A massive thank you to everyone who worked hard in this year’s local elections.
A massive thank you to everyone who worked hard in this year’s local elections. It’s been another tough year in our journey from a party of protest to a party of Government, but where it matters most, in our Parliamentary seats, we’ve stayed strong and even made gains, beating the Conservatives by 5% of the vote.
More than 350 of our colleagues won this week, including some wonderful victories from taking three seats off the Conservatives in Wiltshire to holding a local by-election in my own seat of Sheffield Hallam. Every one of those winners will work hard to help deliver the stronger economy and fairer society Britain needs.
Like Justine Baker, who I spent a day campaigning with in Somerset this week, who won the Bishops Hull & Taunton West division in Jeremy Browne's constituency of Taunton. Like Neil Fawcett, our former Deputy Director of Campaigns, elected in Abingdon South in Oxfordshire, part of Layla Moran's brilliant team working to win back Oxford West and Abingdon in 2015. And like Mr and Mrs Rogerson - proud parents of our MP Dan - both elected county councillors in his North Cornwall constituency.
Of course, not everyone got the result they deserved this week, and some incredibly hard working Lib Dem Councillors and campaigners have lost their seats. It's always hard when this happens. The party owes a huge debt to those people who put themselves forward and I want to say a personal thank you to every single one of them.
Whatever the results in your area, remember this: every individual who voted Lib Dem in this election voted for a party of Government. That proves that significant numbers of people in Britain, especially in our held seats, want the Lib Dems to be a party of Government, locally and nationally, changing Britain for the better.
A year or two ago even if we worked hard we didn’t win: now our message is getting a hearing again. We are back in the saddle.
Of course, one big story of Thursday’s elections was UKIP. They pose a huge problem for the Conservatives. But whatever the other parties do, we won’t be lurching off to the right. The election result shows it is more important than ever that we, Liberal Democrats, anchor the Government in the centre ground.
Britain is going through a huge upheaval at the moment, slowly adjusting to a new economic reality, and that is painful. And they are getting no answers from the people who created these problems in the first place: the Labour party. No wonder people get frustrated and angry waiting for government to get us through the tough times. I expect we are all sometimes impatient about how long and arduous the process of economic recovery is, and wish there was a quick fix.
There isn’t. Nigel Farage and his party do not offer a solution to the problems our country faces. In fact if UKIP ever got to deliver their policies, unemployment would soar, the rich would get a massive tax cut, and we'd face swingeing cuts to our schools and hospitals.
Our country's problems are real, but the answer is not easy promises that would have disastrous consequences. The answer is long, steady, hard work to put the public finances back in order, create jobs, help with the cost of living and invest in children and young people. Building a stronger economy in a fairer society. We are doing that painstaking work, in Government, every day, and that's the message we need to work even harder to communicate from now on.
It isn’t easy and it isn’t always comfortable, but in the end it will change Britain for the better.
Congratulations again to everyone who worked hard in these elections. It’s only when we work hard together that our message can get through: so thank you and please keep it up.
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