Category Archives: News

14 May 2019 – today’s press release

Corbyn a friend to Tories, not to Remainers

The Liberal Democrats today unveiled an election poster slamming Jeremy Corbyn for spending time helping the Tories deliver Brexit rather than doing anything to Stop Brexit.

According to analysis of the parliamentary record by the Liberal Democrats, the Labour party whipped either to abstain or to vote with the Conservative Government on a total of 29 key Brexit votes.

The poster, launched by Liberal Democrat MPs Jo Swinson and Ed Davey, comes as the Labour party descended into another row over its Brexit position.

Liberal Democrat …

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David Steel’s membership reinstated

Former leader David Steel’s membership of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has been reinstated following an investigation by the Scottish Party Executive.

Willie Rennie issued a statement today outlining the conclusion, according to the BBC:

The party’s executive group has now determined that there are “no grounds for action” against the former MSP and Holyrood presiding officer.

Mr Rennie said: “We take the issue of vigilance and safeguarding incredibly seriously, so it was important to investigate following the evidence that David Steel gave to the independent public inquiry. In part because of a hearing difficulty and a lack of precision in providing some answers it was necessary to seek further information from him for clarification.

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Layla: I’m not standing for leader this time

A statement this morning from Layla Moran:

I am very grateful to the large number of constituents, supporters, party members and elected representatives who have encouraged me to throw my hat into the ring in the forthcoming Liberal Democrat Leadership contest.

As a relatively new MP, however, my first priority has to be to serve my constituents to the best of my ability.

I hope they consider that I am doing a good job so far, but I do not believe that I would be able to continue to do so to the standard they have the right to expect if I took on the busy role of Party Leader as well.

For this reason, I wrote to local party members last week to let them know that I would not be standing for the Leadership this time.

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13 May 2019 – today’s press release

No denying Brexit made Honda factory vulnerable

Responding to Honda’s announcement that its plant in Swindon is set to close with a loss of 3,500 jobs, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

No matter how hard the Conservatives try to spin this news, there’s no denying that Brexit made Honda’s factory in Swindon more vulnerable to closure.

This decision is a body-blow for the thousands of workers who now face redundancy, not to mention the huge risk posed to the rest of the car industry, for which there is no Brexit ‘dividend’.

People deserve better than this. They deserve an opportunity to reject

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WATCH: North East Lib Dems Stop Brexit video – featuring Bail Out Barry and Lib Dem Fiona Hall

The North East Lib Dems have produced a brilliant campaign video – a brilliant contrast between Labour chaos (starring Barry “Bail the Tories out” Gardiner) and what the Lib Dems offer for the north east – the NHS, the countryside, the environment.

Don’t put our future at risk, they say. Vote Lib Dem to stop Brexit says Fiona Hall.

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What European liberals have achieved over the past five years – consumer protection

Ensuring that consumers are protected is at the heart of the Single Market, and ALDE have played a central role in building upon it during the last Parliament.

Roaming Charges consigned to the history books

ALDE played a key role in ending wholesale roaming charges in the European Union. Legislation adopted in 2015 provided for the abolition of retail roaming charges on voice calls, data and SMS as of 15 June 2017, a victory for mobility and consumer rights.

Safer food for EU consumers

ALDE has supported efforts to harmonise the EU’s legal framework for official hygiene controls. We also strongly supported new laws, …

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What European liberals have achieved over the past five years – the environment (part 2)

Environmental protection is one of those fields where international collaboration is key, and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see so much being done at a European level…

Tackling single use plastics

ALDE successfully steered legislation through the European Parliament to limit the negative effects of single-use plastics, in particular marine litter. Single-use plastic products for which alternatives are readily available, such as cutlery, cotton bud sticks, plates, straws and beverage stirrers, will be banned from the EU market from 2021 so that they can be replaced by more sustainable alternatives. The consumption of several other items, for which no …

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What European liberals have achieved over the past five years – the environment (part 1)

You would expect liberals to take a key role in fighting climate change and protecting our environment, and here are some of the highlights in that field…

Climate action to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement

ALDE was a driving force in strengthening the system for national greenhouse gas emission reductions to meet the EU’s target under the Paris Agreement. ALDE steered the legislation that determines the binding national 2030 climate targets through Parliament and introduced changes to make sure that the Member States’ annual emissions ceilings are set in a way that does not overshoot the EU’s ‘carbon …

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What European liberals have achieved over the past five years – the economy

Given how little coverage there has been in the British media of the work of the European Parliament, it comes as no surprise that few voters know what it does. Luckily, the ALDE Group in the Parliament have produced a guide to their achievements since the last European election in 2014, and I’m going to take the opportunity to highlight some of them today.

