Don’t forget to have your say on the General Election campaign

After every General Election, the party conducts a review of the campaign so that we have a written record of what worked, what didn’t work and what we need to learn for the future.

The ink was barely dry on the huge number of recommendations from the 2015 campaign when we were off again.

There is a difference in the process this time. In 2015, it was the job of the Campaigns Committee to run the review. This time, though, party structures have changed. The Governance Review ensured that the Campaigns and Elections Committee runs the election so they can’t be allowed to mark their own homework. The review is therefore being conducted by the federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee who have appointed Portsmouth Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson as its chair.

He has asked party members to participate in a survey so that he has an idea of how members feel about the campaign.

I will have a lot to say. I don’t think our European message was strong enough. We should have been bold and audacious. Just imagine what could have happened if Tim Farron had said on Day 1 “Right, if I walk into Downing Street as PM, first thing I’ll do is revoke Article 50.” We certainly would have avoided the conspiracy of silence where the Tories and Labour talked about anything but Brexit.

We did comparatively better in Scotland. When I say comparatively, I’m not saying we did brilliantly. In 2010, we elected 11 MPs in Scotland. In 2015 we had 1 and while we quadrupled that number, we are now only second in one seat – albeit with the best bar chart in the world – just 2 votes behind.

But why did we do better? Certainly the landscape was different here. It was about who could beat the SNP in each seat. In our 4 seats we were absolutely able to position ourselves as the challengers. We were also absolutely rigid in our message discipline. I didn’t think such a thing was possible and we managed it beautifully. We didn’t talk about anything other than being pro EU, pro UK, against a second divisive independence referendum and being for investment in mental health and education. Every photo opportunity hammered home that message. Even a visit to some sweet alpacas – it would be alpacalypse, after all, if there were a second divisive independence referendum.

South of the border, as press releases about taxing coffee cups and legalising cannabis started to dilute our relatively cautious Brexit messaging, we struggled to make an impact. What publicity we got at the beginning of the campaign was squandered on the wrong issue. It was all incredibly frustrating.

Anyway, that’s my view. You will have yours. Don’t forget to check your email, find the email from Gerald and take 15 minutes to fill in the survey. It’s really important that the review team get a proper view from all parts of the country where we’re weak as well as strong.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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6 Comments

  • Jamie Cramp 25th Oct '17 - 6:43pm

    Was a competent campaign for the most part correctly focused on Europe, without that we would have been pretty much ignored. The party ignored signs that with a he’ll of a lot of hypocrisy the Tory party would go for Tim over his Christian views.with the purpose of never letting his campaign get of the ground. That said Tim never really had a answer to the question that closed the issue. Party managers have never sought to deal with what we got wrong in the coalition, to my mind we must look at pacts in future. We need to know who is voting for us and why and deliver for them and convince them that we will in future.

  • Are you kidding? We did as bad as we did BECAUSE of our European message, not despite. We started the campaign polling on 14%, and finished it on 7%, lower than what was supposed to be the worst electoral night of my life.

  • When a party has nothing particularly relevant to say – Brexit excepted – not many people will vote for it.

  • David Evans 26th Oct '17 - 2:57pm

    David, True but even more true was the fact that the party had said a lot of relevant things in the past and deliberately not delivered.

  • David Evans 26th Oct ’17 – 2:57pm…………..David, True but even more true was the fact that the party had said a lot of relevant things in the past and deliberately not delivered……….

    Harold Wilson said, “A week is a long time in politics” but what is equally true is that “5 years is a lot longer”….After 2015 we became pretty much irrelevant and 2 years was far too short a time to rebuild trust….

    How long it will take I don’t know but, pushing 74, I wonder if I’ll see it…

  • Gordon Milner 7th Nov '19 - 2:08pm

    Can the Lib Dems and other remainers guarantee that when we remain in the EU that we lose full control of our borders and allow more terrorist attacks in Europe than we had before we controlled our borders. Can they guarantee that we will be forced into the euro and have to bale out countries like Greece and Spain who ignore the rules of the EU. Can they guarantee that when we vote we have a say in Europe and that won’t control our own laws.

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