6 May 2011

Carnage at the Polls

There was clearly a misunderstanding in the sheer weight of public loathing towards the Lib Dems in the UK.

The Lib Dems believed, some would say correctly, that their huge investment in community engagement, the time and energy they volunteer in making their wards and boroughs a better place, would mean the public could see beyond the politics and see the real people.

Grassroots has saved the Lib Dems in the past, and devoted local campaigners had no real insight that this election would be any different.

Some would say the loss of Sheffield City Council and other Northern Territories was inevitable given the MPs unpopularity, but to those who held minority oppositions, who were lib dems but much more; community wardens, forum chairs, trustees and other hardworking volunteers, did not expect a lateral effect from National opinion.

Price of Government

Perhaps this has not happened to the Lib Dems on such a grand scale because they have never held this sort of position in government.

All of a sudden, their local-level popularity is focused on more than just how many recycling boxes they can sort out and how many people they know by name. The "politics" of the situation has caught up with them and it has not been kind.

Government's Price

The question remaining, as Conservatives steam ahead in the polls and Lib Dems fall into third, fourth and fifth place, is what effect will the devastation on the grass roots have?

Some are calling for Clegg's blood, but this is unlikely, despite posturing by other MPs. The Lib Dems appear to be bound to the coalition with no chance of escape.

Will the network of community focused lib dems crawl away then? Will they, as Milliband prompts, give up on the phoenix and sign up to the rose? Or perhaps the centre-right will chose the scribble on a stick.

Or, as is more likely, the shattered parties will regroup after a defragment, and plan more effectively for the next one.

Shattered Ideologies

The analogy I used as the Lib Dems went from opposition to fourth place in our Council was to sculpt Mount Rushmore using only a toothpick. Sometimes it doesnt matter how much you enjoy something, if you are getting no-where, it is tempting to give up.

And indeed, some may.

But realistically, the Liberal Democrats are stronger than that. They have gone from being the ashes to being the phoenix, and like the phoenix, they can rise again.

If there is one redeeming feature in local grass roots - it is the dedication and loyalty to their values that prevails. The Lib Dems are not Labour, they are not Conservative and they are not Green. They are built on a structure of premises on Liberalism and Democracy, and, most keenly, they are tenacious. Or they would jump ship with ease.

Perseverance, tenacity and a dedication to core values will maintain the majority of the party in spite of casualties.

Greek Myths

I far prefer the image of the phoenix rising again, but it should be noted there is an alternative Greek Myth Analogy.

Prometheus stole fire from the Gods. In this comparison, the Lib Dems attempted to share power with the Tories. They lapped with the Gods and they have been punished like Gods. They may be bound to an eternal hell, with not a phoenix but an eagle pecking their liver on a daily basis, as punishment for their audacity.

Or perhaps, an even better, less bird-focused observation would be that of Sparta. Perhaps the Lib dems, with their dedication to value and grass roots, are like Spartacus rising up to challenge the rich and the noble over their oppression. And perhaps you have to lose a few battles before you win the war.

1 comment:

  1. Prior to the last general election I was resolute that I wanted Gordon Brown’s Labour party out and a change of politics. I couldn't decide if I could trust the Conservatives again and was reluctant to waste a vote for the Libdems. The first leader’s debate swayed my decision after a truly inspiring performance by Nick Clegg.

    I suspect like many, the coalition forged by Cameron and Clegg seemed an exciting prospect to me. A mixture of conservative economics and a more liberal society. The Camclegg honeymoon went well, they appeared equal partners, GDP returned to growth and there was an air of optimism in the country.

    But then something happened to Nick... the authority and stewardship had gone, Nick was no longer vying for the pat on Dave's back - photo shot. He forgot he was acting PM when Dave was on holiday and he seemed to lose control of the actions of some of his party. Worse still he appeared to go along with every Tory policy. The people didn't empower a Conservative government, they voted for a coalition!

    Yesterdays local elections were an opportunity for the people to vent their anger and disappointment at Nick, and their anger that the question of political reform was brought up at time when people demand action on the economy first and foremost.

    It is unfortunate but not surprising that people reflect on nation politics when deciding council and parish representatives. It has resulted in many worthy existing and potential councillors loosing a seat. Through knowledge from my own local campaign I was able to vote for councillors who were worthy of a seat rather than letting national politics dictate.

    Perhaps a lesson from yesterday’s Libdem bloodbath is that District & Town councils and need to be more in touch with the wards they represent and the constituents need to be more inquisitive of what their councillors are achieving or are prepared to achieve for them locally.



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