The New Year provides the opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months, and also to look ahead. My personal highlights of 2022 include knocking on doors in the villages around Wem in North Shropshire during our by-election effort. The experience told me that there is always much to play for, whatever the apparent odds. I found a great similarity with the Blackmore Vale. There were strong echoes at the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show in August: a rural community that wants to have the wherewithal to get on and create its own better future and to lose the constraints of a centralising bureaucracy and top-down diktat.
The low points of the year were the events that gave us three PMs within a month and a half, ending up with someone with no mandate whatsoever outside the House of Commons. Yes, there is now a sensible, if managerialist, pair at the helm. The besetting sins of managerialism are that you believe you have a right to be in charge, have a right to say what gives and have a tendency to disregard the views of workforce and shareholders alike.
Does the cap fit? Is this sustainable? Is it even democratic? The questions of our age …
A broken dozen
We are likely to see a continuing focus on inflation which has now probably peaked. Success will be claimed even though prices will remain at their new higher levels. The underlying reality is that heating our homes has become a luxury, buying a home has become even more of a stretch for the young, travelling to work chews up a greater proportion of our income than ever and a decent diet is beyond the less advantaged. Who would have thought it after 12 years of a Conservative government?
We also have broken systems in health, social care, the railways and the Royal Mail. The issues are not just about pay; they are about long-term viability, about the motivation, energy and productivity of the people involved. Add in the fragmentation of the Union as a result of Brexit and you get a very sorry overall picture of incompetence and failed dogma.
Looking ahead, though, a different kind of government is available.
You see it everywhere the Liberal Democrats are at work – an approach based on listening, understanding and caring. On building for the future, harnessing creativity and creating opportunity and fairness for everyone. Both Tory and Labour depend on narrow views and the dividing lines between have and have not, city and countryside, north and south … inevitably, the solutions from either side are demonstrably and palpably polarised.
In the face of global warming we have Putin, Xi, an inward-looking USA and an arms-length EU. It won’t do. Our best chance is to come together and develop a broad, unifying and more effective way ahead for the good of everyone: broadly based and unifying. Unifying, above all.
for Liberal Democrats across the Blackmore Vale