Author Archives: Sam Phripp

An early general election? There’s a Christmas present we should be careful about wishing for

The Independent has run an interview today with Jeremy Corbyn, outlining the Labour leader’s strategy moving forward – including his pledge that Labour MPs would back a dissolution of Parliament and an early General Election. I was previously a real supporter of an early General Election. Ultimately, I question Theresa May’s ability to hold her own party together through the Brexit negotiations, and I also think that it would provide an opportunity for the process to be amended or slowed by the more progressive forces within our country. This said – we need to be careful what we wish for.

My partner and I were having a conversation the other day, where I was ranting on about how it would all be wonderful – we Liberal Democrats would gain seats from the Conservatives in some of our former heartlands (it wouldn’t take a miracle for seats like Bath and Yeovil in the South West and seats like Twickenham to fall our way in London, for example) and we’d be able to pull the brakes on Brexit. But there’s another more worrying possibility that I’d like to let you into.

So, it’s Friday 3rd of March and we’re all still up, having sat there throughout the night as results have poured in. Things aren’t quite as we’d hoped, and we have that nagging feeling that we had in June, and that many of us had in November when Hillary Clinton was beaten by the blonde-haired Wotsit – the feeling of the ground slipping away from underneath you, and the feeling that you don’t really know your own neighbours any more. Yes, the Liberal Democrats have gained a lot of seats, maybe fifty or sixty, and that’s a good showing. But that isn’t the concern, because this is no victory for Liberalism. In former Labour heartland seats, where industry left thirty years ago to be replaced by absolutely nothing, an angry electorate, which flexed its muscles in the European referendum has elected a rash of UKIP MPs. There aren’t hundreds, but there might be fifty or more. The seeds of their victories have been sewn over generations – not because Labour isn’t tough enough on immigration, but because Labour said that it stood for the working man but now they’re seen to stand for nobody. When voters have looked to the Parliamentary Labour Party for cues that they can be trusted, that they have even basic competence when it comes to Government, they’ve seen Shadow Ministers resigning, pitiful performances at PMQs and Jeremy Corbyn pretending not to be able to find a seat on a train when plenty of seats were available, and then squirming for what felt like days when he got found out.

Posted in Op-eds | 22 Comments

Opinion: Open doors and open minds

yellow door ppb

So then, we all saw it, did we? The starting gun for the Liberal Democrats election campaign was well and truly fired on Wednesday with the airing of three different versions of a very similar Party Political Broadcast.

‘Open Doors’ puts a focus on the LibDems as a campaigning force, but importantly for me, it also makes a very clear point about how we operate as a party – we listen to our communities, and we work with them to achieve change. Rather than it being Nick standing around …

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Opinion: Criminals behind bars – do these ads go too far?

crimeHave you seen this part of the LibDem website? It went live following the Nick v Nigel debate last week, and gives examples (and pictures) of criminals locked up thanks to the European Arrest Warrant. Like others, I find this page distasteful and discomforting. Yet still, I support it.

I actually missed the debate last Wednesday because I was attending a Parish Council meeting, but what I read on Twitter spoke volumes. Nick won the factual debate, but Farage did well on emotion. I think we need to remember that, because it’s key to the whole issue. As a party, we can win the debate on facts for as long as we like, but it won’t necessarily win us many votes. Why? Because that isn’t how people make decisions.

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As David Heath stands down, local councillor Sam Phripp pays a personal tribute

On Friday night at a constituency meeting, David Heath, my MP, my boss and my friend told Liberal Democrats that he won’t be seeking re-election in 2015. I couldn’t honestly write down all the things that I was feeling then – sometimes we’re feeling too many things at the same time.

I wanted to write now and talk about the man that I know, and how him standing down will be a great personal loss so many people in Somerton and Frome.

To me, David Heath isn’t a politician, he’s the chap who knew instinctively to ask about my A-Level results …

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Opinion: A Liberal approach to Higher Education

University campusWhen people ask me why I’m a Liberal Democrat, I simplify it slightly. Yes, it’s because I have a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament and I think he’s pretty great, but it’s also because I quite like freedom, and I think it should be applied more liberally (see what I did there?).

I always describe Liberalism as being obsessed with freedom. It’s a very simple way of encompassing so many of the campaigns and issues we care so passionately about. We raised the tax threshold, because people on low incomes deserve freedom from a punitive tax burden. We legalised same-sex marriage because people deserve the freedom to marry whoever they see fit. The changes to benefits – controversial thought they are – are about ensuring that people aren’t beholden to the state without good reason.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 15 Comments

Opinion: Lessons from Bradford

In the aftermath of the Bradford West by-elction result, it is increasingly clear that Labour didn’t have the slightest grip on what was actually happening. Comments and discussions on Labour blogs show us that Labour assumed that simply because certain areas (for example, areas with a dense Muslim population) were voting; they had to be voting Labour. This kind of complacent assumption really is an insult to voters.

The reason I joined the Liberal Democrats and became an active campaigner was because I saw that whole swathes of my area were taken for granted by the Conservatives. We need to be …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 15 Comments

Opinion: Riots, prisons and us

The speeches this week by David Cameron and Ed Milliband made for a very interesting bit of bed-time reading. For me, both the Prime Minister and the Labour leader were pretty wide of the mark. Ed, as he often does came across as being reactionary. Too scared to be seen to defend looters and join the dots toward massive social injustice but too hidebound by his party to talk about throwing away the key, he was left very much floundering somewhere in the ether; neither talking about the roots of the problem (possibly because they lie a little close to …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 40 Comments

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