Brecon diary epilogue: Chocks away, Nigel!

The Brexit party plane over Brecon and Radnorshire yesterday

After an early night on Wednesday, my alarm went off at 4:50am on Thursday. I successfully managed to switch it off, disenabling the “snooze” function. So, of course, I then went back to sleep and woke up at 5:25am, leaving myself exactly 30 seconds to get dressed and into the car to meet Kirsten Johnson, North Devon PPC and LDV colleague.

The Llandrindod Wells office team gave us an exceptionally well ordered and tightly-knit set of “Good morning” leaflets which we delivered very quickly. Only about seven dogs started barking.

After breakfast at my camp site I had intended to drive home, due to a domestic “three line whip” later in the day. However, I received a recall to the office to deliver “a small bundle which is left. It’s just up the street from the office”. I accepted the recall, knowing that the sojourn would allow the dew on my tent to dry off before I packed it up. When I arrived at the office, the “small bundle just up the street from the office” had transmogrified into a sodding great bundle out in the sticks. After negotiating a reduction in the bundle, I proceeded to Crossgates and delivered their Good Mornings.

When I was walking around Crossgates, an extraordinary thing happened. I heard a plane coming overhead. But this was not just any old plane, this was Nigel Farage’s plane! How exciting! I quickly got my phone out to video it. It was dragging a sign which presumably had a message on it. After straining my eyes for a while, I just about managed to make out the words “Vote Brexit Party”. The plane did two fly pasts over the village before disappearing to Builth Wells. Have a look at the video I took above, showing the plane flying above me.

It would be interesting to speculate the cost of that plane versus how many votes it managed to swing the way of the Brexit party, especially given that you needed 20-20 eyesight to read its message. I should imagine it was about £400 per vote! What a laugh!

I then managed to pack my tent up and start on the road home, while Kirsten continued with the knocking up. I had to be very careful driving home, but the O’Jays singing “Love Train” turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to the M4. I think I listened to it about 20 times!

I couldn’t wait up for the result but woke up at 5am on Friday to come down and read Caron’s post announcing the result. Fantastic!

Many congratulations to Jane Dodds and team. I was very impressed by the unhurried efficiency of our campaign. In particular, the overall messaging was intelligent and nuanced, as described nicely by this Guardian article, which said:

Dodds is cautious in the way she talks to voters about Brexit, restricting herself to discussing the perils of no deal and its effect on the constituency’s sheep farming and automotive workers, though she says the party’s stance is hardly a secret.

Unlike many MPs, and some of the activists who have come to the constituency to campaign, hoping to help stop Brexit, she says the 2016 referendum made her resolve to listen more.

To underline this point, our Good Morning leaflet, for example, didn’t mentioned the word “Brexit” but instead majored on:

-A better deal for our health services
-A better deal for local services
-A better deal for our farmers

That last bullet point was over the text:

Jane will fight the Conservatives’ planned 40% tariff on farming. She will be a strong voice to get more support for farming and rural communities.

I thought was put very well.

Indeed, there was one really heartening thing about this campaign. Over the years, I have seen farmers supporting the Tories mostly. There are numerous good exceptions but mostly they have supported the Tories. Well, in B&R there was overwhelming support for us from farmers. The NFU had helped get across the message that “no deal” means 40% tariffs on Welsh lamb and therefore devastation not only for farmers and farm workers but for the whole local economy, which is based on sheep farming – the economic lynchpin of Brecon and Radnorshire. Johnson and Gove rattling on about “no deal” and “do or die” has caused enormous concern within the Welsh farming community.

On Monday this week, my initial bundle of literature included two handwritten envelopes which, I was told, contained window posters which residents had requested. I expected the addresses to be in Talgarth, but when I googled them, they were right out in the countryside. In fact, they were down two separate very narrow lanes. So I had to drive up and down two extremely narrow and very long lanes, with the vegetation brushing against my car sides all the way. This whole process took half an hour of patient driving. I delivered the envelopes to the two separate residents.

Now. here’s the rub: they were both farm addresses. I thought, at first, that maybe the requests for posters were a hoax to tie up our time. But I am now convinced they were genuine. Only the postwoman or postman would have seen those window posters but I am extremely proud that those farm people requested them and that I was able to deliver them.

