Friday, January 07, 2011

Jeremy Ambache Resigns Update.............

My original blog was hurried as I have also been enjoying the delights of the Bavarian winter! But since Jeremy has given me permission to reproduce his email to colleagues, I thought it was important to include this. I honestly believe that if our leadership do not listen to him and others, like Richard Huzzey, we are facing a bleak future. The sad thing is that people like Jeremy become so much part of our furniture that we take them for granted - can you imagine a conference without him? For me he has always been an encouraging smile or comment at conference, someone who I know absolutely sings from the same hymn sheet and he is hardly someone who would have the same accolade as me for being "that troublemaker" or worse!

Jeremy's email in full:

I am writing to you as one of my Lib Dem friends to explain why I am leaving the party. However, I do hope friendship will transcend party affiliation!

I am writing to let you know I have just cancelled my membership of the Liberal Democrats after 30 years (Lib Dems and formerly SDP). This has been a difficult decision for me not least because I have many good friends within the party – and I wish you all well.

I have come to the conclusion that the Social Democrat wing of the party (now more usually referred to as Social / Liberal) is not represented by the leadership of the party. I do not find the party's previous commitment to 'social justice' and greater equality is represented by our government Ministers - and I have written to Nick Clegg saying just that!

The key policies area that I do not accept are being promoted effectively by our Lib Dem Minister are:

  • Education – Ministers are not following the party line on 'free schools' and tuition fees
  • NHS re-organisation and consequent uncertainty and chaos (both the Lib Dems and Tory's promised no major top down reorganisation)
  • Benefits cuts - to Housing, Children and Disabled benefits (many experts predict more homelessness, hardship and rise in child poverty)
  • Budget and Local Government cuts - too rapid deficit reduction and consequent huge public service cuts (these are likely to hit the poorest hardest, including young and old)

I personally am committed to grass roots local community politics – so I consider all of the above is of key importance.

I do wish you well for the future,

All best wishes,

Jeremy

I am well aware that there are many in our party who are perfectly content with the current arrangement and I understand that, if I was on the right of the party I would also no doubt be delighted. But, we are first and foremost a social liberal party - our policy reflects that - and we neglect that position at our peril. To be perfectly frank I am beginning to wonder if a "two state" solution is the best option? As in the Netherlands, maybe a D66/VVD type split is the only answer to ensure that liberalism in one form or another survives. At the moment it feels like when a couple continually papers over the cracks in order to save a relationship when ultimately everyone knows their relationship is doomed. So am I being unduly pessimistic? Should I be buoyed up by Nick Clegg's enthusiasm for the project and Simon Hughes' insistence that without us in government things would be much worse? Well, like Jeremy, I am finding it increasingly difficult to deal with. As I said yesterday, I am not about to take flight (sorry!) I think our party is still worth fighting for, so frankly even if it's a fight to the death.........I'm still in it to win it and I hope Jeremy and others who feel like us may think the potential gain is worth the current pain.

10 comments:

Foregone Conclusion said...

"As in the Netherlands, maybe a D66/VVD type split is the only answer to ensure that liberalism in one form or another survives."

Because that worked so well for us in the 1930s?

Seriously, I have no problems with dissent and discussion within the party about the Coalition, and I can sympathise with some (although not all) of Jeremy Ambache's reasons for resigning. I also have no problem with vigorous debate within the party over where we go next - in fact, I welcome it as a liberal and as someone with worries about the direction of the party. But don't you think it's a bit irresponsible for you to be talking openly about splitting and defections given the damage that might cause, especially someone who's a member of two federal committees and is a prominent former PPC? When people talk in public about splits in these terms, it doesn't make them better, it just makes them worse. It's made even more damaging by the fact that at the moment, it's difficult to divide a lot of prominent and rank-and-file Lib Dems into either of those two factions (e.g. Vince, Chris Huhne) - putting things in those terms just forces division at the bottom and the top.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I disagree with the comments above.

There are those (and I think many of our MPs who have forgotten their promises) who would like to stop any dissent and for our party to blindly accept what the leadership does and, in effect, to become more like the Tories.

Well said Linda. At the moment, I find absolutely nothing in what the government is doing to take any pride in.

Linda Jack said...

Nich, thanks as ever for your support - us primadonnas have to stick together!

Forgone Conclusion, have to say your argument seems a little contradictory. But, to answer your particular criticisms - yes I am a member of two federal committees and I would be very surprised if anyone who voted for me had any doubt about my views! If you are a conference rep you should check out my manifesto. Frankly, as far as I am concerned my values haven't changed, so I don't see any problem with standing up for what I believe and fighting for the soul of my party. I genuinely fear a split, it's not what I want but history is not on our side, as Nich observes. I do think there is a way to rescue the situation but I am not sure that the political will at a senior level exists.....I feel a blog coming on!

mickeyjack said...

Now we should not hide away from talking about people that choose tomleave the party. We, as liberal democrats thrive on openness and transparency and we don't want to go down the path of the other parties in stifling the views and opinions of members and activists.

We need people like Linda to carry on expressing the views of the social liberal side of the party. There are too many onteriteho are more interested in being in government than liberalism these days and it's time we spoke up in greater number before the damage is too great to repair and the party imploded. That's not knee jerking, that's an honest appraisal of what could happen if we are not careful and don't get our act together.

I want my partyhonest and true again and I am very u comfortable with some of thing things that Legg is doing. It's seemingly one compromise after another whilst the Conservatives give nothing away.

I too won't leave (sorry again). I will, like Linda, keep speaking up for the social liberal side of the party. If I am damned for that then so be it.

