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‘Clegg forced me to quit’ says Isle of Wight Lib Dem Parish & Town Councillor

My fingers are so cold that I mis-typed that title three times. Seriously my heating needs to work faster…

Anyway yes. Another day and another Lib Dem member and this time Town and Parish councillor has left the party stating that the reason is the leader of the party. Speaking to what is without a doubt one of the most successful local rags in the country – the Isle of Wight County Press Cllr Bob Blezzard said that he has sent a letter to Nick Clegg with the following:

“Failure to honour the pledge on tuition fees, when you did not even take advantage of your negotiated agreement to abstain, has done incalculable damage to the reputation of the party and to public trust in it. The damage was compounded by your cringing and clearly insincere apology, which resulted in you rightly being publicly lampooned.

“The cutback in support for among the poorest and most vulnerable in society by cutting council tax benefit by ten per cent while cutting tax for millionaires only reinforces my concern you are simply following a Tory agenda with a few crumbs being thrown to the Lib Dems to keep members quiet.

“The principled party I joined under the leadership of Charles Kennedy in the wake of the Iraq war no longer exists under your leadership.”

Now I want to just bring up a couple of points about this departure from the party. Firstly not a few days ago Bob was running for the ELDR in the Lib Dem internal elections. He lost. Badly. Now I’m not going to say that the two are linked because that is lazy but what I will say is I have seen people run for internal positions within the Lib Dems and lose and then quit the party extremely soon afterwards. I’d have thought that if you felt that you were drifting away from the party that running for internal office wouldn’t be a wise move? Had he won would he then have still quit and then someone who has lost been promoted? Logically internal office would be for those who are fully invested with the party and not for those who are having second thoughts.

Secondly his departure has caused quite a ruckus on the Alliance of Liberal Democrats Facebook page. Who could have thought that leafy sandal wearing liberals could get so personal? Insults flying around the joint like they were going out of business and were on a ‘say one get ten free’ offer.

Also I’d like to say that whilst the apology could be taken in many ways it certainly was not insincere. When the DPM told me that he ‘thought about saying sorry every day’ I fully believed him and still do. I don’t think for one moment he chose to vote for tuition fee hikes without feeling sincere regret. As for him being publicly lampooned. Yeah right…it hardly even made a blip on the media radar and the same with the public. So that I think is grossly inaccurate.

Now I’m not sure here but I do believe George Osbourne is the Chancellor of the Exchequer and not Nick Clegg. Of course the Lib Dems get a say in the budget but they don’t write the budget. Now the tax cut for millionaires bit really irks me as the 50p rate was in place for what was it – 36 days under Labour? With a 40p tax rate being the norm for the rest of their government. It seems like political point scoring to put the higher band tax rate up for such a short time knowing that if they lost it would probably be lowered. A very clever political manoeuvre as most people won’t realise this.

Does Bob think that things like upping the Income Tax threshold and taking millions out of paying Income Tax altogether is ‘crumbs?’ Are Green issues and successes ‘crumbs?’ Is the Pupil Premium ‘crumbs?’ Is Equal Marriage legislation going to be ‘crumbs?’ The Lib Dems quite simply can’t win them all and for those who think that they can block everything that the Tories do then they need to look at how coalitions actually work.

His final sentence though is something I will explore in greater detail in a subsequent blog post as the people who joined under Charles Kennedy over the Iraq issue are deserting the party in their droves (I have no evidence to back this up but it does seem that out of the people that I know who have actually quit it is this section who have left more than the rest) and it is an interesting thing to debate and hypothesise over.

So yes another member and councillor gone from a former stomping ground of mine. I remember the days when we stole the Isle of Wight following the Tory collapse in 1997 but the Isle of Wight is proper blue and it is of no surprise that the Tories regained it in 2001 and continue to dominate the political landscape here as the demographics are about as blue as you can get. It is disappointing that he has chosen to leave the party (as it is when most people leave the party) but his final sentence in that letter to Nick Clegg is worthy of some further blogging…

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  1. Steve Bolter Steve Bolter

    Sad that even councillor members still do not understand the student fees vote.

    The alternatives for Lib Dem members of government were to agree a fees system they would vote for, or to abstain and let the Tories have uncapped fees, with little or no change to the repayment system and no help for part time students.

    The Lib Dem members of government voted for annegotiated package which included a cap on fees, an earnings related repayment system which effectively turned fees into a graduate tax, which reduced repayments to below the previous level and which included loans for part timers.

    The Lib Dem members of government thus voted for LOWER fees and even LOWER repayments, that would have been the case if they simply abstained and let the Tories get on with it and offer inducements to minor partiws for their support.

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