21 Aug 2011
Nick Clegg is 'destroying the Liberal Democrat party and its progressive soul'
Alexis Rowell’s resignation letter:
I’m afraid I’ve decided to leave the Liberal Democrats. My principal reason for doing so is Chris Huhne’s support for nuclear power. Opposition to a new round of nuclear power stations has always seemed to me to be a key Liberal Democrat policy and a potent symbol of Lib Dem values. Before Fukishima I could think of many reasons why the Lib Dems were right to oppose nuclear power.With that tragedy still ongoing, and rivalled only by Chernobyl in terms of its adverse impact on nature and mankind, the list grows ever longer.
When I was interviewed as a potential Lib Dem councillor candidate in 2006 I said that the only thing I could foresee which would make me leave the party was if it decided to support nuclear power. The party hasn’t, but Chris Huhne and the Lib Dem coalition negotiators have.
As I think you know I’ve also been quite unimpressed with the coalition’s general record on environmental issues. The bar set by the previous government was low but so far, in the opinion of all too many environmentalists and commentators, you’ve sailed under it. I joined the party primarily because of its environmental policies, and I worked tirelessly in Camden in 2006-10 to promote sustainability with a Lib Dem face, so this feels like a personal betrayal.
However I’m also horrified by what the coalition’s policies are doing to the social fabric. I recognise that any government would have had to make difficult decisions, but I’m still shocked by the fact that you signed the foreword to the bill to privatise the NHS, by the draconian frontloaded cuts to local government, by the free schools policy, by the virtual abandonment of state-funded higher education, by the lack of any action on banker bonuses and exorbitant pay in general, by the decision to fully privatise the Royal Mail, and by a host of other free market or libertarian policies which I didn’t vote for and which I can’t support.
I hope one day you manage to find your voice in the coalition and that it ends up being the progressive voice of the Liberal Democrat Party that I joined when Tony Blair launched his illegal war in Iraq. However for the moment I can see no value in your being Deputy Prime Minister or in the Lib Dems being part of the government. Your participation is not only legitimising the Conservative Party’s confused and troubling agenda, it is also destroying the Liberal Democrat party and its progressive soul. I therefore feel that I have no choice but to leave.
Liberal Democrat Councillor, London Borough of Camden, 2006-10