Thursday, October 09, 2008

My Night of Passion with Lembit!

Last night, it has to be said, was something else! Regular readers will know that I have agonised about who to support in the Presidential elections. Ros is such an inspiration, and as a woman I would very much like to see a champion within the party to ensure women are seen and HEARD. But Lembit is also an inspirational character, which is why I had such a hard time deciding. However, last night I was left in no doubt of why I think now is the right time for him to be President of the party.

Of course the internal shenanigans of the party are hugely important, but as Nick has pointed out, now is not the time for contemplating our navel, now is the time to be reaching out, to be "speaking human" - and in my opinion that is what Lembit does best. I don't buy the "lite weight" jibes - a view confirmed by listening to him last night at the Epping Forest Pizza and Politics evening hosted by our own Neil Woolcott. The food and company was excellent, augmented by a passionate speech from Lembit that left us all encouraged, enthused and ready to go out there and build this party!

I met up with Lembit and Stephen Kearney at Portcullis to travel over to Loughton...........it has to be said, a tube journey with Opik/Kearney is something else......not sure if I was the rose between the thorns or the thorn between the roses! It was a great laugh, but it was also really inspirational, these are two people who are deeply committed to making our party a driving force in this country. We arrived to leaflet at Loughton station and were almost immediately told we should move back "behind the red line" away from the station. This we dutifully did - then another supervisor came out (had no idea London Transport had so many staff) and again asked us to keep back "behind the red line". I explained to him we had already been asked, and given we were not really in the market for ASBOs we would of course comply. He explained that they had had a problem with the Tories who had gone right into the entrance of another tube station, put up a huge banner and a table! Gosh we are so much more gentile in the Lib Dems eh? Then finally, they apparently got guidance from their manager, and were frankly told to push off.....which we did, off to Neil's to listen to Lembit.

Lembit started by talking with real authority and expertise about the current economic climate, the horrendous level of personal debt and the scandal that in what is one of the richest countries in the world, there are 1.2 million households waiting for housing. He showed us how seriously he takes the business of politics, not about point scoring but about making a real difference to people's lives. But his real challenge to us was about "evangelising" - we can't build this party if we are not prepared to really begin to engage with our communities. This is an issue Stephen Kearney has a great deal of expertise in and he will be working with the party to help us develop the grassroots networks that we need if we are going to have an impact.

There were lots of questions, of course including the Big Brother one, which as Neil has already pointed out, he squashed absolutely. What came across strongly was Lembit's conviction that we have to take risks, be bold about our policies and prepared to take the flak if we are being true to our values. But what touched me particularly was to hear of Lembit's significant role in the Northern Ireland peace process. He has been far too modest in this and it was Stephen Kearney who enlightened us all (more about this later). Here is a man who is able to use his undoubted people skills to make a REAL difference. While we talk about "Making it Happen" he HAS made it happen. While we talk about reaching out, he has it built into his DNA. While we complain about not getting the media profile, Lembit can rightly ask "what are you on about?"

We travelled back with Jonathan Fryer, who told the tale of when I had been visiting for dinner, a journey which should have taken 5 minutes from Canary Wharf, which inexplicably turned into an hour and a half! (OK it may have had something to do with the fact that I got on the right bus but going in the wrong direction!)

Then on to one of Stephen's favourite pubs, another mixture of serious political debate and laughter.

I know that there are concerns that because of his character and media profile, there are dangers in Lembit becoming President. Yes, fire is dangerous, water is dangerous, travelling is dangerous - but in all those cases when the power is channelled and directed it is always a force for good. Lembit hasn't had the best of years, but I believe it has given him an opportunity to review where he is and I believe the undoubted talent he has can and will be channelled for the benefit of the party, but far more importantly, for the benefit of the people we seek to serve.

Lembit says politics should be fun. I agree, an ability to combine humour with gravitas is a huge challenge, but one Lembit is more than capable of meeting, not least because of his undoubted passion and unquestionable commitment to the human race. I for one look forward to far more passionate nights with him!!!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not many people nowdays buy in to the myth of Idiot Opik. Famous for being a national joke, consorting with a Freaky Girl, his monster ego, love of red wine and.....President of the Lib Dems??? God forbid it should ever happen

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of your blog Linda - but you write too much text in one post!

Just thought, i'd give you some feedback.

A Lindylooz Muze supporter...

Paul Burgin said...

Welll you know what they say about playing with fire! ;)

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