Colne Valley Correspondence….Letters to Voters and Non-Voters. This week:


This is part of a series of letters to people living in the Colne Valley Constituency, covering Holmfirth and the Holme Valley, Meltham, Golcar, Slaithwaite, Marsden, Linthwaite, Milnsbridge, Crosland Moor…and lots more places in between. I’m standing as the candidate for Yorkshire First and I want to speak to a wide range of people across this varied and vibrant constituency. I’m going to be writing to people who have different voting intentions, ranging across the spectrum.

After the first letter to non-voters ( ) and a second letter to Conservatives ( I’m turning to people who normally vote Liberal Democrat – as well as its party activists.

April 9th 2015

Dear Colne Valley Liberal Democrat

There’s a great Liberal tradition here in Colne Valley constituency, stretching back well into the 19th century. Within that, there’s a strong radical current which is far from dead. Richard Wainwright, the last Liberal MP for Colne Valley (elected twice) was a man of principle and held very progressive views. Add to that, Colne Valley, at least in Golcar and Colne Valley wards, doggedly continue to elect Liberal Democrat councillors and I’ve great respect for all of them.

Liberal Democrat policy is to the left of Labour on many issues and I applaud your democratic decentralist instincts, opposed to Labour’s centralising obsession. Like Labour (and indeed the Tories) there are progressive wings of your party, and I have much admiration for MPs like Vince Cable and Tim Farron and peers such as Tony Greaves and David Shutt who represent your ‘social liberal’ wing.

The obvious problem that a lot of people have with the present day Liberal Democrat leadership is coalition with the Tories. Some of our activists who are former Liberal Democrats point to the way you were stitched up during the AV referendum. Hindsight is always a great thing but what a pity the issue wasn’t true proportional representation in which we have a common belief. Unlike the centralising mind-set which remains dominant within Labour, we share your commitment to decentralisation and grassroots, participative democracy. It was good to see your Yorkshire regional conference vote in support of directly-elected regional assemblies, but there doesn’t seem to be much appetite for this in your current national leadership.

Yorkshire First is a new party which I would argue embodies all that’s best in the Liberal Tradition: its decentralist ethos, support for participative democracy, its commitment to social justice and its true internationalism.

Several of Yorkshire First’s leading activists are former Liberal Democrats, including Diana Wallis, former Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber. She is standing for Yorkshire First in the Tory-held seat of Howden and Haltemprice and we hope she will do very well indeed. Her husband Stewart Arnold, a former Liberal Democrat councillor, is contesting the East Yorkshire constituency and won over 19,000 votes for Yorkshire First in the European elections last year. Many Liberal Democrat supporters are switching to Yorkshire First, saying that we are the inheritors of the mantle of Yorkshire Liberalism at its best.

Here in the Colne Valley, I hope that many who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010, believing that Nick Clegg would deliver a radical agenda, will consider voting Yorkshire First. But I’d go further and urge Liberal Democrat activists and councillors to seriously consider joining us. I know from my own experience leaving Labour that party loyalties are hard to break. But you would find Yorkshire First a comfortable, congenial and supportive home. And even if you don’t go that far – reflecting our commitment to the Bell Principles of ethical behaviour and a collaborative politics – we want to work with you on issues where we agree. When I was a Kirklees Labour councillor I worked positively with the Liberal Democrat group, sometimes defying the Labour Group’s tribalist attitude.

So I sincerely hope we can work together in the future and build a broad consensus in support of democratic regional government for Yorkshire whilst working together for the benefit of Colne Valley constituency.

Some of the things which this avowed ‘decentralist socialist’ would do if elected are:

  • Promote a strong democratic agenda, at regional, district and community level. I believe in the principle of ‘subsidiarity’ , taking power down to the lowest feasible level. Kirklees is too big and should be split, with a Huddersfield and Valleys Council covering our area
  • I want to see a community council for Golcar and Colne Valley wards – either one covering the valley as a whole, or smaller ones if that is what people want. I hope local Liberal Democrats would support this.
  • I am an internationalist as well as a regionalist. I am strongly pro-Europe but want it reformed and made more accountable to the European Parliament. We need to raise our profile in the world – not as war-mongers but as a force for good and a driver for development
  • I share your passion for social justice and equality: let’s make Colne Valley a more cohesive place where people from all races and backgrounds live and work together in harmony
  • We have similar views on the economy, wanting to make big business more socially responsible. I don’t want a siege economy but a diverse one, where mutuals and co-operatives figure more strongly.

If you want to know more about me, go to the Yorkshire First website or, for a more quirky view with my local manifesto:

So thanks for your time in reading this – if you do want to know more, just get in touch! I’m contactable on email at or or ring me on 07795 008691