Lessons from Lincolnshire

Elections come and go, but the memories and the camaraderie live on.  The telling of old by-election stories and hearing them re-written over time and years is part of the fun.  But they can also be sad and hurtful.  

It has taken me years to get over the deep personal trauma that I now realise I suffered in the aftermath of years of campaigning to win Hampstead and Kilburn, and the impact of losing on a recount.  And I probably will never fully lose that trauma.  Yet I am sitting here now in the wreckage of a by-election HQ and I’m beaming.

Here in the HQ it’s down to just me and the agent Ian Horner. Even Ada our host has gone shopping, and yet neither of us feel sad.  There is a positive mood about what we achieved and a satisfaction about a job well done.

You all know the result. You had predicted it and over analaysed it before the count had even commenced so I won’t attempt to drag over it again here.  But  let me offer some thoughts that I think are important for the Liberal Democrats, and for me, issues we urgently need to address and tackle.

  1. When you lead a campaign you need to have a network of reliable wise folks whom you like and who are on the end of the phone.  This was core to making sure that I and others had a reality touchstone for decisions at pressured hours.  Step forwards Neil Fawcett, Caron Lindsay and Paul Trollope.
  2. I said to Ross that being a candidate in a pressured environment was one of the roughest, toughest and loneliest things I have ever done.  When the darkness falls and you lie in your bed the reality of the hatred of the other parties and the burden of expectation that lands on your shoulders are heavy indeed. Step forwards Sal Brinton, Jon Neal and Ross’s own Mum.
  3. Making sure it was fun and realising that winning at any price is not acceptable. Self esteeem, respect of others and integrity are essential to carrying on if you lose or delivering if you win.  I was determined that Ross’s campaign was positive, outward looking and inclusive.  For this we had our hosts Pat Coates and Ada Trethewey.  We operated out of their houses and because we got the tone right, I think they would do it again if the need arose.
  4. Ensuring the campaign is inclusive, can grow but also understands that due to circumstances of people’s own lives that they may need to dip in and out of the campaign.  but making it so much fun that they want to stay and push their own priorities aside to step up to the challenge. Step forwards Andrew Hollyer and Chris Stanbra.
  5. Recognising the contribution of those who have gone before and involving their contemporaries who are still active and have something to offer.  Without the work of the late Maurice French or the late David Trethewey we would not have had knowledge to have dipped into and move things forwards today. Step forwards Ada Trethewey, Reg Shore, Lesley Pinchbeck and many many more
  6. The needs of feeding and watering an army, of accessing the stationery and the kit you need urgently is astonishingly well met by the remoting helping culture of Virtual HQs.  The list of contributors is too great to mention but the intermittent and frequent arrival of food and stationery deliveries was very welcome indeed, significant in its costs and quantity and much appreciated.
  7. Political Confidence and having a clear message is important.  Thanks to the 48% Remain campaigners, to Dr David Baker and to my Mum and Dad.  Thanks to them and others we had a message on Europe, On Lincolnshire’s health crisis (which will get worse) and on how Lincolnshire is neglected and taken for granted by the Tories.
  8. Remote working is more and more essential and there were bits of the campaign that were just taken in whole or in part and delivered by others.  You were professional, helpful and a massive hidden addition to the team and its capacity.  Step forwards Adam Williams, Michael Anderson, Robin Rea, Mike Brown and Al Ghaff
  9. Remmebering that not all tears are sad.  I find I cry when I’m sad, when i’m lonely or when i’m happy and with others.  In this election I cried when I missed by best friend the late Neil Trafford, I cried when my best mate came up to help for a few days but had to go home, and Natasha Chapman and I cried with laughter as I clambered up a lampost in Ancaster at midnight in the freezing fog to find I had put the board up the wrong way and had to get it down with no clippers… and as we left the count I cried with joy.
  10. AND FINALLY THE LEGACY.  Too often the by-election machine arrives, does what it knows best and sweeps out of town leaving matters worse than every before.  We were determined to avoid that and sought to make this the biggest, fastest training course ever injected into the middle of Lincolnshire and indeed the East Midlands.  I am determined that there is a posiitve legacy, I think the East Midlands Executive signed up to that, but we have yet to implement it.  The first legacy I have seen was meeting two young activists, seeing their skills, enthusiasm and worth, giving them too much to do, promoting them, supporting them and including them – making them feel safe and then asking others to stand aside and allow these teenagers to the count to secure the next generation. Step forwards two of the most lovely, genuine, hard working activists Darryl Smalley and Oliver Craven (both two more new best friends for me).

