Labour membership up 13,000 as angry Lib Dems desert

The Labour Party's membership has shot up since election day, rising by more than 13,000 to 167,000 - a rise of 8.5 per cent.

The Labour Party’s membership has shot up since election day, rising by more than 13,000 to 167,000 – a rise of 8.5 per cent, many of them former Liberal Democrat members and supporters displeased and disillusioned by their party’s alliance with the Conservatives. Today’s Guardian reports that 100 people have left the Lib Dems since the coalition was announced, with 400 joining.

One of those to have resigned is Jane Watkinson, who summed up the feelings of many in the Lib Dems by saying:

“If I cannot voice my opposition to the coalition without being said to threaten the actual party, I am afraid my position as a LibDem member is untenable. My policy disagreements are vast, but here are a few I am specfically adverse to:

“I did not like our policies on immigration already, but we are now going to support a total cap – illiberal; we are accepting their eurosceptic stance on EU, saying that we will not let anymore powers go from Westminster to Brussels. Illiberal and out of touch…

“We have removed our commitment to removing Trident, and actually today seeing the confirmation of more nucelar power; we can only abstain against many Tory proposals such as marriage tax, higher education policies that may include an uncaping of the tution fees.

“Inheritance tax is not dropped – will most likely reappear; it is undemocratic to have a new 55% majority to bring down the govrenment, basically securing the term; we are going to cut at a much faster and deeper rate, something Vince Cable had said would threaten a double dip recession.

The testimonies of some of the new Labour Party members can be found here. Among the reasons cited are:

• “Because I was appalled that Nick Clegg has backed the tories.”

• “I really regret my tactical vote in the election and want to support the party I want to govern the United Kingdom.”

“I made the mistake of voting for the Liberal Democrats, first, and last time.”

• “Previously having been a Liberal Democrat, I was disgusted to see them ‘sell out’ by allying with the Tories and would like to support the only major progressive party left.”

• “Frustrated at tactically voting Lib Dems who then form an alliance with the Tory party. Will never vote Lib Dem again and stick and support Labour.”

“I am a former Liberal Democrat supporter who feels betrayed by their coalition with the Conservatives – I now feel Labour is the only viable progressive force in British politics.”

Additionally, John Healey, housing minister under the last government, is calling for former Lib Dem members who wish to join Labour to be given six months’ free membership, and Progress has called for a more open Labour Party membership policy, in which new members pay £1 now for six months and enjoy voting rights in the leadership election.

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55 Responses to “Labour membership up 13,000 as angry Lib Dems desert”

  1. Conservative

    What this article aptly demonstrates is the selfishness of Liberal Democrat voters.

    We hear it bandied about quite often, how Proportional Representation is fairer than FPTP and how it would revolutionise the political landscape of this country – for the better. Even for Arend Lipjhart, a strong proponant of PR, she had to concede that FPTP and majoritarian democracies are much better at coming up with policies and making decisions.

    What is evident, and even enforced by this article is that the Liberal Democrats (or should I say those that complained about the coalition/left their party) had no interest in fairness. This coalition is as democratic as it could be. Two parties, not at ideological ends making up the largest share of the vote and how it translates into Parliamentary seats. Those two parties then forming together and both making policy concessions in the fairest of ways.

    Those that left the party simply wanted Clegg as kingmaker and to keep the laughably unelected Gordon Brown as PM for ever longer. This wouldn’t have been democracy! What is even more evident about the unfairness is that a deal with Labour wouldn’t have even given them enough democratic legitimacy to command the confidence of the house and the smaller parties would have been needed to give them over 50% of the vote (minus sinn fien).

    So anyone that is toying with the idea of PR, as the LibDems propose it as a fairer system, realise now that it is not. It is a system which would give them dictator like powers over who could form future governments of Great Britain and what their policies could be.

    FPTP may concentrate power in the hands of a smaller amount of people but it still ultimately lies with the electorate. PR would give all of our power away to the Lib Dems and ultimately as we have seen that would fly away to Brussels!

  2. thehooleys

    RT @leftfootfwd: Labour membership up 13,000 as angry Lib Dems desert

  3. Julia hayward

    “Conservative” seems to be conflating two issues. First, does a more proportional electoral system produce better government, and second, what to say about LD members / voters who have left since the coalition. I know we’re not going to agree on the first, but on the second point, I don’t think a lot of people have woken up to what coalitions actually mean.

    They don’t mean that the third party can get its way. So all talk of “selling out” is meaningless – we have to choose between getting a bit of our programme into the government, or sitting in a high-principled ivory tower where even the Opposition ignores us. We try to force through anything that the majority – for that is what the Tories are, like it or not – don’t like, end of coalition.

    They don’t mean you can join one party as a matter of convenience. I’ve had members leave here, because they are natual Labour supporters who joined the LDs because they were seen as the best hope for getting a seat in a Tory-dominated council. Sorry, if you want Labour, vote Labour, join Labour. One thing AV would do would be to eliminate such sham marriages.

    These misconceptions have become so hard-coded into us through generations of FPTP that I sometimes despair of ever truly getting an end to the two-party state and actually having my views represented.

  4. Andrew

    Given that the reasoning in this article doesn’t actually makes sense even at a very basic level then shouldn’t it be taken down. I don’t know how left foot forward fights against “media manipulation”, but surely getting your basic reasoning right in articles would be a start.

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