Tag Archives: by-elections

Why I am going to Witney and I want you to go too

It’s not just that I am having withdrawal symptoms from a wonderful four days at Conference that makes me want to rush down to Witney to spend time with more Liberal Democrats.

That may be part of it, but why would I want to risk the guilt-inducing wrath of my dog by leaving her again so soon?

On Monday, I’m travelling 350 miles for a whirlwind 24 hours of leaflet delivery or whatever else needs doing  to help the wonderful Liz Leffman’s campaign. I’m doing so for several reasons;

A good result for the Liberal Democrats is important for party and country

A major theme of Conference is that we’re not going to stand by and see our country ruined while there’s something we can do about it. We are going to stand up and make the case for the closest possible relationship with the EU and for our country to be that generous-hearted, internationalist, collaborative force for good in the world.

This by-election is our chance to show that we are making progress as a party, that we can get public opinion on our side.

The party is taking this very seriously. They are even playing the cute dog card very early on. Seriously, a picture of a local activists’ dog was used to lure us there yesterday.

We are going to be fighting a good campaign and the sooner we do stuff the better.

For Liz

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

We must fight Witney hard

Invitations have gone out to approved parliamentary candidates to stand in the Witney constituency by-election, caused by David Cameron’s sudden resignation from Parliament. It’s important the selection goes ahead quickly and the very best person is appointed as this is a contest we should fight with maximum resources, energy and determination. There is no time to lose as rumour has it that the by-election may be called for 20 October.

Although the Liberal Democrat vote fell back sharply in 2015 (as in so much of the rest of the country), the party’s candidates (respectively Dawn Barnes and Liz Leffman) came second in both 2010 and 2005. Yes, a distant second, but just consider the extraordinary circumstances in which this by-election is being held. Cameron unintentionally landed Britain in its current Brexit mess and the terrible trio that Theresa May has put in charge of “delivering Brexit” haven’t a clue what it means in practice, how it will be done or when. The Conservatives like to say they are competent, but this is incompetence on a colossal scale.

As for Labour, next week Jeremy Corbyn will almost certainly be re-elected leader of the party, despite the fact that he does not enjoy the confidence of the vast majority of his MPs and Labour is riven by internecine warfare. Not exactly in a position to make a big leap forward in Witney. Indeed, if the recent Sheffield council by-election is anything to go by, quite the opposite.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 53 Comments

Make calls and make a difference

ALDC Phonebank
I am a brand new member to the Liberal Democrats, having joined after the disappointing Referendum result in June.

I was definitely impassioned by the Referendum result and wanted to get involved with the party right away.  I thought the ALDC by-election phone bank seemed a good place to start.

Using the phone bank is really easy. It takes ten minutes of training to get started. If you’ve used a phone and a computer before, you’ll be an expert in no time.

Making the phone calls is a really positive experience. We ring around wards throughout the UK and gauge support in that area for the Lib Dems in upcoming council by-elections.
 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Time to end this defection madness

 

Yesterday, for the second time in the space of six months, one of my local Liberal Democrat councillors resigned the party whip. Two different geographical areas. Two entirely different sets of circumstances. But two similarly devastating impacts on the blood, sweat and tears of hard working local activists.

The first occasion was in Rochdale this summer. After our previous council leader Andy Kelly lost his Milnrow & Newhey seat by a meagre 15 votes a year earlier local activists worked around the clock to help deliver a stunning victory this May with a 700 plus majority in a general election year and in so doing return the party to ‘group status’ on the council. Or so we thought. Less than a month later our other long standing councillor, Peter Rush, crossed the floor to join Labour and we were back to square one.

Fast forward six months and you find me living in Edinburgh. Last night I learnt that our Almond Ward councillor, Alastair Shields, has resigned the party whip after losing out in his recent re-selection contest to local activist Kevin Lang. Cllr. Shields will now sit as an independent until May 2017. As a result the Lib Dem presence on Edinburgh City Council is reduced from three to two.

