A sign of things to come?

When you live in one of the safest Tory seats in the country and you get a phone call out of the blue from a life long Tory voter saying that he is prepared to campaign for the Lib Dems in the General Election you start to think that you’re dreaming!

That’s what happened to me within a couple of hours of the announcement yesterday. He not only rang me but had to go to the trouble to find my telephone number in the phone book – that’s a serious amount of trouble to go to.

We’re in the middle of campaigning for our County Council elections and the mood on the doorstep is also matching up to my caller. People are seriously worried about how Brexit is going to affect them. Theresa May’s statement that the ‘country is coming together but Westminster isn’t’ looks to be a serious misjudgement on her part.

We need to build on the distrust and worry that has built up but not revert to ‘Project Fear’. It’s real people telling real stories of what they think will happen – emotion will win this election not facts.

I don’t know how long my surprise caller will stay with us. We need to understand the reasons that the new members are coming to us and ensure that we keep them interested long term. Only then can we grow a sustainable future for our Party.

* Philip Knowles is Chair of Richmondshire Lib Dems

Read more by .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • John Chandler 20th Apr '17 - 12:05pm

    It’s been interesting how many people I know who would normally vote Conservative are considering voting for us instead. They feel let down by the government over the direction of Brexit (and that includes some who voted Leave!) but consider Labour to be either more of the same or worse.

  • Philip – your last paragraph is such an important point. And it applies to the many former Labour supporters who have joined us just as much as to your new ex-Tory friend.

  • Andrew McCaig 20th Apr '17 - 1:31pm

    We just had an ex Labour councillor join us in Huddersfield…

  • Allan Brame 20th Apr '17 - 1:54pm

    Chair of nearby Conservative Association phoned my wife yesterday. Can’t bring himself to vote for a pro-Brexit party.
    Local union secretary, lifelong Labour man, stopped me when I was out delivering this morning. Disgusted with Labour over Brexit. Voting Lib Dem now

  • Walk and talk, more will come and see Lib dems as the party for them. Anyone got news on how things are looking in scotland? Need to secure shetland and orkneys but nice to pick up a seat or two

  • Sue Sutherland 20th Apr '17 - 2:28pm

    I think there is a deep swell of resentment against the Tories for Brexit. Unfortunately there is also a current running from traditional Labour voters straight to the Tories. I hope our campaigns team can persuade them to vote for us instead, based on policies that address their concerns and which give them back control over their own lives.
    I realise we have to Marshall our resources and target winnable seats but we may well be helped by tactical voting organised by Remainers who are fed up with being called Remoaners and want to see some action!

  • As the PPC for Richmondshire, I can’t tell you how happy this article makes me Philip!

  • nvelope2003 20th Apr '17 - 3:24pm

    Sue Sutherland: Many traditional Labour voters hold right wing views but remained “Labour” because that is what everyone around them did, although they did not always vote, but Corbyn is the type of Labour politician they cannot stand and he has given them the excuse to vote Conservative. They are unlikely to vote Liberal Democrat. This is not new. People have always moved from left to right and right to left as their needs changed.

  • D. Howitt – I’m a Scottish member. I don’t think anyone here foresees a problem in O&S. We held them at the Holyrood elections last year with over 65% of the vote. We also gained the Edinburgh West and North East Fife seats, so we will be targeting both of those again with decent expectations – especially in EdWest where the SNP MP has had high-profile legal difficulties. Jo Swinson standing in East Dunbartonshire gives us a genuine chance there too. I think on a good night we could win all 4 of these seats. Certainly I’d hope we’ll win the first 2. Other than that, the Highland seats have been showing gradual signs of falling out of love with the SNP, so we might make progress there. The Borders are North East are more problematic I’m afraid, due to the Tory revival in those areas. (These are just my own views).

  • I do wonder how the votes will be distributed under the FPTP system. Will the Tories find that for once they are victims of a highly distributed vote? Will Labour find they ebb votes to Tories in seat only to let on a lLib Dem? Will the Lib Dem vote be more concentrated seeing us pick up new seat in big cities?

