Sunday, 3 October 2010

This is what REAL progressive politics looks like...

I, along with Sarah H and a delegation from the Southport Liberal Democrats, attended a mega training day put on by Chris Davies our regional MEP. It was a great day, with lots of training events to keep us all up to dat ewith the latest campaigning techniques and messages.

The highlight for me was listening to Andrew Stunell, MP for Hazel Grove and our Minister in Government for Communities and Local Government. He was also one of our four MP's who negotiated with the Conservatives to give us our Coalition Government agreement.

The word 'revolutionary' is often overused in politics, but I think it can truly be applied to the localism agenda that will form a key feature of this Parliament.

Localism is all about decentralising and detaching the strangling tendrils of central Government. Its about realising that different areas have individual needs and priorities and that Whitehall diktats dont work. One example of this was the Regional Spatial Strategies, housebuilding targets imposed from the centre on to communities. These gave no leeway to local opinion. RSS has now been abolished by the new government.

This is relevant to all of us. It will mean that town, parish and local Councils will all be able to have a say about local budgets and local services.

We need look no further locally than the stalemate over the Childrens Walk in Centre for Southport. Its clearly a service that local people want and need, yet nothing is happening.

There is nothing that will invoke electoral apathy more than this sort of situation. You can understand why people are turned off voting if they think that they have no real say or any real possibility of having one. This is even further entrenched if people also feel disillusioned with their ability to enact any change through their votes. Its not hard to see how people then think, ' well whats the point voting, I cant change anything can I?' Or, 'well, i really like that candidate and that party, but they cant win here, so my vote will just be a wasted one.'

A new and progressive politics has to challenge and eradicate the 'whats the point,' and 'why bother' attitudes that the Labour Government certainly didn't tackle. Localism and political reform in the shape of fairer votes, will truly radicalise the political system as we know it.

Next May's referendum on a fairer voting system will be a great opportunity, not just for the Liberal Democrats, but for all those that don't feel they have a voice.

Its time to shout loudly!

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