Author Archives: Nick Perry

The Battle for Young Britain

The photograph (credit: Leslye Stanbury) made me catch my breath when I saw it on Facebook.

These were obviously young people from Hastings & Rye – where I live; and where I was our parliamentary candidate for the last three General Elections.

It is easy to go along with the narrative in the left-leaning press outlets that I read: that our young people are instinctively progressive – anti-racist, environmentalist, socially liberal. And yet, clearly – as the photo proves – this isn’t so all across the country.

On some level it makes sense that there would be some Hastings young folk at the pro-Brexit demonstration. The constituency voted pretty clearly to Leave (55% to 45%) back in 2016.

And yet I found it genuinely sad and disappointing that we have obviously failed these young people in particular – failed to persuade them that membership of the European Union has serious benefits for them, and for their future.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 27 Comments

Liberal Democrats should show leadership, and help shape where the Progressive Alliance goes now

Our national politics is in total turmoil.  The Tories are ‘between the devil and the DUP’.  Labour is utterly unfathomable on Brexit. The Lib Dems are pretty Captainless, as far as the media and the country at large are concerned.

And internally, within the party, there is turmoil too.  Some successes were had on 8th June but there were  huge disappointments. Good MPs were lost.  Many of us are still recovering from bruising contests, even where we had little chance of making a breakthrough.  I expect most Liberal Democrat candidates standing in key Tory-Labour marginals would attest to a level of online abusive from ‘Progressive Labour’s’ supporters that has exceeded anything previously experienced.

Here in Hastings & Rye, as candidate for the third time, I was vilified for having the temerity to stand in an election that unexpectedly (even I would suggest for local Labour), nearly removed the Home Secretary.  The eventual result saw Amber Rudd scrape home by a mere 346 votes with even an independent anti-corruption candidate gaining more votes than the eventual majority.

The criticism hasn’t only come from trolls.  Hastings & Rye Liberal Democrats get excoriated by Compass’ James Corré here:

But this analysis is misleading, especially when we had explicitly offered to work with the Labour Party in order to send fewer Tories back to Westminster from East Sussex.  You can read the statement that I made mid-May here:

Corré certainly does not give Labour fair treatment for their obstinacy in this whole process.

So what should be done now?  Locally, and at a national level?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 31 Comments

Opinion: We made Mental Health an issue – now we must lead the fight to make it possible

Having worked as a frontline mental health social worker for the past 15 years, there was no-one prouder than I was to see Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb push mental health care (and its place within the NHS) up the political agenda .

There is no doubt that without the determination of our gutsy Party, we would not have seen, over the course of the General Election, the other political parties try to associate themselves with our work: securing more funding for mental health care (particularly child and adolescent mental health care) over the last Parliament.

But as any social work student …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Opinion: Now is the time for social liberals to organise, and quickly

A member for 13 years, this is only the fifth time (out of five) that I have been a candidate and lost; it’s only the ninth set of elections that I have been involved with, all of which have been characterised by losses.  I realise that I am only a beginner compared to many folk in this wonderful political family of ours.

In our part of the world, there are elections (of some form or other) almost every year.  And I admit, particularly after the results became clear last Thursday, to have started to flag a bit.

But as the days have gone by since polling day, I have gradually begun to take heart.

Much has been made of the encouraging numbers of people that are joining the party.  The era of everything being the Lib Dems’ fault is now well and truly over.  As a result of Nick’s gracious resignation, we have the opportunity of a leadership election in which we can, as a party, make an important decision about the future.

Posted in Leadership Election and Op-eds | Tagged and | 46 Comments

Opinion: A south coast main line railway

The deadline for policy motions to the party’s Spring Conference in Liverpool has now passed.

As always, it will be up to the Federal Conference Committee (newly elected at the end of last year), to select the motions to be debated on the Conference floor, and no doubt the imperative of the General Election will focus minds as to which motions to pick; and there may even be a little direction from HQ as to which motions best suit the messaging!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 20 Comments

Opinion: Where we work we get a pasting

Blackadder Quote From DVDAfter another bruising local government election in Hastings & Rye – a parliamentary target back in 1997 – the Liberal Democrats remain without any councillors on Hastings Borough Council and notched up a pallid 7% of the vote across the town.

