

gavin-webbGavin Webb’s defection to the Libertarian Party will come as little surprise to those who know him. Having been on the receiving end of a spectacularly botched -and totally pointless – membership suspension from the LibDems, he probably feels he’s been spending more time watching his own back than publicly advocating his own views. No campaigner wants to be in that position.

In so far as the Libertarian Party has any ranks, you can expect Gavin to rise through them rapidly. He will presumably contest their (only) “target” seat at the next election and will probably poll rather better than other Libertarian Party candidates – all of whom will forfeit their deposits.

I won’t be joining him though and here’s why:

Even if I agreed with the entirety of the Libertarian Party’s platform, the party’s prospects of electoral success are, to put it politely, limited. No one would expect a small, new political party to win swathes of seats in its early days, but there are strong signs that the LP will take decades to make even modest headway. Their result in the Norwich North by-election was parlous (being outscored 4 to 1 by the Monster Raving Loony Party) but even more significantly, they seemed only capable of fielding a single candidate in the 2009 local elections. With around 2,500 seats up for grabs last May, to only be making an effort in one of them is indicative of a hopelessly flimsy party infrastructure.

Secondly, if Gavin wishes to agitate for pure libertarian policies, he’d be far better doing so without the enormous distraction and expense of attempting to help maintain the semblance of an electoral machine. In contemporary British politics, a myriad of pressure groups, think tanks and campaign organisations are doing far more to influence opinion and debate than the LP could dream of achieving. To contest the next general election – even half properly – would cost the Libertarian Party about a million pounds (and they still wouldn’t win a single seat) Influential, high profile, high impact Westminster think tanks operate on smaller annual budgets than this.

Thirdly, the Liberal Democrats remain the best chance of securing some of the crucial changes Britain needs. Radical constitutional change is the most obvious of these and I’d urge everyone who supports such a transformation in our democracy to rally to the LibDem banner, almost (but not wholly) irrespective of their views in other policy areas.

But another key point is that the Liberal Democrats are actually open to debate and persuasion. When you put aside the very small number of oddballs in the vehement green ink brigade – who believe that airing any difference of opinion with the official party line is “infiltration” or “factionalism” and can reasonably be dealt with through means of physical violence – most LibDem members are basically rational, decent people, who are pretty damned open-minded. This doesn’t guarantee any individual or group will succeed in getting their way, but it does mean that outfits like Liberal Vision can at least make a decent fist of it.

So, I wish Gavin all the best in his new political party. But I fear he may become a less effective advocate of increasing personal freedom now he’s wearing the colours of the Libertarian Party.

57 Responses to “I wish Gavin Webb well in the Libertarian Party, but here’s why I won’t be joining him…”

  1. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Quote from Gavin Webb: “I’ve just seen Ziggy’s outrageous comments about my views about LV and needless to say I distance myself from them. ”

    How do we know that Gavin said that I mean why isn’t he here saying that huimself

    Oh & if he did say that he’s only being nice to Mark I bet deep down the truth is a bit different

  2. Mark Littlewood Says:

    Well, he emailed me that on facebook. I asked if he was happy to be quoted and he said he was. Feel free to check with him.

    Your tendency to speak for other people – who don’t wish you to speak on their behalf is bizarre. And when these people make it plain that you in now way represent them, this is because you know their feelings “deep down” better than they can express their views themselves.

    It’s all rather sad, really.

  3. Gandhi Says:

    Once again, just dropping by to say how enjoyable this thread is…

    Ziggy: You are a bit of a headfuck, and largely illiterate; either that or you’re from the West Country and using a phonetic speak-write.

    Jock: Edwardian beard maybe, but the Lib Dems just won’t wear a Whig. 😀

  4. Adam Smith Says:

    Mark Littlewood Says:

    September 9th, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Also @Ziggy. It’s a shame you feel the need to use personal attacks. It does you no credit at all.

    September 9th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Ziggy, you really are rather unhinged at the moment.

    Mark is nothing if not inconsistent

  5. Mark Littlewood Says:

    I don’t think my rather gentle jibe at Ziggy compares to the tirade of foul-mouthed abuse he has poured forth.

  6. Top of the Blogs: The Golden Dozen #134 Says:

    […] ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down: 1. I wish Gavin Webb well in the Libertarian Party, but here’s why I won’t be joining him&#… by Mark Littlewood on the Liberal Vision blog. ‘… the Liberal Democrats remain the best […]

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    […] So despite all this Gavin Webb, a Lib Dem councillor and fellow libertarian has left us and joined LPUK. I wish him well, but I won’t be joining him either. […]