Saturday, 26 November 2011

Medway Lib Dems AGM - Brighter things to come!

As the out going Chair of Sue Hannant summed up the last year the more I began toquestion the future our party in Medway, this was echoed by comments from Maureen Ruparel the out
going secretary;

We'd lost several Councillors, including Cathy Sutton and Stephen Kearney and the replacements for those who had stood down and we recorded the lowest votes in a long long time. In fact we had been set back to the 1980's!

In 2015 there would be no point in running an MP in the General election and that we would be lucky to hold on to the Council seats we already hold.

The future, it seems, looks bleak.

Then further bad news, we have 95 members and had lost 20% of our members from 2010 and little hope of attracting more.

So... should I pack up and leave? Is it worth even being an active member? If the Medway public are so unreceptive to the Liberal Democrats and the ideals of Liberalism then is it worth just closing down the association or joining with Chatham and Aylesford and fighting with them? (even though they are struggling even more!)

Indeed if you had sat there with me you may have felt the same as I, that the party would all, to the ruin of us all...

But Hope there remains, whilst company remains true.

Geoff Juby, leader of the Council group gave a very rousing speech about issues that faced the group in Council. Pointing out that there was only Dianne Smith, Shelia Kearney and himself were stretched ridiculously thin and couldn't be on every committee or fight every battle, nor be at the council's beck and call for emergency meetings. However there was scope for us, the party members, to get out there and campaign on their behalf be it on train fare rises, the shutting of Nelson Road care
home, cuts to public services etc...

Then came the election of the exec for next year.

Tony Jeacock was appointed as Chair, and this is something I am excited about. Tony has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, we have already spoken in the past and every time I have come away energised and enthusiastic about the party's role and the future.

Already we are talking about working with the grass roots, pushing people forward and campaigning on the doorsteps, finding out what vexes the people of Medway, becoming vocal about issues and not just leave the opposition to Labour. Indeed in Gillingham there is only a small Labour opposition, for the moment, and if we want to keep it that way we need to be the opposition to the Conservatives, we need to be on door steps providing the alternative and supporting our council team.

Within two days he has released an internal Memo for all of the local Lib Dems encouraging them to help the exec and Council teams to go forward and even to turn up at the Exec meetings as the more voices that are heard, the more ideas and possible directions can be taken.

Wednesday night felt like a pivotal occasion, I really felt that we were on the brink of a very exciting time.

Yes, the party is at a low.

Yes, recovery looks like a distant shot,

but it is possible!

When discussing one issue, a member urged us to do nothing rather than risk losing more votes and support and being eviscerated by the Tories in Council.

I responded; "As was stated earlier, when 2015 comes we're already damned... What have we got to lose in standing up for what we believe in and fighting?"

This is the shape of things to come I hope. We won't fade away, eclipsed by the inevitable Blue but continue to fight and be energized and I really believe that Tony, backed up by his new Exec team is the one to lead us to it. I, for my part as the new group Secretary, will do all that I can to assist in this.

It really feels like this could be the beginning of an amazing year where the foundations will truly be laid for greater electoral success.

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