This post was originally written when the ‘Coongate’ fracas kicked off. It was published on the LPUK.org site on May 28th, and is therefore is no longer accessible there.
Since them my LPUK membership has (I assume) lapsed, and I’ve ambivalent about getting involved in another party, but thought would repost here so people can refresh their memories prior to the Strategy workshop this Saturday. I have a few other ideas that will be put up later this week.
Personally, I don’t think we can carry on as before, this whole affair has had a severe effect on the party’s credibility, membership and morale.
The biggest problem we’ve had in the past was that we have never had enough people who could provide the time to make the party, as structured, work and we were never able to raise enough money to hire professional staff. Trying to do this now would be impossible in my opinion.
On the other hand de-registering would waste our biggest asset, our name- £500 was spent registering it with the electoral commission. The question is how do we use it? Also, we should ask ourselves what is it we hope to achieve?
The answer to the second question is to promote libertarian ideas by contesting elections. It is my view then that our ‘mission statement’ is simply to allow individuals to stand for election under the libertarian name.
I therefore propose that the party should be slimmed down to support this core function. For reference check out this group I came across last week.
They are registered as a political party just so they can have the words ‘independent- leave the EU’ on the ballot. (Their constitution is worth a read, as is their aim to publish all accounts online. This doesn’t seem to have happened however).
The party should in my view follow this model and be scaled back to the bare minimum to allow individuals to stand- no leader, regional branches/co-ordinators, just the minimum number of legal officers. The only funds needed then would be enough to cover any electoral commission fees, web hosting etc, which membership fees and an annual pledge drive should be sufficient to cover.
Maybe we should have no set policies and manifestos, leaving it up to the candidate to decide what they wish to focus their campaign on. As long as someone agrees to our basic principles they should be able to join and stand for election. The ultimate expression of this new philosophy might be to change the party name to the Independent Libertarian party.
In addition I propose we create a new, non-party campaign/social group that I’ll refer to for now as ‘the libertarian network’ (any suggestions for an alternative name would be much appreciated!) The TPA should be our model for this organisation- it should be free to join and open to all regardless of party membership and would focus on networking, campaigning and promoting ideas. When elections come around the candidates can then tap into this to raise funds and find volunteers to help their campaign.
In addition members of other parties who have libertarian leanings could also reach out to the network and gain support. Hopefully being ‘libertarian network endorsed’ would one day be a badge of honour all aspiring politicians would yearn for!
In summary then, I believe the only way forward is to scale the party back and focus its mission on supporting individuals standing for election. It would be more consistent with our philosophy to act as a loose, open alliance of individuals than trying to build and maintain a hierachical structure in the current party system.