On the evening of June 22 local Lib Dems were delighted to welcome Party President Mark Pack on Zoom. Read the full report by Politics Club member Oliver Farley
Mark Pack came on Zoom on June 22nd to talk over current issues and to answer the many questions local members had compiled for the party.
Mark introduced the session with an overview of where the party is now, and it’s in a much more hopeful position after the success of the Chesham and Amersham bye election. He claimed the success was due primarily to listening to electors’ concerns on the doorstep rather than promoting national issues and this paid off especially as the Tories ran an indifferent campaign taking the seat for granted with its 16,000 majority.
Jay Mercer began the question and answer session by drawing upon the list of topics submitted by the Politics Club and here’s a flavour of some of the replies we obtained.
How do we change the tone of politics?
Success builds upon success, and we will only be listened to when we have larger representation . We can take comfort from the transformation Biden has achieved to date in the US and hope it lasts. Though the UK isn’t the US there are parallels.
What is our view on a progressive alliance , should we follow Simon Jenkin’s advice and join Labour?
Definitely not. While there are some liberal voices in Labour, that party is essentially a party of an ideology rather than a liberal outlook We can adjust our efforts to accommodate each other informally rather than a formal alliance and that can be effective.
Why has it been said that we’re not a party for re-joining the EU?
There is little enthusiasm now for a formal reapplication to join up but the time might well be right in future. We can adopt some policies and align ourselves with EU practices until re-joining becomes the logical next step. We need to follow the right route towards realignment.
What is our policy on Green issues and how do we appeal to younger voters?
The Greens like Labour can be an ideological party driven by Diktat not more measured approaches. The case for greenery is in part being made by changes taking place anyway such as renewables becoming economically competitive with traditional fuels. Market forces are helping to bring bout greener results and we should build on that. On young voters we should take a more holistic approach than just select the issues they are supposedly interested in. Social care for the elderly is of interest to the young, for example , because many are concerned over their grandparents. Similarly education isn’t solely a young people’s concern but is of keen interest to parents too.
How do we heighten the public profile of the Lib. Dems.?
The media pay attention to parties in proportion to their representation so at PMQs we get less chance to ask questions simply because we get fewer turns than larger parties. Similarly with TV shows like Question Time
How will the constituency boundary change affect us?
The changes follow population shifts and lean towards following rural expansion t the expense of declining inner towns. In the past the Tories hoped for more marginal seats to develop in their favour but after the red wall changes the new boundaries are not so favourable as they thought. Horsham might possibly become a more winnable seat after the changes . Mark believes we should concentrate on winnable seats where we have the organisation on the ground rather than spread ourselves too thinly where we can’t back up our promotion with a local presence .
Why didn’t John Bercow join us instead of Labour?
Mark feels that Bercow has quite a few challenges to answer for in relations with others while in office such as alleged bullying and the air should be cleared first. Bercow appears to concentrate on getting into the House of Lords and has a better chance of a peerage from Labour than the Lib Dems.
Our session finished with our Chairman, Jay Mercer, thanking our President and recommending the third edition of his book, ‘101 Ways to Win Elections’