What next?

This has been a difficult year for everybody. We have all been in lockdown, giving us all time to reflect.  This process finally enabled me to  build up the courage to leave the Labour Party and join the Liberal Democrats.

But why?

Simply as Labour is no longer a party that champions progressive politics. I do believe the Lib Dems have learnt from the coalition – but let’s be real, we are still polling at 6%.

So with all this doom and gloom why join now? Well it’s simple, now more than ever Liberal Democrats have a golden opportunity to rebuild themselves as a real political force within our country and I want to be a part of that.

Let’s look at Scotland, where Scottish Labour are the so called main progressive opposition to the SNP … well, to be frank, they leave a lot to be desired. Scottish progressives who believe in the union deserve an opposition who are actually competent. We as a party need to show that it is us who are proud to be a unionists and ready to oppose the SNP, especially on education where they are slowly destroying it piece by piece, while Labour look like headless chickens. Liberal Democrats need to show competence, unity and fundamentally show that we are leading the way on policy.

Next year we have the local elections. This will be a big test for us as a party and especially for the new leader. One thing we must remember is that being anti Conservative does not mean we are pro Labour, and if we do go into alliance with other parties in local government we do not compromise our basic Liberal Values and beliefs. We must be bold when holding Labour councils to account and ambitious in what we demand for our communities.

Many people will not want to hear this but the “Stop Brexit” message in some communities put people off voting for us more than the coalition in the 2015 election. Rebuilding trust is going to take a lot of work from us as a party, but it simply starts with listening to these communities – not preaching at them. While it is so important that members have a final say on our policies, we must also work with all different types of people from different backgrounds in our policy making.

We also need to acknowledge we are leaving the EU now, like it or not. It is happening, we need to now to become a party with a bold ambitious vision for the country outside the EU – with rejoining not being discussed for a minimum of 10 years. We will need some of the 52% to vote for us if we want any hope of a so-called Lib Dem fight back.

While we do certainly have challenges, we do have a bright future ahead.

We just need to get this right, listen, and involve all different types of people in our movement.

Whoever wins the current leadership election needs our backing and support – let’s learn from the past and move forwards.

* Kieran Dams is a member from Liverpool who hopes to go to uni to study politics.

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5 Comments

  • David Evans 6th Aug '20 - 1:51pm

    Kieran, welcome to the Lib Dems. The move from Labour to the Lib Dems is not an easy one, but it’s one that has been massively beneficial for Liberals in the past [Hat tip to George Kendall et al], moving us from a mainly liberal, niche and not very successful party to a much more widely relevant one with a greater emphasis on mainstream day to day problems including poverty and inequality which grew massively over a period of 30 years.

    The one point I would put to you, relates to your comment “I do believe the Lib Dems have learnt from the coalition,” because although many people say we have learned, there is little if any agreement between then as to what has been learned. Essentially we have agreement that something very bad went wrong, but each individual’s explanation somehow returns to “It wasn’t what I did, but what other people whom I don’t agree with did.”

    Ultimately from my perspective, the party’s failure was at almost all levels, where too few people really stood up and said this disaster has gone on too long and has to stop before it destroys our party and its values. However, the main fault lay with those in the upper echelons, who did have power and influence but just kept schtum in the hope something or someone else would save them from having to put their head above the parapet.

    Everyone could see the warnings every May in local elections and parliamentary by-elections, but no-one said “No more.”

    You are absolutely right when you say ‘let’s learn from the past’ – education is a sound liberal principle – but as a team we still have to decide what we have to learn and one thing we and our leaders have to learn is that survival is not guaranteed and being seen by the wider British community as being relevant to their needs and not just a niche personal liberties/identity politics lobby group is vital.

  • Welcome to the party. With regards to Lobour my expectation is that they will have a lot of internal conflict & turmoil in the next few years as the Corbyn faction(s) stand their ground in the face of the changes that evolve as a result of the Starmer leadership.

  • Andrew Tampion 7th Aug '20 - 7:03am

    As far as Leave voting constituencies is concerned there is some hope. In Bosworth where I live, 60% leave, we have lost lost nearly 50% of our vote between 2010 and 2019. Mostly in 2015 to be fair. But we also managed to recover control of the Borough Council in the local elections and now hold 21 of 34 seats. So it seems that Leave supporters maybe willing to vote for us when the result can’t effect Brexit.
    However it’s not just Leave voters. As a current party member and someone who has voted Liberal and Liberal Democrat I felt unable to support the party in either the Euro or the General Elections; because I considered the “Stop Brexit” policy fundamentally anti-democratic.

  • Alex Macfie 8th Aug '20 - 6:27pm

    We ALL “acknowledge we are leaving the EU now”. It is a simple statement of fact. In the same way, we all acknowledge that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are in power, having won the last election with an 80-seat majority. Both of these are facts. Acknowledging both does not, however, mean we can’t oppose or campaign against them. The whole point of being in opposition is that you actively oppose things that the government does that you don’t agree with.

    This does not mean it would necessarily be helpful or appropriate to come out all guns blazing for “rejoin” at the next election. Both leadership candidates seem to be saying that we need to bring the public with us before considering this as a major campaign platform (as opposed to it being a simple “aspiration”). But the idea that there should be some sort of fixed moratorium on discussing the subject is utterly wrong. The OP seems to be assuming that the “52%” are fixed in their view for all time. But even if they are, and no-one who voted Leave can ever have a change of heart, the electorate itself changes. Older voters are more pro-Brexit, while young people coming onto the electoral roll are more likely to be anti-Brexit, and thus open to Rejoin. Public opinion can change, and can be changed. And seeking to change public opinion is part of the point of political campaigning.

  • Welcome to the party Kieran. With thinking like this, you are in the right place.

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