One of the standard mantras delivered by our defending LibDem MP is that he has no time for tribal politics. In my view he uses this to excuse the absence of any consistent views on his part.
For many of us our background and childhood experiences that have shaped our politics. How important such experiences can be was brought home to me this week. We were handing out leaflets in the main square of the market town of Sheringham. An elderly lady wheeling her great grandchild stopped to talk. She said that, although she had been successful, she was voting Labour: ‘I’ve never forgotten where I come from. When I was a child we all used to try to play with the girl down the road – she was the only one in a house with an inside toilet’.
Tribal loyalty can be important. My father’s brother became a very successful and prosperous businessman. He use to tease me as a teenager by announcing he intended to vote Conservative. He would then ring me after he had voted to say that as he entered the polling station an ethereal specter of a building labourer had appeared. This ghost of his father had put his hand out and said ‘son what are you going to do?’ My uncle continued to vote Labour throughout his life.
Others have come to the same political conclusions through a different path, but that does not mean that tribal loyalties should be dismissed. I would suggest that our former MP reflects on this and stops using the term as an insult.