A brilliant post by Nick Clegg MP, over on the excellent Liberal Democrat Voice.
I shamelessly reprint it here:-
28% at the last set of local elections. 5% points clear of Labour and our highest ever share of the vote. In 23 out of the 25 county councils we are now the main opposition to the Conservatives. And in many counties there are no Labour county councillors at all. In both the South East and the South West Labour were pushed to fifth in the European elections. In vast swathes of Southern Britain they’re as irrelevant as the Tories are in many Northern cities.
In the battle of ideas as well as increasingly in the electoral battle the Labour party are worn out and irrelevant. It’s our party that has been ahead of the curve on one major issue after another: from warning about the dangers of an overleveraged banking system, to calling for full rights of residence for retired Gurkha soldiers, to championing fundamental reform of our politics.
And many parts of the traditional Labour voting coalition are realising it. In 1997 they – and many others – believed the Labour Government would make Britain fairer and more free. But those hopes have now been dashed. Under Labour inequality has got worse, not better. Life chances are still determined by the circumstances of a person’s birth. Iraq, mass child incarceration, the erosion of our civil liberties – those aren’t small blemishes on the Government’s record. They’re a fundamental betrayal of Labour’s promise that things would only get better.
I want those voters who once believed that promise to now turn to us – the only party offering real change. For our part, we must help this process by reaching out to them and explaining why only a Liberal Democrat government can deliver the progressive politics our country needs.
That’s what I did a few weeks ago, when I posted a blog on Labour List for Pride weekend. I explained that even on gay rights, an area where the Government regularly trumpets its success – they’ve failed to go far enough and it’s still only the Liberal Democrats who are prepared to take the bold steps to make this country truly equal. On the environment, on civil liberties, on reforming the banks and bankers and on Trident renewal, we are the only party in British politics that is willing to take the radical choices that would change Britain for good.
Last week I was interviewed for a joint event with Tweetminster and the Independent; and a few days earlier I did an online ‘Town Hall’ event with Reuters. I’m determined that we as a party engage with voters by every means possible. Young people, betrayed by this government over Iraq, graduate debt, and now on a recession that is leaving them jobless, need to hear about the help – and hope – that we offer.
So, please, over these summer months take every chance, through every format available to us, to spread our message. Tell anyone who supported Labour in 1997: if you believe in fairness; if you want to support, not demonise, young people; if you care about political reform, if you want the environment protected; the Liberal Democrats share your values and are the only chance for something different. We carry the torch of progress now.