Lewes District Green Party’s decision not to stand in the general election as a gesture of co-operation with the Liberal Democrats has been warmly welcomed by local people and grassroots Lib Dem activists.
How disappointing, then, to see the headline of last week’s Express [May 12], with Norman Baker’s quote, ‘they may have drunk champagne on the day, but they’ve had a pretty bad hangover since’.
In contrast to the generosity shown by his party colleagues, Mr Baker comes across as gloating, with a strong undertone of bitterness and resentment towards voters who stopped backing him in 2015, in protest against his party propping up a Tory coalition government.
He might cut a less pitiful figure if he spent some time pondering why he lost so much support in the first place: his willing participation in the coalition government which got the ball rolling on disability benefit cuts, axed 15,000 police officers, cut taxes for millionaires and spawned a host of other grim right-wing policies that were not what tactical Lib Dem voters in Lewes thought they were signing up for.
For these voters in 2010, it was less like drinking champagne and waking up with a hangover, than drinking your usual half a shandy and waking up in hospital having your stomach pumped.
It’s also disappointing, when our recent decision has provoked such a wave of goodwill among local people keen to unite against Theresa May’s hard Brexit, to see the Sussex Express frame its reporting around the scathing remarks of a disgruntled former MP.
I’m sure Norman’s would-be successor Kelly-Marie Blundell would rather coverage of her campaign were focused on the Lib Dems’ future, not their past.
It was a difficult decision to deny our core supporters an opportunity to vote for their candidate of choice. It will be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to consider similar co-operation in the future, when Norman Baker and his ilk continue to show such a lack of respect and humility towards the voters he let down in his final term in office.
In the county council elections on May 4, in Ringmer and Lewes Bridge, Greens polled over 30 per cent – nearly 1,400 votes – to come a very close second to the Lib Dems, by a mere 107 votes. The Conservatives were pushed down into third place, showing conclusively that you can vote Green in and around Lewes and not be accused of ‘letting the Tories in’.
The way things are going, it’ll soon be the Lib Dems who are ‘splitting’ the Green vote. Then perhaps it’ll be Norman Baker who’s nursing the hangover...
Lewes District Green Party