Why I’m Considering My Membership of the Liberal Democrats

I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of trying to explain to Lib Dems why I am unhappy. To loosely quote Game of Thrones “Winter is coming and the kingdom is busy with a civil war”. Instead I’m going to write this as if I’m giving a conference speech. This tends to be the only thing politics cares about these days. Conference I am appalled. I have personal anecdotes to tell you about which will make you as appalled as I am and then you will give me a standing ovation and vote for me.

I often joke about various reasons why I became politically active but my secret reason was so that people with my background, young Asian women, could gain equality in a society rife with racial bias and unspoken prejudice. I kept this quiet to not be another token in the party to collect. Today forced marriages became illegal. It is 2014 and today forced marriages became illegal. Why? Because Asian women (who tend to be most affected by forced marriages) are not in positions of power. There is one prominent Asian women in politics and I get told regularly that I look like her, sound like her, that I’m waiting for the party to give me a peerage to become another Baroness Rent-A-Quote on Question Time. I can count the amount of prominent Asian women in the media on my fingers. I have never had political ambitions but in the last few months I have become more enraged with the way in which politicians flaunt immigration policy and the effects it has on people of my background. Recently I’ve wanted to become a parliamentarian to change things but I know my background will always be a barrier.

I have stopped canvassing. I can no longer stand on a stranger’s doorstep to have them look at me with disgust and tell me about the various ways in which they hate people of colour. That too many p***s are in their country and now they have to deal with the influx of dirty Europeans too. I continued being a loyal Lib Dem foot soldier and delivered leaflets but damaged my knees thanks to overzealous local parties who didn’t think a young person deserved a break after 17 hours on a cramped megabus and 7 hours straight walking uphill. In fact, most didn’t bother to say thank you and instead made me hate myself that I wasn’t out on the doorstep taking racist abuse. As if being young and a confident orator is a ticket to racial abuse. The guilt trips were not pleasant and in the Euro elections this year I did nothing. I had no motivation to journey somewhere afar on doorsteps for 8 hours, only to be told all immigrants are scum and not get a thank you at the end of it.

I am member of this party to give a voice to people of my background and make this country a fairer country. But trying to discuss BME voting patterns and diversity in this party at its best demonstrates colour-blinded ignorance, at its worst it radiates vile racism. I have heard more than one member of more than one local party open up their mouth with racism. I have heard countless people say that they won’t select a woman or ethnic minority in a target area because it will hurt their electoral chances. I’ve also heard other people say that I am racist for suggesting that local parties don’t select ethnic minority candidates. I have come to the realisation at the ripe age of 24 that there are parts of our society that will never be able to see past my skin colour and gender. It makes it pretty difficult to digest when you’re constantly told as a child that you can be whatever you want to be.

The irritating thing is that I can’t discuss this with colleagues in the party because they think I’m overreacting when voters tell me “f*** off p***”. Members of our party have no idea what goes on in parts of the country which aren’t their own suburban middle class white havens. There is more hostility in our party towards people who dare to speak up about racism, sexism, homophobia and ableism. People are ready to jump up and say “I have a ___ friend who says this isn’t a problem”. We as a party prefer to stay in our comfort zones and only canvass and recruit other middle class white people. There is no appetite, at least at a local party level, to really change society for the better. I also know it’s the same in other parties. Racial bias and unspoken prejudice is in every pocket of society and every party.

This is the other infuriating part of our party. The thing which really riles up the membership is not societal inequality or prejudice, but it’s which definition of “liberalism” one adheres to. I no longer feel welcome in a party in which people are waiting to cull the “rabid Tories” such as myself who believe in a small state. The amount of abuse Jeremy Browne received for writing a book with his political views was shocking, despite anyone bothering to read the book! I totally empathise that the left/right abuse is on both sides but there is no interest in this party to get together and tackle the real issues of societal inequality.

The vast majority of the Liberal Democrat membership prefers to sit around with other middle class white men and discuss the days of Torbay Liberal conference in 1974 when there were “true liberals”. I’m sorry to say, Britain has changed substantially since 1974. The majority of the population don’t give a shit about what “liberalism” means and which middle class white man we elect as leader. Can we please get together and remember who the real enemies are?

