Last Wednesday I was up before the selection panel. Beforehand I was experiencing that curious mix of feelings that is at once confidence and nervousness. I had no idea how to dress. What does a typical Lib Dem wear? A bit of lippy and my poshest high heels? My usual casually crumped look, replete with a hat that Dr Seuss would be proud of? A business suit? Lipstick and high heels won.
The day began badly with an encounter with Maxwell Tarmac-Smyth – the “Mad Max” of Libbyshire politics. He’s second peg in the Tory oligarchy that runs Libbyshire. He’s the man in charge of cutting the council’s budget by millions and he is enjoying every minute of it.
Max overheard Mellissa and I talking about local politics in the Market Tavern. “I wouldn’t bother with that stuff”, he interjected with his trademark air of arrogance. “Just bring your problems to me and I will solve them.” The cheek of it! There was no time to respond. Muttering a sarcastic “thanks”, I dashed off to the community hall for the selection meeting.
I realised for the first time as I walked into the room how much I really wanted to be a Lib Dem. I wanted to belong, not stride out on my own. And I wanted to get people like Mad Max out of office.
I faced a panel of three. It was not difficult, though I was uncomfortable finding that I was way the smartest person at the meeting. After a while most of the questions they started to ask were met with: “Oh actually you’ve already answered that.” Well, I can talk a lot!
Then the question I was waiting for came: “What would you do if you didn’t agree with party policy?” I was frank about my struggle on whether to stand as an independent or a Lib Dem. I said that the most important thing for me was to represent my local area with honesty. Sometimes I might need to go against the party line if it is in the direct interest of the people I represent. The panel seemed to support that approach. I just hope it doesn’t cause trouble later.
The panel asked me where I’d like to stand. There are electoral divisions nearby where a Lib Dem could get elected with ease. I did wonder whether I should take that route as a novice. But I think the main problem with politics is that the politicians forget who they’re representing. To do that properly you’ve got to stand for your own area.
I said that I want to stand for Demsbury Central. It’s a hard division to win, the Tories took a whacking 75% of the vote last time. But it’s my home patch and I can fight best on that.
A while later, I was back in the Market Tavern boring Melissa with my tale of the meeting. We were careful to keep well away from Mad Max who was loudly telling people that he wanted to move the local museum out of its prime market site and offer the building to Ask Pizza.
My phone rang. I heard the now familiar calm voice of chairman James. “Well done Libby. You’re in for Demsbury Central.”
I was over the moon. And daunted. But all that could wait until the morning. “Melissa,” I asked with a celebratory grin. “Fancy another Pinot Grigio?”
I’m Libby. And now I’m officially a local Lib Dem. That’s worth celebrating!
* 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.