2019 Election Review – the Social Democrat Group responds

The Social Democrat Group is a grassroots organisation which seeks to promote the social democratic, as well as the liberal, tradition in the Liberal Democrats. In response to the publication of the party’s 2019 Election Review, the group has issued a statement broadly supporting the report.

In particular, the group welcomes the references in the report to the need for the party to concentrate on the issues that really matter to normal people. We believe that if we are to start winning back people’s trust we need to emphasise the big ticket issues of health, education, transport, housing, the environment, that most people care about.

It’s not just our policies though it’s how we present them. We need to show in how we communicate that we care about these issues. Liberal Democrat spokespeople in TV and radio debates speak with great passion about staying in the EU. When we speak with similar passion about health, education and other every day issues, then people will see that Liberal Democrats care about their lives.

In general elections between 1997 and 2010, Liberal Democrats were able to return large numbers of MPs (between 46 and 62) in every country and part of Great Britain. In those elections we concentrated on the big issues people cared about. In 2005 we ran on a series of distinctive, popular policies that were in line with the party’s values. Opposing the War on Iraq, Free tuition fees, Free care for the elderly, raising the top rate of Income tax to fund the NHS. This helped us score our highest ever number of MPs, 62.

Looking at 2019, whilst we made some progress in votes, the vast bulk of the seats we won or came second in were in affluent parts of London and the South-East. It’s great that we made progress there, but to be a party championing all of Britain we also need to make progress in areas which aren’t so affluent.

In recent years past, we have won in seats like Chesterfield, Burnley, Redcar,and North Cornwall, which contain many voters who are struggling to make ends meet. We still know how to win in these areas at local elections, with elected local Lib Dem councillors fighting for their local communities.

As Liberals and Social Democrats we should be a party seeking to bring in reforms that will improve the lives of all people in our society, but particularly those who are struggling. To be relevant to their lives and to get their support at general elections we need to be seen to talk about the issues that concern them.

As our group’s contribution to the review says, “As social democrats within the Liberal Democrats, our focus is on bread-and-butter issues like health, education and housing.”

As a party going forward, the Liberal Democrats needs to offer hope to all people in Britain and to show that we are a party that cares for everyone.

You can read the full response from the Social Democrat Group to the 2019 Election Review at our website. You can also sign up to receive the group’s newsletter and find out details of how to join. You can follow the group on Twitter.

* Michael Mullaney is Vice-Chair of the Social Democrat Group, an Executive Member on Lib Dem run Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and the Lib Dem Finance spokesperson on Leicestershire County Council.

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  • Douglas beckley 19th May '20 - 10:47am

    …’..health, education, transport, housing, the environment, that most people care about.’

    This list partially repeated elsewhere. It’s also a list frequently to be seen mentioned in LibDem associated outlets and blogs. Invariably one thing missed from these lists, including the article above is ‘Crime’.

    People actually do care about that too. And the repeat omission from the ‘care’ list on multiple LibDem outlets is notable. It begins to give an impression that one thing that most people care about that LibDems can’t bring themselves to care about is Crime in all its manifestations.

    This is a cultural problem you’ll have to address. The omission of that word – that concept – from these listings fairly represents your collective stance. It’s something you’ll collectively have to care about a great deal more if you want to improve your standing among the electorate.

  • Michael Mullaney 19th May '20 - 3:31pm

    Hi Douglas you’re absolutely right it’s an issue many people are concerned about and one we took up in the past when we were successful. For example being committed to getting more police on the beat. Agree it’s an issue we need to highlight more

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