The Lib Dems are hardly the most popular party nationally at the moment. It’s proving hard to be the junior member of a coalition in tough times. Nick Clegg’s approval ratings are also pretty dire.
When then should I join the Lib Dems and stand as a Lib Dem for Shropshire Council in 2013? It is best if I start my explanation with why I am standing for Shropshire Council at all.
I have campaigned since my school days, cutting my teeth on a damp squib of a campaign to rid our sixth form of school uniforms. The colour theme was, after all, a hideous bottle green. It was not long before I was campaigning against the demolition of a Victorian arcade on Northampton’s market square. That campaign failed to stop the bulldozers but just months later we succeeded in blocking an urban expressway that would have flattened many of the town’s terraced streets.
I guess I have campaigned one way or another ever since, including full time for the Campaign to Protect Rural England in Oxfordshire a few years back. Now settled in Ludlow, I have decided that I want to influence policy directly and become a councillor. Why?
Because I am fed up to my back teeth with the way that the Conservatives are cutting and changing council services in pursuit of their own ideology. Always they cry: “There is no alternative!” There are always alternatives, but those in control of Shropshire Council are too blinkered by dogma to see them. The ruling Conservative councillors have become too much focused on their own importance and have long forgotten that their sole purpose is to serve the people of this county.
Initially, I planned to stand as an independent liberal. As I began to make my plans, I came to admire the way that the local team of Lib Dems works. I decided that I would be better as part of a team than out on my own. After a number of discussions, I decided to throw in my lot with the Lib Dems. We already have fourteen members on Shropshire Council. It’s a long way to go to match the Tory numbers, but I have fought campaigns with longer odds before and won.
I have found myself surprisingly at home in the Lib Dems. I have already written a number of articles for Lib Dem Voice. I like the collegiate character of the local group. And no one has once mentioned Nick Clegg on a doorstep!
I’ll be writing about my experiences and outlining my views in coming months.