Battle Bus debuts in Surbiton

Around 300 people braved the drizzle this morning in Surbiton, west London, to welcome the Liberal Democrat battle bus as it embarks on a tour of the country ahead of next month’s election.

Party leader Tim Farron was joined by Sarah Olney, MP for nearby Richmond Park & North Kingston, along with former cabinet ministers and parliamentary candidates Vince Cable and Ed Davey. The pair are standing in Twickenham and Kingston & Surbiton constituencies, respectively.

Addressing the crowd, Tim Farron acknowledged the “Lake District-style weather”, before attacking both the Conservatives and Labour.

The worst governments are the ones with the weakest oppositions. There is a vacancy for an opposition in this country, and the Liberal Democrats are here to fill it.

This will not be a coronation. This will be a contest.

Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Sarah Olney all made brief speeches, with both Vince and Ed noting the number of times they have been welcomed back by voters on the doorstep.

Following the speeches, all four spoke to both local and national media by the side of the River Thames. When asked by the BBC if he opposes Brexit, Tim replied:

Democracy didn’t suddenly stop at midnight on 23 June last year. If you think Britain’s future is better in the European Union, you should jolly well keep saying so and not roll over and give up. We accept that the majority voted to leave. The Liberal Democrat view is that there should be a referendum on the deal at the end of the process.

One interviewer suggested that Brexit was the best thing to happen to the Liberal Democrats in recent years.  Tim said:

As any leader will tell you, in an election, the best position to be in is one where you’ve got clarity. The British people now know that if you think Theresa May’s approach to Brexit is wrong, the Liberal Democrats are the only party for you.

On the campaign against Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park, Sarah had this to say:

He stood down last year because he couldn’t agree with the Tory policy on expanding Heathrow. That policy hasn’t changed, so how is it that now it’s suddenly alright to represent the Tories again?

When I spoke with her, Sarah expressed frustration at the timing of the election, just over six months after she won her seat. “I was just getting settled in,” she said. “I was starting to define my priorities. Now, that has had to come to a stop.”

As he boarded the bus, Tim acknowledged last week’s ‘Spaniel-gate’, when he was quoted telling a dog owner to “smell my spaniel”, by telling a waiting dalmatian: “I need to be careful what I say to dogs now.”

* Olly Wehring is a trade journalist, reporting on the global drinks industry. He is also a party member, having joined in October last year.

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  • Richard Underhill 1st May '17 - 2:18pm

    The Communist Party has endorsed Jeremy Corbyn.
    source: The Times, the Daily Telegraph.

  • Interesting variety of versions of the party logo there!

  • Nonconformistradical 1st May '17 - 4:05pm

    @Alex Foster
    Why should we be enslaved by conformity?

  • Richard Hall 1st May '17 - 4:27pm

    Hopefully the bus will come my way, I remember that in 2015 the Liberal Democrats went absolutely everywhere (for what good it did), hopefully they’ll do the same again but with much better reaults. Labour are not worth the name “opposition” and are only talking to themselves. If the sensible members of the PLP aren’t going to decide that the Liberal Democrats are a better opposition then its up to the Liberal Democrats to remove them from their seats and make that claim themselves.

  • Richard Hall 1st May '17 - 4:39pm


    Of course the actual target is the Tories. We shouldn’t simply state that we are a more affective opposition but begin to offer ourselves as an alternative party of power. One thing at a time of course but we should be looking to offer a more compassionate alternative to the Tories cruelty towards people who aren’t like them but a more competent alternative to Labour in that regard.

  • I find Tim Farron a very authentic person, genuine and decent.I dont think he would have a dirty trick or abusive remark in him, appalled as I am by Mays ready insults.I find her to be vacuous and offering very thin gruel, a matter of trust me and follow me and her so called stable strong i government is only going in one direction, over a steep cliff.I have not voted LibDem before, impressed as I was by Vince Cable,who can work across party boundaries and that will be needed.At least remainers will be given hope that we can pull this back before it is too late and the only way to know what the people now think, is to ask them.

  • Large White Bear 1st May '17 - 6:34pm

    Good that things are going well in Kingston. I wish the situation was a happier one in former stronghold Sutton – but I fear that the useless Council has delivered the seat to the Tories. A terrible missed opportunity.

  • Phil Wainewright 1st May '17 - 7:23pm

    Dear Large White Bear, I am wondering why exactly you keep on harping on about your pessimistic outlook for Sutton, which is not borne out at all by the facts on the ground, where the Council’s track record on protecting and delivering local services remains strong.

    I personally am very pleased with the new recycling collections which are much greener than the old system. There were a couple of weeks at the outset when the contractor Veolia made a complete pig’s ear of delivering the new service (by the way Sutton was not the only council that Veolia let down in this way) but things seem to have settled down now and today’s Bank Holiday collection was faultless – they even picked up the bag of used batteries I left outside.

