Poole Liberal Democrats' chairman, Dave Yates reflects on the EU referendum result and looks forward to the future.
Over a fortnight has passed since the EU referendum. The leave result not only sent shockwaves through our nations, and our pockets for that matter, but also served as a devastating blow to liberalism within Europe, or did it?
Whilst the Tory party descends into an orgy of political assassination and the Labour party MP’s (for the most part) are left clinging to the hope that Jeremy Corbyn will resign, we are shrouded by a plot of Shakespearian accent – with a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Membership has risen by 17,000 plus, having already increased by over 20,000 at last year’s gruelling defeat. In Poole we have increased our membership by 32%.
The time for liberal voices is now, for only we can stand up for the people of Britain – whether they be born and bred or multinational, they are our neighbours/friends and colleagues, they have given so much to our economy (sometimes more than we). We must stand up for their rights, continue to welcome them as equals. I urge everyone and anyone who sees hate to report hate, for now is the time for unity, now is the time for solidarity in our core values of being pro EU, now is the time to grow our core vote from the 48%, many of whom clearly share our values!
We may be leaving, but we haven’t left yet. Now is the time to lobby the lords, lobby our "missing-in-action" MP for Poole. The public voted to leave, and whilst we must respect that, we must also remember that any referendum in these nations is non-binding. Whilst I do not agree with the result of the referendum, I do not see the benefit of a second. The cost of such an event is fruitless, and only serves to waste time when we should be dealing with homeland issues such as saving our NHS, replenishing housing stock and revamping education. The argument, in my view, lies in the fact that the government of the day was not elected on a mandate of removal from the EU, and crucially it’s on this that we should be unitedly outspoken. I urge everyone, therefore, to join with me in lobbying our "missing-in-action" MP, that a general election (now that the Tories have chosen their media centre piece) is the will of the people and certainly the most democratic option.
Furthermore, whilst the remain campaign rhetoric could have been better worded at times, we see now that the leave vote was exponentially based on lies and deception. We now have to live with the result of a misguided electorate tricked in to their leave vote, and the laziness of the youth (which is probably even worse!). I cannot grasp the fact that a country whereby the government appoints a prime minister voted for by their own party not the public can conclude that the EU is undemocratic and I will not tolerate the United Kingdom being taken out of the EU when that wasn’t even in the Tory manifesto.
We are the party with an army on the ground, and so it should remain. Our membership is changing, and so it should; fresh blood, fresh ideas, fresh perspective. It is up to us to embrace change (in full awareness that it is never forgiving to those who choose to ignore it), up to us to really get to know our electorate here in Poole, growing our core vote as we do. It is time to shrug the cape we’ve worn for so long. We cannot continue to be seen as a protest vote, we must instil in the electorate a trust towards us, a respect hitherto unseen, and only we as a team, on the ground, new members and older can achieve this. To that end, I would add also that cross branch relationships will be key to our success and the success of those around us. Our relationships with MDNP, Bournemouth West and East need to be strengthened with unequivocal and immediate effect.
As we look to our members now more than ever, we are reminded of friendships built, memories made and communities born. We look to one another for the one true ability: responsibility. We must hold each other accountable for objectives we say we will achieve, supporting one another at every turn, seeking guidance where unsure.
Above all, we must embrace the ever changing face of our members, and indeed our electorate, to engage with them, communicate freely and readily, embolden them to have a want and need to get active in their communities, raise a stronger army on the ground than ever before - after all, winning elections is an inside job!
The FightBack started last year, momentum is building. The Phoenix is Rising!