Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Time Will Tell...

I have held back from commenting on the recent local elections purely because I was hoping that with time, things will seem clearer and that way I can be objective; they do say time heals and all that...

First off, I never saw the results coming. I thought it might be bad, but certainly not that bad. I am not going to comment as to why I think it happened, I am sure everyone has talked it to death. What I will say, is that politically it hurts me deeply to see people I care about and had grown to know; lose their seats.  Even those in “opposition” would not (and did not) expect this result, and even the harshest of critics would be hard pushed to be glad at many a good hard working councillor losing their seats.

Even though I was more than happy to help my party this election, I clearly found things difficult to deal with when it came to what I believed and who I am as a person. It has already been gone over more than once, so I shall save you all going over it again.

Everyone knows I am friends with pretty much anyone, and you all know I am happy to talk to most people. And maybe this has been my downfall, I certainly get that impression. I can understand it, certainly see people’s points. But I cannot see how (or why for that matter) I cannot be me AND do what I wish politically... is that not the point of freedom of speech? Is that not the point of being able to choose for myself my own path in life ~ politically and otherwise?

Are we that shallow and petty that we are only willing to be friends with those like us? Is that what all politicians do? If you do not have the same view as me, fine; I accept that. If I do not have the same view as you, please accept that. And there is no reason why we cannot talk about our beliefs politically or otherwise, we can even agree to disagree; it does not make us any less important than anyone else.

I am of course talking in a general sense, nothing is aimed at anyone. But I have to admit I have done that in the past, even I am not infallible; even I can get it wrong sometimes! I would like to apologise wholeheartedly to those I may have offended by things I may have said in the past, with everything that was going on; I allowed myself to act before thinking things through. I allowed “it” to get to and tear me in different directions, it certainly was not me; nor will it ever be me.

I guess what I am trying to say is, why can I not be me and believe what I do politically, why does it all have to be the same? I do believe in many of the core basic values and beliefs that many Liberals believe in, the fact that others believe in being free, open and fair works for me. Life should be about wanting the best for our fellow human beings, not about making people all the same; not everyone is the same... is it wrong to want liberty, equality and to believe in community? Is it wrong to want to be free from poverty? Or to make people aware of the facts so they can be free?

And when it comes to following those core principals, I believe that Liberals fit what I believe in. And similarly I can only expect the same from others, and hope that my follow Liberals will believe in the same. I would like to think all Liberals follow those beliefs, I hope they would all want the same; feel the same and treat others in the same way. I know there will be people that say “Liberals (especially in Northampton) do not believe that.” I cannot (and will not) answer for any others, they will be able to answer for themselves. But I am not like others, I am not someone who will say something that is not true ~ maybe I say things too quickly without thinking, but I hope I do think more before I speak ~ I take pride in the fact I am that genuine. That I have no hidden agenda or ulterior motive.

I know many Liberals that lost their seats cared a great deal about the town and those they represented, and I also know many will not believe that. Seeing things politically from all sides, and being on the outside of it all; it certainly does seem a case of you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t... maybe the old saying is true, you can please some of the people some of the time; but not all of the people all of the time?

So what now?

Well, for the Liberals; I do not know. I imagine they are trying to see what went wrong and where they go from here, I imagine it will be the same with the other “independents” and those smaller partiers in Northampton.

Good luck to the Labour party who now have a huge task ahead of them, trying to be an opposition to a blue “stronghold” when the biggest gob (and I say that with affection) is gone; I hope they are up to the task.

Good luck also to the Tories, who need to be aware that they will have a million and one Liberals watching their every move with a keen eye... I hope for my town’s sake that they are successful, I shall be watching you too!

For me? I miss my party first off, but only I can take the blame for that mess. I honestly do not know where my politics lie, I am not sure I ever will to be honest. I guess that is the trouble with having political friends, regardless of if they mean to or not; they (whichever party they belong to ~ or were in) cannot help but be swayed by their own beliefs. A Liberal friend I miss terribly often said, “If you can’t stand the heat in politics...” and she is right. But this is not something I want to give up, I want to help; want to be part of helping things to change...

But maybe, until I can find my own path I need to take a backseat. I have a room I need to clean, more ironing I need to tackle, papers I need to read and sort out; not to mention writing assignments I have to attend to... gosh life does seem to creep up on you doesn’t it?

In closing, I would like to wish ALL those Liberals I met along the way. All of you (regardless of if you know/believe it or not) have had an affect on my life, I count myself lucky to have known all of you... yes even Mr. Woods!

Thank you for reading, and this is Nicky STILL a Liberal Democrat; signing off and saying see you on the backbenches.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is It Safe To Come Out Now???

Well, now that it is all over and the dust has all but settled; I thought I would begin writing stuff again… plus seeing as they are now only four of my follow Lib Dems in office, I don’t think I shall be getting in too much bother ~ though I could be wrong… I have been before!

Going into the election I knew that being a Lib Dem would not be easy, I knew that many people disliked what they (I still feel weird saying us) have done to the town etc. and I also realised that they had a good chance of losing control of the borough council. For the record, I never saw that result coming either… nor did I ever think Tony Clarke would lose either.

