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Why are people too ashamed to admit liking the Lib Dems?

Embrace the embarrasment, says Emma Jones - Credit: Archant

My name is Emma Jones and I’m a Lib Dem. There. I’ve said it. Now others need to end their denial

Say it loud: ‘I’m Lib Dem and I’m Proud.’

It’s always going to be a tough one for Tim Farron to pull off like James Brown – even if he was rallying the 12,000 new members his party has picked-up since the election was called.

Tim’s battle cry will never have the electrifying edge of music’s most mesmerising advocate of black power. No one would expect Tim to stage shuffle across the top of the battle bus, like the Godfather of Soul.

Tim’s musical tastes, like his politics, are reasonable. (I have heard it from the horse’s mouth that he danced to Saint Etienne at his wedding sixteen years ago.) And why should it matter?

We’re all grown-ups. We are all different. We can’t all be funky.

I’ve never held much belief in the cult of personality, anyway. Many of the traditional qualities of leadership often come at a heavy price. For Charisma, read massive ego; requires high maintenance; could blow like Krakatoa at any moment.

At the other end of the scale, there is the Theresa May school of management. The bloodless functionary. For cold ‘decisiveness’, read ‘dead-inside-ness’.

I’m not bothered if a leader like Tim Farron looks like a Methodist minister and acts a bit like one. Kindness has never been a weakness, as popular political myth would have it. Being nice is a virtue.

What matters more than the illusion of power, is substance. The reason people have been flocking to the Lib Dems is that they are saying what people think.

Especially on Brexit. There’s has been a consistent message since the referendum.

So why is it then, that some of the recent recruits to the yellow team, seem to be a little shy about it? Let’s call them Lib Dem-deniers.

To the deniers, being a Lib Dem is a shameful secret. Last week looked like a turning point. People sick of Labour’s loser-ish vibes were suddenly coming on board for the big win. Even one of their own.

Take Tony Blair – the former Labour prime minister sent out a cryptic message to vote Lib Dems if you want to be saved from a Hard Brexit. Membership and donations rocketed. Support on social media snowballed.

Step forward, fearless Dragon Deborah Meaden, to lead the charge. She Tweeted: ‘Come on then Guys! Give this Country the choice it needs’, attaching a link to a news story in the Independent reporting the surge in Lib Dem members.

‘Wow!’ thought the party faithful, ‘Meaden’s investing in us! We must be winners!’ They tweeted back encouragement to Meaden.

Not so fast… Cue the sound of screeching breaks. Without explanation, Meaden suddenly dumped her stock, and it was a case of: ‘I’m out’, as she distanced herself from the party.

‘Wish woah…I am NOT endorsing the Lib Dems I’m saying step up to the plate and give us genuine choices. Don’t hi jack me,’ she tweeted.

But Meaden is not the only one to have had a wobble. Twenty First century sage Alain de Botton is a man of reason. The guru-philosopher doesn’t come to his opinions lightly. After all, thinking is his full-time job.

De Botton sent out a tweet making a philosophical point with the pay-off – ‘and this is how you join the Lib Dems’. But before the party faithful could get excited this time – in a turn on a sixpence that Socrates would have been proud of (Socrates the Brazilian footballer, not Socrates the founder of Western thought) – De Botton had quickly deleted the message.

What’s going on here?

It’s as though people in the public eye would rather line themselves up with the ruling party of North Korea than the Lib Dems. Then, just as we were feeling as insecure and unfashionable as ever, the Lib Dems came top of a poll.

Unfortunately, it was a poll that no one wanted to win – surveying lawyers, of all people, about their voting intentions. Why couldn’t it have been a poll of firefighters? Or war heroes? Or heart surgeons? A demographic we could have been proud of?

And that’s when I realised where the problem lies, for Lib Dem supporters, in the public eye. Admitting you’re a member is much like saying: ‘I’m a geek and I’m proud.’

The evidence is out there already. Take the leading ‘out’ members of the tribe: Richard Dawkins, King of the Geeks, is one. A man so ridden with brain matter, most members of the public wouldn’t understand what he does, if they read his wiki page – ethologist. Dictionary please.

Daniel Radcliffe was Lib Dem for a bit, a boy-man eternally tied to the image of a bespectacled boffin. Image wise, it was something of a relief when he defected to the Labour party. Shame hip fashion designer, Bella Freud followed suit.

Then again, I couldn’t really see her fitting in, wearing her £290-a-pop, ‘Ginsberg is Dead’ jumper, amongst the home-knit Aran sweaters at the Lib Dem conference. Who needs that sort of pressure when you’ve got a Lib Dem Glee club night to organise?

Let’s face it, the Labour party always did have the street cred factor. If you wanted to be a right-on flag waver, red was always a safer bet. Socialists have always assumed the monopoly on moral righteousness. So, it’s an easy win, if you want to rock the Cause Celeb Politik-look.

Our only hope lies in the recent revival of geek chic. It’s having a something of a moment. The Daily Mail dedicated a whole spread to the subject headlined: ‘Beauty and The Geek’ about how boffins are pulling beautiful women. (Always have..)

Then there was the March for Science. Who could resist these intelligent people with their brilliantly conceived banners?

‘When this many introverts get together in public, you know there’s a problem.’

‘Science is Not a Liberal Conspiracy.’

The message was clear: step aside stupid people – it’s time to let the brainy people take charge. Right now, we need a healthy dose of rationality.

No fancy dance moves. Just good, clear thinking. Championed by people, with a secret lusty passion for jigsaws, sudoku and Rowan Atkinson, who are not afraid to admit they are Liberal Democrat: proud of the manifesto pledges on issues such as proportional representation.

Forward-thinking Europeans know that unless we have electoral reform, we will always be stuck in this perpetual cycle, forced to vote tactically to exact change. Or, worse, when the constituency boundary reforms go ahead, have a Tory government to infinity.

Think about it rationally. It could happen. If you don’t believe me, ask a political scientist.

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