2021 – the year in review: April

‘Twas the month ‘fore elections
And all cross the land
Were Liberal candidates
With leaflet in hand

A neutral observer might have warned against much in the way of optimism five weeks before polling day. A by-election in Hartlepool was unlikely to offer much cheer either, although Andy Hagon took up the gauntlet for the cause. And, of course, COVID still stalked the land.

The Liberal Democrats took a stance against vaccine passports, which appeared to run counter to public opinion, but was at least consistent with the Party’s long held views on ID cards. The debate was just another reminder that modern-day Conservatives appear only to happy to argue against taking away the freedoms that benefit them whilst happily removing freedoms from everyone else. Their hypocrisy in that regard was to haunt them as the year went on.

In a similar vein, my colleague, Paul Walter, building upon the efforts of the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Llandudno, touched upon the question of how Conservative MPs were increasingly tainted by the behaviour of the Prime Minister and his friends. How long could they condone such behaviour?

Losing Tony Greaves in March was grim, losing Shirley Williams in April was just as bad, and whilst their styles of politics was like chalk and cheese, the impact that each had had was equally powerful. Dick Newby summed her up in a moving piece written from the perspective of someone who had known her since the early days of the SDP, whilst some of my colleagues wrote of the impact that Shirley had had on them.

Liberal internationalism lost one of its great champions too, as Jonathan Fryer passed away. Writer, journalist, broadcaster, a wry commentator on events, and someone who would have made a superb MEP, he had a hinterland which stretched way beyond the Party.

Football became, if only for a while, a topic of political debate, as the announcement of a European Super League was the cause of much outrage. As I suggested at the time, perhaps it would be simpler to leave it to the fans. And, somewhat to my surprise, the fans rose up against it, whilst politicians rushed to the bandwagon. There’s little doubt that English football is still effectively dominated by a small elite, but the romance isn’t dead yet.

The debate over universal basic income continued, as Peter Davies offered us some numbers to give meaning to the concept, whilst Jane Dodds helped to launch a YouTube channel to explain and build support.

Still no English by-elections to celebrate, or even fight, and not much elsewhere as the 6 May Big Bang drew close. The polling data still grim as the post-vaccine bounce clearly favoured the Government;

Conservatives 43%, Labour 33%, Liberal Democrats 7%, Greens 7%

It was going to be a tough night, wasn’t it?

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and a Luton Town supporter.

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