The local elections brought more bad news for the Liberal Democrats in Wakefield and especially for me in Ossett. It’s all the more reason to thank those voters who continue to support us through these difficult times. I’d also like to thank those who fly the flag for us as candidates and activists, a committed bunch of people with whom it is a privilege to work.
There was much better news for us in nearby Rothwell, where the Leeds Lib Dem Group Leader Stewart Golton was re-elected with a healthy majority.
I don’t believe that those who supported UKIP are necessarily racist or anti-gay, despite the stream of ill-judged comments from UKIP candidates up and down the country who clearly are. Certainly, my partner and I don’t encounter such prejudice in Ossett. But it’s more important than ever to speak up for the diverse and democratic politics Wakefield needs.
In some quarters there is a nostalgia for a world that will never return, perhaps a less complicated one where it was easier to make assumptions based on a shared culture and language. For its young people to prosper, Wakefield now has to compete in a global market. That won’t change, in or out of Europe. The risk is that young people will leave the Wakefield district to study and work, and never return.
I should imagine many of those who didn’t vote on Thursday will be regretting that now. I’d encourage them not just to vote next time but get involved in politics. Greater participation would improve all parties, including mine.
I will be reflecting on what happened, how to respond, and will be encouraging others to do the same. My commitment to Ossett, Wakefield and liberalism remains the same.