My name’s Andrew, and I’ve worked with the Lib dems….

There, I have said it.

Against all the warnings of other Council Group Leaders and CCHQ, whose advice interestingly was “Never do it!” I did.

And lived to regret it.

Well kind of….

You see in Harlow before 2002 the town was ALWAYS run by the labour party. It was laughingly referred to by those who lived and worked around it, as the “Socialist Republic of Harlow”. So in 2002, when for the first time ever, the electorate delivered a council with the make up 12 Con, 12 LD, 9 Lab, not only did we cheer hard, but we had to think very hard about what that electorate were telling us.

We knew the years of disastrous profligate labour administrations had to end but I didn’t have the votes to do anything about it in real terms.We were driven by high ideals of changing our town for the better, of a once in a generation chance to stop the financial rot and actually achieve something for our voters. It drove us to “want” to work with the Liberals, just to ensure that our town had steady governance and we could actually put things right.

The Libs just wanted power. To be honest, I realise now that is all they ever want. I and my colleagues failed in our logic when we ascribed to them the same high ideals of “sorting the town out” that we had

The first six to nine months went well. There were successes for the “joint administration”, bringing in a council tax cut and starting to get committees working. But within 15 months the whole thing was on the rocks.

Why?

Because for the Lib Dems the grass was always greener, Labour were the more natural bed fellows of our left left leaning colleagues and the new Labour leader in the town was keen to offer lots behind close doors to the Liberals, who decided to turn on us with Labour in an orchestrated move to bring down the administration and frustratingly (we were a larger group by then due to a defection) put the smaller Lib Dems into a minority administration, just to “do over the Torys”.

Did it work for us? Well we knew that we had done “the decent thing”, we got the district council working, and gave residents a relief from the constant spend spend spend of Labour. But we got very burnt in the process. I doubt my group of councillors will trust another party in Harlow for many years to come.

Did it work for the Lib Dems? They got short term power off the back of it and even a couple of years coalition with the Labour party, but eventually the Lib Dem bubble has burst and Harlow has returned to a mainly two party system.

I see many parallels to the national situation to that which we faced in Harlow in 2002.

David Cameron has no choice morally, but to seek with the Lib Dems, unpalatable as it may be to many of us. It is the only sure fire way to get the Government working again. The Lib Dems are only interested in power and what they can get for themselves, and frustratingly we are going to have to give them that power;

My advice to David Cameron is do the deal for the sake of the country but know in the back of your mind that the Liberals will both plan to and try to do the dirty on us, so be prepared for it!

My name’s Andrew, and I’ve worked with the Lib dems….

There, I have said it.

Against all the warnings of other Council Group Leaders and CCHQ, whose advice interestingly was “Never do it!” I did.

And lived to regret it.

Well kind of….

You see in Harlow before 2002 the town was ALWAYS run by the labour party. It was laughingly referred to by those who lived and worked around it, as the “Socialist Republic of Harlow”. So in 2002, when for the first time ever, the electorate delivered a council with the make up 12 Con, 12 LD, 9 Lab, not only did we cheer hard, but we had to think very hard about what that electorate were telling us.

We knew the years of disastrous profligate labour administrations had to end but I didn’t have the votes to do anything about it in real terms.We were driven by high ideals of changing our town for the better, of a once in a generation chance to stop the financial rot and actually achieve something for our voters. It drove us to “want” to work with the Liberals, just to ensure that our town had steady governance and we could actually put things right.

The Libs just wanted power. To be honest, I realise now that is all they ever want. I and my colleagues failed in our logic when we ascribed to them the same high ideals of “sorting the town out” that we had

The first six to nine months went well. There were successes for the “joint administration”, bringing in a council tax cut and starting to get committees working. But within 15 months the whole thing was on the rocks.

Why?

Because for the Lib Dems the grass was always greener, Labour were the more natural bed fellows of our left left leaning colleagues and the new Labour leader in the town was keen to offer lots behind close doors to the Liberals, who decided to turn on us with Labour in an orchestrated move to bring down the administration and frustratingly (we were a larger group by then due to a defection) put the smaller Lib Dems into a minority administration, just to “do over the Torys”.

Did it work for us? Well we knew that we had done “the decent thing”, we got the district council working, and gave residents a relief from the constant spend spend spend of Labour. But we got very burnt in the process. I doubt my group of councillors will trust another party in Harlow for many years to come.

Did it work for the Lib Dems? They got short term power off the back of it and even a couple of years coalition with the Labour party, but eventually the Lib Dem bubble has burst and Harlow has returned to a mainly two party system.

