Okay so that has outed me as a CSI lover. That music always excites me before the team go in and solve another major mystery in 45 minutes.
But the discussions about the Party’s future, shrill and heated although they seem to be, over the past few days have made me ask again, “Who am I and what do I believe in?”
The discussion was really started on a personal level when one of those calling for Nick to resign suggested that my last blog in support of Nick was only because I wanted a peerage. For anyone in this Party to suggest that another member is only in it for themselves shows woeful ignorance. Anyone who sought to get on in politics made a terrible choice in the first place (in my case 47 years ago) and even worse judgement in staying here. I accept that almost everyone in this Party, especially in these circumstances, is here because they believe in our cause.
For the record it has been suggested to me in the past that I could go to the Lords. In the 80s it was suggested to me that if I joined either of the other Parties they could find a parliamentary seat for me. I was not interested in any of these suggestions – especially the suggestion that I join another Party. As I have said before they will have to drag my Party membership card out of my cold, dead hand!
This is not because I am over tribalistic. If my Party or even its Leader is wrong I am prepared to say so. What I am clear about is that I am still a believer in the same basic principles that made me join the Party in the first place. I am an environmentalist; an internationalist; a localist and a democrat. I believe in fiscal responsibility because unless that is achieved I cannot deliver any of the things I believe in. I stand for election because unless we have power we might as well do nothing.
Where else could I Go?
Join the Labour Party? For the 13 years of the last Labour Government I was able to say, and few challenged me, that I was now a member of the most left wing mainstream political party in the UK. I could not be a member of a Party which has consistently been left wing in opposition and right wing in government.
Join the Tories? There are a few Tories I respect. Pre-Thatcher there used to be more of them. They were the ‘Heathite’ Tories who believed in Europe and wanted a growing economy to float everyone’s boat. I could not be a member of a Party that is stridently Euro sceptic and even more importantly acutely ignorant of the needs and aspirations of the poorest 20% of our population.
That leaves the Greens. With all due respect their heart is in the right place but their policies are confused and incoherent. The idea that you can borrow more to put things right when the principle cause of the economic problem is too much borrowing is facile. I could not be a member of a Party that thinks it can deliver social change without fiscal responsibility.
Being a liberal is never easy. We have no black and white solutions to problems because, in reality, there are no black and white solutions. Our society and our economy is incredibly complex and tied into world societies, cultures and economies. We especially fall short in some people’s estimation when we fail to lash out at obvious subjects. Wouldn’t it be easy to say that our economic travails are the fault of ‘Johnny Foreigner’ and even worse ‘Johnny Foreigner over here’. But that is not true. Wouldn’t it be easy to say that rising crime rates and other social problems are the result of too many people from other countries living in our midst. But that is not true. For the record on one side of me there is a family who originated in India and on the other side a Wife from France with a Husband from Norway. Interesting that all 6 kids are true Scousers!! They are both charming couples and delightful, well behaved kids who make better neighbours than I (but not Erica) deserve.
So I am a Lib Dem. There is nowhere else I can go and there is nowhere else that I would like to be. So what am I going to do now? Interestingly today in my home city there has been a call from one or two people to have a vote within the Party on whether Nick should go. On the same day 6 of our brightest and most committed campaigning members have been booking themselves onto the next ALDC kickstart courses in the Autumn. They are determined to win for our Party. They know its going to be a long haul but it is a campaign that they are up for.
Which of these two groups am I backing? Well both of them actually. I believe that it is important that Lib Dems (and for that matter Labour and Conservative members) should be rationally and thoughtfully talking about last week’s vote. If we do that the obvious nonsense about Nick stepping down will be discussed out of existence. Be careful however not to read too much significance into this. Anyone who says that they can foresee the results of the next General Election based on the results of last week might as well read tea leaves for a living! So I hope that we will have a review of the election and unitedly as a Party in Liverpool, as elsewhere, decide how to proceed.
But I certainly believe in going to Kickstart and getting involved in hard campaigning. Our campaign in Liverpool was not good enough, it did not use enough new techniques and it was not targeted enough. I accept responsibility for that but I learned from it and will do my utmost to ensure that those mistakes are not repeated.
Having been around for so many, many years I have been down before but never out. In 1970 we came within 2,400 votes of losing all our seats in the Commons. That would have been ‘game over’. In 1974 I saw a huge surge in votes which lead to a handful of seats. In 1989 I saw us trail badly behind the Greens in the Euro who went on to pick up no seats in the General Election.
What helped us then is what will help us now. Calm heads, cool reflection and hard work. Funnily enough I always think calmly and clearly when I am out delivering so that is what I will do. We will be meeting next weekend to sort out our Focus Newsletter for 4 key wards and from the following weekend I and my mates will be out delivering them.
I don’t ask you to join me in person although a lot of people have offered to do just that. But I do ask you to join me in spirit by going back on the liberal campaign trail in your community.
Good campaigning everyone!