Last night I was at the Houses of Parliament for the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Candidates Association reception – a post-election party. This was a nice event, a chance to put the suit on, visit the House and this time I could take Mary along. It was good weather to stand on the terrace balcony overlooking the Thames (fenced off from the Lords section – and they had chairs!), chat generally and drink a lot of good wine under the eye of a disapproving wife.
Words of thanks for the campaign were made by Nick Clegg and various others and there was an excellent pep talk by our new deputy leader, Simon Hughes. This might be selfish of me but I hope he stays outside the government, is a cheerleader for our independence and pushes for those of our policies which were not in the coalition agreement (e.g. abolition of tuition fees).
Mention of tuition fees and students brings me on to my own university town. I spent four happy years as a student in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion in mid-Wales – so when I saw the party advertise for candidates for next year’s Welsh Assembly elections I jumped at the chance. I have applied for the Assembly seat of Ceredigion (currently held by Plaid Cymru) as it would be a pleasure to represent and campaign for the area.
As an approved candidate for England, I had to be approved for Wales and so was interviewed by our policy officers about Welsh affairs and our policies etc. Happily I passed selection and so can now attempt to be a Lib Dem candidate for any seat in England and Wales.
Ceredigion currently has a Lib Dem MP and we have a lot of support there. A lot of ifs though. If I am shortlisted and if I am invited to a hustings and if I am the selected candidate and if we win the seat next May then I would be an Assembly Member – but a long way to go to get there. Being a winnable seat, there will be tough competition for the candidature. But I am hoping that, if I am unsuccessful in becoming the candidate, at least the experience will stand me well when seeking a parliamentary seat to fight for the next election.
Much work to do in Sittingbourne of course. Last week we had a strategy group meeting to discuss our initial plans for the ‘all-out’ council elections next May. We won’t be fighting every seat and ward but we need a good show to put more Liberal Democrats into Swale's council chamber – so we have identified some target areas which we can focus on. And there will be a referendum to win as well.
As membership officer I am aiming to build up our members and supporters. We gained quite a few during the campaign and I am hoping to keep the momentum up.
So things are still busy! The election is over. But there are more to come!