So I will leave my lecture there for now.  Other than to say – these ideas are the campaigning that I grew up with.  This is the community politics I read about from Tony Greaves, Tim Swift, Maggie Clay and more.  This is the emotional wealth that past elections give us all, and that I have seen built up by dear and close friends.  And this was a chance to put into play some of my ideas, knowledge and theories.  I’m pleased with what we achieved. I’m proud of the campaign. I will write up my notes and more training plans and lessons. There were also real mistakes, problems and hiccups.  Those I worked through, but also need to address and sort out before others make the same mistake.

For this to happen again, the whole Party, from the Federal to the Local, needs to re-read my points above.  Then, and only then, can we have the courage to admit that election can be fun and inclusive, and that it is not just about the deadline and the macho cultures. That you can work hard and enjoy it, that it doesn’t have to be angry and hasty.  That people who are older or have limited time and capacity can be included. And that understanding the natural rollercoaster of emotions is allowed and perhaps might be encouraged. That we can laugh and we can cry and we can carry on, and perhaps in my own case, come back.

On behalf of Ross Pepper, Ian Horner and Sleaford & North Hykeham, thank you.

* Ed Fordham is a councillor on Chesterfield Borough Council and runs Brockwell Books of Chesterfield, selling many thanks, not least ephemera he bought from Liber Books over the last 25 years.

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  • Richard Underhill 9th Dec '16 - 7:41pm

    Counting agents should note:
    ” … the votes were being counted. It was going to be a close-run thing. The votes piled up in two equal-looking heaps, … given the bad news that he had been defeated. But the returning officer had spoken prematurely. … on the lookout for any irregularity or skullduggery, since they (rightly) suspected that their opponents would do anything to secure victory. At the eleventh hour … electoral agent J. T. Roberts spotted a sheaf of twenty Liberal votes in the Conservative pile. He demanded a recount and the result was overturned. By the skin of his teeth – only eighteen votes …elected to Parliment .”
    The winning candidate was a local solicitor, David Lloyd George.
    ISBN 978-0-00-721949-0 Harper Press 2008, page 109.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Dec '16 - 7:49pm

    Thanks for this report. Another lesson should be that if the Lib Dems want to be a national party then they need to ditch Tim Farron and this idea of a second in-out referendum. The moment to do it should be after the local elections in May.

    Of course, many are not very interested in being a national party, but to those that are, I say Tim’s approach cannot work.

  • clive english 9th Dec '16 - 8:10pm

    eddie seems an odd lesson to draw in the circumstances.
    I have also become very wary of people who say if the Lib Dems want to be a National Party and then say something like we must stop being Liberals, or become orange bookers or sign up to the full free market or adopt the nostrums of the daily malice or whatever is popular and glib this week..
    surely we have learnt by now that selling out what you believe in may win you votes but it does mean you cease to have a reason to exist other than to win votes.
    Anyway getting the potential support of remain and soft Brexit supporters is far from obviously flawed as a strategy, and the alternative which seems to be dither and don’t appeal to either side like Labour does not seem to be a practical approach. and it is hardly plausible for the Lib Dems to compete with the Tories and UKIP for the anti EU vote. Hell even UKIP don’t seem to be able to compete with the Tories for the anti EU vote right now.
    So if we change course now when we finally have some momentum there needs to be very compelling and a very clear reason for doing it. I cant se what that might be.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Dec '16 - 8:13pm

    Eddie Sammon said “they” so presumably he is not one of us.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Dec '16 - 8:26pm

    It’s relevant to the circumstances because the pro-brexit vote in this seat was 67% last night compared with 21.2% for remain.

    Not sure what the positions of the independent candidates were.


  • Eddie Sammon 9th Dec '16 - 8:32pm

    Sorry, I’m not sure whether Labour are pro brexit or remain, I suppose they are kind of pro brexit but not the kind of brexit voters want.

    Anyway, the point remains that Lib Dems will struggle in some areas more than I think is necessary with a different strategy.

  • Eddie – I’d just say that I’m finding it easier to say in a sentence on the doorstep what the Lib Dems are about at the moment – fighting for an open Britain proud to lead internationally – than I have for several years. In particular I didn’t have a clue what the 2015 manifesto was meant to be about, and thought it was a near-impossible sell.

    It’s clearly a risky strategy as it needs plenty of nuance to relate to committed Leavers and there will be some who feel abandoned as a result – in my ward I rely on Leave voters to win so we can’t ignore or belittle. But it feels to me that the party is more purposeful at the moment than in some time; I think this comes across very well in Ed’s reflections.

  • I completely disagree with Eddie Sammon. We are in recovery mode. Tim has found us a USP. We used to try to be all things to all people. Look where that got us under the pressure of the coalition !!! Tim may not be the answer in 5 or 10 years time. He certainly is now.

  • Tony Fisher 9th Dec '16 - 10:51pm

    As the Brexit debacle develops and it becomes clear that we were lied to by the Brexiteers; that we cannot stop free movement and have access to the Single Market; that there will not be £350m per week for the NHS; as the uncertainty causes damage to our economy, then I believe that more people will listen to the Lib Dems’ message.

