Channelling my anger
(or – Poking the Hornets` Nest part 2?)
As you will know if you read my earlier post about poking the hornets` nest a little while ago, we submitted a resolution for the Liberal Democrat autumn conference in the name of the Newark Lib Dem Constituency Party supported by Rushcliffe Constituency and the signatures of over 50 Lib Dems from around the country, calling for a focus on Green Campaigning in the local elections of 2019 and the next General Election, whenever that may be.
We also called for closer cooperation with the Green Party, where appropriate.
I have just had an email from the Powers That Be to tell me that the resolution is NOT to be put on the Agenda for the Brighton Conference and this was what they said…
I’m afraid your motion has not made it on to the agenda. It does not propose any new environmental policies, but instead focuses on election strategy. As such it pre-empts the work of the Federal Communications and Elections Committee in setting campaign themes for any particular election.
On the proposal to develop closer links with the Green Party, this would require context and detailed justification if it were to be considered in a motion.
I’m sorry we can’t take the motion as it stands.
Well, of course the motion “pre-empts … the FCEC in setting campaign themes” – that was rather the point of the whole thing, on the basis that within the Liberal Democrats, decisions of the members are “Sovereign” and the members can decide in a Conference what the Party should do. So, as you might imagine, I am feeling somewhat grumpy just at the moment. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, I am ruddy furious. Not simply at the slight implied (and the fact that the email was signed “Best Wishes… M…”!) but for the fact that, yet again, it is a sign that the Party will not be putting Green issues Front and Centre in our campaigning, nor yet realising that we have to appeal to a newer, more radical audience than we have done in the recent past if we are to make any real progress in the current confusing political landscape.
It does not help that I have been a campaigning environmentalist since at least 1971 (close to 50 years!) and this is yet one more slap in the face, to add to many over the years (despite a few successes too.) But the point is that when I started out, the environmental threats we were aware of were important but not necessarily life threatening, or, should I say, not life threatening to ALL LIFE ON EARTH as Climate Change is now.
We are getting het up about whether or not we stay in Europe (and, for the record, I think you know I am passionately FOR staying in Europe) but even the damage of Brexit will look very tame when we have to face rapidly rising sea levels and growing extremes of weather events of all kinds, hot and cold and wet and dry. I am sure you are aware of the saying about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – that is what the European issue amounts to if we continue to do nothing about Green issues.
Yes, the party is going to be debating plastic pollution in the oceans I gather, and we have a great deal of environmental policy in our manifesto locker – much more than either Labour or the Tories, it goes without saying. BUT – if we do not put these issues at the top of the Party`s agenda, however worthy each and every policy is – we simply are not going to make the difference that we need to make.
Channelling the anger
So, I am angry and it may be that there are more of you out there who feel somewhat cross, too. The question is, what are we going to DO about it? How do we channel our anger and frustration to good effect? Just at this moment I am feeling more or less as I did back in 1998 when I retired from Party politics from frustration, but then I was able to channel all that frustration into my new role as the founding Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development in Business and I only just came back into the Party just over a year ago, so I should not yet hang up my boots and stop playing, though the temptation is there, I assure you!
Somehow we need to raise the profile of Green issues much, much higher up the Party`s agenda and one suggestion has been made that we need to get Green people onto the various Party Committees in a more obvious way (I know there are several anyway, already there – and thank you for being there, please do not take this personally!) but the problem with that is that there are no internal elections to those committees before autumn 2019 as I understand it. And we need to fight the Green fight for the 2019 local elections, which needs much planning, plus we must place Green issues at the top of the General Election manifesto and we have no idea when the next GE might occur.
We fought the 2018 local elections largely on an Exit from Brexit platform and, although the Party made progress in terms of seats around the country it cannot be said that such progress was spectacular. Being so pro-European is clearly not clearing the coalition toxins from our image amongst voters, so we need a new approach. I already referred to the Lib Dem topic day in the House of Commons last week. Apparently 77% of those party members who were asked to choose a topic for debate chose Europe, rather than the Environment or whatever the third topic was. The outcome? 9 Lib Dems, one Green MP and three Plaid Cymru MPs trailing through the lobby against the massed ranks of the Tories – with Labour and the SNP abstaining. Result – nothing in the news to energise either Party members or the general public. A damp squib would have had more effect.
We need to be Radical, we need to be Green and we need to do it Now!
If you have ideas on how we can channel our anger, please write to me at email@example.com