Spidey

Co2emissions said...

Linda

I think many people would put me on the right of the party. I am certainly a supporter of the efforts our MPs are making to implement our manifesto aspirations and thereby bring libdem policy into action. That is, after all, the only valid reason to get into politics!

However, I also voted for you to sit on those committees, knowing exactly what your own leanings are. I did so because I think our policy and actions as a party matter, and you have a strong and necessary voice with which to make them continue to matter.

Where I may differ in my perception of things, in addition to my assessment of our impact on the coalition, which is to prevent another unfettered Thatcherite government and use the rational force of the majority of our policies to drag the tories kicking and screaming towards the centre (not all the way, mind you, one must be realistic), is in how I see the core of our party. We are no longer liberals + SDP in uneasy alliance. We are a stronger blend of the two, with every member a little bit SDP and a little bit Liberal.

What made the blend happen is that rational force. The reactionary emotionalism of the left cannot stand against reason. Nor can the arrogant paternalism of the right. In the middle is where reason lives, and that's where it will stay.

Simon

Foregone Conclusion said...

Perhaps I didn't quite make myself clear. I was referring quite specifically to where you said;

"To be perfectly frank I am beginning to wonder if a "two state" solution is the best option? As in the Netherlands, maybe a D66/VVD type split is the only answer to ensure that liberalism in one form or another survives."

A lot of Lib Dems have been talking (quietly) about the possibility of this happening, but you put it forward as a potentially desirable outcome. I can't really see that being the case - the inevitable result would be to throw away all the work of every Liberal, Social Democrat, and Liberal Democrat since 1950 who has fought to break the mould of two-party politics, and set liberalism back by a similar amount of time. Do I altogether like some of the things the leadership is saying? Well, not all the time (although it's 75% sound liberalism from where I'm sitting), but I think things have to get pretty desperate before we get to the point that we consider splitting. Nor is talking of splitting particularly constructive in changing the leadership's mind, of course!

I'm sorry if anyone sees a little advice about tactics and self-restraint as 'stifling' debate. Not the intention at all. This isn't a question of whether to criticise the leadership when they're wrong - we need to do that - but how to do it (we should, of course, also be thanking them when they do things right!)

Anthony said...

I'm not on the right of the party, but (unlike Nich) I can certainly find things that the Government is doing that I'm proud of (and not all by Lib Dems either!).

I wouldn't expect to like everything a Lib Dem majorty Govt did, so of course, there's lots to dislike in this coalition, but seriously - things like ending child detention for immigration purposes, libel reform, reforming away control orders, increasing the personal allowance, not cutting the education budget but increasing it with the pupil premium - targetted on the right people, a universal tax credit to end the benefits trap and an acceptance that prison doesn't always work. This is not to mention the chance to get some movement on electoral reform for the Commons, and reform of the House of Lords. These are all things I'm pleased about.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I'm sorry, don't fall for the rhetoric, the money schools will be receiving ill fall, in the main so "Free Schools" can get the money.

If school budgets are being increased, why are so many school cutting staff ?

you didn't mention the VAT bombshell, promises to cut tax for the richest and tuition fees. What about the selling off of our forest too ?

Thomas said...

Andrew,

I'm afraid to say that many of the things you think the coalition have done, they haven't actually done.

-Ending child detention for immigration purposes
This has not yet happened, and has been put on the backburner. It's something like Nick Clegg has said he doesn't like it. That's about it. Children are still being detained, and still will be detained, just in different sorts of centres.

- Libel reform
Looks more likely, but again, nothing has actually been done yet, just talk.

-Reforming away control orders
This hasn't happened either - they will still exist. Nick compromised, again. They will still be able to hold people under house arrest without them being charged with anything. So no, they haven't been 'reformed away'.

- Increasing the personal allowance
This will happen this year, but no guarantee they'll go forward and increase it all the way to £10,000. I suspect strongly that this won't happen. The increase is welcome, but makes little difference in the face of all the cuts everywhere else.

-Not cutting the education budget but increasing it with the pupil premium
This is false. The pupil premium is just redirection of existing funds, there is no new money for education. There is no new money for anything in fact, just tinkering with reduced budgets overall, everywhere (in real terms even in education and health).

I'd like to say I'm proud of something too, but all that has happened so far is announcements. Most of the actual measures have been extremely watered down, if they even made it to the table at all.

The huge budget cuts which are much greater than the scale Vince ever spoke about before the election are idelogical right-wing nonsense, not real life economics. Where is the investment? There are some extremely dangerous and irresponsible decisions going on, which history will show to be very misguided in a few years times.

So far the coalition government has shown an obsession over spending, (or lack thereof), but very little else. It's the lack of creativity that really gets me though - whilst hacking apart the public sector, without making much effort to understand how things work first. It's like a bull in a china shop.


Thomas

Matthew Harris said...

Who was Richard Huzzey? I have never heard of him. I am guessing that he has never heard of me either. I have, however, met Jeremy Ambache many times. This is grave news for the party. It is thanks to Jeremy's efforts over many years that we have won so many council seats in Wandsworth. And he would have been such a great candidate for Mayor of London. Please forgive my sarcasm. We have precisely zero seats in Jeremy's borough of Wandsworth, which hasn't stopped him often telling everyone else how to win seats. As for his claim that he could be a credible candidate for Mayor of London - oh, please. I bet that's partly why he's gone - because he wasn't approved when he tried to get selected as a mayoral candidate and because he did so badly in the London Assembly List selection. Not that he's a bad bloke - nothing personal.