I’m Libby, I’m local – to Demsbury and Libbyshire at least – and I wasn’t going to be a Lib Dem. I guess I have to blame that on Melissa, a dyed in the wool Conservative who I occasionally drink a half-bucket of Pinot Grigio with.
I’ve always stuck my head above the parapet rather than lay low. In the last couple of years, friends have suggested I become politically active. I have been listening to local voices, voices that are mostly ignored – voices that I could help get heard. Of late, I find more and more people fed up to the back teeth with officials and councillors in that great 1960s’ monstrosity called County Hall. They are fed up with the council saying it knows what is best for all of us – even when it so obviously doesn’t.
Okay. It’s idealistic to think that I might be able to change things. But things have to be changed. That I am sure of.
I’m a governor of a primary school. Libbyshire Council is driving a financial bulldozer through it. Our aim as governors is to give our children the best start in life. Many of them don’t even get a decent breakfast in the morning. After the council’s cuts, it’s going to be hard to give these kids the education and support that should be everyone’s as of right.
I can’t stand by anymore. I decided some time ago that I would stand as an independent liberal for Libbyshire Council in 2013. That was the easy decision. I’m now hoping to stand as a Lib Dem. That was a hard decision to make.
The Libbyshire Lib Dems had already asked me to join them. I’d loved to think it was ‘talent scouting’ but I am perhaps more realistic in thinking it was desperation. But I was flattered and the more I talked to local Lib Dems, the more I wanted to be part of a bigger discussion. I was well caught up with the collegiate nature of the way they worked. It was all going well until…
Until the Nick Clegg apology.
I heard nothing but a barrage of derision from friends in the market cafe the day after. Melissa tweeted something too rude about him to repeat. It was the pits. I decided to be an independent candidate after all and popped into the Market Tavern for a quick slug of Pinot Grigio as a consolation. Melissa was holding court at the bar, gleefully showing a video on her iPhone of Clegg allegedly singing.
I slipped into a corner. She joined me and I poured out my misery. How could I stand for the Lib Dems after this? But how could I abandon my dreams to give voice to people whose voices are being ignored?
What Melissa said in reply was this. I’m a Tory. My family know no other politics. But I so believe in your conviction that I’ll vote for you. And so will my family. They will do as I tell them!
It was the vote of confidence I needed. I popped my application to be a Lib Dem candidate for Demsbury Central in the post an hour later. The next morning I received a phone call from James, the local chairman, asking me to appear before the selection panel on Wednesday.
Oh help! I am so ill-prepared. Wish me luck.
* Libby Local is based on real events. Details have been changed to protect the innocent and disguise the guilty. Libby’s passion and determination, along with her angst and frustration, are set to be a regular feature of Lib Dem Voice as the May 2013 elections approach. You can catch up with all Libby Local's episodes to date by clicking here.