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Andrew Lomas: Why I left Labour and joined the Liberal Democrats

October 10, 2016 3:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Up until a few days ago, Andrew Lomas was a Labour Councillor in Kensington and Chelsea. He'd stood for Council, for Parliament, been a deputy group leader. Now, he's joined the Liberal Democrats - find out why here:


Following the referendum, Britain has to find a new place for itself in the world.

Extricating the UK from the European Union on terms that don't crash the economy is going to be an astonishingly difficult task that neither the Conservatives nor the Labour Party seem to be willing or able to face up to.

On the right, the Conservatives appear to be indulging in post-Brexit nostalgia, an imaginary time when the British Lion merely had to roar to make other nations meekly fall into line.

However, Brexiteers can bellow "BUT THEY NEED US MORE THAN WE NEED THEM" as often as they like: the statement does not become any more rooted in reality for the repetition (as both France and Germany are beginning to make clear).

On top of this is the noxious language unleashed at last week's Tory conference about foreigners and the implied threat to fight a culture war against those who want a Britain that is open, tolerant, and engaged with the world.

Still, at least we have an effective opposition, right?

Well no.

Labour have decided that what really matters, at a time of increasing illiberalism and anti-foreigner rhetoric, are endless debates about the constitution of its internal governing bodies, a(nother) fight about nuclear weapons, and mandatory reselection of MPs.

More damningly, amidst the silence on Brexit, it is hard to escape the feeling that the party leadership are ultimately happy to embrace the opportunity to rehash a Bennite version of autarky that Brexit offers.

In the circumstances, what is a liberal to do?

For me, after over a decade as a member of the Labour Party in which I've variously been a council candidate, parliamentary candidate, branch secretary, borough campaigns chair, councillor, and deputy group leader, I've had enough. I've left a party only interested in talking to itself, and joined the Liberal Democrats.

I've had enough. I've left a party only interested in talking to itself, and joined the Liberal Democrats.

Ultimately I left not just because of Jeremy Corbyn's lamentable performance during the referendum campaign or his multiple unsavoury political alliances, but because fundamentally there are now no circumstances in which I could recommend voting for the Labour Party.

As such, there seems to be little point (or virtue) in making myself a prisoner of a party whose views and values no longer coincide with my own.

Moreover, at a time when liberalism is under threat at home and abroad, I am not willing to dedicate the limited free time that I have to endless introspection and internal debates on procedure. Faced with a Government retreating to base nationalist rhetoric, I am not prepared to be complicit in the Labour party's silence, nor am I willing to accept the impotence of neutrality.

Faced with a Government retreating to base nationalist rhetoric, I am not prepared to be complicit in the Labour party's silence, nor am I willing to accept the impotence of neutrality.

The Conservatives' embrace of naked nationalism is a stain on our politics and depriving them of a parliamentary majority depends on a Liberal Democrat recovery. It is time for liberals of all parties (and none) to stand and fight.

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