Bittersweet victory

Waking up after election day always brings out mixed emotions for a Lib Dem.  We are conditioned to suffer, being in a small party which is perennially, depressingly squeezed between the two lumbering elephants of the Red-Blue coalition.  Our gains are normally moderate, our losses always seem worse but when those gains come they are the greatest of moments.  It is therefore such a joyous experience to have woken up this morning to see some really rather impressive results across England.

Having been hammered in 2015, the Lib Dems have been fighting for survival.  That crushing defeat had one amazing outcome: membership of the party more than doubled within days as people angry at our treatment by the Reds and Blues decided to join up.

This new membership effectively saved the Lib Dems and it has been so wonderful to see these new members falling into step next to those of us who've been suffering campaigning for decades.  What is so inspiring is that those thousands and thousands of new people have not only joined in, they've taken the lead.

As I sat watching Huw Edwards trying to make local elections in England exciting (brave) I had mixed feelings.  I learned very soon that locally the Lib Dems had secured four sensational wins - three new councillors and one re-elected - all led by a new campaign team which combined new and old members, a perfect combination.  Across the country, I noticed that so many Lib Dems being elected were very young, a very inspiring sign for any organisation.  

My mixed feelings came from the sense that a new generation has now emerged and that, while not over, my political time may now have reached its zenith and be beginning to wane.

Now, at not-yet-50, I'm not saying old farts aren't involved in politics; they very demonstrably are.  The Lib Dems' Dear Leader is himself in his 70s and has more wit and vigour than the entire Conservative Party put together.  Also, turn up to any by-election and you will see Lib Dems of all ages and abilities turning up by car, train, bus, motorised scooter or bicycle to do their bit in any way they can, from delivering leaflets to knocking on doors to stuffing envelopes for eight hours at a time.  That is the truly inspiring thing about this party.

But the sense that others are now available to take the lead in all areas lead is palpable.  My two forays into Parliamentary elections as candidate may be the last two - they may not but if there are people in their 20s and 30s (or 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s) willing to give it their all, they have my support.

I will continue to stand, I will continue to help, I will continue to send my subs to Head Office but if someone comes along who has just joined and they want to make a difference and maybe to stand for a council seat themselves, who am I to stand in their way.  I shall fight their corner as vigorously as I would my own.  

It's what we do.

I always get a bit depressed after an election.  They are like catnip and this one was a very, very good one for the Lib Dems.  While celebrating some sensational victories - shout out to the champions of Richmond-upon-Thames - and looking to the future with a renewed sense of optimism that the party is in very good hands, I think the overriding reflection I shall take away is one I have more frequently these days: the passage of time is an absolute b*****d.

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