  • “The worst governments are the ones with the weakest oppositions”

    I’m not sure many people would agree with that. The best governments I can remember have been those with the largest majorities. The Lib Dems have started this campaign poorly and Labour are hopeless. Mrs May will do well and looking at the others deserves a big majority. Richmond Park will go back to the Tories.

  • @Malc – “The best governments I can remember have been those with the largest majorities.”

    Is that Blair’s, Thatcher’s, or both? Or do you have a really, really long memory?

  • Nick Blair

    Blair – minus the Iraq war – and Thatchers were the best governments in my life time. Far better than the coalition and others. The overwhelming majority of people – not Lib Dems – would say that Thatcher and Blair were our best Prime Ministers in the last 50 years.

  • The best Government in my lifetime was the Attlee Government, which, despite a terrible post war financial inheritance rebuilt and initiated a more equitable and decent society…………………the worst (and most cruel) was the Thatcher Government (and very sadly, not far behind it, was the austerity based Cameron coalition).

    Blair was more about 24 hour soundbites and PFI nonsense.

  • I’d disagree about Thatcher, although I accept she appealed to many, and she was mainly before my time, but as far as I can tell, she railroaded her policies.

    Regarding Blair, he became PM in the days when dissent in the Labour party was still allowed. He and Brown famously spent years debating policies with each other, and pushed each other to do better, and that didn’t stop when they got into power, with others involved too. Whatever you think of their personalities or their policies, they weren’t scared by a bit of healthy debate, at least not in the early days.

    The Iraq war is an example of where that debate didn’t happen, and when Blair left, there wasn’t anyone to properly challenge Brown, and the Labour party and the rest of us were all worse off because of it.

    Corbyn’s policy ideas and presentation have all the marks of someone who hasn’t had a vigorous debate into the wee small hours on anything. He comes across as someone much more used to staying up with friends who all agree that the current system is terrible, and something must be done without ever delving into what that might be.

    May doesn’t seem to have any serious challenge from her own government, at least not on Brexit. Anyone who raises queries is quickly branded as a traitor. I suppose she has that in common with Corbyn.

    The reality is that a healthy democracy requires disagreement, and challenges, and forcing people into thinking of new angles. That can be done within a political party, and it should definitely be done by rival political parties.

  • Large White Bear 2nd May '17 - 9:13pm

    @Phil Wainewright: I approve of greener recycling but Sutton has introduced its new system in a clumsy and ineffectual way. The result has been chaos for many people. The system is also cumbersome and makes life more difficult for busy and overworked residents. Overall the Council does irritating gimmicky things: introducing unsafe ‘informal crossings’, for instance, or the High Street ‘furniture’ nobody could sit on without falling off and which had to be replaced. Then there is the money squandered on the ‘Life Centre’. The problem is that many of the Committee Chairs are getting old and have been there for too long: if they were to make way for their younger and more colleagues, it would make a great difference.
    My point is larger one however: an unpopular and unresponsive Labour Council at Copeland contributed to Labour’s defeat in the by-election. Unfortunately disaffection with local government can affect voting at constituency level.

  • @ LBW From a Scottish perspective, where’s Sutton ? Is it somewhere south of Watford Junction ?

    Fascinating to hear about their dustbins again and again – suggest referral to the U.N. to resolve – or you could always move to Great Snoring in – I think – Norfolk ? Anyway, it’s down south somewhere……….. zzzzzzzzzzz

  • Peter Watson 2nd May '17 - 10:50pm

    @Large White Bear @David Raw
    “Fascinating to hear about their dustbins again and again”
    I don’t know the details but I recall the Lib Dems attacking Labour over recycling bins in the Manchester Gorton byelection campaign so perhaps it is important for the party to demonstrate that it is not being hypocritical on the issue.

  • Large White Bear 5th May '17 - 5:56pm

    @David Raw: We’re hearing a lot of Scottish perspectives today – including the victory by a Council Candidate for the Rubbish Party! They would sweep the board if they stood for the Council in Sutton (which, incidentally, is on the S-W extremity of London). Greetings to all our friends North of the Border.

  • @ LWB. The best thing I’ve heard about Sutton is that they beat Leeds 1-0 in January. Brought great joy to the heart of an exiled Huddersfield Town supporter.

  • Large White Bear 5th May '17 - 9:02pm

    @David Raw: couldn’t agree more, it was a wonderful result – even though I lived in Yorkshire for several years and still think of it as home-from-home!

  • Large White Bear 5th May '17 - 9:03pm

    @David Raw: couldn’t agree more, it was a wonderful result – even though I lived in Yorkshire for several years and still think of it as home-from-home

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