LGA Conference

John Pienaar

John Pienaar

Attended my first Local Government Association Conference last week in Harrogate. As you can imagine there was a great deal of blah, blah, blah but a few interesting speakers. Jeremy Hunt, the Health minister, put forward his ideas on how they were going to reduce demand on the NHS. It appears as though it’s all my fault – overweight, a bit of a smoker and I live on my own. So if I give up drinking, smoking and eating the NHS should be safe. Then all of us retired people should move back in with our children to reduce care costs and free up some housing – great in theory but it presumes that you have to got rid of your kids in the first place!

John Pienaar gave us his views on the state of the parties after the election – it looks like we could be in for a long spell of Tory rule. Mind you it was interesting watching the ‘group’ of Tories from Suffolk County Council spend 3 days trying to avoid each other. It is a worry for the residents of Suffolk because I just don’t see the quality of Cabinet member required to deliver the services with reduced funds. In two years time, with the Tory Government delivering the peak level of austerity cuts, the County Council elections could deliver a mixed colour administration.

I hope that the many Council CEOs that were there spent more time talking with the many exhibitors who seem to have already come up with some innovative solutions – my favourite was the rubbish bin that has its own built-in compactor thus reducing the emptying frequency.

Advertisements

The Fight Back

The election results were devastating, many a great MP and councilor lost their seat.  Certainly we made mistakes in 2010, both pre-election and post, but the country would have been in a far worse position without the Liberal Democrats helping to form a stable platform to enable recovery and to apply a brake on some of the more excessive Tory policies.  However, the British public chose the 2015 election to make a few messages:

>         Scottish voters wanted a greater influence over the decisions made in Westminster;

>         English voters do not want SNP to be the tail that wags the Labour party;

>         UKIP became the receptacle of the vote against the ‘mainstream’ parties;

>         Students, disillusioned after the tuition fees ‘debacle’, turned Green.

Strangely the policies of the parties seemed irrelevant, which could explain why, whatever the parties announced, the polls didn’t move.  The last minute swing to the Tories was driven by a fear of a Labour / SNP coalition.  None of the ‘messages’ were going to lead voters to select the Liberal Democrats.  Since the event most commentators have said that the results were extremely unfair on the Liberal Democrats who had been doing a good job in coalition.  Some went on to predict the end of the line for the party.  However, as usual, they have underestimated the strength of feeling that many people have towards the Liberal Democrats especially when it comes to policies.

Since polls closed last week, over 10,000 new members have joined the Liberal Democrats.

Last week’s elections hurt us all. Across the country our candidates and campaign teams worked so hard but did not get the results they deserved.   We have a long journey ahead to get our party back where it belongs, but we are starting that journey ten thousand people stronger than we were – people from all over the country, all sorts of backgrounds and ages.

>   Over half of our new members are aged under 35 and our oldest is 91 (welcome to the family Tily);

>   82% have not been a member before and 72% have not been involved in any sort of campaign;

>   They have highlighted a huge range of issues, like protecting Human Rights Act and blocking the Snoopers Charter.

>   Top locations are Sheffield, Bristol, Twickenham & Richmond, Cambridge, Islington, Battersea and Cardiff.

Would you like help the fight back by becoming a volunteer or by joining the party?     www.libdems.org.uk/join

South Suffolk’s Next MP?

pitucre LibDem PCCOn Saturday the Babergh Liberal Democrats took the very easy decision to appoint Grace Weaver as their Parliamentary Candidate for next year’s general election. Her press release says …

Having lived in East Bergholt for the first 20 years of her life, Grace has a strong knowledge of local issues including housing, education and transport.

Her priorities for the campaign include engaging more young people with the Liberal Democrats, and highlighting the party’s achievements in Government.

Commenting on her selection, Grace said: “I’m overjoyed to represent the Liberal Democrats in the area where I grew up.  It’s going to be a tough fight, but I think we can be proud of what we’ve achieved in Government.  By listening to local people and working with them to find solutions to local problems, I think we can show voters that we are the best party to represent them in local and national Government.”

Cllr Sue Carpendale, Liberal Democrat Leader on Babergh District Council, said: “We are delighted to have Grace as our PPC for South Suffolk .  She’s young, a woman, local to the area, and is a breath of fresh air.  She understands the issues facing us in this constituency, and is keen to engage with young people, to encourage their aspirations, and to convince them of the importance of politics to their futures.”

After attending local schools, Grace went on to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.  Having worked for two cancer charities, she now acts as a public affairs and campaigns consultant to health charities and companies.

For more information about Grace Weaver and the South Suffolk Liberal Democrats, please go to http://www.facebook.com/gracesouthsuffolk or http://www.southsuffolklibdems.org.uk.  You can also follow Grace on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gracelibdem, or email gracesouthsuffolk@gmail.com.