17 Sep 2007

Donnachadh McCarthy on the Liberal Democrat conference

Many people feel that no matter who they vote for, the political lobbyists and big-business remain in government. The Liberal Democrats this week could start persuading us that this could change. Goodness knows the planet, and not just Britain, now desperately needs this to be so.

A real high point of my conference was meeting Donnachad McCarthy, he came and did a fringe meeting for Green Party radicals to tell us about his experience in the Liberal Democrats where he was Party deputy chair.

His story is fascinating, I am still really tired after conference and I wish he had written his political story up because its great and instructive and sobering but he is too busy at present. So here goes a very very rough sketch

He had been a ballet dancer but was injured when his partners (whatever the term is for other ballet dancers) failed to catch and he dropped 12feet. He had lots of treatment I guess conventional and alternative and was being treated by an acupuncturist, the acupuncturist had a spare place for a trip to the Amazon, Donnachad went saw the destruction of native people for himself and became a green activist.

He I guess at some point joined the Liberal Democrats, had an urgent action appeal from Survival International about a threatend group of people in Indonesia whose land was going to be destroyed by RTZ.....found that Lord Richard Holme was both a Liberal Democrat high up (president? chair?) and an executive director of Rio Tinto Zinc....so Donnachad fought against the lib dem bureaucracy to oust lobbyists and corporate figures like Lord Holme.

Despite winning many internal battles and rising as far as you can in the organisation, Donnachad eventually admitted defeat.

He told us how all parties tend to gain a leader, a single leader is easier for the corporations who are the big donors to manipulate, in turn 70% of members in the lib dems or labour, 80% in the Tories...will do what the leader wants...the leader then controls the party and stifles the grass roots.

Donnachad is compleatly disillusioned with party politics and works by writing, speaking and green auditing.....he is a good friend of Jenny Jones our great Green Party Greater London Assembly Member,

He warned us from electing a single leader and going down the conventional party path...it was interesting for me, I keep abreast about my own party, environmental groups, the left (which I am a part) and the diy movement which I work with when possible so internal Lib dem politics is a bit of mystery to me.

Donnachad had a message for all party political radicals working for the planet and justice, here is his take on the lib dems, obviously I am an explicit anti-capitalist and feel we should go further than he suggests but it is a good read!

Donnachad McCarthy: The shameful truth behind the Lib Dems' demise
Why are they wasting energy tackling a pointless referendum on Europe?
Published: 17 September 2007
As the Lib Dem conference opens this week, it marks nearly a year since the publication in October 2006 of the Stern Report into the climate crisis. With the Lib Dems having long led the field on environmental policies, one has to ask why they are languishing in the polls with the issue dominating the media agenda as it has done over the past year?

With Labour continuing business as usual with proposals to massively increase airport expansion and road building and the Tories issuing two completely contradictory policy papers, with the likelihood being a fudged compromise, surely now is the time for the Liberal Democrats to make political hay? They have produced a good policy paper on how to reduce carbon emissions by 2050, but instead of launching a campaign to promote them, they want to waste enormous political energy over the next few years tackling a pointless referendum on Europe.

The key question to be asked is therefore why they, like the other parties, are not responding with the urgency Stern required. There are two main reasons. The first is their failure to address the corrupting influence that political lobbying has on the internal dynamics of the party. While I was a member I found that no matter how successful ordinary party members were in getting environmental policies adopted democratically, unless these policies fitted in with the agenda of the leadership then they were never acted upon. Under Charles Kennedy, the background of many key decision-makers in the leadership was from the corporate mining, oil, political lobbying and tax haven industries. Likewise when it came to deciding on what to campaign for in the general election the priorities were set by focus group polling rather than what the party believed in. Thus tragically the environment fell by the wayside every time and valuable political opportunities were missed.

More here


Anonymous said...

There is a problem with the link you've given, I think it should be: http://tinyurl.com/2zhhdr.

Shame the fringe with him wasn't more widely-advertised at conference (or maybe it just passed me by), I would like to have heard him; he is often brought out as the Green trump card by Lib Dems in Lewisham.

Anonymous said...

Also, out of interest, did Donnachad give any insight into why, as an environmentalist, he opted for the Lib Dems and their leader, rather than the leaderless Green Party? Was it just that they happened to approach him?

Derek Wall said...

Hi Sue,

look at his article, he is certainly strong on why the lib dems are not green, captured by lobbyists cos in his view they have such a top down structure...will try and fix link!

must run on to the train...get him to come and talk may be in Lewisham?

Anonymous said...

that's what he found out AFTER joining the Lib Dems, but it would be interesting to know what prompted him to join the Lib Dems in the first place, rather than the Greens, if he was interested in green issues back then - maybe he saw them as more organised/electable/visible?

When Keir Starmer was a Marxist.

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