The Liberal Democrats are standing in front of an open goal. We were standing in front of it in June as well, it's just we seemed to be stubbornly facing in the other direction.
Never again should we campaign in a general election saying that we are not interested in power. What is the point of drafting a manifesto if you have promised not to deliver any of the policies within it as a party of government? Where is the potential to inspire in aspiring to be a party of opposition?
The offering in June was dismal. The Liberal Democrats should always aspire to be a party of government. If we get enough seats, we negotiate hard to get the best deal for the country as a coalition partner. But we should not aspire to being a minor partner. First and foremost, we aspire to governing alone, then as the largest party in a coalition, then as a coalition partner. Seismic shifts can happen in politics, but they can only happen if you plant seeds in the imagination of the voters.
The notion that the Liberal Democrats can fill a gaping hole in the centre of British politics is a timid nonsense. The path to power is to take votes from left and right, rich and poor, by presenting the truism that we truly seek to represent the best interests of every citizen of this country. Not just the workers, and not just the bosses and those that aspire to achieving and maintaining wealth.
Our opposition to Brexit makes us the party of the economy, of growth, of jobs, of science, of security. Any sensible business owner, employee in the financial sector, or person in management must surely see that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a conservative vote to protect their way of life against those who would stubbornly jeopardise it in their pursuit of Brexit.
The workers on the front line must also surely see that the Liberal Democrats are the ones that will enhance their job security.
If there is an election before Brexit negotiations are complete, we should stand to reverse Brexit, to return Britain to a path of prosperity, to punish those who lied to you in order to persuade you to vote against your interests. If we win, Brexit stops, the economy recovers, the investment returns, and we have a chance of saving our NHS with the enormous tax monies that will accrue as investment, trade and tourism floods in from our mightily relieved European allies. If we are in power as a coalition, then the people should have their say on any Brexit deal, but with far more information, and much more of it factual, than was the case last time round.
Only 1 in 4 MPs supported Brexit before the referendum. The rest voted through article 50 not to respect democracy, but because they fear democracy. Democrats represent the interests of their constituents. Cowards wave through things they know will harm their constituents because of their own selfish political interests.
If we call this cowardice what it is, if we promise revenge against the liars who promised £350 million a week for the NHS, if we promise always to study the evidence and stand up for the interests of the people and not cower when confronted with those who shout the loudest, then maybe the Liberal Democrats can be the party that brings trust back into politics. Maybe the Liberal Democrats can be the next government of these islands.
Look left, look right, recognise there's votes to be had right across the political spectrum, and tell them we aspire for power because we know that our policies will best serve the interests of all the people.
By-election victor at Gateshead meeting
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