Author Archives: Matt Hemsley

Where next for the Liberal Democrats in Wales?

 

The 2017 General Election was a strange one for the Liberal Democrats. Up in seats, down in votes, another leader now out the door. The state of the party in Wales, however, is less questionable. We are in a bad place. Losing our remaining MP in Ceredigion, losing ground in other seats, hammered into third in Cardiff Central.

The party has been in decline for some years now and, unlike in England and Scotland, where seeds of recovery are more evident, here in Wales things don’t seem to be getting any better. Decline is not inevitable, but neither is our continued existence. It is all very well saying liberal values are needed now more than ever (they are!), but the question is how do we make them relevant to the people of Wales and what do we need to do in Wales to have any chance of regrouping.

Firstly, we have to resist the temptation to become a party that only talks about local things. The challenge between promoting a national liberal vision and community politics has been a question for decades (one Jo Grimond wrestled with, in fact). But there is nothing particularly liberal about working hard locally. From canvassing in multiple recent elections there can be no doubt that people respect our hard work on the local scene. However, when it comes to a national election they vote differently. We must make sure we are consistently promoting a liberal vision at a national level, alongside local work, or we will not rebuild.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Welsh Liberal Democrats need to be bolder in considering a coalition without Labour

 

This past week in Wales, political ears pricked up after Stephen Crabb (the Conservative Secretary of State for Wales) gave support to the idea of a Conservative, Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat coalition in the Senedd after the May 2016 elections.

The ‘rainbow coalition’ almost happened in 2007 – but has more recently seen to be off the table, so backing (as it were) from such a prominent politician has sparked off some debate.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 31 Comments

Opinion: Why schools should be allowed to sell their playing fields

As the Olympic Games concluded, the debate on school sports has risen to the fore. The Prime Minister, it seems, is a big fan of competitive sport being played in primary schools. This, he says, will lead to a real Olympic legacy.

Since the Prime Minister started outlining his plans, the government has come under pressure to defend the sales of school playing fields – a robust defence of the 21 sell-offs was put forward by the Department for Education. Then it became 30. The media – and the Daily Telegraph in particular – has launched campaigns to save school …

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Opinion: We shouldn’t be afraid to raise parking charges

Boosting the local economy and local high streets, cutting carbon and making our transport system greener, more reliable and affordable are surely key aims of Liberal Democrats across theUK.

Between 2007 and 2010 I worked for the party in Bath.  During that time I helped to lead a campaign against increased evening parking charges that the then Conservative-run council was bringing in.  I also helped to put together an 8-point plan to boost the local economy during the recession. Included in it was a call for free parking on one day a week to encourage shoppers into Bath.  Unfortunately, I was …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 18 Comments
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