Melissa was gentle in her criticism. She is after all my campaign manager – despite being born a Tory. As we supped glasses of Pinot Grigio in the Market Tavern, she spoke softly to ensure that no one else can hear.
“You are my best mate, Libby. But these days you talk about nothing other than the next election. It has begun to take over your life!”
Mel of course was right. In recent weeks, I had become a bit of a Lib Dem bore.
“You know,” I said quietly. “I swing from excitement to frustration. But there are days like this when frustration wins hands down.”
Mel replied gently. “You need to unpack that for me.”
So I did.
“Today I spent six hours locked in a room at the Kickstart meeting for the 2013 election. I heard a lot about tactics. Knocking on doors. Pushing leaflets through doors.”
Mel shrugged. “Isn’t that what the Lib Dems do? Focus on delivering that garish leaflet they call Focus?”
I glared at her. “Look, Mel. If you are to be my campaign manager, you must stop calling the Lib Dems them. They are us.”
“I take that point,” she said diplomatically. Then she delivered the barb. “But I simply don’t get the impression that you yet think the Lib Dems are part of you.”
That hurt. A nod to Kirsty behind the bar ensured our glasses were refilled. Mel sat back and waited for my firestorm. It came.
“Becoming a candidate for Libbyshire Council is like starting a new job. But you are not told what the job is! I know what being a liberal is, but after two months I still can’t find out exactly what the Lib Dems stand for in Libbyshire.”
“Surely, all their policies are on the web?” she asked with rather too much false innocence.
“No!” I was getting worked up. Melissa clearly wanted me to pour out my angst and I was ready to do so.
“They know what they believe in, I am not sure that I even begin to. They – we! – complain about potholes, condemn litter and criticise executive pay. Detail after detail. But where is the big picture? If the Lib Dems ever take Libbyshire Council, will it become a Council for Dog Dirt? Or will it have policies that will make this place a better place live?”
Melissa interjected. “Clearing the dog dirt would help!”
I chose to ignore that remark.
“Just as bad, they think that speaking in a council committee is communication with the electorate. As though anyone is listening! An occasional article in the Libbyshire Bugle is a high point for them. As though anyone reads it! There is simply no public relations operation.”
I spoke with growing exasperation. “Just as bad, they don’t have any understanding of social media. They have a way backward website. How do we reach young voters, if we don’t Facebook or Tweet? No wonder voter numbers are falling!”
Mel drained her glass and asked: “Anything else?”
“Much!” I cried. I slugged the last of the Pinot Grigio from my glass. “But maybe not so much,” I admitted. I was running out of steam. As my despair began to overwhelm me, Melissa was calmness in perfection.
“Solve it Libby,” she whispered. “You won’t change everything. You won’t know everything. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t succeed. You will be elected. Mad Max hasn’t a chance against you. Trust me.”
I glowed with her support. “We’ll solve it, Libby,” she whispered. “We’ll solve it together.”
“Thanks! Well, I guess that what a campaign manager is for,” I said with a grin. “And talking of solving problems. It’s your round!”
* 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.