General elections give voters a chance to pass judgement on the state of public services and the economy.

Both nationally and locally, the Conservatives know that they have failed, so their only hope of clinging onto power is to try to change the subject.

But whilst division, fear, and three-word slogans may be effective in winning elections, they didn’t deliver any real-world benefits to most people.

And with Corbyn and Brexit now firmly in the rear view mirror, the Conservative party needs a new enemy for voters to be afraid of. MP Lee Anderson reportedly said: “At the next election we haven’t got those three things so we’ll have to think of something else. It’ll probably be a mix of culture wars and trans debate.”

After declaring his support for this politics of division, Mr Anderson was promoted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to deputy chair of the Conservative Party. So when Mr Sunak made a speech last Friday calling for Britain to stand up against those who seek to create division, his words rang hollow: “We are a reasonable country and a decent people,” said the PM. “We are a country where we love our neighbours and we are building Britain together.”

Of course, he was completely right to say that “our great achievement in building the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi faith democracy is being deliberately undermined” and that “there are forces here at home trying to tear us apart”. What he failed to acknowledge is that it’s his Conservative party that’s doing the damage.

Meanwhile Labour’s ideology is also about division: “For the many, not the few” is actually another version of “us against them”. The “class struggle” sets “workers” against “owners”. This confrontational mindset says that for every problem, Labour MPs and members must find someone to blame (often one another). But more anger and finger-pointing is the last thing our divided country needs.

Liberalism takes the opposite view. Instead of dividing people into “us” and “them”, Liberal Democrats recognise that peace and prosperity require every individual to be heard.

People shouldn’t be ignored or mistreated simply because they are not in the majority, but this is exactly what our unfair voting system promotes. Conservative and Labour MPs want to keep that unfair system, which gives them most of the seats in Parliament, even when they support harmful policies such as increasing the Tamar Tolls.

Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting for freedom of speech, the right to peaceful protest, a fair voting system, fair taxation and fair funding for our public services, including the Tamar Crossings.

Colin Martin – Cornwall councillor for Lostwithiel, Lanreath, Luxulyan, Lanlivery, St Winnow, St Veep, Braddock and Boconnoc