The results last Thursday were appalling for Liberal Democrats across England except in a relatively small number of heartland areas. Locally, Southport has continued to buck the trend like Stockport and South Lakeland in the North West but virtually everywhere else it was carnage.
The problem is that our Party is retreating into its heartlands and becoming almost without presence elsewhere.
Nick Clegg is a brave and decent man but he is held in utter disregard by most voters as was Gordon Brown before the last General election. Sadly, I have concluded that the electoral policy of retreating into the heartlands whilst letting the Party and councillors elsewhere take all the flak is simply no longer sustainable.
I have worked for my community for 29 years yet my friends and colleagues are being kicked out of office despite leading campaigns to save our Green Belt, oppose a Green Bin tax and fight library closures. It’s not that my community does not support such campaigns but they would rather vote Labour (who are promoting Green Belt building, threatening to bring in the Green Bin tax and closing libraries) rather than support Lib Dem councillors. The reason for this, in my view, is Nick Clegg and his deep unpopularity, which goes all the way back to that most unfortunate U turn over Student Tuition Fees.
I realise that our Tuition Fees policy was lost as part of negotiations with the Tories who would not support it and that the same would have been the case if we had been negotiating with Labour but it was the principle that mattered far more than the policy. Nick and his advisers saw it as a necessary compromise whilst many of us saw it as a very bad move. The day it happened we moved from being just about the most trusted of the political parties to the least trusted and it has haunted Nick ever since.
It’s not that I oppose the Coalition Government; I don’t. It was necessary otherwise our half dead economy would have turned into one with little hope at all. Labour had ruined the Country and frankly they can never be forgiven for that. But Nick has never recovered from Tuition Fees because electors simply do not trust him. It’s not that they trust the other political leaders, because they don’t, but that they trust Nick even less.
I fully accept he is a decent man doing an impossible job but, in my view, it is time for him to fall on this sword so to release him and his Party from the impossible position we find ourselves in which we have decently stuck with for long enough.
This amusing youtube video sums up Labour’s ‘what do we do or say about UKIP’ dilemma. Ed is seemingly afraid to debate with UKIP, he is worried that working class Labour voters will defect to UKIP and is unwilling to challenge this deeply illiberal Party – UKIP I mean in case you were wondering!.
Nick Clegg takes a lot of stick from the right wing press, because he often stops right wing Tories doing mad things in Parliament, but he was the only political leader willing to take on UKIP and he deserves credit for doing what Cameron and Miliband were not prepared to do. Considering that both Cameron and Miliband claim to be in favour of Europe their lack of guts, in ducking an encounter with UKIP, does them little credit.
Clegg ‘Put partisan politics aside for housing solution’
In an article for the Telegraph, Deputy PM Nick Clegg calls on David Cameron to publish a prospectus for future housing developments including plans to build two garden cities in Kent and Buckinghamshire. A report on future developments is said to have been drawn up as long as two years ago, however, the Conservatives have repeatedly denied that a report on garden cities exists. Mr Clegg said: “We need to create planned communities: whole new towns with the infrastructure and amenities they need. Bloated towns and cities are being forced to expand further bit by bit, and the green belt is being eaten away. Garden cities are a way of protecting the countryside. It is possible to create them without building on any green belt, National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. And by doing it we could deliver homes people can afford in places they want to live.” Housing minister Kris Hopkins said that he was not “aware of any report which was supposed to have been published by the government but which has been ‘suppressed’.”
Now this may be a sensible way forward Nick, so long as it does not mean building on high grade agricultural land! But having said that I still come back to the issue of the consequences of our population rising year on year – surely this is unsustainable. Planning and environmental policy making in the UK needs to be brought together.
With thanks to the LGiU for this story.
Read the excellent short piece ‘Unnatural Coalition’ on Iain Brodie Browne’s Birkdale Focus Blog Site
and then my comments below:-
Unnatural certainly. This Coalition without the dire financial situation of the UK would surely never have happened. But it was that dire edge of a cliff financial meltdown that was the overriding priority. It made us very strange partners of a party that has within it some of the worst right wing folk you can think of.
Then again there was no alternative of course. Labour had too few seats to form a government without adding in all kinds of weird and wonderful political oddities from across the UK. It would have been a Coalition from hell with an opposition Tory Party pulling it apart day by day. Last 5 years? I would have given it 1 at the most.
I often wonder what would have happened if Labour had not lost so many seats and a coalition with them had been a runner. Firstly, I don’t think they would have wanted it and would rather have stayed in opposition due to being politically shot full of holes and exhausted. But what if they had been up for it? Is it possible that they could seriously reign in their tax, borrow and spend approach to Government? I seriously doubt that they could.
Clegg had no alternatives despite this Coalition being one of the oddest political partnerships of recent history. How do we work with a Tory Party that has no heart or a Labour Party that always loses its head and this despite the fact that there are people within Labour, on the social democratic wing, who think at times as we Lib Dems do.
In the Nottinghamshire coalfield where I was brought up there was a Co-op on every corner or so it seemed and most people shoped at the Co-op. I remember my grandmother talking about her dividend from being a Co-op member/regular customer. You could identify a Co-op store as much by its architechture as anything else; in Notts and Derby they all seemed to be built in a similar and at times grand style. Many had a black and white timbered roof apex I seem to recall and I thought as a young lad they all had to be built like that.
This is the grand looking former Co-op building in Youlgrave or Youlgreave (depending how you wish to spell it) – now a YHA. The arched window panels give its history away
Oddly and by chance I then moved at the age of 6 to where many people see the birth of the Co-operative movement – Toad Lane, Rochdale.
Much later in life my good friend Cllr. Bruce Hubbard became a member of the Co-operative Committee for a while.
The link below seems to sum up the ideals of the co=operative movement all be it in this case in America.
Here in the UK the Co-op company has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent times as its banking side of the business has run into hard times and scandals.
I have often wondered why the Co-op Party (the political wing of the Co-op movement) is still a sister party to Labour as it has moved far away from the ideals of mutual businesses particularly since the Blair years when it became a Party of big business. Indeed, the political will to promote mutuals is now far more firmly embedded in the Lib Dems than it is in the modern Labour Party. My years of working in the trade union movement also led me to think that it too is hardly enthusiastic about co-ops and mutuals generally. It seems that the potential independence and individuality of co-ops and mutuals can be at odds with many socialist ideas about centralist control.
I would like to see Nick Clegg and the Lib Dem Leadership champion co-ops and mutual ownership of businesses even more though because if we Liberals don’t who will in this capitalist world we live in.