I see many parallels to the national situation to that which we faced in Harlow in 2002.

David Cameron has no choice morally, but to seek with the Lib Dems, unpalatable as it may be to many of us. It is the only sure fire way to get the Government working again. The Lib Dems are only interested in power and what they can get for themselves, and frustratingly we are going to have to give them that power;

My advice to David Cameron is do the deal for the sake of the country but know in the back of your mind that the Liberals will both plan to and try to do the dirty on us, so be prepared for it!

It was my wife, the other Cllr Johnson’s birthday today.

So of course I spent the day treating her to breakfast in bed and bowing to her every whim? Nope – haven’t you heard…. there is an election campaign on.

By 08:30 I was in the party office making sure that our delvivery and canvass teams had everthing that they needed for the day. Meeting with Russell the “agent” for the general election; I am agent for the local election and deputy chairman political of Harlow Conservatives so there is quite a bit of crossover in our roles so we keep in touch regualarly during election time to ensure everything runs smooth.

After that was finished we had a visit from my friend Peter, who helps me with anything stats and new media related. We had a very interesting discussion about how to use facebook to get our message to people, particularly those in the 18-24 year old age bracket.

Being very willing to pitch in, after our meeting Peter came out delvivering leaflets with me in and around Tye Green Village, one of the original villages that Harlow was built on top of and now is part of the Bush Fair ward that Dan Lucia is trying to win from the Lib Dems in the local elections. It was a warm morning and delivering with Peter, being able to chat as we went was nice.

The day was very successful in terms of outside help. Our MEP and good friend of Harlow Geoffrey Van Orden came to help campaign with Rob and James Cleverly the London Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley came over to help too! Many thanks to Geoffrey and James!

I finally left the party office about an hour ago.

So the Conservative Party has had my day, but the evening belongs to my wife. Her friends are all almost here and we are off out for a surprise… I wont say here in case it ruins its for her.

It was my wife, the other Cllr Johnson’s birthday today.

So of course I spent the day treating her to breakfast in bed and bowing to her every whim? Nope – haven’t you heard…. there is an election campaign on.

By 08:30 I was in the party office making sure that our delvivery and canvass teams had everthing that they needed for the day. Meeting with Russell the “agent” for the general election; I am agent for the local election and deputy chairman political of Harlow Conservatives so there is quite a bit of crossover in our roles so we keep in touch regualarly during election time to ensure everything runs smooth.

After that was finished we had a visit from my friend Peter, who helps me with anything stats and new media related. We had a very interesting discussion about how to use facebook to get our message to people, particularly those in the 18-24 year old age bracket.

Being very willing to pitch in, after our meeting Peter came out delvivering leaflets with me in and around Tye Green Village, one of the original villages that Harlow was built on top of and now is part of the Bush Fair ward that Dan Lucia is trying to win from the Lib Dems in the local elections. It was a warm morning and delivering with Peter, being able to chat as we went was nice.

The day was very successful in terms of outside help. Our MEP and good friend of Harlow Geoffrey Van Orden came to help campaign with Rob and James Cleverly the London Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley came over to help too! Many thanks to Geoffrey and James!

I finally left the party office about an hour ago.

So the Conservative Party has had my day, but the evening belongs to my wife. Her friends are all almost here and we are off out for a surprise… I wont say here in case it ruins its for her.

Local politics sometimes provides a few amusements, but none so much as the activities of the Lib Dems in Harlow.

I and my fellow councillors had an email this evening from a Lib Dem councillor calling for all councillors to avoid gutter politics, respect others and promoting decency in public life.

And that would be great if the Lib Dems actually believed that. We know that what their Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors schemes is something completely different.

As was recently reported in the Guardian, and raised in the House of Commons the Lib Dems advise their councillors to “Be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly.”

The Libs also advise “Don’t be afraid to exaggerate.” but worse than that it advises Lib Dem Councillors to deceive the public by saying different things to different people “you can secure support from voters who normally vote Tory by being effectively anti-Labour and similarly in a Tory area secure Labour votes by being anti-Tory.”

I suppose a message to all of us in Harlow, as they fight a council By-election in Staple Tye and then the County Council Elections, is that we should be prepared for lots of nasty negative campaigning since they believe that “Positive campaigning will NOT be enough to win control of the council.”

The ultimate insult to voters in Harlow though, is that the Liberals advise their councillors that “You are NOT running the council. It’s NOT your problem.”

Surely all councillors are elected to work for the best of their abilities for their public, not to “be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly”!