The beauty of Bath shone on a scorching June day. Walking up the hill to the King Edward School, the city rolled down as a majestic backdrop. Orange diamonds with the words STOP BREXIT, lit up the path to the location of the event. It was the Liberal Democrat leadership hustings between Jo Swinson and Ed Davey.
Theresa May was on LBC this week, in attempt to do some damage control after her disastrous conference speech. Iain Dale asked her three times if she would guarantee the rights of EU citizens living here in Britain. The Prime Minister continued to dodge the question.
After being asked three times, the PM still cannot guarantee that 3.2m EU citizens living the UK can stay if there’s no deal
It has been over half a year since Article 50 was triggered and there is still no concrete guarantees on the lives of millions of EU citizens living here or the millions of Britons living in Europe. After months of negotiations, you would think this matter would be resolved. Humans are not bargaining chips.
My heart pounded as I left the stage. A man walked up to me. “Hi mate, what’s your name? I’m doing the summation for the motion and want to mention you.”
“Ryan,” I said.
“Great, thanks!” He ran back to his spot in the front row. I take my seat and let out a sigh of relief. The next speaker spoke in the background but the words washed over me without meaning. My phone vibrated in my pocket. A message from the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Bristol South, Ben Nutland.
“Congratulations on the fantastic speech! I just watched it on BBC Parliament.”
The train arrived at Kokkaigijido-Mae station, and I made my way through a maze of tunnels to reach the exit. As I reached the top of the final staircase a crashing boom stopped me in my tracks. What was that? I crept up the stairs and peered outside.
A storm had manifested. The base of the thunder shook through the underground as rain pelted the pavement outside. I looked at my watch to see how long was left before my tour of the National Diet building started. It was soon.
We live in a polarised Britain. On one side, we have Theresa May who wants to get rid of human rights, regulate the Internet, tackle immigration and slash welfare. On the opposite end, you have Jeremy Corbyn, whose main objectives are to nationalise more institutions, increase taxes, make higher education free and expand the state. Are either party able to solve Britain’s deep-rooted divisions?
Politics in the West has entered a new era.
Those on the left of the political spectrum sit around scratching their heads on why power they had once taken for granted, has been taken from them. Why has the left failed to engage with the same people who they champion?
From the EU Referendum and the American presidential election, there was a common theme that Leave campaigner Michael Gove put so unashamedly, “people in this country have had enough of experts.” Slogans and punchy one liners were repeated tirelessly by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage until the masses were quoting them as facts and chanting them at rallies.
Jeremy Corbyn – Getty Images / Leon Neal
The smell of bacon and eggs woke me from my deep sleep. I rubbed my eyes and tried to get my bearings. As I remembered moments from Lib Dem Pint the night before I realised I was in Brighton. This was probably why I had woken up next to Felix on the sofa bed.
After breakfast, I made my way off to the Liberal Democrat conference. It was a beautiful walk on the edge of Brighton’s beach to the conference centre where the Lib Dem logo was unashamedly displayed brightly on the side of the building. After registration I ran into Bristol’s favourite goatee’d man, Andrew. As we were catching up, Tim Farron and an entourage of members walked down the stairs being snapped by a range of photographers. Amy was by his side and would end up being in photos that would be in every media publication across the country.
Watching Tim’s speech with Steve and the Bristol Lib Dems.
The following is my uncensored account of the Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference 2016.
The Night Before – Lib Dem Pint
After four hours and three trains I stepped out onto the platform in Brighton. It was dark, chilly and I was running late for Lib Dem Pint.
It was getting late and I was cursing myself because I was missing all the speeches.
Ben let me into our AirBnB accommodation and then quickly dashed off as he had two drinks waiting for him. I freshened up and left the basement apartment that was a stones throw away from the beach. As I was walking along with the coastline on my left, I thought it was odd that Google Maps was telling me that the bar was at the end of Brighton Pier. The front of the gates to the pier was deserted, except for a stout security guard who questioned me when I approached.
“Are you with the Liberal Democrats?”
The alarm clock broke the silence at 6 AM. Instead of automatically hitting the snooze button I shook off the webs of sleep and went straight to my Twitter news feed. I stared at the screen in disbelief.
Britain had voted to leave the European Union.
The result had left me stunned. As I spoke to many of my friends a common theme appeared. They were devastated.
“I find no contradiction between being a Highlander, a Scot, a citizen of the UK and a citizen of the European Union at one and the same time.” – Charles Kennedy