I’ve come across something unusual this week – whilst there are a growing number of supporters of party politics on the Island, it seems like not everyone is looking for the same kind of party politics.
LibVan currently have a Candidate standing in each of the upcoming Douglas by-elections. This week both candidates were challenged on their political views – in completely opposite ways. The first challenge was to Maire Booth (Douglas North) who was asked what her personal views were on a range of subjects, as the questioner wanted to know her thoughts and views, not just the Party line. The second challenger, to Keith Fitton (Douglas South), wasn’t interested in his personal position at all – just the Party line.
This for me raised an interesting question – although we’re all part of the same party, are people still expecting us to stand out from the crowd, and show that we are all still capable of asserting our independence?
Obviously, as we’re all in the same party we’re going to share a lot of similar views and positions and want similar things from our government. So going into the party, it’s very likely that we all believe in similar things – individual freedoms, equal opportunity for all, a smaller, smarter government – and a more open one.
But before you start thinking we’re just all yes men (and women), we’re all individuals and certainly don’t agree on everything! Add to this that being part of a Liberal party means we’re from all backgrounds and all walks of life, so we all bring different experiences to the table – all of which influence our views and beliefs.
This relationship between the individuals and the group is made more complex by the way LibVan party policy has been developing over the past year or so. The current two candidates, along with others, have had tremendous input into the party’s position on every aspect of policy. This isn’t a Party that imposes its views on its members and candidates, but the other way round. Policy is formed by discussion and consensus and so naturally, a large chunk of party policy has actually been written by the current candidates! Also, as policy is reached by consensus it’s a rare event where anyone is left feeling disenfranchised, or where there are any significant disagreements.
People don’t expect this situation – they expect a political party to take people in and turn these “independents” into hard line party supporters – and LibVan confounds this expectation by adapting with the new ideas brought to the table by each member, and I believe a lot of people find this hard to accept.
How then can LibVan candidates distinguish for people between their own position, and the “party line” – especially if it was them that wrote the “party line” in the first place?
In truth, there is no easy answer to this. LibVan is an association of equals – less a “Party” and more a group of enthusiastic and passionate people, aligned and united in their desire for a better sort of politics. This means that, far from submerging their independence within the Party – LibVan actually enhances that independence by giving it’s candidates (and it’s MHK’s) the support they need to develop their own positions through discussion and debate and allows them the chance to convince others of the merits of their cause.
Equally, where a candidate doesn’t fully agree with a particular policy, there’s nothing stopping them from saying so! There’s no need to tread carefully around an issue – LibVan candidates are free to speak their minds and their first responsibility is always to their constituents – not to the party. To be frank, I think we’d all be disappointed if this wasn’t the case.
So I suppose, we are all independents at heart. I’d not have it any other way.
For info on our candidates:
Keith Fitton – https://www.facebook.com/DouglasSouth2015
Maire Booth – https://www.facebook.com/maireboothlibvan
LibVan – https://www.facebook.com/groups/351370671893/