Friday, September 03, 2004

Up goes the drawbridge

I'm not quite sure what Donnachadh McCarthy thinks he's going to achieve with this. It's not as if the Parliamentary Ombudsman has any authority over internal Lib Dem party processes.

But then I suppose that's not the point. Donnachadh has been quite upset about the matter for some time and finally resigned from the party's federal executive earlier this year. His letter explaining the reasons are in May's Liberator (page 21).

While I sympathise wit his view that the leadership should be held to account by the party through conference, I fear this complaint isn't going to go anywhere. Part of the problem is Donnachadh himself. While I like him and agree with many of his views (although I'm not sure he realises it), he does have a confrontational approach with jars with many in the party.

My own experience with him was a few years ago, when we were working on the rural affairs policy working group. He was adamant we rule out GM completely from the document. But as far as I could see, anything less would be seen as a concession to the biotech companies in his eyes.

What he didn't realise was there was concern about GM around the table and that many of us were far closer to him than he probably saw. But because I was working with the Parliamentarians I must have appeared to represent everything he was against. And the resulting confrontation not only lost him support but also encouraged individuals to draw ranks against him.

If he could be a bit less spiky and perhaps encourage others to act on his and others' behalf, then maybe we could weaken the barriers ahead. I just fear that this submission to the Ombudsman will just harden attitudes against him and his concerns.

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