More stable financial markets

Scandals around the manipulation of the LIBOR and foreign exchange benchmarks, as well as the alleged manipulation of other indices, has highlighted the importance of benchmarks and their vulnerabilities. ALDE led negotiations …

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11-12 May 2019 – the weekend’s press release

Farage tantrum shows he hasn’t got the answers

Responding to Nigel Farage losing his cool on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Be it the 2016 or 2019 incarnation of Nigel Farage, he is still shamefully looking to point the finger rather than take responsibility. Just scratch beneath the surface and it is clear he doesn’t have the answers on Brexit, never mind a manifesto.

A vote for Farage, the Tories, UKIP, or Labour at the European elections is just a vote for Brexit and the years of damaging uncertainty that comes with it. If

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Ed Davey slams Conservatives on climate change on Any Questions

Ed Davey was on Any Questions last Friday night.

The first question from the audience in Cambridge was about climate change.

Former Conservative Brexit Minister Suella Braverman hailed her party’s action on this.

I thought when I listened to it that Ed’s reply was going to be interesting.

Well, it was pretty forensic. He highlighted how the Conservatives had undone so much of the good work he had done as Climate Change Secretary and how important it was that we remain at the European table to have global influence.

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European election poll puts Lib Dems ahead of the Conservatives

There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Don’t get too excited, but look at this…

It is only one poll.

Although another by the same company on Westminster voting intention yesterday gave us a similar rise and the Tories a similar fall.

Let’s hope that we are starting to build momentum, because the size of the Brexit Party vote is scary.

It is quite incredible that we have a poll in which the two main parties only command a third of the vote between them.

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10 May 2019 – today’s press release

Change UK MEP backs Lib Dems as ‘strongest Remain party’

Julie Girling, who has served as a South West Member of the European Parliament for the last 10 years, is calling on Remain voters to back the Liberal Democrats in the European elections.

Ms Girling was elected twice to the European Parliament for the Conservatives, before leaving them over Brexit. Ms Girling is widely respected across parties and recently announced that she was not going to be a Change UK candidate for the European Elections.

Julie Girling said:

The Liberal Democrats scored a huge success in last week’s local elections,

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Poll surge for Lib Dems in European elections

Well, this is interesting. Clearly people are seeing that Lib Dems are the biggest and best Remain Party based on our spectacular local elections results where we gained 704 candidates.

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9 May 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dem manifesto sets out vision for the UK in the EU
  • Swinson: We need to give our economy a new purpose
  • Corbyn has trashed the hopes of Remainers
  • Lib Dems are strongest Remain voice for Peterborough (covered here)

Lib Dem manifesto sets out vision for the UK in the EU

The Liberal Democrats will today launch their manifesto for the European elections, setting out a vision for the UK inside the EU.

The Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable, who will be joined by colleagues at the launch in London this evening, said the manifesto is a “blueprint for what the UK …

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Lib Dem Beki Sellick to fight Peterborough by-election after efforts to find single remain candidate falter

There had been some speculation in the media that there would be one single Remain candidate in the Peterborough by-election, which will take place on June 6th following the recall of MP Fiona Onasanya.

However, nominations closed today and that didn’t happen. Lib Dem Beki Sellick was duly nominated to fight the by-election for us:

The official party line is as follows:

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WATCH: Unleashed – the Lib Dem campaign to stop Brexit

This morning, my family’s postal votes arrived. I’ve had a postal vote ever since I didn’t vote in the 1997 election because I was too busy helping in a target seat. I suspect Mrs Pankhurst would have approved, but I was determined that I would never again fail to have my say.

Never has that vote felt more precious. I want this country to say very clearly on 23 May that we want to stop Brexit, that we want to stay part of the remarkable institution which champions peace, human rights and democracy.

Many other postal votes will have landed on doormats today. So it’s pretty convenient that the Lib Dems kicked off their European campaign with a staggering display of both passion and competence.

People woke up this morning to a bloody good write up in the Guardian.

