New Year, New Hope

Welcome to 2022 and congratulations on surviving 2021. It is time to cast off the gloom, to count our blessings and raise a cheer to the New Year.

Spot the year

So firstly, congratulations on your survival, whether from the raging virus or from privations brought on so many by an incompetent and uncaring Government..

And let’s reflect that the year ended with a brilliant test of the public determination to fight back – leastways in North Shropshire.

The Covid-induced upsurge in local neighbourliness, heightened awareness of climate challenges, the revulsion at exposure of past poor sewage management, the growth of foodbanks and charity work to protect those struggling to survive Tory capitalist visions, and concerns for their further privatisation of healthcare services – all these add up to a determination to re-evaluate the contribution of local councillors.

And, the really good news?

2022 brings no shortage of opportunities to change the way we care for local people, their wellbeing, their work, and their environment.  Liberal Democrats are not for giving in to  bullies – we demand better, we urge kindness.  Your contribution to the effort will be appreciated.

Christmas cheer and a spring in our step

The stunning Lib Dem win in North Shropshire is a ray of light to lighten the darkest days.

We may not have the weather for dancing in the streets, but today the nation breathes a collective sigh of relief. The outstanding result in was far more than optimists and wishful thinkers might have expected.  It was, at last, some small restoration of trust in the good sense of ordinary people – even those who had in 2016 believed in the lies and mis-directions of Brexit. In the darkest days of yet another dark and depressing year, Helen Morgan’s election is an early Christmas present. 

Helen Morgan MP

The responsibility thrust upon North Shropshire voters was not simply to respond to the errors and misdemeanours of their own disgraced MP, nor to express disquiet over the prevailing ruling arrogance .

It was to reflect the needs of an entire nation crying out for competent government, a restoration of trust in democracy and in the rule of law. And those voters resoundingly met that wish.

But not all Christmas wish lists will be satisfied.  Not all family Christmas gatherings will be so jolly.  The realities cut deep and the roads to recovery will not be straight forward.  But today’s ray of good-sense light will fuel and renew our determination to reach for better futures.  The electoral odds may seem impossible but, even here in Fareham, we will be able to face future tests with a spring in our step.

Competent leadership and honest government is worth fighting for.  Thanks, then, to the voters of North Shropshire for reminding us.

And here are some figures to ponder:

December 2019 election, share of the vote:

North Shropshire:

Tory: 63%; Labour 22%; Lib Dem 10%; Green and other 5%

Fareham:

Tory 64%; Labour 18%; Lib Dem 14%; Green 4%

Climate Crisis – let’s confront reality

As COP26 – December’s international convention in Glasgow – becomes a major media focus, the scrutiny of environmental plans and policies will be intensified.

Parties across the political spectrum are now preparing proposals that will sound good but not offend their core supporters.  They’ve had plenty of practice.  References to fine words buttering no parsnips date back to at least 1634.

To identify the underlying causes of ecological distress one must first strip away mis-characterisations (it’s just a natural cycle) and finger pointing or ‘othering’ (it’s all their fault) and vested interests that stand in the way of progress.  It’s time then to critically review where leaders think they are leading.

Under Ed Davey the Libdems don’t just have a plan – we have a Green Recovery Plan – but is that enough to get to the heart of the issues?  Given the scale of the challenge, are the plan’s elements sufficient?  Will many millions of small initiatives be practical and effective, or are major policy reforms required?

  • Save British Countryside
  • Green Every Home
  • Clean Air for Kids
  • Transport revolution
  • Energy Switch

Looking at the details behind these headlines there is much to applaud – and nothing to cause offence.  But will these elements be enough to arrest the current levels of our planet abuse? 

Should we not also consider:

  • stepping away from economic growth targets?
  • Ending planned obsolescence
  • Cutting advertising?
  • Shifting from ownership to usership
  • Scaling down destructive industries?
  • Reducing the working week?
  • Reducing Inequality?
  • Restoring health and caring services?
  • Expanding the commons and demonetarise public services?
  • Envisaging Debt Cancellation?
  • Introducing Universal basic Income?
  • Strengthening Democracy?
  • Rebalancing central/local governance with a restoration of municipal autonomy?

Tell us your ideas on how these and other measures could combat climate change – we’ll pass them on for consideration by our Conference and other policy-making bodies.

The proponents of a complete rethinking of the economic systems that have gotten us into this mess could probably generate an even longer – even scarier – list.

How many floods?  How many fires?  How much coastal erosion?  How much pollution?  How many more virus variants?  When will enough be enough? And when will we get to the real reasons for systemic inequalities and unexpected consequences of addiction to ecological destruction.

Back in the 1600’s we made food more palatable by ‘buttering it up’. 

‘Great men, large hopeful promises may utter;

But words did never fish or parsnips butter.’