Author Archives: Ed Fordham

Ed Fordham joined the Liberal Democrats in Spalding, Lincolnshire, in 1988 and is the campaign co-ordinator for Ross Pepper, the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Sleaford and North Hykeham Parliamentary By-election.

Zulfiqar Ali is in this to win Stoke-on-Trent Central

Having lived in the City of Stoke-on-Trent it was always something of a guilty confession that I was no fan of football. With two major clubs in the City: Stoke and Port Vale, it was crucial to know when the match days were. Indeed when we are campaigning for votes a throwaway joke was that on match days we would be “down in the terraces of the Victoria Ground”. On hearing this folks assumed I was a Stoke City fan and that I would be there cheering them on. In fact on a match day, especially for Stoke, it was perfect day for delivering the literally hundreds of terraced houses down and around the old Victoria Ground. The new Britannia Ground is not far away now, but those terraces and more are still there waiting to be delivered by you

Now the local bus company is Potteries Motor Traction – a hark back to a previous era and so now cut down to just PMT. But when running campaigns it was always important to make sure that we had Potteries Voter Traction. Anyone could muster up negatives, everyone could join the latest campaign the real issue was if you could get traction, respect and therefore votes enough fromresidents that would propel you over the winning line.

The other issue was building up a local party who looked and sounded like Stoke – now this is a city of communities. Sometimes it sounds over complex but let me run you though it.

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When things come together: Stoke-on-Trent and my emotions

I have just moved house, leaving London, settling in Chesterfield.  London has been amazing, but it was time for change.  In between that decision and the reality came the Sleaford and North Hykeham By-election: one of the campaigns that I shall forever be proudest of running.  But Sleaford was a turning point for me, a junction when I decided to re-engage with front line electoral politics and take to the streets again.

So last night travelling back to Stoke-on-Trent at short notice to scout the territory was a further development for me.  Let me explain.  I stood down from Stoke-on-Trent city council in 2002 after four of the best electoral years of my life, but had left due to a mix of work, ambition and life changes.  I haven’t really been back there since and so today when Tristram Hunt, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, announced his resignation I realised I was ready to return.

Now Stoke-on-Trent was very much my personal test ground for the lessons and skills I had listened to, learnt and appreciated from Peter Lee, Becky Bryan, Tim Clement Jones, Des Wilson, Tony Greaves, Maggie Clay and others.  In trying those lessons out a few landmarks stand out: the night in 1996 when the city went Unitary, the Tories were wiped out and Labour were elected 60 nil.  How I cheered those Tory losses (for I knew we were not ready)

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 36 Comments

Lessons from Lincolnshire

Elections come and go, but the memories and the camaraderie live on.  The telling of old by-election stories and hearing them re-written over time and years is part of the fun.  But they can also be sad and hurtful.  

It has taken me years to get over the deep personal trauma that I now realise I suffered in the aftermath of years of campaigning to win Hampstead and Kilburn, and the impact of losing on a recount.  And I probably will never fully lose that trauma.  Yet I am sitting here now in the wreckage of a by-election HQ and I’m beaming.

Here in the HQ it’s down to just me and the agent Ian Horner. Even Ada our host has gone shopping, and yet neither of us feel sad.  There is a positive mood about what we achieved and a satisfaction about a job well done.

You all know the result. You had predicted it and over analaysed it before the count had even commenced so I won’t attempt to drag over it again here.  But  let me offer some thoughts that I think are important for the Liberal Democrats, and for me, issues we urgently need to address and tackle.

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Emotion, mischief, hard work and an absent friend: inside the Sleaford & North Hykeham campaign

Yesterday, sitting at my desk here in Sleaford and North Hykeham two of the best activists I have had the pleasure of working with over my 28 years in the party, were somewhat surprised to see me holding my head in my hands and crying.

The morning had been busy, too busy, the press have just noticed that this by-election is happening, and I have lots to do. Too much to do. In fact we are doing massive amounts and it’s going well. But I had a wobble and so went out delivering a round of leaflets or two. It’s cold here in Lincolnshire on these December mornings and it’s clears your head a little. But nonetheless I was thinking too much and making little progress. As I got back in the car and went to come back to the HQ we put the radio on and out came Snow Patrol’s Run.

Let me explain – my best mate Cllr Neil Trafford was killed in a car crash 8 years ago and at his memorial service – 8 years ago on 6 December 2008 (!) we played a recording of his sister Hannah singing Run.

Now this by-election in deepest Lincolnshire is going on and Neil is one of the people I would have turned to for help, advice and assistance. He would have loved it and been here and amusing us all, and he would have been causing mischief. As it is, I am causing enough mischief.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

What do these by-elections mean for your own constituency?

And so it looms – polling day is always tough, for the teams, the candidates and to be fair for the media and journalists who try and understand the event, pick out the story and filter through the spin and analysis. But Richmond Park will vote on Thursday 1st December and your input will decide whether Sarah Olney I elected.

Witney was rightly proclaimed as a surge forwards for the Liberal Democrats and a tribute to the astoundingly impressive Liz Leffman. As I write this Sarah Olney and her team are being tested in the final week for what …

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Sleaford and North Hykeham: Lighting a beacon of liberal democracy

ross-pepper

So what have the following years got in common? 2007, 2005, 1999, 1935 and 1937.  It might seem a bit unlikely, but they are the year of birth of five of our activists who came out, fed and watered activists, wrote envelopes, stuffed and folded and delivered in Sleaford and North Hykeham.

Yes, this is a snapshot insight into the most unlikely and optimistic by-election campaigns that Lincolnshire and, indeed I would venture, the East Midlands has ever seen.

On paper the odds and the basis for such optimism is very very low, but let’s go through a few elements.  We have two county councillors in the constituency and those seats successfully defended in 2017 should see us elect up to 7 councillors on North Kesteven District in 2019.  So that would be progress.  But it’s not enough.  So we are also working very hard in Sleaford Town.  That campaign, translated up in 2019, would elect a further 6 district councillors.  So that too would be progress.  But it’s not enough.  So we are working to activate our traditional Lincolnshire support base in some of the larger villages.  This is being done through contacting, motivating and empowering our members and critically our new members.

The means of doing this is very intensive, but the by-election is a great trigger and excuse so we are starting it all now.

Posted in News | Tagged | 7 Comments

London’s LGBT Vigil to be sung and sung loudly

If it didn’t exist would you create it? Well based on last night, the answer for the London Gay Men’s Chorus was a resounding Yes.

As thousands of members of the LGBT community poured into Soho, supported by friends, family and a host of straight allies – everyone was very uncertain. The nervousness was palpable with no-one clear what was going to happen. There were a few attempts to get a political chant going, but the crowd was more contemplative. As the hour of 7pm approached there was a hanging sense of expectation.

And sure enough as 7pm there was a raft of whistle blowing then then the cloak of silence fell over everyone – Soho is said to be the only identifiable district in London which has no buses through it and when the silence fell you could hear a pin drop.

The silence was held for what seemed to be an age and the tension was real and then slowly, quietly and determinedly the joyous noise gathered pace and rose up. Here was London Gay Men’s Chorus singing ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’. Conducted by the deeply impressive Simon Sharp the Chorus absolutely delivered. Clad in their distinctive blue t-shirts this community chorus – which operates an open access policy – totally filled the yawning void of emotion, anger and optimism. The men next to me were openly crying, holding each other tight. It was a wave of song, of love and of gratitude: a surge of shared affinity for the heartache being witnessed in Orlando.

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