Dear Mr Clegg,
First of all, may I congratulate you on winning your seat in the Sheffield Hallam constituency. I know the evening’s results overall were crippling to the Liberal Democrats, but I wanted to offer my words of support for you, and for what you stand for.
I first found an interest in politics during the last election in 2010. My dad has always voted Lib Dem and so naturally, I looked into what your party stood for, so that I could inform my decision as to whether or not to carry on the ‘Roberts’ tradition’ as it were. Your appearances on the leaders’ debates confirmed what my dad had told me of the Liberal Democrats. You stood for fairness; your stood for decency; you stood for a liberal Britain. I joined the party at the age of 18. I remember brandishing my membership card to my friends and family to demonstrate how proud I was to be part of the only central party in UK politics.
And then you entered the coalition government with the Conservatives…and my pride to be a Lib Dem grew evermore. You stepped up to the mark and took a huge risk to ensure a stable government for our country. You fought tooth and nail to negotiate fairness and decency from a right wing Conservative party. You continued, against fierce criticism , to stay true to your values and political beliefs. You are the embodiment of what it means to be a liberal.
I have supported you from the very beginning and to see your resignation brought tears to my eyes. How ignorant our population is, to overlook the fantastic work that the Liberal Democrats have done and all that they have achieved in government. How short-sighted they are, to not realise how important British liberalism is to ensure a fair and stable government carrying us into the future. Our losses were severe, but you need not blame yourself for this. The media has constantly and unfairly portrayed the Liberal Democrats as a party who reneges on promises and who have no political identity.
Well let me tell you, as I reel from these election results, I am more proud than ever to be a Liberal Democrat. I am more sure than ever, of what my political identity is. I know and understand the difficulties we faced in coalition, and acknowledge that not every promise made in the 2010 campaign was feasible to keep.
You are an inspiration to me, Mr Clegg. You inspire me to spread the word of the Liberal Democrats. You have inspired me to look to standing as a Lib Dem MP in the future. You have made me aware of my political identity, and given me something to believe in and given me a view of our country, that I want to fight for.
I only wish that you did not blame yourself for the election results. I fear that none within the party will be able to fill the enormous space you have left empty. But as one friend said to me on Twitter: I am positive that history will be kinder to you than this general election. You have accomplished so very much in the last five years and that will not be forgotten.
I will remain a member of the Liberal Democrats for as long as the party exists. I will constantly fight for liberal values; a fair and decent society and a political system that represents the views of every single voter in the country, not just the blue and red voters who claim that a vote for the Lib Dems or any other smaller party is a wasted vote.
I urge you to remain optimistic. I believe that everything happens for a reason. The Liberal Democrats will emerge a prominent player in British politics again. And for what it’s worth, know that as a politician you have my unwavering support; as the architect for a self-aware party that I am proud to belong to, you will forever have my gratitude.
Clarke Roberts BA (Hons)