“Cornwall’s Liberal Democrats lead the doorstep fightback”


That’s the encouraging headline in today’s Guardian. And the timing couldn’t be better with everything to play for on 4th May in the local elections and the Manchester Gorton by-election.

In Cornwall …

… the tide appears to be turning.

The Lib Dems have won a succession of council by-elections in Cornwall and are now once again the biggest group on the council with 43 members, governing in coalition with the independents.

Lib Dem loyalists are buoyed both by the national party’s resurgence and by a report in the New Statesman claiming that Lynton Crosby, who helped the Tories into government in 2015, has warned the prime minister, Theresa May, that if she called a snap general election she would lose all the Lib Dem seats her party gained in Cornwall.

It will please Mark Pack to hear that we are putting up candidates in every single one of the 123 council seats. Of these 31 are new members.

“I didn’t think I’d like this bit, having to knock on people’s doors,” says the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Altarnun ward, Adrian Parsons. “But you meet so many people and you learn so much. Most people want to talk. And the majority seem to be positive about our messages. I’m enjoying this.”

Parsons, a 42-year-old dairy and sheep farmer, is one of a new generation of Lib Dem activists helping to forge what increasingly seems to be a strong revival in the party’s fortunes in Cornwall.

There are some hints about our campaigning techniques – not that they are a secret:

Experienced campaigners are on hand … The Lib Dem peer Baroness Jolly, the party’s defence spokeswoman, was knocking on doors with Parsons. “The Lib Dems have long been seen as an anti-establishment party,” she said. That became a hard sell when the party governed in coalition with David Cameron’s Tories. “But I think we’re getting that back quickly.”

The door-knocking is backed by technology. The Lib Dems are using a canvassing app called MiniVAN, which was used by Barack Obama. They are also pleased with the return on the money they have invested on boosting Facebook posts. But face-to-face contact is still the Lib Dems’ bread and butter.

The advantage of MiniVAN (mobile canvassing tool) is that it really supports those face-to-face contacts rather than hinders them. So make sure you have a smart phone or tablet with you when offering to do some door-knocking over the next two-and-a-bit weeks, wherever you are.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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One Comment

  • Richard Underhill 12th May '17 - 7:15pm

    The Times 12/5/2017, page 12, column 5: Mebyon Kernow, the Cornish nationalists, won’t field candidates on June 8 because Theresa May said there wouldn’t be an election –AND THEY BELIEVED HER. They said “It is impractical for a party with our level of resources to put together a meaningful campaign.”
    I recall that the late David Penhaligon MP (Truro) competed with them for votes.
    Also Simon Danczuk is standing against labour in Rochdale.

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