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We must protect what democracy we have left

March 12, 2009

column-picture2‘The problem is that you lot are too nice to get on in politics.’

If I had a pound for every time I have heard that said of the Liberal Democrats, I could probably go down to three days a week at work.

The Lib Dems are often thought of as a party that can afford to think and act in a consistent and principled way because there is ‘no danger’ of us getting into government.

Well, with the second largest share of the vote across the country in 2008, that is certainly not true at a local government level.

And with the economic crisis leading more and more commentators to predict a hung Parliament, and some even to speak of a national government, the prospect of Liberal Democrats as power brokers and policy makers at Westminster is more realistic now than it has been for a hundred years.

In particular, it is Labour that sees a threat in the increasing national standing of the Liberal Democrats.

In Hastings, this appears to have resulted in some skewed accounts of what has been happening at the Town Hall, from the Labour Party.

Prior to the elections of the coming summer, Labour is wanting to discredit the Liberal Democrats in the eyes of the electorate. Labour wants you to believe that the Lib Dems are in cahoots with the Conservatives locally.

Let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

It is the Liberal Democrats, not the Labour Party, that lead the Opposition to the Conservatives across East Sussex, and it is the Liberal Democrats who are attempting to wrest control of the County Council from the Conservatives in June.

Personally, I am willing to see my party criticised for our policies by others with opposing views. I am prepared to answer for we believe in. But I reckon it to be unjust when what we believe in, or how we act, is deliberately misrepresented by our opponents.

This is the kind of behaviour that has turned a huge number of people off the political process altogether.

‘Going negative’ is a common strategy in political campaigning – it has even been used by President Obama at times – but let’s make sure we give the electorate the facts. Because to fail to do so, is to fail democracy.

And we need to protect the little of our democracy that we have left.


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