Sunday, 8 May 2011

Some of the people may have abandoned us but they can't afford for us to abandon them

Thursday was a bad set of elections for the Lib Dems. In Blaydon constituency, where I stood at the General Election last year, the trend of Labour gains against the Lib Dems accelerated. I was particularly sad to see Brenda Osborne in Winlaton and Derek Anderson in Crawcrook lose their seats. Brenda has worked tirelessly for her community and gives people hell when they are not doing their job and helping people. Derek has worked tirelessly with a residents group (the DSD estate) to generate a real community spirit. In addition, SOnya Hawkins in Whickham East and Dunston Hill was a great candidate who would have been a great councillor. All lost to Labour candidates with little pedigree. In Whickham East, Sonya lost to a Labour councillor who defected from the Lib Dems when she saw the way the tide was turning, which is hardly an honourable way to behave.

In Newcastle we lost some great councillors, such as Karen Robinson in North Heaton and Philip Lower in Blakelaw. All were positive influences on local politics. It was a bad night for anyone who is a Lib Dem. We had taken many these seats over the last 13 years under a Labour government. But we kept some seats like Whickham North, which were just as marginal. When you are unpopular nationally, you have to redouble your efforts to keep in touch with the electorate. In Bedford, we kept the elected mayor seat, even though we came third in the local elections on the same day. We increased our seats in Eastbourne and did well in the Redcar constituency.

The thing is, I joined the Lib Dems when we were on 4% in the polls and we were being called a dead parrot by the Tories. I joined because I believe in Liberalism. I don't believe in left vs right or working class against middle class. I want the state to get off our backs and to help everyone achieve what they are capable of. The AV referendum confirmed for me that I could never be in either of the two conservative parties, that hate radical reform. Labour is happy to rack up votes in its northern heartlands and lose the argument in the south. The Tories don't believe in change. There is still a massive need for a thoughtful, moderate political party that believes in giving people the power to change their lives. If there wasn't a Lib Dem party then we'd have to invent it. If we want to increase our appeal, the answer isn't to engage in recriminations but to get out there and make a difference to peoples lives and then to let them know what we did.


  1. This is a brilliant post with a brilliant title. Thank you for writing this.

  2. Callum Crozier10 May 2011 at 01:07

    This has made me respect the LibDems a little more... a little, little more. But, this is a lot more than what they deserve, and far more than i feel they require. If there's one thing which emphasises a political betrayal, it's broken manifesto promises; that of which the LibDems acted clearly. However, this article made me see some light in the situation, keep up the influencing articles. Bradbury 4 Leader.

  3. Calumn - thanks for the compliments. Of course broken manifesto pledges are bad ... if you win an election. Labour promised all kinds of things they didn't deliver on in their manifestos over the past 14 years despite winning large majorities. Slightly less than 1 in 4 people voted for the Lib Dems last year at the election. We lost. So did all the other parties. We couldn't expect to implement our manifesto in full but we got 75% of it which is quite remarkable. Up to others to judge if we did the right thing. At the moment they are not convinced but we will see. And thanks Martijn

  4. I'm afraid you're sounding more and more like a desperate man. Despite all this posturing, I hate to tell you that you don't believe in Liberalism anymore than the Tories do - you and your party are a caustic breed of neoliberals, preferring power in the hands of market forces rather than a democratically elected government.

    The Labour party has had a century of tough times and unpopularity, yet still have delievered a National Health Service, the National Minimum Wage, the Social Chapter and many many more achievements that will outlast short term political bickering that the Lib Dems wish to taint politics with. You lost in Blaydon as a candidate because there was only so long you could postulate as a 'real alternative' without an ideology without people seeing through you. The people voted accordingly. There was only so long Newcastle city could bear economic mismanagement and white elephants such as buying Northern Rock Tower. The people voted accordingly. There was only so long the Lib Dem Councillors in Gateshead could lie about being called Nazis and 'sit on their hands' in the face of men and women in the Borough receiving 88 pounds per head of cuts compared to only 2 pounds per head in somewhere like Berkshire. The people voted accordingly. It will be your turn one day, propaganda like this will only get you so far. The Labour movement will be vindicated by the ballot box.

  5. Welcome back Mr Anonymous! It's so nice to hear from a Gateshead Labour councillor. The NHS and a minimum wage are good things. But these things were originally promoted by Beverage, who was of course a Liberal, and built on the pre war achievements of the pioneering Liberal Government of the early 20th century. Beverage also warned of the dangers of centralised state bureaucracies stopping Voluntary action and was worried that the NHS was too centralised, which is pretty clearly the case to anyone who has used the NHS.

    The Social Chapter by the way was adopted by the Labour government but originated from the rest of Europe where it had been in place for years.

    It's funny how Labour loses due to national unpopularity but wins because of astute local voters voting purely on the Lib Dems local record.

    This is not propaganda, just my views. I do not believe that this blog will win me any elections. I just want to contribute to the debate in the North East. As for a lack of ideology, Liberalism is a coherent political philosophy which I passionately believe in. If voters want something else then fair enough. But I passionately believe it is what is best for the country. I welcome peoples views, even if they disagree with me, but if you are just going on here to have a go at least have the courage to tell us who you are.