How to rally your team in the wake of defeat

Duwayne Brooks, Caroline Pidgeon and the Lib Dem teamThe north London wipeout in the local elections meant that the Camden team were decimated. Only one councillor remained in the borough. Maajid Nawaz, their PPC sent them an email in which he grieved with them and looked forward to better days, immediately taking tangible action to motivate them again.

Here are some highlights:

When I was first selected as your candidate, I had little clue how our local party machinery works. I had little appreciation for why you took such pride in your achievements and little understanding for what makes you tick. New to Liberalism, new to party-politics, and new to our local branch, I was an outsider in all respects. An outsider to your friendships, your tactics and your messages.

Over the course of this campaign, I have worked closely with most of you, and have gotten to know, love and respect you all. I have watched, learned and grown as a result of your company. You have enriched me, educated me, and most of all you have humbled me. What I have seen, in your tenacity, your dedication and your self-belief is well and truly admirable.

Compared to the above traits, our defeat yesterday seems less devastating. To stand in loss with principled activists such as you carries with it far more honour than to stand in victory with anyone else. Today, I am proud to call myself a member of the Camden-plus Liberal Democrat party.

He then went on to talk about revival and resurgence – not just his own election in 2015, but beyond, to the next local elections.

We fight for the causes we believe in, the principles we cherish and the values we hold dear. We fight for an area of London that we love. This constituency was the first place I returned to after my release form Egypt in 2007, and I have lived here ever since. I for one will not, cannot allow the light of Liberalism to be extinguished in my home, and I know that none of you can either. The Camden-plus Liberal Democrat branch is the only vehicle that will keep this light alive for us, and that is why the task ahead of us now is to invest in resurrecting a strong local party, regardless of the general election.

And he set himself a mammoth fundraising task, to show that people still believe in the Liberal Democrats. And had the pledges for almost all of it by the end of the day with a significant sum actually in the party’s account.

Within 3 hours of my asking, this money has come in for a target I had set myself a month to achieve. It has come in because your supporters know and still believe in you all. What remains is that you too continue to believe. Labour do not realise that they have made us hungry. They fail to appreciate the fight we still are able to put up, and they would be fools to underestimate us yet.

I started today by saying that this party had some of the best, most resilient, tenacious, innovative, creative and radical people. The posts on here which have flooded in with more for you tomorrow, have shown that.

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

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38 Comments

  • Hannah Bettsworth 28th May '14 - 10:08pm

    Maajid is such a spectacular candidate. An amazing asset to the party and would be a great MP <3

  • I so hope he gets elected, he is a fantastic candidate and potential future leader.

  • Adam Robertson 29th May '14 - 3:35am

    Caron – this is is a good story but only is a superficial analysis, of what is happening around the country in some constituencies. Many areas like Waveney, where I am a party member, do not have a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, for next year. Therefore, we don’t have a candidate like Maajid Nawaz, who I have a lot of respect for, to rally round for and boost morale for the General Election next year. This deepens pessimism within the party ranks as other parties have already made their candidate choices and are already campaigning for next year’s General Election. How do you change that?

    There has been no candidates announced for any of the parliamentary seats in Suffolk for next year’s General Election. In places like South Suffolk, where we have an outside chance of winning, as Tim Yeo, the Conservative MP, is stepping down – there is no candidate to my knowledge. What is more worrying, is in places like Waveney, we have all-out district elections for the council next year. My fear is that we will be lucky to get 10 people running for 48 seats. Such is morale within the party.

  • Ruth Bright 29th May '14 - 6:24am

    I like what he has said – though perhaps the cheery photo is a bit unfortunate. At least three people in the picture lost their seats and perhaps they might like a bit longer to lick their wounds?

  • Nick O'Shea 29th May '14 - 8:07am

    I really understand the debate about whether or not Nick Clegg should continue as party leader following the party’s dismal performance at the Euro elections last week.

