Tag Archives: new member

Voting Liberal Democrat for the first time

Since I was eligible to vote, I have voted for the Conservative Party. Local elections, by-elections, General Elections; I’ve always “voted blue, no matter who”. Part of the reason, I’m sure, is the influence of my grandparents who have always voted Conservative. The other reason is easier to identify; as someone always interested – and now working in – law, the fact that the Conservative Party has always been identified as the “party of law and order” naturally drew me to them.

I won’t lie. I have never delved too deeply into the individual policies of the party. I started voting Conservative and didn’t stop. I followed Conservative MPs on Twitter and Facebook, I read “right leaning” newspapers and, for a period of time, I joined the local party association and gave my support as a local activist. I was even asked, where I used to live, to consider standing for the council (albeit as a paper candidate).

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Finding my voice…

“Brexit is the will of the people. We need to get on with it”

Whoever “the people” were they certainly didn’t include me. Brexit wasn’t my will, I didn’t want to get on with it. There was nothing in “the will of the people” that acknowledged the people who voted remain: presumably we’d all mass-converted to the cause of Brexit.

Nevertheless I maintained my stance of Remain but was frustrated by the response:

“You’re anti-democratic”
“You lost. Accept it.”
“Remember it’s the will of the people”

I circled round and round the same arguments, finding few people who felt Brexit should be challenged. Seeing gulfs emerging …

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First Time at Conference – York

As a new member, my first experience of a Liberal Democrat conference was by and large a positive one. I loved York, and the place I stayed was beautiful and, thanks to the Lib Dems, not at all costly. I am not at all well, having had recent serious health problems, but I hoped to get a few clues as to what the Lib Dems are about, and I did.

What I noticed most about my first experience was the under-representation of the country’s poorest and neediest and the abundance of the middle/upper middle classes. I wasn’t at all surprised – it’s a problem politics seems to have across the board. The people who should be making their voices heard the loudest, shouting and crying about deprivation and poverty, were not. They’re not anywhere, not present in the public discourse, not present on TV or only in passing. Its a deafening absence.

It`s an absence that’s been hitting me particularly hard since I started watching all Charlie Chaplin`s films. The tramp character he portrays represents the current state of the working classes better than any public figure in or out of politics. With his ragged clothes, tiredness, hunger and constant way of searching all his pockets for money in hope rather than expectation.

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Courage Calls…

A few weeks ago I was invited by Christine Jardine MP to visit Westminster as her #AskHerToStand delegate. The event was to commemorate the centenary of the Qualification of Women Act, a defining moment in British politics when women were allowed to stand for parliament for the first time.

As Christine’s delegate, I think I won the Golden Ticket. Where some guests were only able to spend five minutes with their MP, I was welcomed for the entire day. Christine and her assistant, David Evans, were generous with their time and insight despite having to navigate an ever-changing diary. Filing copy for the Corstorphine Grapevine was sandwiched between an emergency debate on Yemen and PMQ’s. Christine joined me in the audience at an #AskHerToStand event, but quickly realised that there wasn’t a Lib Dem MP on the panel. She nipped out to get us a drink and when I looked up she’d joined the stage! She never misses a beat in representing her constituents or the Lib Dems.

My trip to London was exactly one year after I made the decision to join the party. It was something that I had wanted to do for a very long time, but for many people joining a political party is a scary thing and I was one of them. 

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