Saturday, 10 December 2011

National Vs. local politics

On a cool crisp but bright morning in Whitstable, a Conference hall full of South Eastern Liberal Democrats voted that when it came to Local Politics and Focus News Letters - we were allowed to disagree with the Coalition and its policies. Not to do so would be deadly for local Liberal Democrats and Councillors doing good ward and Council work (as we saw last May) and we don't actually agree with all the Coalition does.

After all the Government is not a Liberal Democrat one and the majority is formed of Conservative MPs. If we agreed whole heartedly with David Cameron and the Conservative manifesto then we would be Conservative party members and not Liberal Democrats.

I'll say it one last time for those critics of the Parliamentary party and indeed the Coalition. The Government is made of two parties and neither party will get its' way all the time and we, as the smaller party, will rarely get our views across.
So it is NOT a case of selling out but of compromise and our bargaining chips are not worth all that much which means we have to pick and chose our battles... We are getting a large percentage of our Manifesto put through as it is.

So..if you still don't grasp this or publicise to the contrary you are either being deliberatly misleading or stupid.

However it does mean that we as Liberal Democrats are tied to the mast of this ship that is destined to hit the rocks of the 2015 election locally and nationally.

But Political parties are two headed beasts.
Imagine the two headed monster from the film Willow. Together when facing the same foe they're formidable, one cannot survive without the other. But there are times when they get in each others way and sometimes and contradict each other.

What is in the National interest may not be in the Local interest and Vice versa.

For example take Boris Island.

The national press and indeed National MPs of both the Labour and Conservative parties support the notion that a new Airport is needed as current capacity at Heathrow, Gatwick etc. will be inadequate by 2030. A new proposed hub airport would be the best thing as local residents and environmentalists have blocked all attempts to expand the current Airports.
A man made island in the middle of the Thames estuary seems perfect. It would generate vast amounts of wealth and put Britain back on the map and show we, as a nation were serious about being on the world stage.
It would generate and encourage local construction and job markets, a new railway network and massive re structuring of North Kent's roads and rail networks. In short, on paper it is a bold new and acceptable strategy that could have so many bonuses for the nation and the capital as a whole.


The local political parties are up in arms about the whole thing, and rightly so. The environmental impact will be astounding and threatens the very delicate ecostructure on the Gillingham and Rainham marshes and the RSPB reserve on the Hoo peninsula. This coupled with Medway being in a flight path, thus lowering house values, pollution of our airspace, and the cost to the local authorities in restructuring Medway absolutely phenomenal.
The three local MPs; Mark Reckless, Tracey Crouch and Rehman Chishti have all campaigned against the "Boris Island" and have asked the PM, and written to and questioned successive ministers of Transport on the constituents behalf. If anything all of the local parties have been consistent in their opposition to the project and against Boris Johnson.

However because the National Party are supposedly now showing an interest; George Osborne made a remark in his Autumn statement that has terrified everyone in Medway into thinking the Island WILL go ahead and the opposition parties are now calling local Tory MPs and Councillors "Two faced."

Personally, I can't see it. The local party and associations have been consistent, even the MPs have kept their word and even now are still lobbying for a halt to it or clarification as to what is going on.
Nationally David Cameron may have changed his mind, George Osborne, who as far as I know has never really voiced an opinion either way, may now be in favour of it but then the situation in the nation's finances have changed but that is their prerogative. Locally no one has been two faced and attacks on those in power who are doing something, to my mind is counter productive. We should unite together as divided we will fall.

It is easy for National Parties to see local Parties and Council's as NIMBY's and not in touch with the bigger picture but and with its pursuit of "Bettering the nation" upset a lot of local activists and constituents but they also forget where their grass root support is and often they accidentally pour weed killer on strong lawns by not heeding Local parties.

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