I HAVE long been interested in politics but, like most, have never been a card-carrying member of any party.

Until recently that is, when I took the plunge to join the Lib Dems.

I became increasingly concerned at the polarisation of politics, the extreme ideologies being adopted, the in-fighting, the egotists, and the lack of focus on what really matters to people.

It's heartening to know that I'm not alone in wanting to help to restore the South West's reputation for championing tolerance and social justice.

Amazingly, the Lib Dems are now topping national opinion polls for the first time ever and have become Britain's fastest growing party.

Following their success in the local council elections, the next opportunity is to choose a pragmatic, independently-minded MP at the next general election who works hard for the interests of all constituents and gets things done.

In the meantime anyone who joins the Lib Dems by midnight on Friday can vote for their next leader.