On 1st March, my colleague on Hedge End Town Council, Jenny Schwausch, and I acted on our increasing disappointment with the Liberal Democrats at a national level and left the party. We will sit as independent councillors until the elections in May. This means that there are now two independents on Hedge End Town Council and four on Eastleigh Borough Council (equal with the Conservatives - I wonder who is the "official" opposition now).
David Laws MP speaking on Radio 4 recently made it clear: "The party has changed and now the challenge for everybody is to look to the future rather than to re-fight battles from the past." Nick Clegg is leading the party in the wrong direction for me, and when I look to the future I can only see it getting closer to the Conservatives. For somebody who hoped the Lib Dems would bring about a realignment of the Left, that is clearly a disappointment.
It can't be right to promise to vote against any rise in tuition fees and then vote to triple them.
It can't be right that councils are being forced to cut libraries, children's sure start centres, and day centres for older people when George Osborne found £7 million to bail out the Irish government.
It can't be right that people with disabilities are worried about losing their disability living allowance when bankers are still walking away with their massive bonuses.
It can't be right that the coalition is forcing through massive changes to higher education and the NHS which were in neither party's manifesto.
The old cliche "all politics is local" means that local politics also gets tainted by national politics. It is not possible to stand as a "local" liberal democrat and dissociate yourself from the national party. So although I have no major arguments with the local liberal democrats - and still have many friends who are choosing to stay in the party - I couldn't honestly put on an orange rosette in May.