May 2011 wasn’t the best month to be a Liberal Democrat. It was even worse if you were a Liberal Democrat Councillor that month. Plenty of good people up and down the country lost their seats on the back of a national backlash against the party for firstly daring to go into a coalition with the Tories and not winning the election outright but secondly and more importantly for the very public back down on student fees.
A lot of these good men and women have been left dangling by the national party. What do the party have planned for these people? Do they want to help them to get back on to local councils or do they not give a damn?
I was at a meeting last night with a former councillor who still gets calls from HQ addressing him as councillor. It riles him up no end and to be honest I’m not surprised. He has no contact from anyone up the hierarchy until they want something from him and even then they haven’t updated the databases to get him prefix right. It just smacks of a lack of class. I know the party aren’t flush with money but honestly how hard would it be for an intern to go through the databases and sort all this out or heck even a work experience kid?
Of course the database is one thing – and something that should be easy to sort but more importantly is what do the party want to do with these valuable assets? No doubt a few lost because they didn’t campaign well or because of natural shifts in the vote but the majority lost due to nothing they did. They lost because of the national perception of the party. They are in the main still angry at the national party for this and they need help and reassurance that they haven’t lost their seats in vein.
I know some who said they were done with politics but have been persuaded to give it another go because of how badly they feel people are being represented in their absence. These have done it off their own back but many haven’t and many need a guiding hand to steer them through.
Personally I think the party should look at this far more seriously than they have. They have been caught up in national issues and leaving the local parties far more isolated than they have done in the past. These ex-councillors not only deserve an explanation and some time but they also deserve respect from the party and they are also one of the most valuable resources that the party has at a local level.
I would urge the party to come up with a constructive plan to bring these 700 back into the fold. They are out of power today but they are a key to returning to power for the party in many local areas. Experience isn’t something that any political party can just cast aside without a care in the world. Also people flat out deserve to be treated better.
So lets get together a cohesive plan to get these people motivated by politics again and bring them back into the fold of the party. Most are still members but they laying low and finding it hard to justify putting in so much energy after losing so badly last year. A message of support from HQ wouldn’t go amiss and that is the very least that these people deserve. The very least.