How the #libdemfightback is happening in Barwell

Team BarwellSince May tens of thousands of words have been written here on Lib Dem Voice and other Social Media about the Lib Dem Fightback. Since last Saturday tens of thousands more have been written about whether we should or should not welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

However, we should not repeat the mistake of the Coalition years and define ourselves only in relation to others. We are not Conservative or Labour Lite, we are Liberal Democrats, otherwise surely we should just join one of the other Parties in the first place? Proclaiming in 2010 that the Coalition was a ‘meeting of minds not a marriage of convenience’ was a disaster for our Party. So was the 2015 national election campaign in arguing that we were just a bit different to Conservative and Labour. In which case people might as well vote for the real thing –and they did. 

As for the Lib Dem Fightback surely the whole point is to actually fight back rather than to talk about it in the abstract? A week ago our candidate Shani Smith took a Council Seat off Labour in the Barwell Parish of Hinckley and Bosworth Constituency. The local Labour Party, more Old than New, certainly did not see us as colleagues and neither did the Conservatives.

In fact in one of the strangest elections we have ever fought Labour’s literature was printed in red and blue and proclaimed that Labour, Conservative and UKIP were working closely together. It also included a photo of the Conservative and Labour Council Group Leaders posing and smiling together. The same Conservative Cllr even drove voters to the Polling Station during election morning!

Local voters however were not impressed by this weird Lab/Con/UKIP alliance and gave us 55% of the vote against Labour’s 45%. A promising indicator for the future was that in over a thousand doorstep conversations no one raised the Coalition, Nick Clegg, broken promises or tuition fees. As for the Corbyn phenomenon the response was critical with, for example, one ex serviceman, living in a Housing Association flat, declaring he could “no longer vote Labour because of Corbyn’s views”.

None of the other parties are our friends and colleagues. Any and all of them want to see us beaten at election time. We should work with other parties where we have common ground over particular policies and against them when we do not. But whatever the circumstances at any given time always ‘sup with a long spoon’ as we have both learned during many years both fighting on the ground elections and holding elected office.

* Paul Holmes was Liberal Democrat MP for Chesterfield from 2001-2010 and Michael Mullaney was PPC for Hinckley and Bosworth in 2010 and 2015.

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3 Comments

  • Here here

  • John Tilley 19th Sep '15 - 3:37pm

    “….Local voters however were not impressed by this weird Lab/Con/UKIP alliance and gave us 55% of the vote against Labour’s 45%. A promising indicator for the future was that in over a thousand doorstep conversations no one raised the Coalition, Nick Clegg, broken promises or tuition fees”

    The sooner the Coalition fades in the memories of ordinary voters, the better Liberal Democrat community politicians will do in electing new councillors. To be able to define an election as Liberal Democrats against the rest is exactly what we should aim to do everywhere.

    Well done H&B ! Well done Councillor Shani Smith!

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