Thanks for your letter. You definitely deserve a lovely, peaceful, break with your family and I hope you all have a lovely time.
It was good of you to mention the forthcoming Council elections and to recognise the huge amount of work that activists, candidates and councillors will be putting in over the next month. As you know, elections aren’t won solely in the four weeks before polling day. It’s the constant year-round working with and listening to the local community that gets Liberal Democrat councillors elected. We have some fantastic councillors around the country. They are the bedrock of our party’s success and we can never thank them enough for all that they do.
I know that you, too have been out on the campaign trail, as recently as last weekend in Sheffield where you were snow clearing and door knocking.
I thought you might like to know about some of the hard work that’s taking place over the holiday weekend, though. Bank holidays are not an excuse for Liberal Democrats to put their feet up – it’s two extra days’ leafletting and canvassing.I dare say that there will be some ingesting of chocolate, too, but Lib Dem campaigners are not known for their DIY or Spring cleaning. I know of one wife of a Liberal Democrat councillor who once tore a strip of wallpaper off the hall in the hope that it would inspire her husband to get it decorated. It did. After a few years.
Anyway, here are what people are up to:
In Eastleigh, Cllr Louise Bloom has “already been deliverering and got loads more to do, going to go out shortly actually and will listen to Saints vs Chelsea at the same time, we can march together!”
In Clitheroe, Cllr Allan Knox is “Lealetting – county council seat to hold….”
In London, David MacDonald is “working on a new borough tabloid
Sam Fisk is heading off to Stevenage to deliver leaflets.
In the East Midlands, our old mate David Bill is “Delivering targetted letters aimed at converting yes voters into postal voters and letting everyone know we saved the local ambulance station.”
In the East of England, Lorna Dupre is “ Catching up with email; thinking about the next loads of literature to design, mailmerge, print, fold, stuff; getting my own nomination paper filled in; sorting out meetings to finish the rest of the other 17 for which I’m agent.” But at least she has chocolate.
Holly Matthies is “catching up on posting out new-members’ packs to people who’ve recently joined LGBT+ Lib Dems.”
Richard Marbrow is doing: Boring PPERA admin followed by some time on Connect and Nationbuilder working out how to get information from one to the other.
In Fife, Cllr Susan Leslie was up early: “I set up the my Councillor’s Surgery stall at Kirkcaldy Farmers Market at 8.10m this morning. Great morning and lots of chat with folks. Then onto Kinghorn at lunchtime for the dedication of a new bench at the harbour. Now at 3pm I do have my feet up but feel I deserve it.”
But the most heartwarming sty is that of little Bailey. He’s a wee shih-tsu who’s just been fostered by Brentwood Councillor Karen Chilvers. He told Facebook:
“Well, as Caron Lindsay knows, I have been out delivering leaflets with my Fosty Mum. It was cold but I enjoyed telling people about being liberal because I got a chance because of nice fair-minded people. I do think it would be nice if someone had offered us a cup of tea along the way though!”
He wants us all to be aware that his foster brother Louis has been out on a ward walk with his Mum. And it was snowing!
That’s just a tiny wee snapshot of the Liberal Democrat army in action, this and any weekend.
They will not stop until the polls close on May 2nd. In Scotland where we don’t have elections, we’ll be visiting Northumberland and other places and will be phonebanking like demons just like we did for Eastleigh.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this whistlestop tour round the country. It represents a tiny fraction of what I’ve read on Facebook today.
Thank you, too for all the work that you and our ministers do, and the fantastic achievements on mental health, shared parental leave, childcare, pensions and that small matter of giving 24 million people a tax cut that you all have brought about. If I’m going to single out anyone, it would be Mike Moore. Getting the Tories, Labour and SNP to agree to pass the Scotland Act was no mean feat, as was making sure the independence referendum is fair, legal and decisive. We get all that.
There are, though, some things that we don’t get, and nor should we. Secret courts was a huge thing. I don’t think anyone in the Westminster Bubble really truly appreciates how painful this is for the whole party. We can’t go through this again on communications data. Seriously.
We need you to deliver Liberal Democrat priorities in Government. You need us out there spreading that message in communities up and down the country. The closer we can work together, the better. There’s a bit of a disconnect at the moment between leadership and grassroots that will get worse if it’s not addressed. We also need you to listen to us. It seems sometimes that you would like to get rid of us and get some new, more compliant members who won’t ask any questions. You need to walk a bit more in step with us at the moment.
I remember you once having a right go at Gina Ford, decrying her advice to leave babies to cry as absolute nonsense. There’s an analogy here with the Party. You can’t ignore us and leave us to cry when you do things that are really counter-intuitive to us. That will just make people cross, resentful and demotivated. And we need all the people we can out on the streets consistently over the next two years. There have been warning signs of long standing activists reaching breaking point. That has to be addressed before it gets worse.
This is a time for rapprochement not recrimination and the party needs an assurance that no more ground will be given on civil liberties.
Happy Easter and enjoy hiding those eggs with your boys.