As a teenager/young adult I voted Tory; I hadn’t really given it much thought, it was just because my mother voted Tory and I was constantly exposed to Conservative dogma.
I toyed with the idea of voting for the SDP because even my mother respected and begrudgingly liked Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins but I never got round to it and when the SDP and the Liberal party formed their alliance and Spitting Image did THOSE puppets (younger members should Google David Steel and David Owen) it didn’t really encourage me to give any credence to Centre politics.
But a new dawn came with the emergence of Paddy Ashdown and I began to question what it was I really wanted my political views to say about me.
I voted in every election since for the Lib Dems and that was enough for me to feel that I was properly engaged and that my political conscience was clear.
When Nick Clegg negotiated a coalition with the Tories in 2010 I was fully behind him – I still believe that it was morally the correct thing to do. The Tories had, after all, won the race and it wouldn’t have sat well with me to have the winners nobbled by the 2nd and 3rd placed parties.
Some people I knew who had been impressed by Nick’s performance in the debates and voted Lib Dem, or who had always voted Lib Dem became disillusioned that Lib Dem manifesto promises weren’t being kept; but I would argue in defence and point out that WE hadn’t actually won and that our role was to keep Tory feet on the ground and to keep some of their more extreme ideas off the table – and in that we succeeded. For the first time I was beginning to realise that this all meant a lot more to me than just putting an X next to the candidate’s name.
And then came the morning of May 8th 2015. We had been punished so cruelly by some people who felt let down and didn’t recognise the good that had been done by Nick and his team; and abandoned by others who were scared of the possibility of a Conservative UKIP coalition or a Labour SNP one. Nick himself looked devastated. Vince Cable and Simon Hughes amongst so many others had been thrown out with the bath water.
I felt an urge to reach out and let the party know that I still believed, I still remember proudly telling my youngest daughter that I had taken the plunge and was thrilled when she told me that SHE had too, especially as neither my husband or I had ever wanted to impose our beliefs on our children but wanted them to find their own way – hell, we didn’t even impose them on each other, it’s just a happy coincidence that we both vote Lib Dem.
I haven’t done much since then, I’ve shared stuff on Facebook that I hope might encourage people join. No local party activists got in touch but I’ve recently learned that there was no local party – at some point I would like to ask my local councillor why he became independent AFTER being elected but that’s another story.
But I’m thrilled to know that there will soon be a meeting for the new local party branch which I will be attending with my daughter and I am very open to getting involved as much as health issues will allow. I’m excited to be a part of the Lib Dem fight back and can’t wait to see where my journey goes.