Miserable, dull weather but great people and invigorating training. That was ALDC’s latest Kickstart residential training weekend from which I’m returning as I type this.
The mix of the old faces and new talent, not to mention the number of people in power in local government, meant there was much to be hopeful about regarding the party’s future.That future requires us to fix an awful lot with the party when it comes to general elections in particular. Some of those fixes will take some time to figure out, apply and start showing benefits.
But that should be no excuse for dallying as the next set of elections – the big elections this May, the contests in Scotland, Wales and country councils next May and so on – are never far away.
Alongside what we fix centrally, our local activism is vital. That’s why for all the jokes about Liberal Democrats pointing at potholes, there is a serious side to potholes too,
One is that they symbolise that batch of local issues – the potholes, the dumped rubbish, the broken streetlights – all of which make a real difference to people’s lives, which often have significant knock-on effects on other issues and which active Lib Dem campaigners can make a real difference to.
The other is that they are as a result at the heart of building our local infrastructure in a way that enables the party to campaign on issues on a larger canvass too. To win on topics such as climate change or Britain’s place in the world, we need that grassroots army of liberals whose creation and sustenance so heavily involves potholes and their sibling pieces of casework.
Many people campaigned for the first time for the Liberal Democrats in December, motivated by Brexit. The challenge for us longer-standing activists is to ensure that as many as possible of them see these May elections as part of the same picture. Different elections, often different issues but still a similar opportunity to promote our values and to turn them into practical action to improve people’s lives.