It’s been happening for many years. Decades. The Lib Dems, and the Liberal party before it, are part of Liberal International. Ideas and help are shared, by invitation, with fellow liberal parties around the world.
Recently some liberals went to help our sister party, BMD, in the Botswanan elections.
So far, so earnest.
Liberal Democrat Voice often carries articles about liberals helping overseas as part of Liberal International.
Normally such articles excite very little interest. Such an article appeared about Botswana and it all went smoothly.
…Until someone suggested (and I’m blithely paraphrasing so please do read the full enchilada here) that such help was a type of harking back to colonialism.
Oh dear. Liberal International is organised regionally and there is no template of policies pushed on other countries. All help given is strictly by invite, in this case by the Africa Liberal Network.
And then someone (not, I believe, a Lib Dem party member) threw in a bit of a hand grenade. A racist remark. This was made at 11pm and was taken down at 8am after a complaint. Please mark and inwardly digest that sentence. The racist remark was taken off the internet after only a handful of people had seen it overnight. The early hours of the morning are not exactly peak hours for people reading relatively old posts about Liberal International shenanighans.
A couple of people had, by that time, replied to the remark with impassioned reasoning. Bearing that in mind, a proposal to reinstate the remark, with the replies and with a clear statement condemning the remark, was made and accepted by interested people in Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats.
So the remark was reinstated with replies and editorial condemnation.
Then someone who I greatly respect resigned from the party.
It’s all a bit bizarre. A bit like the annual Fuchsia show turning into World War Three.
I currently don’t know what to make of it all, but time, as usual, will put everything into perspective.
We must respect differing perspectives but, if appropriate, we must also challenge them without rancour or dismissiveness.
Photo of the Justice statue in Gaborone, Botswana by BoHemIo