Regardless, I was happy to help “my party.” I wasn’t joining a party to be popular, I still believe in the “pre~amble” they have on their membership cards… however; I do worry that many of the others in the party did not believed the same. It sometimes felt that being a councillor/working for the public, was more about towing the party line than what their core principles are. It sometimes seemed to be a case of “this is far too important to play fair” or “we must win at all costs.”

Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to win or doing as you are told.

I understand the need for rules and that we should, on the whole; follow them.

But, and this has always been one of my “bugbears” as it were; if your boss (in whatever sense of the word) told you to jump off a cliff ~ are you really going to do it without as much as an; “why?” Which all leads me to question, what on earth has happened to make many of us like this?

Someone in the party would constantly tell me that they “needed” to win, and all I could think was; why? Is it really that important to win? When did it change from “because I want to serve my fellow Northamptonians,” to “because I need the money?”

Life and people are far more important than money will ever be, I don’t want my ward councillor telling me I should vote for them; I want to vote for them because they work hard and will do their best for my area… if you are doing it right, I don’t need to be told about it.

I personally believe there are a few main reasons why the Lib Dems lost control of the Borough; one of them is of course because of the nation scene. Supports of both the Tories and Lib Dems seem to be uncomfortable with the coalition, and you cannot blame them really can you? Is it a case of Clegg selling out for a place of power in the government, or simply a case of him seeing the potential? I personally have never liked this coalition, if I had wanted to be close to a Tory; I would have still been one!

Had it been me leading the party, I would have stepped back. Keeping my promises and integrity while allowing the Tories to (if it goes like it) make a balls up of it all… after all, there will be another election along in four~ish years; and that isn’t that long when it comes to politics!

I feel that another reason is that they were adamant that the town centre should come first when it came to planning etc. and I cannot say I completely disagree. Picture the scene if you will… (And this is a tangent, but it works)

In four years’ time, the Saints and Cobblers have an Asda and Ikea on their plots of land. They have developed their grounds etc. and everyone that matters is happy… the parking is a nightmare in St. James and Duston Road, but that doesn’t matter. Tesco’s moves in up by the Saints too, because they always get in upon the act; and Sainsbury’s makes a fuss and has its extension too. Throw in some other shops etc. and you have your very own “Weston Favell” type centre up in St. James/Duston/Upton area…

Now, you get people like my parents and others who don’t like going to the town centre; who now have everything need (or would go to Milton Keynes for) right there on their doorstep… where do you think people will go? I know without even having to ask where my folks will go, trust me I can save every council the consultant fee by telling you; it will be to the out of town shopping centre! I mean, why go town (which is slowly and painfully dying) when you have it all five minutes away? When petrol/diesel is the price it is, and the buses are a nightmare too, why would anyone bother or care about the town centre?

So what happens to the Market that is never going to be the same simply because people shop differently nowadays? What happens when the stores that have been in the town for like ever, finally get up and go elsewhere? When will the council start to worry? When places like Sainsbury’s, Church’s China, Debenhams, House of Fraser, or Church’s Shoes? What will be the wakeup call for them I wonder? What happens when we lose the towns venues like the theatres? Will that shock you all into doing something? When the town is a ghost town, what then?

Before you chastise me for spouting political brainwash garbage, I am basing this on firstly my own views but also those of the forgotten few; the silent majority that most politicians forget. People like my parents, who have not voted for ages because they think “you lot” are all the same. Normal people who have far more important things to worry about than which council does what or who runs it, it is these people most of you forget. Because while being a loud mouth (and I say that with affection as it is aimed at some people I know) is all well and good, and does get you so far; but not everyone wants to be that ~ or can be like that for that matter!

Before the election, the local paper (Chron & Echo) held a big debate and got people of the town to ask the candidates what they would do when they were elected. Towards the end of the night, a young lad got up and asked what each would do to inspire him and people like him to not only vote but also take an interest. And in truth that about sums it all up really, most people don’t want to hear that such and such a person left his car in his parking spot; they have more important things to worry about.

They won’t care if such and such a candidate is standing against his former party who kicked him out in such a rough way, the majority of people don’t bother with local politics and rarely care (especially now) about the national scene either… simply put, people are too busy with their lives to bother or care. Yes they want things to be better; yes they want to pay less council tax etc. but in truth they have their lives to get on with!!

But those same people have a voice and a vote, many of whom may have voted; many of whom may have seen you “all to be the same” and sent back a vote of “no confidence" in those that rule us. I guess my point (yes, I think I have one) is that it isn’t the ones with the biggest voice you need to worry about, it is those silent majority that need to be convinced or shown that you are not all the same. Even though I am interested in politics and even though I should know better; sometimes I think you are all the same…

They say the best government is that in opposition, and in some respects this is true; they always tell us voters they will do what the government is not doing... trouble is that every time an opposition says that and gets elected, none seem to hold true to their words!!! And maybe this is my point about everyone being the same, being proved right? Everyone says they will do their best for the voters; they will listen and stick to their promises, which is great… but in four years’ time when they have failed they either blame someone else, be that a previous council/government or just tell us things will get better and they will do it right the next time.

So I really do wish this new administration well, I hope they will not be the same. I hope that they keep their promises; I hope that both the Saints and the Cobblers get what they want. I hope that Fitzy and the Market survives, I hope that MY town does not die… but should the Tories fail to deliver, would the last person to leave Northampton please turn off the lights?

(Rant over, for now…)