Posted in Op-eds | 25 Comments

Are by-elections the best use of activists’ time?

Over the course of November I lost count of the exhortations I received to contribute, either financially or through my time, to the Oldham campaign. But is our current approach to by-elections the best for our party, and, if not, what wider lessons can we draw? This article is written to provoke, to challenge, and to inspire debate; equally, it is not written to insult or degrade the hard work or enthusiasm of activists or candidates with which this party is blessed.

Activists are encouraged to get involved in a by-election for a number of reasons: (i) the excellent qualities of the local candidate; (ii) the opportunity to increase our representation at Westminster; (iii) there is value in 2nd/3rd/… place; (iv) to learn about effective methods of campaigning; (v) to spread our national message; and (vi) it’s fun/sociable/exciting! But we have to realise that we are a seriously resource constrained political party. Resources are financial and people-time: activists, party staff, and political figures (e.g. MPs). I would argue that these are all more seriously limited than at any time since I joined the party in 2005, with the possible exception of activists. Even here, many will have full time commitments, a family, other volunteering work etc. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 20 Comments

Has Oldham had more parliamentary by-elections than any other place in the UK?

On Tuesday I asked: “Which piece of ground in the UK has had the most parliamentary by-elections?”. I genuinely didn’t know the answer to that question when I wrote that post. We had to employ Mounted Police to deal with the deluge of replies to the question. Thanks to Tim Hill for showing interest. Prompted by Tim’s enquiry, I did a bit of research and came up with the following tentative answer.

The Oldham wards of Crompton, Lees and Shaw have had more parliamentary by-elections, spread relatively frequently over two centuries, than any other part of the UK.

Those wards were part of Littleborough and Saddleworth constituency for the by-election there in 1995. They were part of Oldham East and Saddleworth for the by-election there in 2010. And they were part of the old Oldham Borough parliamentary constituency for by-elections there in:

  • 1835
  • 1852
  • 1857
  • 1862
  • 1877
  • 1899
  • 1911
  • 1925

I haven’t exhaustively researched this, so let me know in the comments thread below if you think differently. But I think it’s a fair bet, from my reading of the lists, that those three Oldham wards, or perhaps Oldham itself, have had the most by-elections when looked at over the last two centuries. The nearest contender I could find was the “Combined Scottish Universities” seat which had by-elections in 1936,1938 and 1945. If someone can point me in the direction of a list of pre-1900 by-elections that would be very helpful in nailing this question. I couldn’t find such a list.

I think that where the Oldham by-election frequency record is so impressive is that it covers a good range of pre-1900 and post-1900 by-elections. It’s just a shame that the current Oldham West and Royton by-election doesn’t cover those three wards mentioned above but it does cover wards in the old Oldham Borough such as Chadderton. So, you could actually say that Chadderton and other western wards have had the most by-elections but that would mainly be relying on pre-1900 by-elections. Lees, Crompton and Shaw are the wards in Oldham with the most impressive frequency of pre-1900 and post-1900 by-elections.

But you don’t get away with reading this that lightly! Please help Jane Brophy and the team at Oldham West and Royton in the next few days.

Here’s all the info you need on how to get there:

Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

A message from Oldham from the Lib Dems there this weekend

imageThe Oldham West and Royton by-election HQ has been busy this weekend as Liberal Democrats head there from all over the country are heading there. Rather than snuggling up on the sofa with a good book and Majorsrise on Twitter (which is really getting exciting at the moment, possibly even more so than when I lived through it), they’ve headed out into the freezing cold to help the old #libdemfightback. Among those there today are our own Paul Walter who went up all the way from Newbury.

But why are they going? This video tells you.

I am so utterly soft that when I watched it, I had a wee tear in my eye.

IF you are wondering what to do with yourself tomorrow, why not head over there? They do seem to be having a great time.

Here’s all the info you need on how to get there:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 3 Comments
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