Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Save the Stoke One" campaign site

There is now a Save the Stoke One campaign site with regard to Councillor Gavin Webb.

I hesitate to endorse this campaign without knowing the full facts around the case. However, I have read Gavin's statement and from that, admittedly restricted view, I do not believe he has done anything which should lead to him to be expelled from the party for either:

"A. Material disagreement, evidenced by conduct, with the fundamental values and objectives of the Party;" or "B. Conduct which has brought, or is likely to bring, the Party into disrepute. "

Gavin has listed the policies which, he says, he has espoused which have led to his suspension as follows (my enumeration):

1. All drugs should be legalised to make it safer for all concerned and to use the tax raised from the sale of drugs for rehabilitation services;

2. Prostitution should be legalised to make it safer for all concerned;

3 The crime of drink driving should be scrapped and replaced with dangerous driving. This will also encompass driving whilst tired, and driving whilst under the influence of drugs (prescription and otherwise);

4 Education should be taken out of the hands of government and completely privatised so that consumers - the parents - receive the education they wish for their children;

5 People should have the right to carry handguns to defend themselves from the aggression of others;

6 The UK's borders should be completely open to all immigrants - subject to criminal and health checks - who want to come and work in this country, whilst at the same time stopping all welfare and public services to immigrants until they've worked in the UK for so many years.

Welcome to the Liberal Democrat conference! These are all views which I have heard expressed at Liberal Democrat conferences or discussions over the years.

Some of them are party policy anyway and the remainder are certainly within the normal gambit of opinions held by many thousands of party members. The thinking behind all of them is certainly in tune with what I regard to be the spirit of the party. They are all rational policies with an attractive flavour of radicalism about them. From what I read from Bill Bryson, these views would be considered normal in leafy, backwoodsy New Hampshire, USA.

So, on the face of it, it would seem that Gavin's worst "crime" is to express views in public which are often expressed at Liberal Democrat conferences. Naughty. Naughty. We mustn't frighten the horses must we?

So, with the reservation that there are always two sides to every story and I haven't heard the other side yet, I wish Gavin well. The site says that the suspension is currently referred to the Regional Executive.

By the way, I understand that one of the key players in this episode has been something called the "Compliance Unit" at Cowley Street. If this is indeed the real name of this "unit", for pity's sake, change it! "Compliance" is not liberal at all! Most of us are in the Liberal Democrats precisely because we do not wish to "comply".

We are, not for nothing, known as the "awkward squad" after all.

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