anuary is for looking forward at the year ahead – and as a good Liberal Democrat, I look forward with hope and optimism. As someone once said: a sunny and optimistic disposition won’t solve your problems, but it will annoy enough curmudgeons and doom-mongers to make it well worth the effort!
We all know there are serious challenges that demand serious attention and serious answers – but we should attempt to meet those challenges in a spirit of optimism, with conviction that they will be overcome. The key thing is to mix the spirit with the seriousness, and not equate optimism with frivolity.
We cannot simply wish away our difficulties, and there has been too much of the latter over the last few years. Regrettably, the work will also take time and it will cost money that’s in very short supply right now. But with optimism there is also purpose, and that is what we really need and must sustain if we are to thrive in this turbulent world.
One reason for hope and optimism is the knowledge that a General Election will be called this year. At last – we will have the chance, and duty, to give our verdict on this (desperate, wheezing and useless) government. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We will also have Dorset Council elections on 2nd May. We could even have a buy-one-get-one-free opportunity to get it all out of the way and done on the one day. Alas, only if Rishi Sunak has the courage to accept that the game is up, and that we must all have our say.
A different way
A better way ahead is clear. One that is more fair, more open and more free. I took some time this Christmas – between classic TV and the offspring’s latest Tik Tok memes – to read a great report by the Resolution Foundation, which I recommend to anyone interested in serious ideas for the UK economy and The Social Contract. There’s a small health warning, however – the report is weighty. But at least it is coherent and clear. It would also make heavy demands on a government that adopted it.
More importantly, it would demand of us that we be serious too, and understand that the benefits will have costs.
The bit that really stuck in my mind was at the end of a section criticising a Cameron-Osborne era notion about turning Britain’s economy into ‘one like Germany’s’, with a broad-based, China-focused, manufacturing/export economy. The UK today is the second greatest exporter of services in the world after the USA, with smaller – but important – leading edge manufacturing capabilities in specific, niche high-tech areas.
Yet we have stagnated.
I love Germany but as the report says, Britain has strengths and we need to play to them. We need to invest more, both reliably and regularly, and we need to value people much more.
The report is spot on. We need to be a better version of Britain: not a British version of Germany – or anywhere else for that matter. So, I finished reading my Christmas homework seeing a reflection of our values and some great ideas. I have a strong sense that Liberal Democratic policies are right for our times – and that we should all have grounds for hope and optimism in implementing them or at least in influencing a different government to do so, with rigour and energy.
Liberal Democrats will field a strong team of candidates in the coming year of elections – for Dorset Council, as Police and Crime Commissioner and in the General Election. I am standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate in North Dorset for the coming General Election and look forward to bringing seriousness and optimism to ballot boxes across our beautiful slice of Britain.
- Gary Jackson
North Dorset LibDems