Buoyed by strong results in last week’s local council elections, and unencumbered by the nuance of Labour’s position, Cable insisted the Lib Dems were the best-equipped party to challenge the message of Nigel Farage at the poll later this month.

“We are clearly the best organised, we have been leading the People’s Vote argument for three years and we’ve been the pro-Europe party for 50 years. We are credible and people recognise our unwavering clarity and commitment.

“We are taking it very seriously, we have a high-pressure social media campaign where we are doing more than Farage’s people,” he said, adding, “we are out of the traps early, and expect to do well.

And he outlined why we are the best place to deliver the maximum remain vote.

He has faced criticism for failing to make the media impact of his predecessor, or improve the Lib Dems’ poll ratings. But he hailed last week’s strong local election results as evidence that a steady approach of rebuilding the party from the bottom up is finally paying dividends.

“Infrastructure and organisation really does matter,” he said. “The lesson for other parties is you can’t function without that. There is no future sitting in London sending out messages.”

The manifesto launch tonight was brilliant. Four speeches. All passionate and delivered with heart. Sal Brinton talking about how the Lib Dems had stopped the Tories using Brexit legislation to undermine the NHS.

Ed Davey talking about the importance of stopping Brexit so that Britain can be a powerful force in the EU in the fight against climate change. I actually got a bit sad when he was speaking because he did so much to combat climate change in government and then the Conservatives, left to themselves, have unravelled so much of it.

He also spoke about the importance of co-operation across the EU to tackle crime. Why, he said, do Brexiteers like criminals so much.

Jo Swinson gave a totally heartfelt speech about a visit to Bucharest. Her wonderful dad, Peter, was there to help the Romanians prepare for EU membership. She told how he had taken her to the People’s House, an outrageous structure built as a vanity project by Romania’s dictator while so many of his people lived in destitution and absolute poverty.  She talked about the role of the EU in bringing peace across Europe, in Northern Ireland, bringing former enemies together.

The EU has been at the forefront of promoting human rights, liberal values and democracy, she said. The EU is the hope that made once warring countries work together and which is the cornerstone of the Good Friday Agreement. In a time of “strong men” leaders, now is not the time to be turning our back on European leaders who share our liberal values.

There are more relaxing ways to spend your 76th birthday. I thought Vince was actually going to cry when the audience sang Happy Birthday to him, but he went on to deliver a fantastic speech highlighting the clear Stop Brexit message that is driving the Lib Dem campaign. He said that nobody, not even the most ardent Brexiteers, were doubting that we would be worse off if we left the EU. The only thing is that these Brexiteers weren’t going to be the people who paid the price. It would be people much poorer and more vulnerable than they were.

The Lib Dems, he said, will be unapologetic about backing the four freedoms. The right we have to work and live across Europe was championed by Mrs Thatcher. The current Conservative Party has moved so far to the right that they are disowning the single market Thatcher created.

He said that while the Lib Dems will campaign to stop Brexit, this election is about returning a group of Liberal politicians from across Europe who will lead the fight against populism.

He highlighted the crucial EU role in making the likes of Google pay their taxes.

We won’t solve the Trump problem, he said, by grovelling to him and throwing him lavish state visits, but by standing up to him as part of the EU.

He set out our unique pitch – as the biggest and best organised of the Remain parties who has been fighting for for EU values for 50 years.

Watch the whole thing here

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LibLink: Jo Swinson To secure our future, make climate change risk reporting mandatory

Jo Swinson has always been one to ask awkward questions. In an article in today’s City AM, she describes asking about corporate social responsibility during a seminar when she was a student:

…my classmates looked at me with puzzled expressions, as if I was rather off-topic.

Gone was the 1960s radicalism of the institution, and instead chasing the highest-paying banking internship was very much in vogue. When, after graduating, I chose a job placement with a small start-up company in Yorkshire on a £12,000 salary, the puzzled looks turned into disbelief.

She sets out three big changes to the way business should operate, putting responsibility to people and planet at their heart:

So, let’s start rewarding investors who are in it for the long-run and limit the powers of those who are in it just to make a quick buck. We can increase voting rights the longer an investor remains with a company, and we can taper the rate of tax for every year an investor keeps their share in the business.

Second, let’s put people at the heart of business. Let’s make it crystal clear that directors have fundamental responsibilities to their employees, their consumers, and the communities on which they depend.

