"Stop treating people like voting fodder" - 19 June 2007
Lib Dem Local Government Leader urges
Cllr Richard Kemp, the newly re-elected Leader of the 4,300 Liberal Democrat councillors in England and Wales will use his keynote address to the Liberal Democrat Local Government Conference on Saturday to urge Liberal Democrats to return to their roots and develop their traditional skills and passion for community politics.
"We wonder why so few people engage in the political process and so few people vote. Perhaps we ought to look at the way that all three political parties are treating the electorate to understand this.
"Too often politicians of all Parties see their residents as a reservoir of potential votes to be tapped rather than a group of people to be worked with and worked for.
"Too often politicians of all Parties see their electoral area as a place from which to do things and not a place in which to do things.
"Too often we spend all our time on the alchemy of demographic intervention and marketing techniques rather than on a genuine service of people and the communities that they live and work in.
"I do not care what the other Parties do but I do care that the Liberal Democrats are moving away from our community politics roots. We have a fundamental belief that people and communities have the ability and the right to run their own lives and that the role of politicians is to facilitate that process. Our policies preach empowerment and engagement but increasingly our practices do not deliver it.
"Community Politics is not just a way of getting people to vote Lib Dem although it is true that if we are good politicians people will want to vote for us. Community Politics should be a basic way of showing that we walk the talk and as politicians are prepared to empower and not control; delegate and not hold tight the reins of power.
"I believe that this Party needs to look again at its campaigning and stop a relentless creep in becoming a mini-me of campaigners using tasteless and mercenary electoral techniques borrowed from our competitor parties or from the wrong side of the Atlantic."
Editor's Note: The Liberal Democrat Local Government Conference is taking place in Birmingham International Conference Centre on Saturday 23rd Jun. More than 300 Lib Dem councillors will be meeting for a day of policy and campaigning discussion. Cllr Kemp will make his key note address at 2.00 p.m. More details can be obtained from Cllr Kemp on 07885 626913 or from Ed Fordham on 0207 664 3295