Josh Mason is standing down in May both as leader of the Redcar and Cleveland Liberal Democrats and as a councillor. In a fascinating interview with the local newspaper, he’s talked about what it is like being a councillor:
Reflecting on his eight years as an elected member, Cllr Mason said he felt his greatest achievements were not the headline grabbers that some politicians might crave.
“For me the most valuable achievements aren’t in big vanity projects but the tiny things, which make all the difference to a person’s life on a daily basis,” he said.
“Like getting drop-kerbs installed so that people in wheelchairs are no longer housebound or helping people get the benefits they’re rightly entitled to.”
It’s a point I’ve often made when talking around the country at local Liberal Democrat events about the party’s need for a core votes strategy. These sorts of small changes – the sort of political work that others sometimes look down on as not being ‘proper politics’ compared with being sat in a political building somewhere debating foreign affairs – make a massive difference to people’s lives.
They are at the heart of what politics should be about.
The challenge for the Liberal Democrats is that you don’t have to be a liberal or a democrat to put your heart and soul into securing such improvements in people’s lives. That is why the party’s political recovery needs to be based both on them and also on what makes us distinctive as a political party.
None of that takes away though from the importance of those community changes. As Josh Mason said of his final days as a councillor:
I’m very excited about my ‘last hurrah’ on the council – working with local people and the council to finally spruce up the Stray Paddling Pool play area. It’s been on my wish list for years and I have fond memories of days spent there in my own childhood as do generations of local people.
Helping children have fun and be healthier? That’ll be a pretty good legacy Josh.