I've been told by a former Party member, who shall remain nameless, that, in order to save the NHS, those of us who remain in the Party should quit. And given the recent losses amongst our ranks, I thought that I should publish a suitably edited version of my reply.
If, like me, you've been a Party member for a quarter-century, seen triumph and, mostly, disaster, you tend to stick with it, especially when it's a Party that hasn't got a recent track record of glorious victory. If it were power I was seeking, here in deepest Suffolk it would be far easier to join the Conservatives. If I had, I'd be a District Councillor with an inside track to being a County Councillor next year. But I wouldn't be a liberal. And I am.
It isn't clear why you joined the Liberal Democrats. Was it from a deep and abiding sense of being a liberal, or some other reason, a policy or stance that you applauded, a person you admired? Or something else? After all, people join political parties for all sorts of reasons, and I am critical of none of them.
But it appears that, for you, it was easy to leave the Party, which is fine. However, for those of us who are liberals, and want to change our society for the better, the options are more limited. If we all leave, as you would like us to, where do we go? Set up a new liberal party? Extremely difficult, especially with first past the post elections. Join the Greens? Hardly liberals. Join the Conservatives or Labour? If that were so tempting, most of us would have gone years ago.
Oh yes, we could join single-issue groups, but they seldom change lives in a big way, rarely change our society.
So, if you don't mind, I'll continue to fly the rather battle-scarred banner of liberalism within the only political party attempting to offer an often disinterested and occasionally scornful British public a genuinely liberal option. It isn't perfect, no political party is, but for me it is the best vehicle for expressing what I stand for, internationalist, inclusive and rooted in the notion of community.
And you want us to sell it, and liberalism, down the river because they think we've put the NHS at risk? When the country ends up with a choice of blue authoritarians versus red ones, who are you going to call? Ghostbusters?...