I’ve been talking to Liz Jarvis, who joined the Lib Dems from Labour in the Summer a bit on Twitter. Remarkably, out of 700,000 people, we found each other to have a brief conversation at the People’s Vote march in October. She’s written for the Independent Voices website about why she joined us.
She was pretty involved in the Labour Party as a student and voted Labour throughout her adult life. When the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Tories, any positive feelings she had towards our party evaporated and she continued to vote Labour. But along came Jeremy Corbyn:
I might have remained “soft” Labour but for the perfect storm of Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit. The latter is quite simply anathema to me, not just because I’m the granddaughter of immigrants, but because I believe so strongly in freedom of movement, and that the evidence backs up the overwhelming truth that we are better off in the EU than we can possibly be out of it.
The Momentum-propelled adulation of Jeremy Corbyn left me cold. I was also increasingly uneasy about the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and for the first time in my voting life I started to feel politically homeless.
Last summer I explained how I was feeling to a friend who had joined the Lib Dems, and he asked me why I was still supporting Labour. After a heated debate, the conclusion was tribalism. I had been clinging on to my political heritage and the promise of what might have been, had Blair not led Britain to war in Iraq, had Corbyn not become leader, had David Miliband stuck around or Ed not eaten that bacon sandwich.
The more I delved into Lib Dem policies, particularly on education, the NHS and crime, the more I realised that this was the party for me. I have always believed passionately in equality and internationalism, and politically, I am home.
Like any relationship it takes work. I was welcomed with open arms into my local party, which has a small but dedicated group of activists, and plunged headfirst into campaigning. Since joining I’ve canvassed, attended meetings and hustings, placed coloured stickers on a Brexometer (it’s really a giant whiteboard, but useful for gauging opinion) and been selected as spokesperson for my local ward.
She’s going to be coming to Conference in York in the Spring.
Liz is not alone. During the Christmas holidays, there has been a steady flow of people joining us from Labour, especially when Jeremy Corbyn cosies up further to the Tories on Brexit at a time when almost three quarters of his members want a People’s Vote. Corbyn seems more interested in finding a way to deliver Brexit than giving the people of this country the chance to mark the Government’s homework. Unless he changes his mind, the flow from Labour to Lib Dems will only intensify.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings