What does a LibDem candidate do? Keep calm and carry on

It’s been a tough week to be a LibDem: Oakeshott and Cable, Rennard and Clegg. And all those demoralising election results, locally and in Europe. GILL HICKSON was one Liberal Democrat candidate who was unsuccessful in the Croydon Council elections last week, yet tomorrow she will be holding her regular Coulsdon surgery. Here, she explains why

Life goes on: Gill Hickson says the past week's been tough

Life goes on: Gill Hickson says the past week’s been tough

They say a week is a long time in politics. It feels very long when you are on the receiving end of the sort of kicking we’ve just had.

I firmly believe that local politics should be “is this person interested in this area?”, “what have they been doing locally?”, “have they got the wherewithal to fight for the area?”…

Despite my being able to answer these questions with positive things, such as being a parent-governor at the local school where I sent my daughter, that I’d volunteered for a year at that school, or joined the committee of the East Coulsdon Residents’ Association, or became the co-ordinator for neighbourhood watch and have fought for better police resources, that I supported the petition for more parking on Tollers Estate, and helped individuals with problems with the council.

But then along comes a guy from UKIP who wasn’t seen before, during or after the election campaign. You spend weeks, months, knocking on doors, delivering leaflets that spell out what you will do for the area. He puts out one flyer, which was presumably delivered by the cheap European labour which UKIP claim to abhor so much.

I’m not bitter. But I am shocked.

We tried to offer a real alternative to the usual Tory councillors following the party line: “No we haven’t got money for that.” Only for new offices, new furniture, new IT, and the £25 Council Tax bribes.

We did have concerns about national ratings. Some residents expressed concerns at the LibDems “selling out” to the Tories for a taste of power. What was Nick to do? In 2010, the western world was on its knees financially. We could have had a hung parliament and disagreed with every measure the Tories had for economic recovery. Instead, the LibDems joined in coalition and have made some great contributions, taking thousands out of paying tax, the pupil premium, the retirement pension reforms, apprenticeships…

Did we sacrifice the party to save the country?

Without much press support its very hard to get our message across, which is why we always have to work so much harder than other parties. We have some great members and supporters. Maybe we don’t shout loud enough.

We will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and start all over again. Was at a residents’ association meeting on Wednesday night, and one of the newly elected councillors did turn up, attending for the first time. Meanwhile, we have our regular LibDem surgery on Saturday, with a plant, book and cake sale. We have to pay for all those leaflets somehow. Life does go on. We will continue to work for our town and we will continue to scrutinise the council and make sure it does its best for all the residents.

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4 Responses to What does a LibDem candidate do? Keep calm and carry on

  1. davidcallam says:

    A fascinating piece from a woman who is clearly a very valuable member of Coulsdon society.
    But as a LibDem she suffers from the delusion that her considerable efforts locally will cut any ice when her fellow residents go to the poll.
    We live in a television age:that worked well for Nick Clegg at the last election; now it is working even better for Nigel Farage.
    I regret to say I think the LibDems will suffer equally badly in the coming General Election because they have badly disappointed their supporters who voted for a left of centre party that entered government with a right of centre agenda.
    The LibDems must decide their fundamental philosophy and then adopt policies that reflect it, but I don’t think they have time to do so credibly before the next election, and certainly not with Nick Clegg as leader.

  2. We often hear that LibDem supporters are disappointed with their leadership, but if I was LibDem MP, councillor or candidate, I’d be immensely disappointed with the former supporters. I don’t think anyone could reasonably claim that they have had no influence whatsoever on the coalition, and yet it seems that the majority of those who voted for them at the last election would prefer them to do nothing, rather than (e.g.) use their influence to raise the income tax allowance to £10,000.

  3. Andrew Leng says:

    Excellent article. Hits the nail on the head when it says that the Lib Dems have suffered locally for the actions of the party at a national level. Although it’s currently a bit of a dogs breakfast at the top of the party and you wouldn’t trust Nick Clegg to sell you a second hand car, the local Lib Dem activists that I have met always come across as thoughtful, decent and committed.

    I agree with David Callam though – the Lib Dems have badly disappointed their core support who voted for a left of centre party. Instead Clegg and his colleagues got into bed with the most right wing Tory Party I can remember. The argument that is so often repeated by Clegg i.e “governing in the national interests” just isn’t cutting it any more. The Lib Dems have won some victories in government, but on the weighty issues of welfare reform, the bedroom tax and the NHS they have been dragged to the right by the Tories. Mud sticks.

    I really sympathize with Gill Hickson. She sounds like to sort of person who is hard working, with a strong sense of public duty. At a time when Lib Dem support is going through the floor and they’ve been hammered in the local and European elections, it must be difficult for Ms Hickson to keep her party at the centre of local politics at the moment.

    Keep going Gill. Local communities need people like you to look out for them.

  4. mraemiller says:

    I feel sorry for her because she has to wear yellow

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