    1/ the party has always done worse in Euro elections than its erstwhile opinion poll standing or in other contemporary elections. That aspect of this year’s result was therefore highly predictable and is hardly Clegg’s fault.
    2/ there has been an avalanche of support for euro-sceptic parties right across Europe, particularly damaging overtly pro-euro parties The UK is no exception, and this hit France even worse. I hear few people in the party calling for fundamental re-evaluation of the relationship between Brussels/Stuttgart and nation parliaments and governments. This is despite significant support for this, even among our usual supporters. So whilst pro-EU, what were members and supporters who share this widely-held concern to do? Stay home. Which they did in droves, but it’s hardly Clegg’s or even the parliamentary party’s fault. The party as a whole needs to get back in touch and more aligned with popular sentiment and the views of a majority of its own supporters if not members.
    3/ as the junior partner in a coalition, it was inevitable that we would fare badly compared with both the senior partner or the main opposition. This is particularly pertinent given the hugely unpleasant and unpopular though generally recognised as necessary spending cuts the government was forced to implement to address the economic problems it faced on taking office. This is hardly Clegg’s fault either – ask our fellow European Liberal parties in Germany, Holland and Belgium who regularly participate in coalition governments as junior members, and as frequently pay a similar price.
    4/ much is made of the support our MPs gave to the government’s policy on students’ fees by our opponents – including the Tories who backed them into this problem. But I don’t recall many members opposing the party’s MPs and candidates support for signing the NUS pledge during the general elections, and most MPs, including all potential leadership candidates to replace Clegg, supported the decision to implement the present government policy. But this problem is not Clegg’s fault alone: it was a future trap caused by the coalition negotiation team fudging the deal on this issue, compounded by the parliamentary party’s decision to accept the Tories’ policy. Indeed, if one Lib Dem cabinet member alone is responsible for the problem, it is arguable that is Vince Cable rather than Clegg, since it was within his departmental portfolio and was obviously going to be a problem from the start.

    There does need to be a debate about the timing of our departure from the government in the run up to next May, and whether Clegg should then be leader in that campaign and likely next coalition with Labour. But don’t let the euro-election result be used as the justification for opening these debates, since it suggests the party as divided and rattled by the euro-elections, whereas we are, or should be, united and determined to get the best deal for the people of the UK, whether at Brussels, Westminster or Holyrood based upon our commitments to the fundamentals of liberal democracy.

  • Ruth Bright 29th May ’14 – 6:24am
    I like what he has said – though perhaps the cheery photo is a bit unfortunate. At least three people in the picture lost their seats and perhaps they might like a bit longer to lick their wounds?

    Ruth,
    I had exactly the same reaction when I saw the photograph. But I am pleased to report that Chris Mains has already “rallied in the in the wake” of his defeat and signed the open letter from LibDems4Change calling on Nick Clegg to stand down.
    Others in the photo or elsewhere can do the same by going to —
    http://www.libdems4change.org/

    It is a most excellent rallying point.
    Hundreds of good Liberal Democrats, activists, councillors, candidates, ordinary grassroots members, the sort of people who are arranging local constituency meetings and others whose name you might recognise as a stalwart of the party or a regular byelection helper have already signed the letter.

  • Caron, a nice try but you are in a fantasyworld. I love this party but the reality is in the words of Nat King Cole:

    “The party’s over
    It’s time to call it a day
    They’ve burst your pretty balloon
    And taken the moon away
    It’s time to wind up the masquerade
    Just make your mind up the piper must be paid

    The party’s over
    The candles flicker and dim
    You danced and dreamed through the night
    It seemed to be right just being with him
    Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
    Take off your makeup, the party’s over
    It’s all over, my friend”

    Change the leader, change the strategy and stop dreaming. The real world has moved far, far away from Lib Dem HQ and its press releases.

  • Bill Le Breton 29th May '14 - 8:48am

    It is a shame that Nick Clegg is using the Oakshott situation to try to tar all those who call his leadership into question as also wishing to Leave the coalition.

    Some, few, may do, so, but the huge majority know that we must stay in the coalition , but change what we try to negotiate within the coalition and have a spokesperson (leader) who gets a fair hearing.

    Smearing those good Liberal Democrats who want a change of leader but not of fundamental strategy is an example of him playing politics and a prime reason why he is so unpopular amongst the people.

  • Sorry, but the more of these threads I read the more dispirited I become….

    It’s still, “Rally round the flag, “The sun will come out tomorrow”, etc……It is clear that Clegg will, unless something untoward happens, lead this party into the 2015 election….SO, might I respectfully ask, “As the electorate has, over the last 4 years, rejected both Clegg and the LibDem message, what makes you believe that keeping the same leader and repeating the same message will have any different effect?”…

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th May '14 - 9:11am

    Nick O’Shea

    This is particularly pertinent given the hugely unpleasant and unpopular though generally recognised as necessary spending cuts the government was forced to implement to address the economic problems it faced on taking office. This is hardly Clegg’s fault either

    No, but the way Nick Clegg from the start has looked so pleased with himself and gone on and on about how wonderful it is to be “in government” hasn’t been helpful in us trying to put across the line that this was a sad necessity, and done necessarily in compromise with the Conservatives, so not always with the priorities we would have given on our own. Also the very clear favouritism which Clegg has given to those on the economic right of the party makes it easier for our opponents to say that’s just an excuse for doing what we (or at least those Clegg chose to promote) wanted anyway. Plus if these spending cuts really were the absolute necessity, perhaps we should not have supported those tax cuts – because those tax cuts the party nationally has been going on about directly contradict the message you’re trying to put here. Plus it doesn’t cover other apparent shifts to the Tory way of thinking that have made many of our supporters unhappy, in particular the large scale reform of the NHS done after the Coalition Agreement said there should not be such a thing.

