Mike German writes… my time as Welsh leader

Nominations to succeed me as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats close today (Nov 3), and in the morning, the first all-female leadership contest in British political history will start in earnest.

Very few are the leaders who get to leave in a (mostly) dignified way, and I am grateful to my colleagues – both supporters and otherwise – for allowing me this luxury.

Looking back, the highlights of the last decade are obvious. I’ve made no secret of the fact that the highlight of my time as leader has been the time we spent in government. For three years, we were able to put into action the policies and principles we spend so much time discussing and debating.

We were able to introduce more doctors, more nurses and more teachers; reduce class sizes, so that children have a greater opportunity to learn. We brought back school milk, produced a Welsh Language strategy that has helped our language to flourish, and introduced no-nonsense business grants that cut through the red tape and bureaucracy synonymous with government aid.

In all we were able to deliver 100 Welsh Liberal Democrat policies – actual manifesto promises – for the people of Wales. I make no apologies for being proud of what we did in government.

I know that our party is thoughtful when it comes to being in government – and that’s right. Being in government is a big responsibility. But we are a political party, not a think tank. I have often said that we are the party of ideas. I’m proud of that aspect of the party, but our duty is to deliver those ideas.

I believe that the objective of this party is to be in government. I’m not saying we should take any deal at any cost – of course not – but where we can deliver our policies we have to go for it. We are a party who desperately wants to help change our country for the better, and to do that you have to be in government.

I do not intend to be a source of unsolicited advice to my successor. I will offer them my support and whole-hearted assistance. In a small group we all have an important contribution to make. The nature of my contribution will change on December 8th, when my successor takes over. But my struggle to grow this party and take us back in to government will never cease.

* Mike German was Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the National Assembly from 1999, and of the Welsh Liberal Democrats from 2007. He steps down from both roles next month.

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