    This may make predicting the election results very difficult indeed. I also wonder how spread the Labour vote will be…. could they lose more seats than even they realise?

  • May I join in with praising your final paragraph. It is very tempting to be pleased about rising member numbers and assume it’s for this reason or that, but there will be much to learn from the experiences and feelings of those who are actually making that jump.

    I broadly agree Tony re Scotland. The SNP will be pushing hard in Orkney & Shetland, and are already pushing the narrative that Carmichael lied about the memo, but when push comes to shove, most Scots with any sense know full well that the SNP really do want to see the Tories in power at Westminster, and the reaction to the leak was ridiculously disproportionate and twinged with an intolerance to other political views.

    Scottish LibDems in traditional LibDem areas will benefit from a return to the norm, after being punished in 2015. Some of our SNP replacements have not behaved very well, which may work in our favour. Overall, however, the tone is still dominated by nationalism vs unionism, and while the rest of the UK will be voting for or against Brexit candidates, Scots will be voting for or against nationalists, and I would say that it’s more important than Brexit, albeit Brexit has become part of the independence rhetoric. Where we have the best chance of beating the SNP, there’s a good chance Labour and Tories will vote for us, but the reverse will also be true. The Tories are experiencing a revival, and part of that is down to their strong stance on remaining part of the UK, and that appeals especially to the border regions.

    I suspect a lot of Labour and LibDem voters will be hoping for the Tories to lose in Westminster, but secretly hoping they take a couple of seats from the SNP.

  • Martin Clark 21st Apr '17 - 10:58am

    I have voted only Conservative during elections for far longer than 50 years. However Brexit is to me a very unwise decision and losing the single market or suffering a hard exit in my opinion is bad for the UK and also for our European colleagues.
    The EU is very far from perfect and needs change but being outside the EU means that we have little Influence.
    The Libdems have a more sensible policy I believe, thus for the first time in my life, I may be changing my party vote!

  • Denis Loretto 21st Apr '17 - 2:11pm

    Scottish Lib Dems must decide their own campaign messages but surely the basic theme must be unflinching support for both the United Kingdom and the European Single Market.

  • Simon Banks 22nd Apr '17 - 8:55pm

    nvelope – Labour voters with right-wing views, as detailed polling shows, hold those views on social issues (anti-immigration, anti-gay, pro-hanging) and not on economic issues where they’re pretty solidly left-wing. They won’t vote for us. They might vote UKIP or temporarily Tory. Labour and Tory voters with small l liberal views might well vote for us, especially where we appear to be the main challengers to a party they don’t like. By no means all voter movement is Labour to Tory or Tory to Labour. Look at how some Westcountry constituencies used to turn out 20-30% for Labour, this dropped almost to vanishing point as we squeezed the Labour vote and then it went up again in 2015 because they saw us as more or less Tories. Look at Labour votes leaking to the SNP.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTony Greaves 18th Nov - 10:47pm
    Why does LDV not report the results properly with the votes cast? Just putting %%% is less than half the story. They are available easily...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 18th Nov - 10:41pm
    Arnold, that was a magnificent piece of prose writing, so well articulated, so reasonable, and yet so passionate and sad at the same time. It...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 9:08pm
    @ JoeB, I normally agree with Stiglitz but not this time. A two tier, or a multi tier, euro wouldn't really solve anything. In every...
  • User AvatarRichard Easter 18th Nov - 8:51pm
    And that is why people voted for Kennedy in 2005, Clegg in 2010 and now Corbyn.
  • User AvatarGlenn 18th Nov - 8:49pm
    The cut price less sonorously Machiavellian British Kissinger, but only because he as a squeaky voice.
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 8:46pm
    @ Andrew Melmouth, You could be right about John Lanchester. There are those who do understand what a complete cock up the introduction of the...