Why do people, and by definition me, get involved in politics

This week for the ordinary person they’re probably thinking about half term entertainment or what to give up for lent. For the politicos out there, general election fever is slowly coming to the boil, but what makes thousands of activists give up their free time, and those like me, stand for election?

I’ve had to think about it, because it’s something that crosses my mind whenever I ask a volunteer to help with a campaign, a voter asks why they should vote Liberal Democrat, or friends ask me why I am standing for an election. It’s because of the type of society I would like to see in the UK, and the world, and who I think is best to deliver, or campaign for this.

For me, it’s a world where each individual has the opportunity to make the most of how they live their life, a society strong in civil liberties and evidence based policies.

And when I look at the policies the Liberal Democrats, and by definition the coalition Government, have delivered over the past 5 years it makes me realise that there has been a liberal theme. A theme, which resonants with me, and those who give up their time for the party.

On life opportunities helping pupils from the poorest backgrounds so their future is not dependent on their birth; giving an income tax cut for millions of ordinary working people; shared parental leave so families can decide how best to care for their children; ensuring the state pensions are delivering a dignified retirement.

Scrapping ID cards for civil liberty reasons; blocking the Tories “Snoopers Charter” and delivering on same sex marriage. Evidence based policies such as introducing free school meals, as trials showed they improved educational results for all pupils. It’s why the Liberal Democrats want to tackle drug and criminal reform as the current processes aren’t working.

It’s one thing to say what the Lib Dems have done (good and bad), it’s then another to show what a liberal Britain can look like. I will cover more of that in another post, but I truly believe that a strong liberal voice, whether in Government or opposition is essential for the UK, and I will be campaigning over the coming months (and years!) to make that voice heard.

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Red Ed or Yellow Mili?

Ed Miliband used his first major speech as Labour party to leader to position himself and the party back into the centre ground. It was almost as though his brother, David, was giving the speech, talk of having to deal with the deficit, not backing unnecessary strikes over public sector spending cuts and wanting to reform welfare.

He paid tribute to Labour’s achievements, but also made several attacks on its past like:

  • An unjust war on Iraq
  • Student tuition fees
  • Attack on civil liberties
  • Loose regulation of financial services

Is it me or is Ed Miliband saying that the Liberal Democrats have been right all along on these issues? Does he want to join the Liberal Democrats?

Actually of a bigger tactical note is he’s making both an attempt to move to the centre as well as appeal to Liberal Democrats voters and open a flank for potential co-operation in the next parliament should there be a hung parliament. The other risk for the Liberal Democrats is of being squeezed, even more reason to continue to shout about the Liberal Democrat policies being implemented.

Of course we need to see policy announcements but the speech sets a tone, but that can change over time, David Cameron veered from soft and cuddly to right wing depending on his own political situation.

It’s only day 3 of Ed Miliband’s leadership but he’s certainly shown over the past months something his brother David Miliband never had – balls. And I don’t mean having to work with Mr Yvette Cooper!