Tuesday, 12 May 2015

All for coalitions but not campaigning for one

As someone who believes we should have a proportional voting system it makes sense that I am in favour of coalitions. These are the most likely outcome after all if the votes cast more closely reflect the number of seats won in any multi-party system.

However, what I hope I never end up doing again is campaigning for a coalition and to be part of one. In 2010 the Liberal Democrats stood on our liberal values, we stood on our ideals, we stood on the policies that had been decided democratically by conference. The people liked what they saw and gave us a higher percentage of the vote than at any point since the merger.

This time we spent it seems the Liberal Democrats spent more time angling for a coalition and not selling our good liberal policies.

We didn't sell our justice and prison reform policies which had a radical focus on cutting re-offending, only giving custodial sentences to the most dangerous prisoners and reinstating local accountability through police and justice boards instead of elected PPCs.

We did often mention our radical take on mental health being treated the same as physical health. But this got lost in our calling out one other party for not providing costs to match our £8bn a year commitment to the NHS and the other for failing to even promise this. We were leading on health and we should have been shouting it from the rooftops.

We had as always green issues at the heart of our manifesto with out five green laws. Laws that didn't restrict business from aiding the economic recovery but had radical ideas for housing, for infrastructure, our countryside and so much more.

Our call for greater civil liberties, an online Bill of Rights and media "first amendment" and protection the Human Rights Act all got lost in the scrum. All things that are vital to every person. But not just what we would do but why we consider such things important.

We and the nation lost some of the strongest voices on LGB & T rights. Julian Huppert got the issue of the spousal veto and need for humanists to be be treated equally with other faiths in respect to marriage (just as they can in Scotland). Lynne Featherstone who got marriage equality unto the agenda at all.

The Fightback that the Liberal Democrats are already getting involved in, has to place our values to the forefront. What we want to do in Government, what values we have that would direct how we act if given the chance to serve, how we would make society fairer and the economy stronger. If others want to copy our ideas there is no shame in that, they have done for years anyway and even take credit for things that only we were prepared to do.

But we need to shout about what we want to do. We also need stand up against the things we would never do. We will stand on our record, stand on our believes, stand on our values.

But one thing we must do is we must stand at Liberal Democrats first and foremost not as someone else's lapdog.

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