Saturday, 25 March 2017

The South-West of England: National Liberalism – Back to the future!

The south west of England has a strong traditional liberal heritage. It is an area which in the 1930’s also produced a leading figure in the breakaway National Liberals in Leslie Hore- Belsiha, as well as a number of other National Liberal M.P’s. The south west is also an area of the country where patriotism is treasured, where people are outraged at our loss of sovereignty. It is an area of natural beauty, with people protective of the landscape and in Cornwall their distinctive culture. Combine these factors together and there is terrific potential for the National Liberal Party in the south west. The report below is from leading activist Rick Heyse

So far support for the NLP has been confined to two areas of the south west, namely West Cornwall and South Devon. This has left vast areas of the south west unrepresented by the NLP with most of the electorate not yet aware the party existed. Therefore it was felt that combining the efforts of activists a much louder voice could be offered across the whole of the south west – whilst still maintaining a local presence. Therefore on Magna Carta Day (15th June) 2011, the South West National Liberal Association was launched along with the regional website at http://www.swnlp.com.

As has been stated, the South West NLP aims to be a loud voice for National Liberalism across the region. It is hoped NLP members and supporters in the south west will monitor the local media for issues where we can release statements via the press and website and generally become actively involved. Where some people might not be physically able to participate in leafleting, they still might be able to inform us of issues they have heard of or read about in their area, thus becoming the eyes and ears of the party and playing a very important role.

We also wish to engage with the electorate, and have made the website interactive via an online ‘Grumble Sheet’. As people bring issues to our attention we will comment on them, offering a National Liberal slant, and open up dialogue. Likewise we are willing to listen and work alongside other organisations where we share common values.

Of course a website is pretty useless unless people get to hear about it. Here we look to local members and supporters to spread the word via social networking, blogging and commenting on posts on other websites. We also aim to promote the site and the party through regular leafleting and letters to the press. Leafleting drives are being planned with the new NLP leaflet being distributed when it becomes available, as well as a local newsletter and local leaflet. Informal quarterly meetings are planned close to public transport links, and a leafleting drive is likely to be included as part of this.

It has been mentioned that the south west has rich liberal and patriotic traditions. Yet today the south west is largely an area of low wages and house prices beyond the reach of many people. It’s an area where cutbacks are going to have a real impact. In the past UKIP and the Greens have had success in the European and local elections respectively. The potential is there for a party of real liberalism, patriotic liberalism which cares about the country and its people and eco-conscious liberalism which cares about the environment, to breakthrough at local level stealing support from all the other political players. It will not be easy, and it will be hard work, but the plan is there and we have some useful activists in place. Now let’s build the party!

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