No, the Lib Dems shouldn’t regret the departure of Darren Grimes

Good point, bad example: that’s my view of Nick Tyrone’s (typically provocatively titled*) post, “My take on why I think the Lib Dems lose people like Darren Grimes to the Eurosceptic Right“.

His general point I agree with – the party needs to find good ways to involve people in a range of tasks:

Every party needs leaflet droppers, and one of the Lib Dems continued strengths has been how many committed activists it has on the ground. However, it is far from enough to make a party really work. You need people who are backroom strategy types; you need ideas people, those who can write about politics and those who can do real policy work; you need people who are desperately ambitious to make a difference in front line politics.

I also agree (as I’ve touched on before in various ways) that we’re not very good at this. To quote Nick again:

The Lib Dems tend to, in my direct experience, allow these kinds of people to float out of the party as it just cannot recognise their importance.

But, his example of this failure is Darren Grimes. A former Lib Dem member who then has attracted rather more attention as a Leave campaigner and party to various referendum campaigning allegations.

Losing Darren Grimes to the party wasn’t something to be regretted. It was the right outcome because his political views were so at variance with the party’s mainstream, not only on one or two issues (that’s common amongst members) but on a broad range of issues.

Picking through the post he wrote when he quit the party (archived here), Darren Grimes disagreed with party policy not only on Europe, but also on the mansion tax, levels of international aid (he wanted it to be lower), renewable energy (again he wanted less support for it), supporting Conservative welfare reforms, and also has some very critical words about the NHS, bemoaning that no party is willing to be radical enough in its plans to change the NHS.

He adds in a plea for the “unhampered free market”, all of which adds up to a set of political views that is libertarian, not Liberal Democrat.

There are many party members who might agree with one or two of the policy positions he took, but the range of them added to that belief in an “unhampered” free market means his views weren’t those of the Lib Dems.

If there’s any self-criticism the party should take, it’s not about his departure from the party but about why someone with views so at odds with those of the party felt he could be a member at all in the first place.


* This is, of course, one of those irregular verbs. I write enticingly beautiful summaries. You write provocatively worded headlines. S/he writes clickbait.

4 responses to “No, the Lib Dems shouldn’t regret the departure of Darren Grimes”

  1. Tangentially, would it be an interesting exercise to do a survey among members as to the one or two issues on which they differ from established party policy?

  2. Totally agree, he was never a Liberal.
    He saw an easier route for a seat in Parliament too. Opportunistic.

  3. Love the ‘irregular verb’ conjugation.

    I often refuse to click on Nick’s headlines because I find them formulaically provocative. Sometimes it’s impossible to resist the temptation, and this one proved irresistible.

    But I was disappointed that Nick never mentioned how welcoming and non-judgemental most LibDem organizations are, relying instead on a caricature that the only thing they care about is getting the next Focus leaflet out. It makes me wonder how often Nick actually visits any local parties.

    So while Mark and Nick are both right to say that we should encourage competent and ambitious people who want to get involved in a range of tasks, I agree with Mark that this is also conditional on those people being in tune with the goals and values of the party.

  4. The last time I tried to become a local councillor in LBH Ealing we set-out with a young and rather charming fellow candidate, who had everything going for him, apart from the fact that he disagreed with key party policies. We had to ditch him and we replaced him with a slightly less young but very capable and truly liberal woman, and we quickly became an effective team.

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