    But I don’t recall many members opposing the party’s MPs and candidates support for signing the NUS pledge during the general elections, and most MPs, including all potential leadership candidates to replace Clegg, supported the decision to implement the present government policy.

    Most of us accepted what we were told by our party centrally when the manifesto came out that it was “fully costed”. I think we are owed an explanation as to exactly how it was costed, how it was thought it could be paid for when we are told it can’t be paid for now. If (as I hope is the case) it was because it involved tax increases which there was no way the Tories would accept, fine, but I think we need to be open about that, it would greatly help in our defence in the 2015 general election. If it was not really fully costed, then we were told untruths, and that DOES demand resignations from who knew they were untruths.

    Most of us are realists, many have been involved in making budgets at local government level where tightness is even more important because you can’t just borrow money to cover the gap. So I think those of us pushing for this policy to be retained in the manifesto would be perfectly willing to have accepted that it needed to be balanced against what is needed to be done to pay for it, and that in the event of a coalition it may be subject to negotiation. It was not party activists who asked for it to be singled out above all other policies in the manifesto and made the one with a pledge to vote AGAINST something, which can only be interpreted as establishing a “red line” for a future coalition deal.

    Actually, though you say all potential leadership candidates to replace Clegg supported the government policy, I seem to recall Tim Farron, who is often named in this context did not. I have made no secret that I am not a fan of his, but unless I am wrong in this matter, are you suggesting he is not a potential candidate?

  • Stick to the story – ths is exemplary leadership by an outstading candidate – and greatly to be applauded -let’s hope others are reading and taking note.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th May '14 - 9:22am

    Bill Le Breton

    It is a shame that Nick Clegg is using the Oakshott situation to try to tar all those who call his leadership into question as also wishing to Leave the coalition.

    This is something Clegg has been doing continuously for a long time now. I remember him making remarks in an interview in the Independent newspaper at the time of the 2012 party conference where he was conflating these two separate issues. In effect he is saying that he is so perfect that the way he has been handling the coalition situation cannot even be questioned, anyone who says he is not doing a good job must automatically be an opponent of the whole coalition idea in the first place – and thus can be dismissed by arguments in defence of the formation of the coalition, with criticisms of his leadership going with the courtesy of a proper reply.

    It is, of course, perfectly possible to accept that the situation in May 2010 forced us into the coalition, without thereby also accepting the way Clegg has led the party since is the best way it could possibly be led in all aspects.

  • “Clegg – One silver lining of all of this is that people are more aware of great Lib Dem team in government”

    Clegg on his radio show talking about the leadership speculation.

  • Simon McGrath 29th May '14 - 9:26am

    @Gareth “I hope the examples to follow are better than this”
    You mean he should follow your example and write a letter to the Times on behalf of an organisation whose members he hasn’t consulted calling for a debate over who the Party Leader is ?

  • AND THISTIME NEXT WEEK ——– NEWARK
    How many votes will our candidate get 2/3%? Will we just carry on as if everything is really alright?

  • Steve Comer 29th May '14 - 9:29am

    Mike: this is indeed “exemplary leadership by an outstanding candidate.” Maajid Nawaz is impressive and I’ve bought his book to read on holiday this year.

    I only wish we had “exemplary leadership by an outstanding….” Party leader but we don’t and that’s the problem.
    (I could say more, but Bill, but John, theakes, Bill and Matthew have summed up my feelings already).

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th May '14 - 9:31am

    Mike Biden

    Stick to the story – ths is exemplary leadership by an outstading candidate – and greatly to be applauded -let’s hope others are reading and taking note

    Well, it may seem a bit mean-minded in the light of all the positive comments made, but I was a bit concerned to see a PPC admitting he knew almost nothing about our party, how it worked, what motivated its activists, what its achievements are. I’m sure he’s a nice and decent person, but isn’t this how nice and decent people get to the top and then make serious tactical mistakes because they just lack necessary experience in the lower ranks of the party?

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th May '14 - 9:33am

    Me

    with criticisms of his leadership going with the courtesy of a proper reply.

    I meant “without”.

  • Since neither Vince Cable nor Tim Farron look like making leadership bids, who is anyone here suggesting should take over from Nick Clegg and why do they think he or she would do a better job?

    It’s all very well to call for a leader to be deposed, but unless there is a decent replacement, we would quite possibly be going from the frying pan into the fire.

    Sorry to have to keep on making this point, but no-one from the team of Clegg detractors seems to have the slightest inclination to take it on board.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th May '14 - 10:23am

    @ RC,
    Matthew Huntbach or John Tilley because they sound like Liberal Democrats to me.

