Politics, as the crisis in Greece shows, is often about navigating on storm-tossed waters between a rock and a hard place. And the recent tight financial circumstances at home have meant that it has not been easy for any local council.
So it was good to see a vote of confidence in the Liberal Democrats in Portsmouth in the recent local elections – increasing our majority by making three gains.
The previous Labour government famously, in the words of their Treasury minister, left no money for the coalition government. Portsmouth has had to grapple with that legacy, but we have tried to cut costs, not services.
Cutting, for example, senior management and over £1m from the waste collection contract, but keeping weekly bin collections and opening a new library in Southsea.
And, importantly, £1bn is earmarked for private and public sector infrastructure projects over next few years for this city – helping to create jobs. But I am aware that we must take nothing for granted and keep on earning the trust of local people.
I know that politics is a rough, tough and sometimes unfair business, so I would like to thank all the councillors from whatever party who lost their seats or stood down this year – particularly Conservatives Malcolm Hey and Terry Henderson, who were somewhat shabbily treated by their own party, and also Lib Dems John Ireland and Paula Riches who worked hard as councillors responsible for education and community safety.
No-one forces politicians to put themselves forward for election and it is right that we get brickbats when we deserve them. But there is a lot of hard work, often unseen, put in by councillors of all parties.
The work of the coalition government in navigating those rough political waters remains difficult at times.
And I have been the most critical Lib Dem MP when I have thought the government has got it wrong. But equally it would be nice and, I think, in their best interests, to see more responsibility from Labour.
They proposed virtually the same level of overall cuts as the government, but now oppose any cut – even ones they have previously backed!