Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Will the future ever be bright and Orange?

The Liberal Democrat party stand at a crossroads, one way leads back to Government and a role in this nation's future - the other is the path of wrack and ruin leading to political obscurity and eventual death. But who is manning the helm?

It appears the electorate are becoming more and more disheartened by the system and politics, voter apathy has become a real phenomenon with vast swathes of the people turned away from politics. In Medway less than 40% turned out to vote for the AV referendum! Whether you agree or not with AV is not the point. This was a momentous political step, a nationwide political referendum that decided how You elect Your representatives something our ancestors would have killed for but six in ten people couldn't be arsed to vote.
 But why should they be interested?

Westminster is full of grey men who argue the finer points of policy that has no relevance to their lives, more interested in political point scoring than in policy that will affect peoples lives - Or so popular opinion goes.

It is easy to disrespect the rule of law if you do not acknowledge the state's ruling body as representing you - Its' laws mean nothing.

Cleggmania offered change. Nick's showing at the Televised leadership debates really got people interested in the Party's message, change - a new way forward for society and political reform. There was a surge in support and in the media. Nick could do no wrong, he was a voice of reason, a fresh breeze on a stuffy day. We even increased our share of the votes! However to no avail as we lost seats. To many people there is only the two extremes, Red or Blue. Some households will always be Tory, others always Labour and will never cross sides.

There is also the old adage that if you want Labour out Vote Tory and voting for another party (if you vote at all) would be a waste of time and would be splitting the vote, especially on the left. However you end up that way with a choice between two parties that are beginning to represent the same thing. As the video points out, you get the same result if you vote for Kang or Kodos!

It is difficult, however convincing the electorate of the Lib Dem message, why should they risk voting for you?

There are areas with a strong Liberal Democrat Council or with exceptional Liberal Democrat Councillors who can convince the electorate of a Liberal way of thinking and of the party's merits. For eight years I lived in Mark Oaten's constituency of Winchester where;
"Labour Cannot Win!"
Admitting you were a Lib Dem was not an issue but those places are far and few between. It is difficult in other areas without a strong Liberal presence, such as Medway, to get the message across without people wondering if they are wasting their vote on you.

The Coalition government gives the party the chance to show the electorate that the party is fit to govern, that we have kept most of our election pledges and put through our manifesto for everyone's benefit. Tough Liberalism must be seen to work.

Even if a larger portion of seats is not on the table for 2015 and the party manage to return with give or take ten seats then there is another role for us. With the growth of voter apathy and the blurring of party lines the chances of a hung parliament become more likely, in which case the third party holds the power -rightly or wrongly. this is our opportunity, to grow, as Labour once did, within the other parties, gain experience and prove that the Liberal Democrats are a serious party of Government. Yes unpopular decisions need to be made and seats will be lost but that is what happens in government - decisions have to be made for the benefit of everyone.

Of course there is the other path. Will the electorate trust us as a party after the Tuition fees U-turn? Or support for the topical NHS reform? Or for the biggest of sins - Letting in the Conservatives? A few people have said to me that they won't vote Lib Dem again as they don't vote Tory. The decissions of Government have upset voters and party members. Others, like me, know that Coalition was the only way forward in May 2010, I may not agree with every decission made but then who does with any Government? With power has come greater Media attention and some serious cracks have appeared as well as scrutiny of our leaders such as Chris Huhne, who does himself no favours! Nick Clegg has become, unfairly, a focal point of hatred as one of the ringleaders of the Coalition and selling out on his ideals and Liberal fire- though he has not and continues to push through our Manifesto. The big question is; Will the electorate still hold these actions against us in 2015? That all depends on what the Government does in the next four years. Will the electorate punnish good constiteuncy MPs just for being Liberal Democrats? We will have to see - I sincerely hope not.

What ever happens in the Coalition, if we can suffer the slings and arrows from the media and keep the attention of an increasingly apathetic and fickle electorate we sand a very real chance of making a difference and bringing some Lib Dem gold to people's lives whether they voted for Kang or Kodos.

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