  • Hi John (Tilley) – libdems4change begin their petition with a reference to a “debt of gratitude” to Nick Clegg. Just can’t bring myself to sign up 4 that.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 29th May '14 - 11:30am

    The response by Maajid Nawaz was similar to many up and down the country. When suffering defeat, get going quickly by thanking your supporters on whom the future can be built.

  • Ruth Bright, my reading was that libdems4change had the sense to recognise the need for a broad appeal and a demonstration that the aim is consensus, not vindictive defenestration. So I put a peg on my nose and signed, suggest you might do likewise!

  • Ruth Bright 29th May ’14 – 11:25am

    Hi Ruth
    I know exactly how you feel.
    If I had written the letter it might have started –
    ” Look Clegg, you got to where you are in government on the back of the long hard slog of generations of local party activists,
    You have had your chance and you have blown it.
    Seven years of repeated failure and misjudgement topped off by the disaster of last Thursday show that you are not up to the job.
    For God’s go,”

    But I guess the more polite version is more acceptable to some. 400 hundred people have signed so far.
    400 is a much larger number than many votes deciding policy at the party conference nowadays – so it is not a insignificant number.
    I would love for you to sign it as well — and understand why you might want to hold your nose whilst doing so. 🙂

    http://www.libdems4change.org/

  • Ruth Bright 29th May '14 - 1:57pm

    David Allen and John Tilley – point taken!

  • Jayne Mansfield
    It is time for a woman leader – and you have a memorable name.

  • David Evershed 29th May '14 - 5:16pm

    Those who wanted a change of leader should turn their anger against Oakeshott. If there ever was a chance of considering a different leader, Oakeshott has ensured there will not be one.

    Having an internal fight over the leadership within 12 months of a general election would ensure a deserved far worse result than otherwise.

  • @David Evershed: What you are arguing is that an utterly irrational motive justifies irrational activity — or, in this case, inactivity.
    This makes sense.
    In Bedlam.

  • ”It is a shame that Nick Clegg is using the Oakshott situation to try to tar all those who call his leadership into question as also wishing to Leave the coalition.“

    Can I ask, where has Nick done this?

  • @RC
    Tim Farron has not ruled out becoming leader to my knowledge. Why do you think he would not stand if Clegg resigned?

  • Tony Greaves 29th May '14 - 11:03pm

    I hope that Maajid Nawaz is able to replace all the votes he has lost us all over the country.

    As for the Clegg Coterie’s disgraceful briefing and personal attacks on people exercising a legitimate and democratic right to call for a change of Leader, it’s what we expect from these Teenybopper Suits who have so little experience of the real world of politics and life outside the Bubble.

    What none of them have is the slightest idea how we get out of the present mess and pending electoral calamity.

    Tony

  • Can people please provide examples of where Nick has personally attacked those ‘exercising a legitimate right to call for a change of Leader?’

    Or where he used the Oakshott situation to try to tar all those who call his leadership into question as also wishing to Leave the coalition?

    If there are specific examples of these actually happening (and I am not saying they haven’t), please provide further information or links to articles about it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th May '14 - 1:28am

    RC

    Sorry to have to keep on making this point, but no-one from the team of Clegg detractors seems to have the slightest inclination to take it on board.

    You keep asking this and we keep giving you a patient explanation of why it is not a good idea to name names. To be honest I think that Clegg’s performance has been so poor that pick anyone at random from the Parliamentary party and you’d get someone who would do a better job. However, what I would most want to see is someone who has a good background in local campaigning for the party and working up through local government, because I think we need someone who really understands how the party works at local level, that would avoid some of the many mistakes made under the Clegg leadership.

    I am pretty sure that Vince Cable does NOT want to become leader of the party, but because he is often put forward as a possibility the press and other commentators keep writing thins up in their usual dramatic way as if there’s some big plot going on. If some relatively unknown Liberal Democrat MP was put forward in the way you suggest as a potential leader, and others thought “yes, that person would do a good job”, we would find everything that person did written up as some sort of devious plan to unseat Clegg. It would damage that person’s chances of becoming leader, the press would call him or her a “backstabber” and all those sort of terms. It is a shame we can’t have a rational discussion on this, but while commentary inevitably goes that way, we can’t.

    So stop keep asking this question, because you have already been told REPEATEDLY that the answer is as given above.

  • @Liberal Al
    Well, actually the personal attacks have been made by the Clegg team on Lord Oakeshott.

    And if the party did not know that Clegg was unpopular, then they need the information.

    For Simon Hughes to talk about people going against “the interests of the party” whilst saying nothing about the fact that Clegg has no plan to turn things around, seems to leave something to be desired. What is Clegg doing to serve the interests of the party?

  • Voter, still no one has actually provided an example of ‘these attacks’ (other than half a quote from Hughes, who appears to voicing his opinion on what is best for the party, not attacking anyone).

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