My friend Craig Harrow was being philospohical this morning and remembered this quote from the great Libearal and Lib Dem, Russell Johnson.
"You can stand at the bottom of a mountain, look up and say: "This is so high and precipitous, so rugged and intimidating that I can never dare to challange it." Or, you can begin to climb. And, if you do, one day you may see the summit. And if you do not, its peak will be forever hidden in the mists of vanished opportunity. Today we can begin to climb..."
Last May as Liberal Democrats we appeared to have reached that summit. But as any mountaineer will tell you occassionally you reach a false peak. The edge of what is a plateau and when you scale that you realise that there is still a further propably more difficult and steeper summit to climb.
We as Liberal Democrats may well have climbed that false peak. It was a hard climb and making that last step unto that peak was a hard decision. We were looking for a foothold, and maybe we slipped in finding it a few times. However we are roped together as a party. We are an experience set of climbers, none of us have reached a summit easily and we all know the hard work that is needed. It mean going door to door persuading people that we do share their values as well as their fears. That we have the solutions and the ways forward.
What we have taken on in the last year has been a very precarious part of the climb. We are still the same climbers as we were 12 months ago. Some admitted have left the summit party, some of the support team have felt let down and fled. We know the goal we have in sight. We know we still have a way to go to get to a truly liberal UK.
But as we press on, like Hilary and Tensing to scale Everest the first time, we can look to the fact that once conquered once others will want to come and take a look. Much of what we have done in the last 12 months is lay a number of belays on the slope. Things we have put in place to that the UK doesn't fall back into illiberal ways. We have also searched out a different route from the one David Cameron the current expedition leader did set out. Our route is easier on pensioners, it lifts many out of taxation, it frees up many people from bureaucracy.
We have failed the student members of our moutaineering party, by letting them fall into the greedy hands of the University Chancellers down below, who all think they are worthy of £9,000 a year to start the expedition of life. Somehow our education system is all exceptional!!! But we still promise them that once we scale this nasty crag of national debt covered in dying red roses we will sort that out for them, we stand by that.
I for one am ready to carry on climbing, my legs may hurt, my heart is heavy and my lungs are gasping because there is still so much to achieve.
Who's with me?