Alistair Carmichael MP writes…Sometimes it is not a bad thing to be an elitist!

Now that I have your attention let me explain what I mean.  In 1982 I was part of an “elite squad” of Liberals and Social Democrats who campaigned in the Queens Park by-election.   It was not the most fertile of territory and despite having an excellent candidate (one Graham Watson, sorry Sir Graham) we finished, I think, a “good fourth”.

For me it was the first taste of what was to become a minor obsession, namely campaigning in parliamentary by-elections.  Since then I have seen the good, the bad and the indifferent.  A “good by-election” is like nothing else.   If Theresa May had realised how stimulating and addictive by-election campaigning can be for Liberal Democrats then she would have found a way to bring it within the Psychoactive Substances Act.

Last Thursday and Friday I joined our excellent candidate, Liz Leffman and her awesome team in Witney.

Let me tell you – Witney is a GOOD by-election.

In fact, it is good and getting better and heading for being excellent.

What can make the difference between good and excellent?  You can.

Bluntly the party needs you to get to Witney tomorrow and on Wednesday and again on Thursday.  You can have your life back again on Friday.

Our campaign in Witney has rocked the Tories.  They thought they would have an easy ride.  They didn’t think they’d need to even try to fight to secure another backbench Tory MP to push through Theresa May’s right-wing agenda.

Instead, we are on the verge of something very special in West Oxfordshire.  Just how good depends on how many people we can get there to help between now and close of polls on Thursday.

Over the years when our party needed momentum (NB momentum – not Momentum) it has often got it from by-election success.  Witney has the potential to do it again.  The result here can change the political narrative for our party.

In 1990 when Margaret Thatcher referred to our Libby as a dead parrot, it was the by-election in Eastbourne that put her right.

In 2006 when we were going through another rough patch it was Willie Rennie’s fantastic win in Dunfermline that reminded us what was possible when we fought to win.

In 2013 Mike Thornton defied the odds to hold win Eastleigh.

These great wins and others (remember Brent?  Remember Romsey?) all served to remind the public that we could win and we did.

As the leaflets always say – it’s a clear choice.  Either we can stay at home and let the Tories win, or we can mobilise like we haven’t since Eastleigh and make sure it’s the Liberal Democrats writing the headlines on Friday morning.

I know that so many people have done so much already – but this is the final big push.

We need everyone to get behind Liz Leffman and help us get the vote out in Witney.

See you there!

* Alistair Carmichael is the MP for Orkney and Shetland and Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson.

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  • Liberal Neil 17th Oct '16 - 8:34pm

    Good call!

  • I will be there Tuesday evening and Thursday 10.30am ish to 9pm ish

  • Suzanne fletcher 18th Oct '16 - 8:30am

    I remember the huge excitement of Bermondsey, and the encouragement it gave me here in difficult times,
    Eastbourne was the first time I used the phone, think it must have been sheets from Ears faxed through, and the absolutely brilliant feel of being part of that win because I had done my but.
    I’ve been phoning ever since, obviously rather more sophisticated and efficient ways of doing! So if you can’t get there, make sure you get sorted using Connect and get started.
    If you haven’t much time it can be slotted in between other things, and if I can master it anyone can.
    Then you too can answer with a smile when future generations ask What did you do for that historic Witney result?

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