Sunday, 16 November 2008

Southport Lib Dem AGM

Why does no one sit in the front row? I noticed it was the same when I went to the Remembrance Service at St John's in Birkdale last Sunday. Anyway Friday night saw the AGM of Southport Lib Dems and as well as the usual business of report backs from various people we had a policy motion. But first of all I would like to say a few word about Hilda Styles a stalwart of Kew Ward who died recently. Southport, altho not unique among local associations, is unusual for having a continuous history of activity and success which included the dark days for Liberalism in the 1950's. In fact Southport was one of the very few constituencies that managed a second place in that period when Sam Goldberg-the original 'Mr Southport' -fought a magnificent campaign in the 1959 General Election. Southport Liberals went on to control the council in the 1960's. I was privileged to know Sam's widow Madge then an elderly lady who was one of our delegates to the Llandudno Assembly during the period of the Alliance. I remember she insisted that I took her along to a CND meeting where she stunned everyone by her knowledge and the vigorous way she debated.

When I first became active in Southport Lib Dems getting on for 30 years ago there were many such members. One of them was Hilda. I was a the parliamentary candidate and a councillor in Kew Ward then. I knew that there were some who were none to happy about that and weren't slow to say so and said things that looking back were quite hurtful. Hilda was not one of them. She always turned out for meetings, social events and leaflet delivery and other campaigning. Hilda looked after her elderly Mother with great dedication but that committment did not stop her being involved. She had political views and voiced them. She was very kind to me and my family often popping round with things she thought 'might be useful'. A few of us went to the Guest House -including Fred Weavers and Mike Booth present day Kew councillors-after the meeting. We got to talking about Hilda and it transpired that she supported them in much the same way as she did me 25 years earlier including all the gifts of things that might be useful!

Antway John Pugh paid a handsome tribute to her and all those other like her who kept Liberalism alive in this place allowing our generation to build their work. Michael Braham's history of Southport Lib Dems tells anyone who is interested much more and is well worth reading-copies available from 35 Shakespeare St., Southport.

Anyway back to Friday night and policy. People may be forgiven for thinking that people join political parties in order to deliver leaflets. To the lay observer that does appear to be main activity. I'm always reassured by how genuinely interested our members and supporters are in politics. there may be so folk who enjoy delivering-I can't see it myself-but it is a means to an end! On Friday night we discussed the motion printed below and it was good to hear so many people talking about the issues after the meeting. It is too easy to assume that politics turns people off. In truth people who join political parties do so because of ideas and if we ever get to the point when that is not true things will go badly haywire

This Association congratulates Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and all Lib Dem MPs who have supported and promoted our party’s economic policy. In particular we welcome the pledge to reduce income tax for those on low and middle incomes by:
1. ending upper rate pensions relief - so the wealthy don’t get extra pension help from the tax man;
2. taxing capital gains at the same rates as income, so bankers and executives can’t get away with paying 18% tax while their cleaners pay 31%;
3. switching to green taxes to protect our environment;
4. tackling the scandal of corporate tax avoidance.
We resolve that this should form a central part of the Liberal Democrat campaign for Southport.