The Lib Dems lack of motivation: Finding the desire and the reasons to help the party

A lack of motivation is a serious problem. Once it has gone you end up with people being less willing to do the necessary things that will result in a successful election. Some people do less in the local party. Some give up doing anything at all. Some leave the party and some even join a different party. There is plenty of evidence that the Lib Dems are lacking motivation. We had less people knocking on doors since the general election, less people standing as councillors, and more people leaving the party. A lack of motivation makes the original problem worse. For the party to regroup and rebuild it will surely have to start with gaining some motivation.

An observable result of social rejection is a significant reduction in motivation. While the studies to demonstrate the link have focused on individual behaviour we can also see this in politics on a larger scale. The Lib Dems have been rejected in elections since the general election and this has been hard for many local activists. Many who have been councillors are no longer even campaigning. The rejection at the ballot box and in the constant opinion polls has had a significant impact on our collective sense of self worth.

Of course this is also due to the decisions that have been made by the party in government. When decisions that are made go against certain values, beliefs, or prior agreements this is obviously going to make people start to question these decisions and their position in relation to these decisions. When we seem to be promoting things that the party would be fighting against if we were in opposition, then our motivation to assist the party is seriously depleted.

Motivation can be seen as 1) the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way and 2) the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. So the national decisions have given people a reason not to help the party out and the social rejection has given people less desire to help out. Without reason and desire we have people who don’t want to do anything for the party.

If the party want to start being more successful in elections then members and helpers need to gain motivation (desire) before the party gains social acceptance, which can be a very difficult thing to do. This will be easier if members are given positive reasons from the national scene. Yes we have a list of achievements and in isolation these are excellent but in the context of the national picture these don’t always look like reasons to get excited by. Some solid performances from our MPs with some progress on core Lib Dem issues will help. A big fight against something important will also help. But the most important thing is for members to start helping, perhaps before the desire to do so, as this is more likely to lead to more social acceptance and then motivation may follow. That first step is the hardest.

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3 Responses to The Lib Dems lack of motivation: Finding the desire and the reasons to help the party

  1. Chris B says:

    What if a motivated membership worsened the situation? Implicit in your current critique is the idea that helping the current party is a good thing to do – perhaps it isn’t. As you know, my family and I won’t be delivering another leaflet until there’s a leadership election; I see this as a positive thing, and think your suggestions will prolong the agony and so damage the party. :)

    Like anything else the party is controlled by whoever seizes power in a moment. Consider the circumstances that led to Clegg becoming leader (in particular, the demise of Kennedy), then re-read your piece and see if it still makes sense. One un-elected person masterminded the current party, and it’s view, from home in 2005/06. It took about 3 months to completely reshape the Lib Dems from it’s previous incarnation as “to the left of Labour” to “we should consider privately funded education” – it certainly wasn’t Liberal or Democratic; I’m not even sure how intentional it was.

    Sometimes motivated people are the problem.

    • Hi Chris, good point. I was making the assumption a motivated membership is a good thing for the party but I see your point. I guess you would like to see Clegg gone ASAP? or for it to be more timed? Do you have your eye on anyone in particular for a replacement? I don’t really see anyone sticking their neck out at the moment who would look like a leader.

      • Chris B says:

        Yeah, motivation caused this problem – destroyed Kennedy and made way for a new batch of MP’s to take control of the party incredibly quickly (I spoke to Clegg about the coalition at length, prior to him becoming party leader). There was a lot of excitement, but not a lot of real thinking about the consequences to the party – only the potential power grab.

        I’d like to see Clegg gone tomorrow, because I think that marks the start of a new chapter, and it’s time for one. Sadly, I don’t have an answer regarding replacement – I’ve thought about it a fair bit and can’t see an obvious choice. This is an indicator of a far greater problem – who the MP’s are. They’re all so similar – white, middle class, mainly male, over 40, Oxbridge degree in one of a handful of subjects…we’ve made some grave errors if this is who people that believe in Liberal Democracy choose to represent themselves with.

        Every time my wife and I watch Question Time and Shami’s on, we always lament how sad it is that we can’t vote for someone like that – someone passionate about liberal democratic values.

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