I’ve been a Liberal Democrat for more years than I can remember now but today was the straw that broke the camels back as far as I am concerned. Although events nationally have deeply troubled me and my disdain for Nick Clegg has grown, I have stuck with the party because of the sheer pleasure i have gotten out of working for local people in the ward of Knaphill.
Last year I stood for election in the ward and despite being a first time candidate polled over 1000 votes – an impressive result for someone on their first time out. This year I stood again in the same ward when the incumbent councillor decided to stand down. I thought i stood a real chance of holding the seat as i had a real track record of working hard for residents. I cleared snow for the elderly without them asking, I turned up and
cut back vegetation when the council wouldn’t do it, i even helped a couple of people stave off homelessness when the council gave them advice that it was better to squat in their property if they wanted to be rehoused. In short I worked myself into the ground. I worked evenings, weekends and even during the day when I should have been looking for a job as I had been made redundant. In many ways my life revolved around the work i was doing in Knaphill.
You can imagine how I felt when the result came in today and I only polled 593 votes compared to my opponents 1327. It was a totally humiliating defeat which left me absolutely shell shocked and frankly embarrassed. Until the result was known, I was led to believe that it was a close race. In the end it was anything but and I was left humiliated as the only LibDem target seat candidate that did not win their election. As I write this some of my ex LibDem colleagues are out celebrating their respective victories while I sit here at home wondering what the hell happened after all my hard work.
I say ex colleagues as I have tonight resigned my membership of the Liberal Democrats with immediate effect. I have talked of it before when I felt that the party leadership has betrayed us grass root activists but this time I have actually submitted the email and I am no longer a member of the party that I loved so much. I also have to consider the level of abuse that i have received from some members of the national party, some of whom have gloated again this year, as they did last year, at my defeat. Given that we were supposed to be on the same side, I am incredibly disappointed and upset at their behaviour.
Some of you may be reading this thinking that it is churlish of someone to resign because they lost an election. That is not why I have resigned though I confess that the level of the defeat cuts me to the bone when I have worked so hard for residents. I resigned because I was hung out to dry. I never got the support you should get when defending a target seat. Despite my asking on numerous occasions, only a few others who I will not name came to help when I needed it. I got more help from the lovely people on twitter who came to campaign with me than i did from some of my own party. Even on election day itself a discussion was had about closing my committee room down and pulling resources away to protect existing councillors over my campaign. Many of the councillors up for election this year were virtual shoe in’s because of their track records and the results today bore that up. When this was pointed out to key members, it was never acted on. On election day most of the help was in those safe seats and I campaigned door knocking solidly from 7am until 10pm under the misguided apprehension that i had a chance of winning and could continue my work for residents as a councillor.
So Woking Liberal Democrats have lost a seat today. One they should never have lost had they helped to put the work in as I did over the last 18 months. They didn’t lose it because of my lack of work. They lost it because they were blinded into protecting other seats where they were always going to win. It was a massive tactical error and I was the casualty.
The people that I totally respect in the local party, I have thanked personally offline and will not mention here. The others I am afraid are living in a bubble. They will never get back control of the council with the team they have at the moment which is too blinded my protectionism to see clearly the bigger picture.
To my opponent Saj Hussein in Knaphill I send my congratulations. He is a thoroughly decent man and I have exchanged many pleasant words with him. He and his team deserved the win. We both fought good clean campaigns that never resorted to personal slurs (of which I am proud) and I hope he is a good and worthy councillor for the people of Knaphill who deserve nothing less than the best. He appears to have a good team of people around him, something I in many instances did not. I wish him well.
As for me? I now go off to rebuild my life and try and find a job and take a break from local politics. My time as a candidate and campaigner was a proud yet humbling one meeting and helping so many people. Perhaps one day, in another guise I will get the chance to do so again. For now, I leave the local politics of the Liberal Democrats in Woking to those who think they know best but today were proved wrong. Badly wrong.
UPDATE: Amusingly my email to member services seems to have bounced back to me this morning. I am now fully expecting to receive a suspension notice as I did some months ago when a malicious person complained about this blog to party HQ. That didn’t help my campaign much either did it being suspended fora week only to be cleared later for doing nothing wrong. However, if HQ and others see this and wish to suspend me, do not bother, I WANT to resign and have emailed you again this morning asking you to remove me as a member.
Another update I find amusing is that despite deliberately not naming names, one person whose idea it was to close my committee room, texted me last night to respond to this blog post. Did they ask how I was? No they complained that this post had hurt them and then went on to justify why they wanted to close my committee room and then try and blame me for losing the election. When you are already down and crying yourself to sleep, there are some who really enjoy putting the boot in giving you a further kicking.
As I said, there are many reasons I am resigning this party and many of them ain’t pretty. If I blogged about them all right now there would be some VERY red faces locally and nationally and I am not going to do that as some people in the party are still friends of mine. The others however should watch their backs incredibly closely. I will not forget the way I was treated.