Time to get busy on our local campaigns. Since the election we have gained quite a few new members but, with my membership secretary hat on, I am hoping to get some more. We have a busy year ahead of us – there will be the 2011 Swale Council elections and the Alternative Vote referendum to campaign on.
Overall we have increased our membership but sadly we lost a few. I guess this is understandable but we did say we would talk to whoever got the biggest mandate, and the public decided that would be the Conservatives. Some preferred Labour but the maths was not correct. And I think one or two of my former colleagues were very happy in opposition. One said to me he was so disgusted by our grab for power that he has joined the Greens! No worries of power there then.
I have some ideas to increase our membership and we are meeting soon to discuss these. I was grateful for the help and support I got during the election campaign and hope we can turn this into more longer term assistance. The more members we get, the more money we can get from central office for local campaigning.
The 2011 council elections:
At our strategy group meeting I had some suggestions about wards we could target and how we could fight them. Unfortunately my plans appeared to be too ambitious – but we have, subject to agreement from our executive committee, placed seven candidates and, as it stands, will be fielding about 20 in total. (There are 47 council seats – the council has had for a long time a very comfortable Conservative majority – which explains a lot about Swale’s problems). It would be great if everyone in Swale has the chance to vote for a Liberal Democrat. We must work towards that.
I am hoping we will be able to do more work on the Isle of Sheppey which, unfortunately, we had to neglect in the campaign for the reasons given in my ‘memoirs’. I think our brand of liberal democracy based on fairness and social justice could appeal there. We might be in a national coalition but the more Liberal Democrat votes, the more liberal democrat policies, the less Conservative policies – and that sounds good to me.
The referendum campaign:
I did have the idea of maybe getting some sort of local all-party group together. After all, it is not just a Liberal Democrat campaign, there is cross-party support for a change in the electoral system. Labour were the only party to include AV in their manifesto. However I am not sure if this all-party idea is a starter. The Conservatives will obviously be against change and Labour might be waiting for the new leader to tell them what their policy is. We might get agreement with UKIP and the Greens. Anyway, that’s an idea to put to one side for now.
It all comes down to members. More members means more party money and hopefully more candidates and hopefully more success. It’s up to us to get the message out there.