5,000 people and counting have joined the Lib Dems since polls closed on Thursday. As a long-term member and activist, I've always known we would bounce back from whatever fate threw at us. That so many people agree is both thrilling and humbling. Here are some reasons why I think other Liberally-inclined people should join us – and why now is the time to do it.
1. There's a leadership election coming up
We're the only major party to elect our leader by one member, one vote. Out of our remaining crop of MPs, we're expected to have two strong, and different candidates in Tim Farron and Norman Lamb. Who we elect will have a major impact of the future of the party – and anyone joining before June 3rd gets to vote. If you want to help shape the future of the party – join now!
2. We're more relevant than ever
Bear with me on this one. Yes, we've lost a lot of MPs and been reduced to a rump in the commons. But the issues we'll face over the next five years are fundamentally liberal issues – human rights, the snoopers charter, Europe, devoluion and EVEL. Labour have consistently been horrendously authoritarian and anti-democratic on these issues, and in any case are about to engage in a protracted bout of navel-gazing so won't be effectively opposing anything. We need a strong Liberal Democrat party to lead the fight to uphold our rights and liberties. It'll be hard work, but it'll be fun and exciting and we might just make a difference – so please join and help be part of that.
3. Big changes ahead – but we don't know what yet
It's now clear that the centralist managerialism that the party has cleaved to for the last decade has failed, and that the pavement politics that have been our fallback have limits. To revive, we're going to have to become a campaigning party of radical liberalism again – but we don't know what that looks like yet. In the Lib Dems, all our policy is made by conference, which means that by joining, you get to shape what that looks like. I know someone – an ordinary member – who drafted a motion for conference on shared parental leave, which eventually got into the manifesto and is now an actual thing. Which is a pretty good day's work – and you can do the same. Whatever your idea for how we should take the party forward is, we want to hear it, and we'll listen, and discuss it, and if we all agree then it becomes our policy. And one day we might be in a position to implement it – and then you get to say that you made policy happen.
4. It's fun
OK, I'm a politics geek – but if you're reading this, then you're probably one too. But I can honestly say that joining the Lib Dems has been one of the better things I've done in my life – I get to know that I've made a difference in my community, and when bad things happen I know I did everything I could to stop them. Plus – we're only likely to go up from here. By joining the party now, you can be the old warhorses of the future, with bright-eyed young activists hanging off your every word as you prop up the conference bar! You can say you were part of the Great Liberal Revival (the second one)! That's got to be worth some leaflets, right?
Convinced? You can join here: http://www.libdems.org.uk/joining