Don’t get caught out this May!

As I write this, I have never thought I would be so pleased to see the back of a year as I did 2020. At the same time, I have never felt so apprehensive about what 2021 and the next 12 months holds for our families, our communities and our country.

Since New Year there has been loads of speculation about the elections in May. We simply don’t know as I pen this. If I was in government, I’d want to keep the option open of May elections until the last possible moment.

What we do know is the Government (in the most recent case via Local Government Minister Chloe Smith) are saying they will go ahead in May, with the bar for delaying being set “quite high”. So that is as clear as mud then!

However, no matter what the Government finally does, we have to assume they are going ahead until told otherwise. It would be a complete nightmare if we step back and do nothing. Here’s my reasons for thinking this:

  • The Tories will want the shortest possible ground campaign, after all that hurts us more than the two bigger parties, and we have big opportunities for gains from them. I suspect the decision will be made in the last week of March – hope we don’t campaign much in the interim, and refuse to commit before then.
  • If things are going well with Covid in late March and the Tories get credit for vaccinations, then I’d expect May to be on. If things are going badly, I’d expect postponement, with Covid blamed.

What we have to do is assume we won’t get clarity, and campaign as if May is going ahead. Anything else is simply creating problems for ourselves, we should not be fooled – these elections will be like none we have ever fought before.

If they do then there will be extra costs faced by local councils to ensure these elections can be safely organised. But the challenge for Liberal Democrat Campaigners is to keep active and keep up a strong local presence.

There is nothing stopping you from continuing to telephone canvass and send emails. Some local parties are also fundraising so they can get literature out via Royal Mail. And equally current advice shows there is no reason why you cannot carry out local delivery of leaflets and target letters (taking sensible precautions as you do so) – for example, to get more people signed up to postal votes, as that’s what I am doing. But however you do it, keep going!

Don’t forget if you need formal party advice over campaigning, you can check here.

* Councillor Howard Sykes MBE is the Liberal Democrat Group Leader at the Local Government Association. The LGA is a politically-led, cross-party organisation that works on behalf of 415 councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible voice with national government.

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This entry was posted in Campaign Corner.
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