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IS IT TOO LATE TO 'GET INVOLVED'?

February 1, 2017 11:38 AM
By Cllr John Marriott - Lincoln, Sleaford and North Hykeham

John MarriottI have to admire the boundless enthusiasm shown by Anita Day in her latest résumé of recent events in her article 'Time to get involved'. Her infectious optimism for Lib Dem prospects reminds me of myself some thirty years ago.

If she really thinks that we could win Stoke Central, who am I to disabuse her of this belief? After all, I never really thought that Leave would win last June or Trump, for that matter, last November. So I will not dwell on national politics. In my present infirm condition I am in no physical or mental state any more to be a latter day Sisyphus trying yet again to roll that stone back uphill.

Having been a councillor at all levels of local government at one time or another for all of the past thirty years, including the last sixteen as a Lincolnshire County Councillor, I think I have learned a few lessons on how to win elections. One lesson I learned early on was that you don't win around here (unless you sport a blue rosette) if you only appear on the scene a few months before the election!

So, what I am really taking issue with Anita is over the paragraph she 'devotes' to the County Council elections in Lincolnshire. Yet again, I detect that we shall be using these elections purely as a way of hoovering up Remain voters by emphasising national issues at the expense of local ones. There are any number of such issues we could get our teeth into: local government structure and finance, devolution, flooding, highways and many more. I would humbly suggest that, generally speaking, none of them are directly influenced by our being members of the EU or not. In addition, any council candidate worth their salt would already be campaigning on issues specific to their 'patch'.

Where we have managed to get County Counciilors elected since the heady days of the Lib/Lab administration of 1993-1997 has generally been in West Lindsey and North Hykeham, thanks mainly to all year round campaigning. As we used to say in our regular FOCUS leaflets: "You don't just hear from us at election time".

So, is it now too late for Lib Dems to "get involved" and actually to win? If anyone is serious about winning as opposed to just wanting to fly the flag for liberalism (whatever that really is - answers on a piece of A4, please) this month may well be your deadline.

I sometimes think that most Lib Dem activists enjoy the campaign more than the result. What they don't seem to understand is that, if you do manage to win, that's when the hard work really begins and you have to make tough decisions. Particularly at county level, it's a steep learning curve, believe me. I agree that previous political experience is not vital; but it helps. You would be well advised to do your homework before you agree to have your name on the ballot paper. That is, if you really want to win.

I am retiring from active politics this May. My division, in any case, is one of those that has been butchered by the Boundary Commission so I am losing much of my support. Before the Lib Dems came on the scene in the mid 1980s North Hykeham was one of the many Tory fiefdoms in Lincolnshire. Over the past thirty years we have, until recently, managed to roll back the Tory weeds by bloody hard work. However, as any good gardener will tell you, as soon as you slacken your efforts, those weeds come creeping back. Sometimes I think that, as a non Tory candidate around here you have to run just to stand still!

Cllr John Marriott

John is Member for Hykeham Forum Division on Lincolnshire County Council