What a campaign!

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The Richmond Park campaign was the biggest the party has ever done. Phew!

In writing this post I don’t want to give away too many campaigning strategies, although the media have been pretty quick to spot our ways of working. They know that we are good at ‘deploying’ volunteers, but they don’t really understand how we do it. How, they wonder, do we manage to recruit 1000 people in one weekend, from all over the country? How do we get them to travel and stay at their own expense and then embark on some punishing walking, talking and delivering in the cold and dark for hours on end?

However, I know that many of our readers do understand what that is all about. We all care passionately about our values and the vision we have for our society, and we enjoy putting them into action in the company of like-minded people, who quickly become our friends.

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The Green Agenda: Lib Dems in Business dinner

The environment was our theme at the Liberal Democrats in Business dinner in Oxford last night (after a session of polling-day phone banking for Sarah Olney!).

We were pleased to welcome as speakers Baroness Kate Parminter, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader in the Lords and Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Dr Imad Ahmed of the Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford University.

Dr Ahmed spoke of recent research into nano-particles in air pollution and how they affect our brains. The study, and how air pollution is a possible cause of Alzheimer’s, has been reported here in the UK and around the world.

Just in the news today is reporting of a move by major cities to ban diesel vehicles. This is due to their production of particulate matter (PM) and nitrous oxide (NOx). Dr Ahmed, in his talk, showed pictures of the effect of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on the brain.

The link between our health and the air we breathe was also made by Kate Parminter. Baroness Parminter spoke to us on environmental policy and what we should be doing now.

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WATCH: Nick Clegg: Voters don’t like being told by Brexiteers that they have no right to a say

Classy stuff from Nick Clegg on the BBC News Channel. It was put to him that we couldn’t extrapolate a wider Liberal Democrat resurgence from the Richmond Park result. That’s perfectly right, he said, and then came out with a whole stream of stats showing how well we are doing in local government by-elections and everywhere where people get a chance to hear what we have to say.

He also said that Brexiteers are rubbing voters up the wrong way by dismissing their concerns and right to be heard. Watch the interview here.

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Richmond Park: what happens next for Sarah Olney and her team?

10 years ago, I was part of the team in the last by-electon we gained, when Willie Rennie spectacularly won Dunfermline and West Fife in then Chancellor Gordon Brown’s backyard. At that time it was a political earthquake. It was also a huge victory at a time of crisis for our party. Only weeks before, Charles Kennedy had resigned as leader. During the by-election campaign there seemed to be a tabloid scandal about our leadership candidates around every half hour. We still came through and elected Willie as our 63rd MP.

A decade on, we only have a 7th of that number and the Richmond Park by-election win comes at a time when our party has stared down extinction. It confirms what we have come to realise over the past few months – that the old adage that where we have a presence, and are willing to put the effort in, we can have some spectacular results. That should also impress anyone who might be thinking about backing us financially. That backing in turn gives us the capacity to expand our operations, creating a virtuous cycle. We have to make sure that we seize this moment.

Sarah Olney enters the Commons as part of a band of 9 and as the only woman. The 8 men will need to make extra effort to make sure that they welcome her and listen to her.  One of the things we found really useful was the advice and support from colleagues and I’m sure that they will have lots of helpful advice for her and her team.  Susan Kramer as the previous MP for the constituency will no doubt be a marvellous help too.

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ALDE Party Congress preview : Day 2 – an energised delegation hits the dance floor…

Another snowy dawn in Warsaw, made rather brighter by news from home, and whilst some of our delegation are paying the price for staying up to wait for the result from Richmond Park, there’s a definite spring in our step.

And so, what do we have to look forward to today?

It’s all about policy, with working groups looking at a range of resolutions, as well as the proposed reforms to the Party statutes (think constitutional amendments on steroids). Our delegation will be active participants, discussing Brexit, aspects of European democracy, economics, environmental issues and civil liberties.

In terms of the big, set-piece stuff, Congress is formally launched with speeches from the likes of Cecilia Malmström and Margrethe Vestager, two of the Liberal Commissioners, Guy Verhofstadt.

There is also a plenary debate on “Brexit and the Politics of Fear”, which includes our Willie Rennie, which may be slightly different in tone after last night’s success.

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Richmond Park is an important milestone – but it’s only the start

Well, we’re winning parliamentary by-elections again. Who’d have thought it possible on that awful night almost 19 months ago?

Liberal Democrats everywhere are grinning this morning. We’ve seen the brilliant local government results over the past few months. We saw the amazing Liz Leffman surge forward in the Tory heartland of Witney in October. Now, we have actually won another MP.

We shouldn’t under-estimate how massive a task winning Richmond Park was. It’s only been 37 days since Zac resigned. We had just over 5 weeks to change the agenda from Heathrow to Brexit and win the argument. A combination of clever literature, a fantastic candidate and an army of activists prepared to drop everything did it. Way back in the 90s when we were winning by-elections all the time, we had at least 3 times as long to make our case.

We also shouldn’t under-estimate how important it was that we won this. It was a seat we used to hold with a whacking great Remain vote. If we hadn’t, even if we had had a Witney type surge, people would have doubted our ability to change the political weather.

Sarah Olney’s victory has shown that we have still got what it takes to win the big moments. That is incredibly important for the outside world to see. Theresa May will be hoping that her MPs in similar seats to Richmond, where there is Liberal Democrat history, don’t cause any further by-elections.

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Lib Dems win Richmond Park: Reaction led by Tim Farron and Sal Brinton

Here’s some of the reaction to Sarah Olney’s incredible victory in Richmond Park.

Tim Farron said that the Liberal Democrats are the standard bearers for those who oppose the dangerous path towards Brexit being pursued by the Government.

The message is clear: The Liberal Democrats are back and we are carrying the torch for all of those who want a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government.

We are the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united, and the only party that has said, loudly and proudly, that we want Britain to remain a member of the Single Market and that we want the people to be given the final say over the Brexit deal. That message has been resoundingly backed by the people of Richmond Park.

This was a remarkable, come-from-nowhere upset that will terrify the Conservatives. A year and a half ago, their man won by nearly 40% and had a majority of more than 20,000. In one fell swoop we have wiped that out completely.

If this was a General Election, this swing would mean the Conservatives would lose dozens of seats to the Liberal Democrats – and their majority with it. No one believes the Labour Party will win any seats off the Tories – and the SNP could only possibly take one off them. But there are dozens in our reach. So, as this by-election has demonstrated, the only way to prevent a Conservative majority at the next election is to vote Liberal Democrat.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKirsten johnson 2nd Dec - 10:00pm
    Fiona, I couldn't agree more about the Circular Economy. It is definitely an idea we need to champion in Lib Dem policy and future manifesto....
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 2nd Dec - 9:59pm
    Imagine a council where the largest party was us and the effect of first past the post helped elect our people. Imagine winning 33 council...
  • User AvatarDaniel Walker 2nd Dec - 9:57pm
    @Fiona I have used one of those Alphasense devices; they self-log and do not require pumps, just a memory card and a small power supply....
  • User AvatarPaul 2nd Dec - 9:42pm
    @Malc - A bad policy remains a bad policy irrespective of whether a majority supports it or not. It isn't the job of the Lib...
  • User AvatarPhilip Rolle 2nd Dec - 9:41pm
    This is the start of a Lib Dem revival but it isn't the start of a Remain revival. The party of protest needs other causes...
  • User AvatarTomas H-J 2nd Dec - 9:29pm
    PS Congratulations to Sarah Olney for her smashing win. I confess to helping out over many occasions since the By-election and am very glad to...