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.


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