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Liberal Democrats for the Heart of England

May 6, 2020 9:59 PM
By Michael Mullaney in Lib Dem Voice

Many of us living in the Midlands often feel we're a part of the country forgotten by Government.

Liberal Democrats in the Midlands, having had some tough general election results, may sometimes feel we're a forgotten part of the party.

To try and address these issues a group of Midlands Lib Dem activists have come together to found Liberal Democrats for the Heart of England. With twin aims of raising issues for the Midlands that need championing within the party and to get more Lib Dems elected at local and Parliamentary level to champion the Midlands' cause.

As a Leicestershire County Councillor I see first hand how we're often a part of Britain forgotten by the Tory Government. Despite having all Tory MPs, Leicestershire is about the worst funded county in Britain. Residents see Council Tax regularly soar but services, such as Sure Start Children's Centres, support for rural bus services, cut right back. Similarly a number of other Counties across the Midlands are among the worst funded in Britain.

Leicestershire also has among the worst funded schools in Britain. This has an effect in limiting opportunities. With social mobility in places like my area of Hinckley and Bosworth being among the lowest in Britain. If a young person grows up here in poverty sadly they're very likely to stay there. Championing fairly funded education services to give everyone a fair start in life is a key cause for the group.

Equally our infrastructure is often given low priority. One example is the government's failure to deliver electrification of the Midland Mainline rail service through Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. This was a policy pursued by Lib Dems during coalition but then paused and halted by the Tory only government

For our party in the Midlands recent years have been hard. Having the two biggest leave voting regions in Britain in the EU referendum, nearly 60% Leave vote in both East and West Midlands made the 2017 and 2019 elections tough ones for the party here.

The party has shown it can win local elections though. In 2019 Liberal Democrats held Oadby and Wigston Council with a massive majority. In Hinckley and Bosworth we gained the Council from the Tories with our biggest ever majority. Elsewhere across the Midlands we gained many councillors in places like Chesterfield, Malvern Hills and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

In the recent past we've elected Lib Dem MPs in the East Midlands. The excellent Paul Holmes represented Chesterfield between 2001-2010. Leicester South was Lib Dem between 2004-5. In the West Midlands we held numerous seats Hereford (1997-2010) Ludlow (2001-2005) Solihull (2005-2015) Birmingham Yardley (2005-2015).

So Midlands Lib Dems can win at local and parliamentary level and we can do so again. I've gone into more detail on this in a paper just published by the new group Liberal Base.

Our Northern colleagues have rightly pointed out how their part of the country is often overlooked and have set up the Liberal Northern Network.

Here in the Midlands we hope this group can help highlight issues of concerns to the Midlands, develop policy ideas for the Midlands and help get more Lib Dem's elected in the Midlands.

If you're a member and want to get involved in Liberal Democrats for the Heart of England please contact me at michaeltmullaney@yahoo.co.uk or Mathew Hulbert at mhulbert1980@gmail.com

We plan to formally launch the group with a committee and organisation later this year.

* Michael Mullaney is Leicestershire County Councillor for Hinckley De Montfort and opposition Finance spokesman. Michael's a Borough Councillor and Executive member for Housing and Community Safety on Liberal Democrat run Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council. Michael was Liberal Democrat PPC for Bosworth in 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019 and Chair of East Midlands Liberal Democrats 2008-11.