Thursday, 27 April 2017

National Liberalism Relaunched in Plymouth

The National Liberals have launched a month long recruitment campaign. Whilst much of the activity will be via the ‘net’ we are encouraging our members to meet the people face to face. The following is our first report of such activity from our South West region.

National Liberalism Relaunched in Plymouth

Members of the South West NLP were on the streets of Plymouth during August distributing copies of the regional NLP newsletter and talking to members of the local community. Members and supporters gathered at Devonport’s Shakespeare pub for a day of activity. The pub itself is situated in the heart of the Plymouth constituency of the prominent former Liberal National M.P, Leslie Hoare-Belisha. Here activists met with locals and handed out copies of the regional NLP newsletter, South West National Liberal.

From the Shakespeare the activists began house to house distribution of the newsletter, taking the opportunity to discuss issues with local residents. The Devonport area of Plymouth is diverse, with some parts undergoing major regeneration. It is an area which does have its problems, particularly anti social behaviour. However it is also an area where strong elements community spirit still exists.

Apart from the issue of anti social behaviour, residents were concerned about people moving to the area and possibly jumping the housing ladder. Despite the regeneration of Devonport, some residents also expressed their concern on what they described as ‘The degeneration of the city’, with the possible demise of the Plymouth City Airport and the naval dockyard, as well as local shops closing.

NLP South West Regional Organiser, Rick Heyse, explained his thoughts on the days activity. He said, ‘It was always our intention to meet the people of Plymouth and Devonport, and not just drop the leaflets and run. Only by engaging with the community can you really get a feeling of what life is like in that particular area. Something mainstream politicians seem to ignore – apart from showing their faces at election time’.

The day also saw the launch of a major recruitment drive by the National Liberal Party, and Rick felt it was appropriate to be in the area where national liberalism had been so prominent in years gone by. He said ‘Obviously Devonport has its own national liberal heritage, with the visionary Leslie Hoare-Belisha an M.P and cabinet minister during the Second World War. Therefore it does seem appropriate to be here as part of the NLP recruitment drive in 2011 and relaunching national liberalism in the city’.

The NLP activists spent the whole day in the area, even attending the Plymouth Albion versus Worcester rugby match in the late afternoon. Rick, who is a keen fan of the club which is based in Devonport, compared the rugby club to politics. ‘Today, unfortunately from my point of view, Albion live in the shadow of Devon rivals Exeter Chiefs. However, unlike Exeter, Albion still retain that grass roots element where fans rub shoulders with players and local children can enjoy kicking a ball around on the pitch at half time and after the game. It’s a club and part of the city and the community. Politics is similar. The big players are not seen in ‘bedsitland’ or discussing issues with the people, unless there is an election just around the corner. The NLP is different; we offer grass roots politics and will be engaging with local people twelve months of the year’.

Over the course of the day activists talked to a variety of people of all ages and from different backgrounds, spreading the word that the NLP is the party for all the people. As Rick put it, ‘We are letting people know that if they feel disengaged from politics, are dissatisfied with the present cluster of parties yet do not want to turn to extremism of the left or right, there is now a progressive party of the patriotic political centre which is a credible alternative. The NLP has arrived’.

The party intends regular activity in Plymouth, engaging with local communities. If you would like to assist in this process or discuss an issue with the party please email info@swnlp.com

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