Oh look, another new political ‘party’

The Andover Advertiser reports of the birth of the Andover Alliance, the latest in a long line of new political movements in the UK:

A former Liberal Democrat chief who has left the party to put ‘local people before national politics’ says he is gaining headway in support for a new local campaign.

Richard Rowles, former Test Valley chair of the Liberal Democrats resigned last week out of his frustration at party policies and created the ‘Andover Alliance’.

The 42-year-old called a meeting outside the Guildhall on Monday to rally support for a ‘new dawn in Andover’ with 14 people coming along to find out more about the movement.

Although the plans also include releasing a manifesto in stages over the next few months, it isn’t quite a party in the narrowest legal sense of election law that is intended because Richard Rowles has also said he will be standing as an independent.

On leaving the Liberal Democrats, Richard Rowles had said:

The people of Andover deserve more, as the Andover Lib Dems are falling short of the mark I’ve decided to become and independent and cast aside the dogmas of national party politics and provide real opposition to the status quo.

I’m not going to delve fully into the rights and wrongs of the falling out in the local party, but will rather just comment on the point about “dogmas of national party politics”.

The political outlook that informs Liberal Democrats – values such as wanting to maximise the freedom people have to live their lives as they wish, recognising that this requires both support and resources as well as legal freedoms – is very much relevant to how local councils should be run.

Whether you call it party politics or not, anyone making decisions about how a local council should influence its local area is making decisions about political philosophy. It’s much better, both for the clarity of your own decision making and for the knowledge of the voters, to be upfront about what your values are.

Political labels help, rather than hinder, with that.

7 responses to “Oh look, another new political ‘party’”

  1. I’ve worked for an “independent run” council in the past. No direction, no progress, no consistency. Massive levels of parochialism. There are of course good and bad independents but overall an organisaiton needs a direction. Even the ” alliance” type groupings are usually based on objecting to stuff and dont have a specific agenda.

  2. This is the inevitable fallout of the shift from left vs right to open vs closed. We have a minority of local members who sit firmly in the closed, “local shop for local people” League of Gentlemen cliché. A liberal party is no place for them.

  3. This is not the first article from this blog that keeps commenting on people leaving the Liberal Democrats because of national party policy.

    We celebrated new members not long ago.

    Do these leavers represent a silent majority regarding our national policies not breaking through the political dogma that is Labour or Conservative?

  4. I can’t agree more. Pembrokeshire county council is Wales is run by a so-called independent grouping. Jobs for the boys, no political direction, very few initiatives to regenerate a run-down area. I’m not surprised the council tax is the cheapest in the country, the whole council and its services are moribund.

  5. I forgot to add that I live in the county, and would be perfectly willing to pay more council tax if it meant more investment in jobs and services.

  6. There are two issues at play here. The first is the one that Mark chooses not to address; The local party problem, which also affects the second issue of national political dogma.

    When a branch within a local party refuses in peacetime to promote the Lib Dems, train it’s members, recruit new members/supporters, carry out campaigning, etc, and when those higher up the chain of command fail to resolve the problems, discontent with the national party ensues. This is quickly followed by the disengagement and resignations of both members and supporters.

    Members who want to be active all year round, want to promote the Lib Dems, leaflet, canvass, raise much needed funds, recruit new members and supporters, etc, should be positively encouraged to do so. They should not be faced with the choices of do nothing or resign and stand as Independents.

    By not addressing the root cause of the real problems that occur in some local parties, the Lib Dems will continue to lose active members.

    • Hi David: very much agree with you on the importance of the first point. For better or worse, I didn’t touch on it in this blog post as have in several of the immediately preceding posts.

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