We are taking turns to compile the monthly newsletter and it’s my honour to take the baton for August. I became a Liberal Democrat a little more than a year ago. Following a brief period up to the general election, surfing a wave of optimism, it would be too easy to say that I find myself thrown onto the post-election, post-Brexit beach and in various stages of Covid-related uncertainty and concern. An element of that is true but our NDLD and wider community spirit has kept me going. Since joining the party, I’ve felt at home. I don’t understand why it took me so long. Almost 30 years in the Army prevented active politics, but then of course there was Brexit and now there’s Covid too. I feel that our values are needed more than ever. I’m therefore undaunted. I’m looking forward to re-building, coming back stronger as the tide inevitably turns away from the populists and authoritarians in the years ahead.
Whether we like to believe it or not, there was a huge amount of certainty while we were in lockdown. Barring notable and egregious exceptions, we all pulled together and stayed at home. The disaster that’s happening to and around us is worse than it should have been. At least our interim leader has been successful in agitating for an inquiry. It needs to be scrupulous, thorough, and soon. We must learn quickly and be ready for any resurgence. As Liberal Democrats, we need to adapt and help people to find a way. For me it’s important that we do that based on our Liberal Democrat values and purpose. We need to get back to helping solve people’s real-world problems from the local to the national again. The latter will take a while. The local challenge is here now.
Certainty is hard to find. Furlough is coming to an end and the realities of economic damage are becoming starkly clear. My business is in civil engineering and we face a cash crunch as so many other businesses will do this autumn. The uncertainties across age groups are also a concern. There is a risk that the elderly disappear from sight again. Established working age folk must balance risk on whether and how to be back at work with family demands. Far too many young people can’t find jobs, struggle to study, travel or have apprenticeships snatched away from them. In short, we need to act to prevent inequality gaps becoming wider.
At work I find that there are some helpful models for some situations, so I’ve included a model beloved of consultants and a suggested game for you. Try to place yourself and those listed in the box on the “psychodynamic change curve” where you think it matches their outlook on the “current state of affairs”:
- Someone in your business
- Liberal Democrat Party
- NDLD member
If Covid-related events mean you are personally stuck on the left-hand side of the curve, then I hope you’ll let us support you. My feeling is that while our party is temporarily depressed and sitting somewhere in the trough awaiting the leadership result, there are grounds for optimism in North Dorset. I think we are through acceptance of what happened at the election, and we are experimenting with the way forwards. Volunteers have been busy. Both leadership candidates have had virtual Q&A sessions here (virtually) in North Dorset. We have presented a development plan and we want to get on with business. Our NDLD Facebook page is lively and the statistics show that people are visiting. Please look if you haven’t visited for a while. If you already visit then please make a comment, ask a question or set a challenge. Whether by Facebook or any other means, what do you feel strongly about? Considering that we have no imminent elections at any level it’s really encouraging that things are happening and people are engaged.
A great example of engagement was the Zoom-based discussion on Black Lives matter held on 2 July. A fabulous young, black, woman, Shakeela Begus led a discussion and challenged our thinking. We examined our attitudes and actions, biases and blind spots towards black people. Participants were inspired and we agreed that it’s not enough to be passively non-racist. We must all be brave and actively anti-racist if we are to correct this terrible inequality.
Finally, please remember to cast your vote in the leadership election. There are significant differences in the two candidates’ plans and the result really matters to our future direction.
As our chairman Fiona reminded us last month, we are bunch of individuals who collectively believe that a civilised society can be achieved through fairness, respect, tolerance and kindness to others. Below are contact details of some of our team. Please keep in touch.
Gary Jackson MBE
Gary joined the Liberal Democrats in 2019. He is a chartered civil engineer and leads Costain Ltd’s defence & security consultancy business in the UK.
Raised in Northern Ireland before training at Sandhurst, Gary went on to serve for almost 30 years with the Royal Engineers, leaving in 2015. He settled in Shaftesbury, North Dorset with his family in 2011.
Strongly focused on opportunity for young people, Gary is a STEM ambassador and a BiTC social enterprise mentor, working most recently with the military coworking network, a social enterprise helping to maintain and develop careers for the partners and families of service personnel.
Gary joined the NDLD executive team in May 2020 and is the constituency parliamentary spokesman