For the last eighteen years I have been a vocal and proud supporter of the Liberal Democrat party. In the two years since the General Election I have seen this pride slowly eroded by a series of policies that undermine the values of the party.
There is no doubt that the Liberal Democrats presence in our Coalition government have tempered, and made more digestible at least some of the draconian policies of the Conservative party but at what cost? Well, my vote for one.
Yesterday I wrote to each of the 57 Liberal Democrat MPs to explain why they no longer have my support. If you wish to do the same then you can download a CSV of the contact details for each Liberal Democrat MP and member of the House of Lords from Pastebin
A copy of the letter I sent is pasted below:
The 9th June 1994. A memorable day. My first ever trip to a polling booth, my first cast vote and my first vote for the Liberal Democrats party. I was excited that I was now a participant rather than just an observer in a democracy. And at 18 years old I was excited that I now – at long last – had a voice.
In every election and poll since then I have cast my vote and always it has been for the Liberal Democrats. At each election I read the literature and defended my vote fiercely every time I was challenged that mine was a wasted vote. At the last election I spoke passionately and often to friends, colleagues and anyone who would listen that this was the time for a new and different voice in British politics.
Eighteen years on from my first vote and I feel that every one of those votes was wasted. I see a party that I have for my whole adult life believed in and I don’t recognise it. In the coalition government I see decisions being made and supported that go against the principles which had underpinned the party which I followed and vocally supported for my entire adult life.
Tuition fees, the NHS Bill, Welfare reform, Public Spending cuts (especially the Arts and Heritage) and lately the suggested ‘web surveillance plans‘ have shown a government that is interested more in protecting the interests of it’s members and the long-term economic prospects of a few than the long-term welfare of the people it is governing.
I am copying this letter to all of the 57 elected Liberal Democrat MPs to let you each know that I will never again be casting my vote for the Liberal Democrat party.
It is no longer a party that I can be proud of supporting.
Can you genuinely say the same? Is this the same Liberal Democrat party which you joined? Can you stand by the decisions that are being made in its name as part of our current Coalition government, decisions that may irreversibly change the face of Britain?
My great-grandfather – a socialist who fled Nazi Germany to avoid persecution for his beliefs – once said that people have their foibles but of foremost importance are the principles they stand by – this comes before parties, before personalities, before power and before policies.
Those in a position of power will always have to make unpopular decisions. They will always have to make compromises. However, I hope that one day – when you look back at your political career – you will be able to say with confidence and without regret that when you were in a position of power and trust that above all you stood by your principles.
With considerable regret and disappointment,
Dr Cole Henley