  • Ed and company deserve a huge vote of thanks for the campaign they ran and Ed’s insistence on leaving a legacy by growing and training local members rather than just wafting in and out was a good strategy.

    It was a fun campaign to help with, something that has been missing in recent years. I enjoyed too reminiscing with Ian Horner about other ‘unfashionable northern by elections’ such as the first one we worked on together in Hemsworth some 20 years earlier.

    As for the result I had said to people in Chesterfield that pushing Labour into fourth would be a good result and putting UKIP into second would have been phenomenally good. Although well supported by the Campaigns Department at a distance and financially, there was a lack of sufficient workers on the ground to make more progress in such a widespread geographical area and from such a low start point as the 2015 result. Up to 1st Dec that was entirely understandable due to Richmond but more helpers over the final week would certainly have pushed us close to and even past UKIP which would have been a media headline well worth working for.

  • Ed – When i read your piece I simply thought – Wow!
    I have no idea who you are (other than what I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks) but you understand 2 words – inspiring motivator.
    You should be proud – (you and all of your team) if what you have done.
    In some ways what you achieved here is every bit as impressive as last week!

  • George Flaxman 10th Dec '16 - 1:50am

    I don’t agree with Eddie Sammon, the current approach is the only game in town. I agree with a 2nd referendum, but I’d be happy even If I didn’t. I never agreed with Charles Kennedy’s stand on the Iraq War, but it worked. We must be distinctive, else there is no point. That is what we currently are. As time goes on support for Brexit will wane.

  • @ Eddie Sammon

    I don’t think there is an MP willing to be leader who is better than Tim Farron at the moment.

    We all should be aware that a 48% strategy cannot last for ever. We should not fight the 2020 general election on a policy of re-joining the EU unless we can keep our existing terms, which is most unlikely.

    The 48% strategy is not one that works everywhere or even in a majority of seats. However if an act of Parliament will be needed to trigger Article 50 and repeal the necessary laws for us to leave the EU, then calling for a second referendum makes some sense. I would be happier with the policy if we had a ruling from the Court of Justice of the EU stating that once started the process of leaving can be terminated at any stage by the country leaving before the two years is up.

    Once this act of Parliament is passed without a second referendum clause then we will need to consider what are the right policies for a non-EU UK and how we can reduce inequalities and provide economic benefits for those who have been left behind.

  • Michael BG
    Agree completely

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Dec '16 - 8:06am

    In defence of Tim Farron, I’ve just witnessed a couple arguing and contemplating divorce party because of brexit. They have a kid too.

    The issue is she is an EU migrant and can’t cope with a possible loss of rights. We’ve said they won’t deport people’s wives and mothers but she’s not satisfied.

    But for me this emphasises the importance of guaranteeing rights for those already here. She’s trying to apply for permament residency and a British passport but she’s struggling. She’s been here over 10 years, paying taxes for the vast majority of it. No criminal record or anything.

  • It seems she has a clear cut case. Why the worry? The problem was not having clear transitional arrangements from 2004. The Lib Dems seem to be sticking up for the EU citizen before those who have been disadvantaged from the EUcentric economic free movement model. Is it because they don’t want to face those people as it’s too uncomfortable ie they’d have to intervene in their own orthodoxy?

    All that needs to happen is to target the British citizens at the sharp end of the labour market intensely intervene with reformed job centre plus initiatives to lift them into quality work with a plan to stop the resentment. If there are too many people that can’t be lifted into such work then it’s pretty obvious there needs to be an end to free movement of Labour and a planned migration system.

  • James> Is it because they don’t want to face those people

    >All that needs to happen
    Who knew it was that simple? Can’t imagine why the (very, very few immigrants) South Wales Valleys are still struggling to recover from the collapse of mining/steel in the 1980s, when clearly the solution is so easy.

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 10th Dec '16 - 8:52am

    Lovely and insightful article Ed.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Dec '16 - 9:07am

    Eddie Sammon : She should stay married and exercise her rights under Article 8 ECHR.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Dec '16 - 9:25am

    Richard, the problem is she worries Theresa May is taking us out of the ECHR.

    There’s not much reasoning with her on this. All we can do is highlight the pressures that talk about migrants as negotiating chips causes and guarantee the residency and anti-discrimination rights.

  • I can retire happy
    What Paul Holmes says
    Holmes cheery and positive – I succeeded

  • Dear Ed. Well Done.
    I must admit when I read this and your previous post I thought ‘this is a guy under a great deal of mental and physical stress’.
    But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
    This by-election was probably more important than Richmond in my opinion. This is the one that can teach us the most lessons.
    Hopefully, once you have dusted yourself off and had a rest you can debrief in more detail to the powers that be. As a party I think we should recognise that we may not have until 2020 to get ready for a G.E.

