'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Sunday 2 March 2014

Even Senior Lib Dem MPs can slip into labelling activists as 'sandal wearers'. They should stop.

Caron Lindsay has posted an excellent article over on Lib Dem Voice arguing against the recent spate of briefings by some parts of the party against others, and of course she is absolutely right. But one  phrase struck a particular chord with me. She refers to an article in the New Statesman yesterday from Thomas Byrne. Here's the extract from Caron's piece..

What I find utterly infuriating is a quote in the article, apparently from “a campaign staffer in the party.” It’s about Tim Farron. And about you and me. And it’s insulting. You might like to sit down, get yourself a cup of tea, a biscuit and some smelling salts before you read it.
“There are a lot of Lib Dems out there who don’t want Tim Farron to be leader. When people say he is popular with the grassroots, they mean popular with the sandal wearers, but he’s not credible as a national political leader. He’s not a statesman.”
Apparently, a member of party staff has been mean about Tim and referred to those many party activists who have a lot of time for him as “sandal wearers.” I can’t honestly think of anyone actually working on proper election campaigns who would ever say such an insulting or dismissive thing. They know that they need every activist motivated and out there, telling the Liberal Democrat story, if we are going to have a hope in hell of achieving our goals this year and next. They would  never insult members of the party who, by and large, have kept on working patiently on the ground.
Now, what struck me was that the 'sandal wearers' tag isn't restricted to off the briefing quotes from staffers. Here's a direct quote from David Laws in '22 days from May', discussing Andrew Stunnell's place on the coalition negotiating team.
 “Andrew was on the team in part to ensure that the party’s wider perspective would be represented. I am not sure if Andrew is actually a sandal-wearing Liberal Democrat in his spare time, but he looks as if he could be”.

I suspect this was a throw away comment from David, penned without a great deal of thought. But it does indicate a worrying consistency amongst folk who live in the Bubble about their view of the general activists who traipse up and down their constituency's door knocking and leafletting on their behalf. 

I think it would be easy to make too much of this. But folk in the centre should think more about how they describe everyone working on their behalf outside it. We're not meant to be different breeds.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly I think the comments are not throw away but represent the ingrained views of the vacuous power seekers who despise anyone with principles