05/06/2011

Why I got involved with LPUK

Anyone looking at what is going on with LPUK will know that I am at the centre of a lot of the recent discussions and disputes. Up to now I have tried to keep my own council while I tried to keep the Party alive for the sake of the members. I have tried to limit my comments on other blogs to correcting what I believe to be a blatant factual error or someone putting words in my mouth. One of the main reasons for minimising my input is that  the whole affair has been very emotional and lots of comment sections have just degenerated into flame wars and I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to negotiate a way through the mess.

So as this is my gaff and my rules I'll put my point of view here and will not allow the comments, if I get any, to contain any emotional or inflammatory comments.

Its probably best to start with why I got involved with LPUK and took on a role within the NCC. I have always taken a keen interest in politics and current affairs, by this I mean from as long as I can remember discussions about news with my father, which is some time in the 60s. Having left school at 15 and joined the Army I never really had time to get active and it somehow wasn't appropriate while still serving. On leaving the Army in 1990 building a new career became the priority so I contented myself with shouting at the TV.

Although my father was born and raised in the slums of Bradford, a strong Union and Labour area, he was always scathing of them and often described them as the working man's worst enemy. That doesn't mean he was a Tory, he could be scathing about them as well. He tended to vote on the basis of the least worst politician theory and I am aware of him voting for all 3 of the main parties. Indeed he once used my proxy vote to Liberal, against my wishes, but he judged them the best bet for the local election. Sadly he died not long after Maggie Thatcher was elected but he did support a lot of her economic policies but not ncessarily the social ones. He did back her over the miners strike, having suffered the 3 day week trying to run a pub. He hated Heath and Wilson with equal measure.

I tended to support the Conservative Party but this was more of an anti Labour position than a pro Tory one, although I was and still am a fan of Maggie Thatcher. However as I had the time to read more widely I realised this was more to do with her relatively liberal economic policies as much as anything else.

It was the confluence of New Labour's authoritarianism and the rise of blogging that really taught me that what I had come to figure out for myself was actually well grounded theory. The biggest influences were Tim Worstall from who I learned  a lot about classic liberalism and basic economics,  more on Tim's influence at a later date, and the Devil's Kitchen for the introduction to libertarianism.

I joined LPUK with the intention of helping out financially where I could and to do a bit of campaigning, although at the time I was very busy with work. In August 2009 I took redundancy with the aim of taking a year out to do a few personal projects and to have a long relax while still young enough (53) to enjoy it. As the wages were going I said to the then Treasurer (Andrew Withers)  that I couldn't make any more donations but as I had a lot of experience with setting up organisations I would be more than willing to help out where I could.

Andrew took me at my word and arranged a meeting with him, Gregg Beamann (who was to become Chairman) and another guy who I haven't met or heard of since. At the meeting Andrew asked me to take on the role of Membership Sec and Nominations Officer. I agreed although not sure what that involved. I was to find out later  that it was whatever I could make of it.

One of the things that the Party did want was renationalisation and I set about defining regions where they didn't exist (this in its self was contentious and caused a few arguments), idendfying members who lived in those areas and trying to persuade someone to step forward as a regional coordinator when we didn't have one. There were a few other tasks but it wasn't a difficult job, although time consuming to start with.

The role suited me, I'm always quite happy working in the background and as I'm no political theorist I didn't want an outward looking role. During this period I met some very good people, certainly not the selfish baby eaters that the left like to portray libertarians. I also recognised that I am very naive when it comes to active politics and political parties as were a lot of members but we were all willing to learn.

So this is how I got myself in to the middle of a dispute that although minor in real world terms has seen some of the most vitriolic and emotional arguments I have ever seen, and I've seen a few.

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