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.