Opinion: It’s my Party and I’ll cry if I want to

 

Since 10pm on election night I have been in utter despair. I joined the party five years ago at the age of 10 and I was told that the Lib Dems would never be in Government. I was overjoyed when Nick Clegg walked into Downing Street in 2010. By contrast, I was in tears when Nick resigned. Since then I have been thinking about how the party can learn from mistakes and move on.

My starting point is what Nick said in his resignation speech, ‘Fear and grievance have won, and liberalism has lost.’ The first thing the party has to do is to rehabilitate the concept of liberalism because it has been stolen by parties of other persuasions. This can only be done by defining our core voter base. Our liberalism was not differentiated from the politics of austerity and the scare tactics of the Tories. The Tories evoked a Hobbesian scenario which seems to have worked. Nick is absolutely right in saying that liberalism is not faring well against the politics of fear.

Liberalism is strongly linked to democracy which Tories have no clue about. They are about to redraw the boundaries which will wipe away 25 seats from Labour. Only liberalism can act as an antidote to the harsh policies that the Tories will introduce in the next five years.

So we need to consider where our inspiration for liberalism will come from. I know that there are lots of theories about liberalism but for me I believe we need to be a voice for those who engage in protest politics. Those who campaigned for disability rights, the bedroom tax, food banks and public sector cuts need support. For the last five years the party’s official line has been that it was ‘grown up’ politics to support the austerity cuts. People on the left, like Social Liberal Forum, were side lined. Where then was the party’s link with its motto, “Liberty, Equality and Community”? I am not suggesting that we take to the streets. I am not suggesting that we become a party of protest again. I am suggesting that protest politics is ‘grown up’ politics too. These hundred and thousands of people are actually practising their democracy through protest and we need to tap into that. A people-based narrative of liberalism will be a powerful weapon to bludgeon Cameron with.

At the next election I will finally be able to vote. Many people have told me that I am wasting my child hood on a party that’s going nowhere. I even received texts post election ridiculing my party membership. I want to spend the next five years helping to rebuild the party in a way which reflects the reality of people’s hardships.

* Maelo Manning is a 15 year old Lib Dem member. She blogs as Lib Dem Child.

Read more by .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

22 Comments

  • Maelo – sorry to use you as an agony aunt but I have an eight year-old who adored the election and I truly do not know what to do with his enthusiasm (especially as a politically burnt-out 48 year-old). Please advise.

  • Hi Maelo: wonderful to hear about your political drive, enthusiasm and thinking. Do not be overtly worried and do dry your tears. The world changes remarkably quickly and when you are down the only way is up. It will change again, I have experienced this situation twice in my lifetime and when 12 can just recall 1955. People said the party was dead and just will not lie down. Yet 2 years later they won a by election in Torrington and started a slow march back. So cheer up and follow your thinking and analysis. Roll on votes at 16, then you can mark your cross next year.

  • Bill le Breton 11th May '15 - 1:04pm

    Thank you Maelo – great read!!!!!

  • Nicola Wilson 11th May '15 - 1:18pm

    Great post! Farsighted idealists the world over have to get used to getting kicked in the teeth while the rest of the population pays catch up …

  • Stephen Hesketh 11th May '15 - 1:39pm

    Maelo – I wish I had possessed your wisdom and insight when I was 15!

    “Where then was the party’s link with its motto, ‘Liberty, Equality and Community’? Quite right – and it needs to be reinstated on our website and our new members literature ASAP.

    Great post 🙂 Thank you!

  • “I am suggesting that protest politics is ‘grown up’ politics too.”

    Hell yeah 🙂 Maelo. One thing I’ve always remembered about my councillor training from party people is the importance of ALWAYS being a protest party, ESPECIALLY when you’re in power. You’re not there to make life comfortable for the council chief exec (or the cabinet secretary, or whoever) and keep things ticking along as is. You’re there to listen to the protests of the people you represent – and want to represent in future – and to demand that things are improved.

  • Phil Beesley 11th May '15 - 3:16pm

    Maelo: “I joined the party five years ago at the age of 10 and I was told that the Lib Dems would never be in Government.”

    When I was 30 years of age, I was told that I was an idiot to support Blackpool Football Club. I was told they’ll never be in the Premiership. But for a year, Blackpool played up there with Arsenal and Chelsea and Man U.

    My club went down a division and has been descending ever since. As an armchair fan, there is nothing that I can do about Blackpool’s descent.

    But if you are an armchair liberal, you can help stop the descent.

  • Maelo:
    From the other end of the age spectrum, I share your despair, however most expressions of optimism as a result of a catastrophic election result seem to me to invoke a scorched earth which I find singularly unhelpful. I am glad you preface your “protest politics is ‘grown up’ politics too” with “I am not suggesting that we become a party of protest again” because there is a real danger that we could become an alternative Green party, lacking a consistent narrative. Unfortunately, participation in government has undermined our narrative, we have to recognise that practical experience nearly always does have this effect, however one reaction was to emphasise a form of centrism that seemed to detach ourselves from our Liberal roots.

    Let me applaud a couple of phrases:
    The first thing the party has to do is to rehabilitate the concept of liberalism
    and
    Many people have told me that I am wasting my child hood on a party that’s going nowhere. I even received texts post election ridiculing my party membership. I want to spend the next five years helping to rebuild the party in a way which reflects the reality of people’s hardships

    Contrary to the assertions of countless cynical naysayers, no one joins our party in the expectation of high office. That the likes of Vince Cable, Norman Lamb, Ed Davey Nick Clegg, Steve Webb and others acquitted themselves ably as ministers is greatly to their credit, when clearly if their primary objective had been high office they would have sought preferment within the Labour or Conservative parties. You are following in their footpath: the road is not smooth and you cannot know the destination, but you do know why you are taking this path. I wish you well. I recall a Lib Dem campaigner, a girl of similar age as yourself , who was thrilled to meet Nick Clegg a couple of weeks ago. She too will be devastated, but I hope that she and others like her may be inspired by your writing: you are the future.

