Sunday, 21 August 2011

Lib Dem Activist's Resignation - The Destruction of the Progressive Soul

Lib Dems - The Walking Dead of British Politics? (Article here)
The former Liberal Democrat councillor and Camden Eco Champion, Alexis Rowell, will be the Green Party candidate for the Highgate by-election on Thursday 15th September. He was a councillor until 2010 and left the Lib Dems following the recent volte face by their Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, in support of nuclear power. 

Lib Dem policy, and Huhne himself, had previously been in favour of closing down the UK's nuclear power stations and not replacing them - highlighting both the dangers from accidents and waste and the ludicrous cost of the sector, which draws billions of pounds in subsidies from the taxpayer to keep afloat. Huhne now disingenuously claims that a new generation of nuclear power stations should be counted into the lists in the struggle against global warming, ignoring the evidence that, aside from all the other drawbacks, their manufacture requires massive carbon emissions.

Alexis Rowell also attacked the Lib Dems' record in the Coalition, warning of the dangers to the social fabric of the country and the damage to public services. His defection to the Greens comes only days after the London riots, seen by many as at least in part fuelled by the social exclusion of large swathes of the populace. It also comes during a reactionary backlash led by the Tories and Lib Dem leader Clegg, with barely whispered reservations and perfunctory handwringing from a handful of Lib Dem MPs.

The evidence, last Thursday, in an Edinburgh by-election though is that, while Tory voters are relatively content with the easy-ride being given to their policies by their Coalition partners, the Lib Dems are being deserted in droves - in what had been a rather incredulous five-way marginal, their vote share collapsed from just under 20% and third place to 7% and sixth (and bottom) place (they had come first in the ward in 2007). There may have been a few votes affected (both ways) by some local factors, but this is pretty much in line with the decline in their national poll ratings since the General Election. By contrast, it was the Greens' best ever local by-election performance in Scotland.

So eyes turn now to see how well Alexis Rowell can do in Camden for the Greens, increasingly seen as the genuine progressive alternative voice to the three managerialist mainstream parties, not just on the environment but on social and economic values too. As he left, he delivered a parting broadside to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat leadership warning they are destroying the progressive soul of his (and my own) former party - you can read his letter on the "Another Green World" site by clicking HERE.


  1. Alexis Rowell is a bit of a serial defector, and didn’t release his letter until be had secured the GPEW nomination; nevertheless a serious loss to the Whigs. I don’t expect the Lib Dems to do well at the next GE, but like Mark Twain rumours of their death have been greatly exaggerated. They have a remarkable ability to bounce back. At local level Lib Dems can potentially defy a national trend with the right approach with their local communities and hold on. At the start of the 1997 GE, the Lib Dems were 11% in the polls (their current level), they ended up going from 18 MPs to 47 MPs. Their organisation remains intact and in some parts of the country they still are the only viable alternative to the Conservatives.

    Good result for the Greens, but sadly just not quite close enough...


    Date: 15 September 2011

    Today’s by-election has resulted in Councillor Sally Gimson being elected as the new councillor for the Highgate Ward.

    The vacancy arose after the resignation of Councillor Michael Nicolaides.

    Anthony Denyer, Conservatives: 593
    Martin Hay, Liberal Democrats: 111
    Sally Gimson, Labour Party: 1,178
    Alexis Rowell Green Party: 947
    Turnout: 34.26%