Tag Archives: 2017 general election

The challenge in Yorkshire

 

Nationally it might be argued that the General Election was a moderate success for the Liberal Democrats and, maybe, even baby steps towards a revival.  A net increase of 4 seats on 2015 with a marginal decrease in the national share, which could arguably be put down to significant tactical voting, could provide some evidence of this.  However I would argue this masks disastrous performances regionally which should be of massive concern to the national party going forward.

I’d like to focus on my own region, Yorkshire.  Yorkshire contains 51 seats.  Going into the 2017 election you would have thought that the Lib Dems couldn’t do worse than their performance in 2015 where we had been reduced to just 2 Yorkshire MPs (Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam and Greg Mulholland in Leeds North West) and a massively reduced share of the regional vote.  In 2010, the Lib Dems won 3 seats in Yorkshire with near misses in Sheffield Central (less than 200 votes away) and Hull North (less than 650 votes away).  They polled 23% of the vote in Yorkshire and retained every deposit easily.

Fast forward to what many consider the nadir of Liberal Democratic performance in 2015.  It still resulted in 2 MPs and saved deposits in almost half of the seats in Yorkshire and a 7.3% share of the vote.  Surely this was as bad as it could get for the Liberal Democrats in Yorkshire?  Unfortunately not.  On 8th June the Lib Dems lost both seats they held as well as 41 of their 51 deposits. They polled in excess of 10% of the vote in only 4 of the 51 seats in Yorkshire.

Posted in Op-eds | 43 Comments

The choice for Lib Dems – embrace radicalism or die

I’m not going to mince my words or toe the centre-line in my summary of the Liberal Democrats’ election result for reasons that will become clearer the further you read.

Our result on the 8th June was embarrassing, demoralising, and worst of all, irrelevant. 7.4% of the vote was all that our party could accrue; 40,000 votes fewer than our 2015 performance which we naively thought was our floor. When the country was crying out for a party of the centre with both Labour and the Conservatives lurching to the extremes, we didn’t answer the call.

Whilst our swelling membership and activist base can feel rightly proud of their efforts in the campaign which saw an increase in Lib Dem MPs, they should also feel aggrieved at the lack of support our national message gave to them.

As a party we have failed to broaden our support, something that would have seen unthinkable in the wake of the 2015 election or even just a few weeks ago. We must address why we are primarily appealing to the white middle-classes and not other groups. As per Lord Ashcroft’s exit poll, just 6% of BME voters lent their support to the Liberal Democrats in this election, compared to 9% of white voters.

Posted in Op-eds | 67 Comments

How do the Lib Dems survive a stronger than ever two-party system?

During this General Election campaign I spent my time helping my local party and in the last week, helping in a target seat. It became clear that this election wasn’t a Brexit election but instead a clear battle between Corbyn and May, Red vs Blue.

The policies of the Lib Dems didn’t seem to resonate nationally even though they were clearly sensible and credible, which lead to our party’s vote share declining by 0.5% compared to 2015. From this it’s clear to see that tactical voting damaged the party in nine target seats leading to deposits been lost in the most extreme circumstances. With the two main parties obtaining a collective 82.4% of the vote, higher than any election since 1970, we need to focus on surviving in a two party system now more than ever.

While our vote share did decline, we did however make net gains but also losing some of the party’s best talent like Nick Clegg on the way. The fact that the party could still make gains in such a tough political climate for third parties is a demonstration for future survival. Targeting the right seats with a mass amount of resources from the central party and the nearby local parties shows how, as a party, we can still stand toe-to-toe with the two larger parties.

Posted in Op-eds | 18 Comments

How we lost Southport

Gut wrenching horrible was how it felt to be pushed into third place in a seat we have held for the last twenty years but by way of catharsis I would like to tell you good folks what I think happened.It would be good to have other tales of success and failure here.

The election took us as by surprise.Weeks before the Constituency Chair and I had decided that I would announce my retirement from Westminster after what we assumed would be good set of local election results. The snap election forced my hand. But we had ready a great alternative in Sue McGuire ,our council group leader with considerable profile in the town and a real record of action.

The campaign was much better and more high powered than any Southport campaign I have been previously associated with. Lots of help from outside (some incredible shifts put in), bigger canvassing teams, good literature, armies of stuffers, IT & Connect sophistication, bags of help from the national party and two leader’s visits. The pace was unrelenting; the output impressive. Neither the Labour nor the Tory candidate lived in Southport- a fact we sought to exploit. We lobbied at the school gates on education cuts and throughout the town on the dementia tax. Squeezes and switches galore. Other parties campaigns seemed modest in comparison.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 84 Comments

What a wonderful day to walk up to a young voter, hug them* and say: “THANK YOU”

I braced myself at 10pm last night. “Oh gawd – here we go again” I thought – along with “goodness how I hate David Dimbleby’s pompous accent and patronising manner”.

There were some distressing losses for us, and some frustrating near-wins, which Caron wrote about earlier.

But I’d like to just think about the wider picture.

As the exit poll appeared, and then the results unraveled, one thing became clear:

This was the election of the young voter. There were reports of queues of young people waiting to vote all over the place. The effect could be seen in result after result.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 61 Comments

Insanity, stupidity or senility?

Is it insanity, stupidity or senility that has led me to volunteer to deliver so many pigging Good Mornings tomorrow? Eight bundles!

Tim Farron says he’ll be up at 5am, so I will be up at 5am. I am not going to be outdone by Tim Farron. But I have had to carefully choose the sequence of the roads I will do. One has to carefully judge the extent to which residents in certain roads will tolerate some numpty stumbling around at 5am delivering “Good Morning” leaflets. (By the way, if you knock over some milk bottles, take a tip from an old colleague of mine and shout: “Sorry – Labour Party delivering leaflets!”. (That’s a joke by the way)).

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Photo feature: Ballot box goes off to Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, a day early due to the ferry schedule

Some great photos from Getty Images (click on the arrows to see the slide show) which give a great view of the workings of democracy on “these islands” (as they say).

Mandy Hassan, an assistant area electoral officer for Antrim and mid Ulster, accompanies the ballot box on the ferry destined for Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland. There are 99 voters on the island and they usually have a 80% turnout.

Update 8/6: I changed the title upon sage advice from locals. Weather concerns were not a factor.

Posted in Photo feature | Also tagged | 6 Comments
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  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 24th Jun - 2:27pm
    Andrea Clifton You are so positive here , it is great ! Some while back you praised me in words that meant a lot to...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 24th Jun - 2:15pm
    Really enjoyable post Bill. However, I don't think we as Lib Dems want a leader to do all that. I think we already want to...
  • User AvatarAndrea Clifton 24th Jun - 1:58pm
    Hooray, don't know who you are, but you are wonderful. I have felt like a lone voice, convinced most members see the party as a...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 24th Jun - 1:58pm
    The Liberal Democrats didn't "govern" in coalition — rather, we were governed — by the Tories.
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 24th Jun - 1:43pm
    I too take some comfort from the fact that we have MPs who have been Ministers and I believe we did achieve some good things...
  • User AvatarKeith Sharp 24th Jun - 1:42pm
    As a movement and a party which believes, as a fundamental tenet, in fair, preferential and proportional voting, we have to be ready to work...
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