A general election could re-energise the tired parade of the same old faces and develop a national consensus, says North Dorset Lib Dems’ Mike Chapman
Normally, of course, we Liberal Democrats occupy the centre-ground of politics. This last week, though, I admit I took to the high ground. That is to say, a group of us, duly wearing our yellow Lib Dem hi-vis jackets, did a litter-pick on the top of Bulbarrow! It is astonishing how much – and what – rubbish is just chucked out of car windows en passant. Nonetheless, we unashamedly enjoyed the walk, the view and the company. I recommend it.
Equally unashamedly, the Liberal Democrats are calling for a general election.
It won’t happen because those in power, in Mrs T’s memorable line, are frit.
Our concern is that the country is being damaged, people are being hurt and enterprises are going under due to the instability. As the third Tory leader this year, Rishi Sunak has absolutely no mandate from the people and his parliamentary majority is owed to a discredited figure and the car crash of Brexit promises. Worse, they are about to embark on a further period of austerity. Axes will fall at the whim of a few mandarins and special advisers, tweaked by the dogmatic and factional interests of politicians. The people of this land will have absolutely no say. I am very concerned that investment in levelling-up, in radically improving social care and in protecting the environment will evaporate – or be pushed back onto resource-strapped local government.
Ramparts not gateways
In the self-induced crisis this government finds itself in, the instant reaction is to reduce risk, back the popular, shore up support in the one-third of the population who voted for you. We used to be a classy sort of nation. We seem increasingly to be one where people and parties look out for number one rather than the national best interest; a nation becoming xenophobic, where borders are ramparts not gateways and where global issues become matters for others because we are too busy.
We need to reset and re-energise. That is the real reason we need a general election. It might even lead us to develop a national consensus. For a consensus, policies and plans must be so inclusive that everyone can buy into them, get behind them. Engaging our combined understanding and experience can find a way ahead using the best people, not just the usual suspects.
Management. It is how the best organisations work. Currently, however, we are heading for the alternative: action taken in favour of the few. Leading, in a couple of difficult years, to yet more see-saw, zig then zag, fragmentation of the Union and further diminution of our standing as a country.
The Lib Dems will always be there to help pick up the pieces.