Much as I like Cllr Mike Dixey, his recent interview with Jack Dyson of The Gazette contains a number of claims which cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged. Not least among these is the idea that voting for the Liberal Democrats is a viable way of removing the ruling Conservative Party from the Council.
Not only is this idea based on one by-election for a County Council seat outside the City – a by-election with a ludicrously low turnout – but it completely ignores the lessons of the June 2017 elections, when both former Lib Dem and Green voters switched to Labour to unseat Conservatives in both the Parliamentary seat and in Westgate ward.
A coalition of voters rather than of parties, is what is needed if the District is to have a Council which begins to undo the damage caused by 20 years of Conservative mismanagement. The next City Council will be faced with enormous borrowing incurred by the Conservatives in reckless investments in the rapidly declining retail property – over £150 million to buy Whitefriars alone, a gamble which already looks like backfiring – and on the hated Station Road West car park, plus more money wasted on buying up student housing instead of building desperately needed Council housing.
While Councillor Dixey’s analysis of the problems may be correct, his proposed solution is not. Labour is committed to dealing with the terrible legacy of the Conservatives which, in part at least, Cllr Dixey’s party in Westminster helped to create by supporting austerity. Labour will build more homes more quickly than the Lib Dems’ lukewarm (and vague) proposal. We will stop the multi-storey car park if at all possible, improve transport and cycle routes, end the disaster that is the Serco contract, support local businesses and promote a real living wage as part of a campaign to end zero-hours contracts.
If people genuinely want change, there is only going to be one way to get it in May, which is to vote directly for the only Party which can unseat the Conservatives. And unfortunately for Mike Dixey, that’s not the Liberal Democrats.