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How will you Vote on Thursday 6th May?

May 3, 2021 11:31 AM

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Making a fresh start with the Liberal Democrats

As we begin to see the benefits of our prolonged lock-downs and the vaccine roll-out, it is time to look forward to a "new normal". We know that our lives are almost certainly going to be permanently changed by what has happened over the past year and more.

While the pandemic has certainly caused great hardship, loss and heartbreak to many, it has also been a time of learning. We have learned to appreciate people who were previously almost invisible - those who keep the wheels of society turning, whether it be keeping us healthy, keeping us fed, or keeping our streets and cities clean. In the first lockdown at least, we learned to appreciate clean air and birdsong, as the country went quiet and largely traffic-free.

What we also learned is that it is time for changes to be made. Changes to the decade of austerity imposed by the Conservatives which have made the rich richer and left the poor poorer. Changes to the crony system of government which rewards sycophantic incompetents with Cabinet posts, and party supporters with lucrative no-bid contracts.

The Johnson government is promising that we will build back better - but like most of these promises, it's short on details of how this is to be manged. The LibDems have some clearer ideas, and what we have learned during lockdown has thrown them into sharp relief:

  • A greener future: we want to emphasise the role of clean public transport, and energy efficiency at all levels. Not only does this help mitigate the effects of climate change, a green revolution will create new jobs to replace those lost as a result of the Tories' hollowing-out of the economy.
  • Proper funding for social services, and those who work in them; the carers, and all others who have become properly appreciated during the pandemic.
  • The same goes for NHS funding - and unlike other parties, the LibDems are not afraid to say that proper funding will cost the taxpayer - a ringfenced increase on income tax would help fund social services and the NHS.
  • An equality of opportunity, to level up the differences, not just between north and south, but between the different levels of society, to reverse the years of lost chances resulting from Tory policies.

One other lesson that many of us have learned from the lockdown is breadmaking, and anyone who's tried their hand at this knows that although only a small amount of yeast is needed to make bread, leaving it out of the recipe results in a solid inedible mess. In Staffordshire, we have 62 County Councillors. Of these, 50 are Conservatives. This is not representative of the county as a whole, and certainly not of the City of Lichfield, where the LibDems captured 29% of the votes in the last City Council elections in wards where their candidates stood. The result of these elections has been yeast added to the City Council in the form of eight LibDem councillors, with fresh ideas and points of view giving new life to what was previously a virtual monopoly. The same could be true of the County Council if only a pinch of yeast in the form of a few LibDem County Councillors is added to the mixture.

The pandemic has taught us some valuable lessons. Now is the time to put them into practice, and give the ideas of the Liberal Democrats a voice at County level.