This is pretty much a re-run of the 2012 result. Once again, targeting just one Council ward, we achieved a swing from Labour to Lib Dem, but did not come close to a gain.

This is one of the foremost bellweather constituencies of the South East, and is already a key Tory-Labour battleground for the 2015 General Election.

We have a functional local party here, with committed folk, many of whom have been members for a very long time.

I know that we have worked like stink for as long as I have lived down here (since 2007, when I was first selected as PPC) trusting in the leadership and the old slogan of ‘Where we work, we win’. Except it’s not true.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 23 Comments

Opinion: Where was Nick Clegg’s summit on the NHS?

Much of the recent column space on Health issues has been filled with criticism or scepticism of the summit that David Cameron held in Downing Street, and more specifically Andrew Lansley’s Health & Social Care Bill.

The sceptics say that Cameron only invited ‘Yes people’ – people who would confirm his own world view of NHS reform, and who would be nice about Mr Lansley.

As usual, I ain’t bovvered about the Conservatives and what they do to attract media criticism. The more the better as far as I am concerned. What concerns me is what the Liberal Democrat leadership has been …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

Opinion: What price authenticity in our policy making?

As a mental health social worker, I have been trying to keep up with the debate, both within and without the party,  on the progress of the Welfare Reform Bill.

There are many commentators far more expert than I able to say how many different aspects of the legislation accord with party policy, or wider liberal views about the freedom and agency of the individual, or how far it falls short in respect of protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities.

This post is not about the detail of that.

I want to pose a question to LDV-reading colleagues as to how …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Opinion: Nick Clegg’s sixth language is Tory

It’s important to find things to be cheerful about in these serious days. So I was pleased, last weekend, to be recognised publicly as an errant lefty by my good friend Stephen Lloyd, the MP for Eastbourne, in his speech to the South East Regional Conference in Whitstable.

It’s been a difficult Coalition so far for many of us, particularly the social liberals (or left-leaning liberals as I am very happy to be known).

At the time of the tuition fees debacle, a group of 104 of our 2010 general election slate got our 15 seconds of ‘media’ as we called for

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Opinion: which is the biggest disgrace – the marriages or the sentence?

St Leonards on Sea has had its share of the national news recently – Banksy has been to visit and has left his moniker on our seafront; and in the last few days we have had a local vicar sentenced to four years in prison for his part in a sham weddings scam which has broken immigration law and also, it seems, a Marriage Act from the 1940s.

In case you missed it, the Independent has covered the case of Revd Alex Brown in detail. It transpires that no-one has been able to identify the motive of this errant …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Opinion: I admit it, I am shocked by Labour’s hatred

Call me naive, but I have been genuinely shocked by the bilious and unbridled hatred that has been pouring out from every Labour orifice you could care to mention.

Not just from the Labour leadership contenders. Not just in the press. But even here in sunny Hastings, Labour is looking to knee-cap a Lib Dem or two.

It’s bewildering. It’s so far removed from the kind of national political culture that I want to be part of.

My sense of the Lib Dems is that we wear our political hearts on our sleeve a bit. We are passionate about social justice, civil liberties, political reform. And maybe that’s why the first 50 days of the Coalition have been so difficult to come to terms with.

Coalition policies are, de facto, not Lib Dem policies, despite our party having influenced (for the better) the policies that are now being brought forward.

Posted in Op-eds | 311 Comments

Opinion: Progressives would not cut free school meals

There are many things, in policy terms, that rank and file members will be expected to swallow as a result of the Coalition. There are Lib Dem red lines drawn in the agreement. There are abstentions arranged for the Parliamentary Party on particular issues. The cuts are to come, and we have Danny as Chief Secretary, with the enormous responsibility of managing this process, and making sure that Lib Dem guns are stuck to.

It is a huge opportunity and an unenviable task. What is more, the rationale for the various cuts have to be clear, and the PR of it all has …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 104 Comments
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