Firstly, we take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year, be they a member of the SDP or not; we are all about inclusion here!
2017 has been an exciting time for the SDP and 2018 promises to be even more so....
2017 was an awe-inspiring year to say the least. The old political parties seemed to all abruptly change their stances on key issues such as Brexit, Foreign Aid, Direct Democracy, what their message was, who their messengers were, and if they really meant their manifesto messages in the first place.
First up was Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. They went into the 2017 General Election campaign with a poll rating so low that a limbo-dancer would struggle.
Nonetheless, by promising free everything to anybody and a staunch reliance on Diane Abbott's calculator they produced a manifesto that convinced far more than anticipated that a vote for Jezza would be a fine idea. "Full Brexit" they insisted. Full Brexit as long as we stayed in the Customs Union and were ruled by the EU was their next message. No, Brexit must me Full Brexit was the next message, and so on and so forth. At the time of writing we have no clue as to what their position is on Brexit, nor, we suspect does the Labour Party itself.
The result of all of this is a Labour Party so split that no-one really knows where they stand on anything; the Israel, Hammas, Brexit, the Police, Marmite, what the weather is like today, what it was like yesterday, whether a police officer costs more than a loaf of bread.
Now, in the throes all of this Left Wing confusion, the Conservatives decided that a sensible strategy would be to alienate their key supporters: the mature and the aspiring. "Right", thought some genius adviser. "Let's headline that we will make the elderly pay more for their care in later years".
That didn't work. "Oh", thought their think-tank. "I know, let's bring back fox-hunting. That'll bring back the young trendies that we've lost to Labour".
Head. Desk. Thud.
We need not dwell on the result.
What an opportunity for the 3rd Party of the UK going into the Election. Now one would have thought that they would have gone along the lines of something like this:-
"We are a Party that gets stuff done. Our main aim of winning a referendum on the EU has been achieved. Now our next aim will be: political reform / go after big multinationals and their tax evasion / combat inner city crime" (*delete as appropriate - any would have done). No! thought that Party. "Let's have punch-ups in Brussels, play musical chairs with the leader and change the logo".
Ah, well, so they dropped the ball too.
What an opening for the Libdems!
Now, anyone sane would have seen the opportunity to say something like "We respect democracy and will respect the will of the people. Let's leave the Undemocratic EU in the best way possible and be as cordial with them as possible. Furthermore, we are not ruled by Momentum and do have a working calculator between us"
"No!" decided the Party. Let's go along the line of the public got it wrong and we will overturn the democratic vote.
Nick Clegg lost his seat to a Labour MP who is so well respected that even the Labour Party have suspended him. In the meantime Keith Vaz is still active.
The writer of this article has repeatedly tried to recount the basis of all of this to his young children. They believe in Santa, in fairy tales, the Tooth Fairy even; but refuse to accept the far-fetched nonsense of any of the above.
So, the SDP seemed the obvious choice for the sensible. Some new young members, some new members who think that they are young, some old members returning.
- New manifesto.
- New websites
- Huge growth on social media.
- New branch networks being created.
- Councillors (yes actual SDP Councillors) joining.
- High level confidential talks with serious, serious political players (we won't disclose so don't ask).
However, due to the way that the mechanics of the SDP functioned, we needed to just step back and digest and build a Party Platform that can cope with all of this modern interest. 2018 is a far different world to 1988 and we needed to make sure that the foundations and structures were sound and strong before we installed the Sky-Box (other TV providers are available). After all, with chaos all around, we could afford to watch and shake our heads.
Anything can happen in 2018 and we go in to 2018, ready for anything.