Selasa, 22 April 2008

Gavin Webb - suspended for saying what he believes in?

The Lib Dems are a broad church but at election time it seems that we become that little bit narrower. Stoke councillor Gavin Webb seems to have suspended from the party for advocating libertarian positions on guns, prostitution and drugs.

Let's be clear. He is not misrepresenting the Party's policy. Nor is he either breaking the law on these matters or advocating that others should. No, he is simply stating what he believes should be the case.

I recall, during my time on the LDYS executive, being responsible for policy and putting forward an amendment on the floor of conference for the abolition of the monarchy. At the same conference, my colleague Alex Wilcock argued for the decriminalisation of cannabis. Boy were we popular. But the point is this. We proposed a new policy and argued our case and, democratically, lost the vote. We accepted that and carried on seeking to persuade party members. Eventually we won the debate on cannabis and we are still working on the monarchy thing.

I suspect that Gavin's positions might not to be the taste of some (possibly many) within our party. But they are liberal views and should be debated. Certainly we should not be in the business of suspending him for espousing them.

Nobody denies the right of the most economically liberal within our party to push their case in policy form. Why should we seek to limit what can be discussed in terms of social liberalism.

Gavin describes himself as a Liberal Democrat (Libertarian). It may ultimately be that he does not see his future within the Lib Dems. That is a matter for him. But suggesting a debate on matters such as this should not be cause for his suspension.

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