    If I may take issue with you on one point: we have no copyright on Liberalism; we should encourage manifestations of Liberalism in other parties. After all we do live, more or less in a Liberal democracy, to this extent Liberalism has been successful and expropriated by others.

    There are, however, grave threats to Liberalism that are, I believe, endemic in dominant sectors of all other major UK parties. This is why you are completely right to reassert, even rediscover the principles of Liberalism that can sustain our party.
    .

  • Bill le Breton 11th May '15 - 4:03pm

    Philip writes, “Hell yeah 🙂 Maelo. One thing I’ve always remembered about my councillor training from party people is the importance of ALWAYS being a protest party, ESPECIALLY when you’re in power. You’re not there to make life comfortable for the council chief exec (or the cabinet secretary, or whoever) and keep things ticking along as is. You’re there to listen to the protests of the people you represent – and want to represent in future – and to demand that things are improved.”

    If only you had been a SpAd for the last 5 years – You have the secret of Liberal politics in 56 words! [don’t bother to count, I guessed 😉 ]

  • I think that people were scared of Labour/SNP so much that they voted conservative. I wasn’t alive in 1992 but this election sounds like a carbon copy. And we all know what happened to the Tories after that election.

  • Phil Beesley 11th May '15 - 6:14pm

    Dylan: “I wasn’t alive in 1992 but this election sounds like a carbon copy”

    No. John Major is a decent human being. David Cameron incorrectly thinks he ought to be one.

  • Excellent.
    Music to my ears.
    An example to all those who want to rebuild the party. Jo Grimond used to say – “There is so much to protest about!”

    “….So we need to consider where our inspiration for liberalism will come from.

    … I believe we need to be a voice for those who engage in protest politics. Those who campaigned for disability rights, the bedroom tax, food banks and public sector cuts need support.

    Where then was the party’s link with its motto, “Liberty, Equality and Community”?

    I am suggesting that protest politics is ‘grown up’ politics too.

    These hundreds and thousands of people are actually practising their democracy through protest and we need to tap into that.

    A people-based narrative of liberalism will be a powerful weapon to bludgeon Cameron with.”

    Excellent stuff!

  • paul barker 11th May '15 - 7:46pm

    I was at a Libdem party/wake yesterday & lots of people said they had cried after Nicks speech, my daughter cried & shes 25. I am not sure if it has really hit me yet.
    Of course we must always be a Party of Opposition but Protest has 2 big dangers – that one drifts into self-indulgence like the “occupy” movement or worse, that anger curdles into hate. Ive done a lot of hating in my time in Politics & I regret it all.

  • Wonderful post. Wish we could collect together all such youthful enthusiasts – to grill all potential party leaders at every level – and give us the feed-back. It will not happen in reality but could be done online – and woe betide those elected who don’t keep promises. Do write more for us, Maelo.

  • Peter Galton 12th May '15 - 10:03am

    A wonderful post Mealo, very positive . I joined the Liberals strait after I left School in 1977, not the best time for us then. It is never easy for us, like others have said you would not have joined us if you wanted higher office only. Being a Liberal is not just the politics, its something that’s in side you. Enjoy your politics have fun, but all I say do others things as well.

  • Thanks so much Maelo – good luck with the exams (though I’m sure you won’t need it). See you in Bournemouth?

  • suzanne fletcher 12th May '15 - 11:01am

    thanks for sharing your thoughts Maelo. Incisive and thoughtful as ever.
    first of all. allow yourelf to cry, even scream, and grieving is a natural and important part of healing. You have lost your MP, lost your dream.
    But then it is the time to build, not bounce. you are absolutely right that we need to rebuild Liberalism into our ideas, actions, policies and everything we do, including how we are governed. A party of protest where needed – and the need is certainly going to increase rapidly with the unbridled tory government. we build alliances where we have common ground, we partake constructively in ways of achieving change, but we belong to nobody else but our communities and each other.
    When I have recovered I am picking up the asylum issues and using whatever means we can, and with whoever we can, am determined to do what I, and we as a party through Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary, can to ensure that those most vulnerable in our society, those seeking sancutary, are given the understanding. respect and justice that they deserve, and should have in liberal society.
    You and your generation are our hope and inspiration for the future – but it is up to us oldies to keep things going on hte right track for you to come along with us and then after us.

  • Hey Suzanne, thank you too for your posts on facebook etc. You are always ahead of me with your ‘shotgun’ of information. [I also post on Barnet LGBT in North London].

  • suzanne fletcher 12th May '15 - 12:41pm

    Hi Tony, thanks, cannot find you on fb – can you inbox me, or request friend ?

  • Maelo, I cried too. There’s been much in the news about VE Day recently so just keep on remembering this is our Dunkirk.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • expats
    This thread is becoming like the Daily Mail/Express... The EU is not perfect but why the outrage when they act in their own self interest..Their citizens are de...
  • Tony Dawson
    I am intrigued at two rather strange ideas: (a) that the Conservative government's 'advice' about leaflet delivering (as opposed to legislation) carries any ...
  • Tony Dawson
    While I am not averse to using internet and social media, I am also aware of Lib Dems achieving local results massively better than the Party's national showing...
  • Tony Dawson
    There are some good points in there. There is, however, a big communications gap....
  • John Marriott
    @Dan Was that ‘Slamond’ a typo or intentional?...