Independent: “The Lib Dems could steal David Cameron’s seat tomorrow”

Liz LeffmanQuite a story in the Independent:

The Liberal Democrats came fourth last year with just 7 per cent of the vote, but could now leapfrog Labour and Ukip into second place. Normally there are no prizes for political runners-up, but if the Lib Dem candidate Liz Leffman comes a strong second it would give some credence to the “Lib Dem fightback” messages that activists send to each other to keep their spirits up after their crushing defeat in 2015.

It seems that they have noticed the effectiveness of Liz Leffman’s energetic campaign which has firmly established her as the main challenger to the Tories in Witney. Labour are nowhere in the seat – their vote is doing the snow off a dyke thing.

What the Conservatives want more than anything is for people to vote Labour or Green. You can tell this from the almost identically  misleading stories in the Express and the Telegraph.  They give prominent position to a poll putting the Tories 17 points ahead of Labour – but it’s the national monthly ICM poll which has no bearing on what’s happening on the ground in Witney. You have to wonder why they were bothering, given that they expect the by-election to be such an easy Conservative hold.

Now, here’s the rub. The result we get tomorrow will depend on how many people we have working the phones and on the ground tomorrow. The team in Witney have built a tremendous campaign. We have one of the best by-election candidates we have ever had in Liz Leffman. The atmosphere has been good from the beginning. When I was there three weeks ago, people were stopping their cars when they saw us in the street and saying they were voting for Liz. We can’t let all that effort go to waste. We have to make sure that people get out and vote for Liz tomorrow. Polling day is incredibly important.

Alistair Carmichael wrote here about why it is so important that we have enough people there to get the best out of the moment we have built.

If you can, please drop everything and go there. If you can’t go, phone. If events weren’t keeping me very focused on home at the moment, I’d happily travel the 300 miles down there again.

Polling day in big by-elections like this is brilliant. You are exhausted by the end of it, but the atmosphere is tremendous. I remember Dunfermline in 2006 when people were honking their horns at us and giving us the thumbs up in the street. We never expected to do anything other than come a good second, but it felt like a winning campaign.

My first big by-election was Littleborough and Saddleworth. We called in there for a day supposedly on our way to a week’s drive around the Lake District. We enjoyed ourself so much that we decided to stay there. I then went back for a weekend later in the campaign and for the last two days. I was a very nervous driver in those days, and I was petrified when whoever was doing front of house barked at me “Can you drive?” Yes, I said. “See that transit van over there…” as a set of keys was thrust into my shaking hands.

Much later on polling day, after I’d been chased by Labour thugs, I was shattered by about 8pm. I said this in HQ. They handed me a letter. It was all about how we’d lost Richmond by a few hundred votes and how awful that felt.

The Tories will have loads of people there. They even had Theresa May canvassing at the weekend so they know they are in trouble. We need to have even more people on the ground and the phones.

We know that we can get a good result tomorrow. How good depends on you. If you can help Liz and her team cause a political earthquake, volunteer here. If you can’t go, and have Connect access, phone. Like a demon. Let’s turn this thing into something that we will look back on in 20 years’ time and say, with pride, “I was part of that.”



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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Richard Underhill 19th Oct '16 - 11:35pm

    If she wins on Thursday i understand that Liz Lefman will be a full time MP.

  • Matt (Bristol) 20th Oct '16 - 10:38am

    In the deeply wished for and strongly fought for, less improbable than previously, but still arguably improbable event that Liz wins the seat, can I offer the concept of ‘Leffmania’ to any passing journalists looking to write glib headlines?

  • Simon Freeman 20th Oct '16 - 11:56am

    Good luck for today. A Lib Dem win would be terrific but second would be great as well.

  • Barry Snelson 20th Oct '16 - 2:20pm

    Very best wishes for tomorrow. This could well be the first swallow of a LibDem summer.

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