We must stand by those farmers, farm workers and those whose livelihoods reply on farming, and do all we can to stop a “no deal” Brexit, which will devastate rural livelihoods that have been built up over centuries.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is currently taking a break from his role as one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Parliamentary by-elections.


  • “all we can to stop a “no deal” Brexit”

    Jane Dodds also hails our blow against a “no deal” Brexit, which indeed it is.

    My slight concern is that it may be part of Johnson’s devious strategy to mobilise such outrage against no deal, that is become easier to cajole MPs into accepting a Boris deal, with some feeling of relief.

    In rejecting no deal, we risk signalling that a deal is OK. We must emphasise that we oppose Brexit, any Brexit, lock stock and barrel.

  • As a matter of interest.. Did brexit feature on the lib dem literature or was it mostly kept local?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 2nd Aug '19 - 9:30am

    @john I refer you to our leader’s acceptance speech last week: “I will do whatever it takes to stop Brexit.”

  • Excellent. Looking at Brecon and the two local by elections does appear Johnson has steadied up some of the Conservative vote, let us hope we get a bounce from this result particuarly from Labour.

  • While the Lib Dems undoubtably won the ground war, the Tories won the Facebook war.

    Has a breakdown of their Fakebook spend. Outspent the Lib Dems 4 to 1. I suspect with a lack of active members, this will be the Tory approach in the next Genetal Election, fight it on Twitter and Facebook where money talks.

  • Laughable to hear the Tories complaining on BBC Breakfast that they only lost because Brexit split their vote and that a leave-voting seat now has a remain MP. A little bit of AV or STV would have sorted it for them but for some reason they don’t support that.

  • John Marriott 2nd Aug '19 - 10:54am

    I reckon you are right. I don’t do social media; but I realise that most people do. Having followed the blow by blow account of the By Election campaign via LDV makes me realise how hard the Lib Dems have to run to keep ahead. I wonder, for example, whether the Tories put so much effort to come so close to retaining the seat with someone, who could be described as a ‘tainted’ candidate. Of course, there is no way a similar effort could be produced in all conceivably winnable seats in a General Election, where the electorate is largely influenced by what appears in the printed, visual and electronic media, not by the pieces of paper that drop through their letterboxes at annoyingly regular intervals.

    “I will do whatever it takes to stop Brexit”. Very dangerous words, in my opinion. Does that mean ignoring another possible ‘win’ for Leave or Remain, or, more dramatically, lying down in the road, organising protest marches, manning the barricades…? Instead of a blind adherence to an institution that clearly splits our nation and shows no inclination to want to reform, an admission of its faults together with an acknowledgment of the advantages of staying close to it in terms of trade and commerce (think of Norway), might go a long way to convincing some of those Leavers that perhaps we really are better off staying close to the harbour rather than taking our chances on the high seas of WTO type trade.

  • Yeovil Yokel 2nd Aug '19 - 11:01am

    What I read in that video is “Vote Brexit Party”, what I hear is an aeroplane engine blowing a raspberry.

  • John,
    We are leaving the era of “nice”, we are entering the era of “nasty” ( actually that transition occurred a decade ago, just not many people noticed) . On twitter and fakebook the trolls and false information ( unfortunately) rule, if as a party we are not going to use fire ( actually napaham) to fight fire we will be like the social democrats of the Weimar era, destined to fail as the hard right triumph ( a nod to our Lexi’s, tis possible the hard left might sneak in, but pretty unlikely, certainly wouldn’t bet my house on it). We need to embrace muscluer Liberalism and if the upsets our opponents, tis a positive as far as I’m concerned. You never know after the battle is won perhaps we can drift back to “nice” as people’s lots improve, because if they don’t we ate eternaly stuck to the era of “nasty”.

  • Farage seems to enjoy flying around on polling day, didn’t he have a crash in a light aircraft over Buckingham in 2010, when he stood against John Bercow?

  • Talking about ‘nasty’,,,Donald Trump’s ‘go back’ comments were ‘genius’, says Nigel Farage.

    Yes; genius in the same way that, if your only aim is to clear out a theatre quickly, shouting “Fire” is genius.

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