Saturday, 7 May 2011

Rally Together-First Day of Fightback

'I am angry because you lied and got my vote and then delivered policies without mandate. Voted LibDem all my life-now have joined Labour.' -Quote taken from a Twitter post on 6 May.

This, basically, sums up why we were delivered a 'bitter blow' by the electorate. Fistly and foremostly, my heart goes out to the approximately 700 councillors who have lost their seats eventhough they have worked tirelessly for many, many years. Some of these councillors have been in their seats for decades. They paid the price for our Coalition policies despite the fact they are wonderful and hard working ordinary folk just like the electorate.

I think our party paid the price for the u-turn on tuition fees. Harriet Harman said: 'Young people don't want tuition fees'. It's not often that I agree with Labour but I do here. Much as I understand about the tuition fee rise most people don't get the argument about the debt problem and the link to university fees. Also, it may not have been just about money but that the trust between the Lib Dems and the people has been broken. How do we recover this trust? It could take a very long time.

I am worried that it seems that the Conservatives have escaped the punishment and brutal force of the public's opinion and Lib Dems have taken the knocks. Some have referred to our party as the 'protective shield' for the Conservatives. We aren't being seen as a strong force in the Coalition. Lib Dems are being seen as the party that goes along with everything. This is not true but the way people view it is important because it is the public/them who decide our fate in the end.

This is what the party should do to recover:
1. Increase gender participation immediately. Many councillors were women and we may have lost this base badly. Show the people that we are a party for everyone who wants equality, community and fairness.
2. Increase race participation. Even the Conservatives have more BMEs than us. I keep banging on about this point. In this way we reach out to a diverse community.
3. At party conferences, Nick Clegg -please say hello to the ordinary members who attend this conference time and time again and support you. This is the foundation base of our party and we have lost enough. Show support, raise spirits and make people feel a part of the party's recovery. A leader needs his troops and he needs strong troops.
4. Liberal Youth - please support them more. Give them a strong voice. The Labour party has the Young Fabians (which I am a member of) and the time and effort put in to them is tremendous. Next time we should have Liberal Youth explaining about tuition fees and how the party is important to young people.
5. Vince Cable and Chris Huhne have pushed the boundaries out far to point out that we are not acting as protectionists to the Conservatives. We are in government to do something. Let's run with them.

Nerves of steel - that's what we need to fight back. I was too depressed yesterday to blog but I realise today that we need to get on. Four more months to the Autumn Conference at which we really need to make a BIG impact and show people what we are about and why we are in power. Nick-get out there and start smiling and talking to grassroots people.




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4 comments

  1. Maelo, you always post thought-provoking messages. This one is even more interesting than usual.

    You write:
    our party paid the price for the u-turn on tuition fees
    I don't think it was the U-turn as such. People understand that parties don't get all their manifesto through. On the morning after the general election, there were 500+ MPs returned who were committed to student loans and only just over 10% against. What could we do against that? It was hypocritical of Labour, who introduced the tuition fees system in the first place, to attack us, especially as Vince Cable did so much to reduce the impact of the Labour-government sponsored Browne report.

    No, it was the fact that so many of our MPs were seen to go back on a personal pledge to vote against the fees system that disappointed so many voters. (I am proud to say that all our Welsh MPs kept their word.) People understand broken promises, even if they don't understand minutiae of policy.

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  2. Dear Frank,
    I truly agree with you. Labour were going to raise tuition fees. I suspect that labour didn't want to go into coalition with us so that they could attack from the side lines then look innocent.
    From
    Libemchild

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  3. Gender and other equality: first of all, our party should be proud of the fact, and proclaim it clearly, that we have always - that is, since its foundation in the 1980s - insisted on equal representation on candidate selection short-lists of men and women. The problem is that not enough women are coming forward, and that is what must be addressed. The same thing is true of people of colour, though there are hopeful signs that there are more candidates with south Asian backgrounds. (One should add that the first Indian MP - back in the nineteenth century - was a Liberal.)

    It would have helped if David Cameron had put more of the women of ability available to him, from both parts of the coalition, into cabinet posts. I can name half-a-dozen coalition male front-benchers who are there more because of their sex than their ability.

    But there is an elephant in the room: the electorate. We have to face the fact of years of conditioning that men are the leaders in society. I suggest that in troubling times, voters retreat to what they know and tend to trust a man over a woman. An academic study into what I think is a genuine phenomenon is overdue.

    I can only offer anecdotal evidence. At the 2010 general election, very strong Liberal Democrat women were defeated with small margins, while in similar seats, their male counterparts got through. At the dissolution of the Welsh parliament, we had only two male Assembly Members, as against four women. As a result of last Thursday's election, only Kirsty Williams remains to lead four men.

    It would be interesting to see the gender balance in local government (where women have been more prominent) before and after the English council elections.

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  4. Dear Frank,
    I totaly agree with you. The point I was making was that we would have lost lots of women councillors and we need to replace them. At the last election I know of at least two strong candidates, Karen Hamilton and Tamora Langley, who didn't win. My home was used as a campaigning base for Tamora Langley. We fought so hard for her.
    Discrimination against women is plenty. At school a boy told me that I shouldn't be interested in politics and that I should be concentrating on 'butterflies, rainbows, fashion and chocolates'.
    From
    Libdemchild

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