Right now I don’t know whether I should stay in this party or politics at all because it’s hate on the doorstep for having a different skin colour, and hate in the Lib Dems for having different political views. I no longer have patience for either. I no longer know what I’m fighting for because it’s increasingly unlikely that this party will recruit more BME people, let alone elect them. What is honestly the point of politics anymore? It’s not to bring about change. It’s solely philosophical circle jerking reserved for rich white men.

Edit: To clarify I’m not joining elsewhere. The title was mostly click bait. I have no problems with the leadership and the party. I’ve recently become apathetic because I think all political party membership is far too focused on outdated ideologies than 21st century application. As well as our party colliding in civil war. I wanted Lib Dem members to read this and remember that it’s bloody important to eradicate racism. Diversity is a MUCH bigger issue than the definition of liberalism. Hopefully I’ve explained why above.


Add yours →

  1. Tell me about it!
    (says the white middle aged man)

  2. This article made me remember why I stopped being even semi-active in the party in the first place.

    The dearth of non-white and non-male voices in many parts of the party is a self-perpetuating problem. I don’t blame you for considering getting out and moving on with your life, given the scale of the issue.

  3. Thank you Kaavya for your hard work to date and for bearing your soul, I am sorry your efforts haven’t been appreciated more and for what it is worth you get my vote.

  4. Oh Kavya! How very sad that what I thought was a truly Liberal orgnisation is in fact just like any other, full of people out for their own gains. I had hoped that, despite having gone back on election promises and looking like they were grabbing power at all costs, the Liberal Democrats would bounce back with passionate young people like you to take them into the future with true “liberal democrat” beliefs, but it looks like the party is full of the average British bigot!

    I am old enough to remember the party being founded and those original, forward thinkers would be appalled!

    So who do I vote for now! It’s increasingly looking like the Greens…..

  5. we are all the party. Your passion is just what we need.

  6. “The irritating thing is that I can’t discuss this with colleagues in the party because they think I’m overreacting when voters tell me “f*** off p***”.”

    That’s horrific.

  7. I live in a white middle class area with a low percentage of the population being of other ethnicities, and I freely admit I am ignorant of BME issues. That said, i totally condemn any abuse, ridicule or demeaning of anyone on the grounds of race, ethnicity, colour, creed, nationality, gender, age, sexuality, or any other criteria. I too, deliver Focus with little thanks. I find my role as Constituency Secretary, the toughest of my jobs within the Party. I much prefer Regional Exec., English Council, stewarding at Fed. Conferences and being on the Exec. of LDCF. Stay with us, Kavya – you can only change things from the inside, and as for those like me who are white, male, indigenous British, who have abused and demeaned you, I can only apologise for their conduct unreservedly.

  8. isn’t diversity part of liberalism, of letting people do things in different ways, as opposed to conservatism/fundamentalism everyone saying everything the same in morals etc?

  9. Kavya, I have always regarded you as a star of the future. Your despair however is similar to that which many of us feel about a society which we MUST change. We need women like you, with your values, courage, energy, intellect, and (dare I say) media savvy ability to engage through new and mainstream media. I was born in the Caribbean, grew up in Nigeria and have spent a career trying to improve things for women in one form or another so share your frustration (but have faced different discrimination(s) being disabled, being an age when girls were forced into different (and worse) careers than boys because recruitment structures were so rigidly gendered). Women of all have a long way to go, but critical mass changes culture, and it is only by staying with it can we do that. I hope that you do. You have much to give. And we all have to learn to be gracious about how much activists give of their time, effort, and even health, for a cause which can make things better.

  10. Depressing and dazzling at same time. I hope it’s a wake up call to at least some. A lot of fingers get pointed at HQ, but there’s a need for change across volunteer party too. I hope you don’t give up – party needs you and many more like you to reinvent a modern liberal democrats. Such a party is sorely needed.

  11. Racism derives from ignorance, nothing else. UKIP only gets votes in ethinically English areas with very little immigration.
    Expose racist pigs to intelligent people from different backgrounds and I cannot see how they can remain entrenched in their bigoted views.
    Ironically, despite it being horrible to try and talk to someone when they hate, simply for how you look, you talking to these people is doing amazing work in challenging racist views!
    Giving up doesn’t eliminate racism.
    Perhaps there needs to be a new system in place for exposing those in the Liberal Democrats who espouse racist or sexist views?
    Liberal Youth unanimously supported Rocktheboat, there needs to be an equally large scandal to root out disgusting racism in the party

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