Tuesday, 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.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it any more than speculation that he's been suspended from the party? Isn't it more likely he's been suspended from his council group?

Alex Wilcock said...

Gavin's a nice chap, a hard worker and well within the spectrum of views in the party - some of his Lib Dem colleagues need to check they're not in the rigidly thought-policed Labour Party. He should be able to say what he believes in without getting coshed. By the sound of it, there's certainly nothing against the party's principles, even if against some of its policies; not that the party often advertises its fairly libertarian positions on prostitution and drugs (though not guns), as passed by conferences...

One small correction, though, Alex; though I've spoken several times in favour of abolishing the monarchy, I've never spoken for decriminalising cannnabis (though I got lots of press interviews on the issue in 1994, the powers that be made sure no-one from LDYS was called to speak in the drugs debate that year!). I did speak in somewhere around 2002 for legalising cannabis... When the party voted in favour of that. Shame we never manage to get it in a manifesto!

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 21:02

Gavin was suspended from the Liberal Democrat party this morning. Fact.

Gareth Epps said...

Agree with everything Alex has said (including having spoken on the same side on drugs). I do not publicly criticise local Liberal Democrat colleagues lightly, but there seems to be no reason why Gavin has been singled out in this way.

Jock Coats said...

And I've been going round my patch of Oxford telling my would be voters that "I'm one of those libertarian Lib Dems- like a councillor I know in Stoke, we want to minimize the reach of government, including your bossy City Council, into your lives"!

Suspended from the party? I might just have to suspend myself on May 2nd in sympathy.

Anonymous said...

You'd be very welcome in the Libertarian Party Jock! Come and have a chat on our forums. You can request access to the main ones even if you're not a member. http://lpuk.org/forum

Anonymous said...

Yesterday Gavin Webb joined the UK Libertarian Party.