Last, and by no means least, let’s get serious about the fact that we are the last generation that can stop irreversible harm to our planet. Any business that thinks it is immune to the threats we are facing is utterly deluded and is risking its own survival

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8 May 2019 – today’s press releases (or not, as the case may be)

Given that this column has been somewhat erratic of late, there was a danger that you might have thought, “Ah, Mark’s forgotten to do this again.”. But I haven’t. I understand that the Press Team have been pretty busy today, but that hasn’t manifested itself in a press release.

However, we do have one story that might be of interest to you given what’s coming up…

The ALDE Party has rather subverted the contest to be the President of the European Commission, the so-called Spitzenkandidate process, by announcing a team of prominent European liberals, rather than just one person, to lead the …

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7 May 2019 – today’s press releases

Rise in school exclusions is the symptom of broken schools system

Responding to today’s publication of Edward Timpson’s report into school exclusions, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

Exclusion, whether temporary or permanent, should always be a last resort. And it should never be done under the radar.

But this report does nothing to address the reasons why headteachers consider excluding the pupils they find difficult. Off-rolling pupils is not the cause of our problems. It’s the symptom. The result of the perverse incentive to secure a better Ofsted grade or climb up the league tables.

This problem can’t be dealt with

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Your last chance to register to vote in the European elections

At 23:59 tonight, it will be too late to register for the European elections.

So if you know anyone who isn’t registered, you might like to direct them here. And if they are an EU citizen, they will have to fill in this form and deliver it personally to their local electoral registration office by close of business today.

This is such a crucial election and the future of our country depends on it. It is our chance to send a message to the Government that this deeply flawed Brexit process must be stopped.

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ICYMI: Labour’s Barry Gardiner telling Tories Labour were trying to bail them out on Brexit

Coming to  a Lib Dem risograph near you very soon, I would imagine.

Seriously, Labour’s shadow international trade minister told Tory James Cleverly ON LIVE TV that “We are in there trying to bail you guys out” on Brexit.

You could not make it up. No wonder reports from the talks earlier this week made them sound like a love in. And here is the moment where he actually says it:

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Looking good in Northern Ireland

The counting in the Northern Ireland local elections was finally concluded late last night. And the good news is that, matching Lib Dem successes in England, the Alliance Party increased their seats by 21, far more than any other party.

Alliance is our sister party in Northern Ireland. There is a small Lib Dem branch there as well, but they didn’t put up any candidates, and Lib Dem members are allowed to have dual membership.

Councillors are elected through Single Transferable Vote every four years, and there are five major parties, plus a handful of smaller ones.  As a result no council has a party with an overall majority.

Alliance increased its share of seats on the following councils:

  • Antrim and Newtownabbey
  • Ards and North Down
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon
  • Belfast City
  • Causeway Coast and Glens
  • Derry City and Strabane
  • Fermanagh and Omagh
  • Lisburn and Castlereagh City
  • Mid and East Antrim
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The Lib Dem Lowdown: A guide for new members – Local elections 2019 special

Welcome to the 1300 people who have joined the Liberal Democrats in the last day or so since our local election gains surpassed all our expectations.

It’s actually been really heartwarming to wake up every morning for the last few weeks and see a whole rush of “I just joined the Lib Dems” posts on Twitter.

Every so often I roll out this post, which is basically a rehash of an article that I first wrote in May 2015 when many joined the party in the wake of the General Election result. I thought it might be useful to tell you a little bit about how our party works and give you a bit of an idea of the opportunities open to you. If you are not yet a member, if you like what you read, sign up here.

What do we believe?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of organisation, the best statement of who we are and what we’re about can be found in the Preamble to our Constitution which underlines how we believe in freedom, opportunity, diversity,  decentralisation and internationalism. Here’s a snippet:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject allprejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

We have a fierce respect for individuality, with no expectation that fellow Liberal Democrats will agree with us on every issue. We expect our views to be challenged and feel free to challenge others without rancour. We can have a robust debate and head to the pub afterwards, the very best of friends.

Obviously, our priority at the moment is to stop Brexit, but there is so much more to us than that. That bit about no-one being enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity shapes everything that we do.

Your rights as a member

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Thank you everyone – a great idea

I like this. A handy line in makeshift poster adjustment from a Liberal Democrat who now finds that they are on three councils…

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Where did we gain seats?

The elves at LDV have been busy digging into the results to bring you a full list of all the Councils in England where Lib Dems made gains. Please let us know if they have made any errors.

