I really enjoyed meeting with fellow Lib Dem members in the New Forest last night.
We are starting to get organised once again, looking at the District Council elections in 2019. There is a lot to be done but we are already starting the process of identifying potential candidates, approving and selecting, as well as thinking about policies and campaign themes.
It is early days but the record of the conservatives on environmental issues is likely to be one of the main areas of challenge. They have one of the worst records in the UK on recycling and then there is the problem of air quality!
Financial competence is another area where the Tories have performed badly, with projects costing much more than they need to, cuts to front line services and an extraordinary decision to waste £1.2 million on beach huts.
Nobody believes the Tories have done a good job when it comes to meeting housing needs. We still have thousands of families on waiting list and many people stuck in emergency Bed & Breakfast accommodation (costing the taxpayer even more).
Somehow, the Lib Dems have to cut through the expensive and glossy election leaflets that the Tories produce, which paints them all in an entirely different light than the reality. With 58 conservatives and only two Lib Dems, it must surely be the time for a change of stewardship – but it won’t happen unless people join the movement. Politics matters.
There have been no Labour Councillors elected to the District for 30 years or more, so the Liberal Democrats are the only realistic alternative to conservative dominance.
The Lib Dems are the only party where the members determine what our policies should be. Every year, I go to conference and help shape the direction of the party.
One policy I would like to see taken up is those which help our workforce “upskill”. We have relatively low unemployment but too many people on low wages, only just managing. I don’t pretend that I know all the answers but part of the answer is better access to education and skills training, as well as incentives to employers.
As always, I am very interested in hearing views – even those I may not agree with.