So here they are. We have highlighted the ones where we are now in control.

  • Arun (where we are the largest party under NOC)
  • Barnsley
  • Basingstoke & Deane
  • Bassetlaw
  • Bath & North East Somerset
  • Bedford (where we are the largest party under NOC, and we retained the elected Mayor)
  • Blaby
  • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Bolsover
  • Bolton
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole
  • Bracknell Forest
  • Brentwood
  • Broadland

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From the Vault: The Thatcher years: My shame

It’s 40 years today since Margaret Thatcher walked into Downing Street as Prime Minister.

There was an 11 year old girl in Inverness who was really excited by this – especially by the notion that a woman could become Prime Minister was a very powerful one.

Ten years ago, for the 30th anniversary, I wrote this post describing my shame. I suppose, in my defence, I have spent most of my time since fighting the forces of small state, selfish conservatism.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but thirty years ago tonight, I, a fairly innocent 11 year old, went to bed and prayed for Mrs Thatcher to win the 1979 election.

I really didn’t understand much about politics then – the geekery and obsession didn’t take hold until about a year and a half later, when I had had enough time to rue my earlier enthusiasm. I did know that I wasn’t keen on Labour – there seemed to be nothing but strikes, and my dad hadn’t had a properly stable job for a good couple of years. My parents and Grandma were all enthusiastic Tories and it seemed that life would get better with a new Government.

I quite liked the Liberal Party. The MP for Inverness, Russell Johnston, seemed to me to be a good man and the fact that a primary school child like me knew who he was was quite positive. He was also in favour of home rule for Scotland, which I always thought was a good thing. However, my staunch Catholic grandfather had told me time and time again, from the moment David Steel became Liberal leader, that he didn’t want babies to be born, so he had the same appeal for me as the Daleks. I literally would watch him on tv from behind a cushion. When I grew up and understood the issues involved, he became a lot less scary, but I actually thought he would pass a law forbidding people to have babies. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, but in my defence, I had heard that in China you were only allowed to have one child, and I was only 11.

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ICYMI: Complain to BBC about coverage of Lib Dem local election win

There are two elements of the BBC’s coverage of the local elections that are simply ridiculous and need to be complained about.

The first is their oft expressed line that the message the voters were giving to the Conservative and Labour parties is that they wanted them to get on with Brexit.

So that would be why they voted in huge numbers for the party whose aim is to stop Brexit, then, is it?

The Liberal Democrats gained over 700 seats, a spectacular feat by any standards. We put in our best ever performance in terms of seat gain in a local election. The message is clear – a significant proportion of the electorate want this Brexit nonsense to be stopped.

The second

Seriously. The BBC’s flagship political programme has no guest from the Liberal Democrats on the weekend after we won a national election.

That has to be disgraceful by any standards.

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The 666 moment passed

There was a moment that I feared that we would end up gaining 666 councillors.

It happened.

Briefly.

But it quickly passed.

And the final total topped  700.

The Tories briefed the papers last weekend that they could lose 1000 seats. This, we all thought, was expectation management. We thought that our own 500 gains briefing to the press was about as good as it could get. And we were wildly pessimistic in the end.

I was thrilled to see my old mate and former Chesterfield Lib Dem MP Paul Holmes re-elected to the Council. And regular Lib Dem Voice contributor Ed Fordham elected as Councillor for Brockwell along with two ward colleagues.

Moor ward in that town has a history of close elections. I remember missing out on winning a seat from Labour in a by-election there in about 1994 by 17ish votes.

Look at how close we were to 9 gains there:

It’s a long time since we had a night like this.

But let’s just enjoy it as a stage on the journey. It’s not the end in itself. We need all Remainers to swing behind us on May 23rd to send a very clear message that Brexit can and must be stopped.

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+++Final results – Lib Dems gain a stonking 703 councillors, 11 councils and 19% of the national vote, amid 1334 losses for the Tories and 82 losses for Labour


Embed from Getty Images

Here are the final May 2nd council election results, now that all the results are in.

The Lib Dems are UP by a stonking 703 (net) seats, with 688 holds, 683 gains and 7 losses. We’ve gained control of 11 councils. We have become the largest party in a “no overall control” situation in 5 further councils.

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Recent Comments

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  • User AvatarJohn Bicknell 23rd May - 8:46am
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