  • David Evershed 10th Dec '16 - 11:44am

    Thanks Ed for a brilliant article: insightful; practical advice; informative; and caring.

  • paul holmes 10th Dec '16 - 1:37pm

    @Ed Fordham “I can retire happy”. Ed, now you might ruin it!

    If you want I can write about why were so destroyed in recent years that 11% in Sleaford is a good result. Or about my fears of the Lib Dems becoming a one trick (policy) Party trapped in a dead end. Or why I fear the end result of those who are advocating we should concentrate on being a Party of the ‘liberal, educated middle class’. Would that be ‘being miserable and negative’ or would it be being realistic and objective? There were those who between 2010-2015 were criticised for pointing out the Emperors lack of clothes but who were proved correct in the successive electoral disasters of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

    But for now lets live in the moment of 3 good Parliamentary by election results and over 20 Principal Council by election gains. You ran a good campaign in a weak area and have left a good legacy behind. In any case you can’t ‘retire’ because you are moving to live in Chesterfield, 2 streets away from me, next week. We have lots for you to do here so that we can build on the recent Council by election where last month we took a Labour Seat with 67% of the vote.

  • Ed Fordham
    Excellent article. Having a positive approach moves us forward.

    Eddie Sammon
    The referendum was fought on general election lines. It has no legal validity.
    The question should have been formulated properly and all British citizens wherever they are should be given a vote. Why should Irish residents have been given a vote but some British resident abroad not.
    Theresa May won’t last that long. Liberals need to fight to get the full restoration of rights for foreign spouses married to British citizens.

  • Tony Greaves 10th Dec '16 - 5:53pm

    I was enjoying reading this posting (and point number 10 – how important is that!) until I read yet another series of sour interventions from Eddie Salmon. Eddie – please just go away. You are not persuading anyone here.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 10th Dec '16 - 6:45pm

    Tony Greaves, surely Eddie Sammon is entitled to express his views. You are entitled to express disagreement with his views, but you are not entitled to tell him to “go away”. This site benefits from the fact that a wide range of views are represented. We wouldn’t want it to become an echoe chamber, would we?

  • Richard Underhill 10th Dec '16 - 7:17pm

    Eddie Sammon 10th Dec ’16 – 9:25am Surely she understands that the referendum in June 2016 was about the EU and the EU Court of Justice, not the European Court of Human Rights which is under a separate body (of which Russia and Turkey are members).
    Who is her MP? Who are her MEPs?

  • Tony,

    while I don’t agree with Eddie I feel is important his voice is heard, not because I feel he will change his view but because if we retreat into an echo chamber and we only talk to people like us (who ever us is) we become the smaller for it; and we already have far too many narrow minded people in this world.

  • John Peters 10th Dec '16 - 8:19pm

    @Richard Underhill

    Mrs May was in favour or our withdrawing from the ECHR. She abandoned that position when she went for Tory party leadership.

  • Andrew McCaig 11th Dec '16 - 5:37am

    St. Theresa is the most illiberal Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher…

    Do you like her?

  • John Peters 11th Dec '16 - 9:26am

    @Andrew McCaig

    Everything is relative. I like Mrs May much more than I like Messrs Corbyn and Farron.

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Dec '16 - 10:52am

    Thanks to those that have engaged and to Catherine and Frankie for your support.

    Tony Greaves’s comment might have bwen worth a reply from me if he got my name right. It’s not as though either of us are new here.

  • Telling a thought provoking young contributor to LDV that he should go away so we don’t have to engage with him – nice work for Liberalism Lord G.

  • To be fair I thought Eddie’s response to the article was a bit off beam and not very constructive to the article itself. Given the warmth of the reaction to the by-election it’s messaging and impact I’m not entirely surprised he has got short shrift. I’m not dismissing him but he is in the wrong thread for the argument he is advancing

  • Ruth Bright 11th Dec '16 - 5:31pm

    Ed, what you have written is moving and interesting but for Tony to call someone sour – (remembering for instance his response to the Faraday By-election in Southwark in January) pots and kettles come to mind. We had three MPs abstain on the Brexit vote this week. It is not unreasonable or invalid for Eddie to express a view that all in the garden is not lovely however much we might disagree.

  • @ Eddie Sammon
    Eddie – I’ve not been here long, but I do try to listen even if not always agreeing. I was under the impression you were female?
    As people are using both genders here and no one else appears to have the b–ls to ask, Eddie maybe you would clarify?
    PS: I agree with Catherine and others on this one, although not agreeing with Eddie here, I have thought she? has made some good points on other threads since I’ve been following.
    Also, as someone who does think this site is a bit of an echo chamber at times, I agree that sometimes a bit of disruptive influence which makes people think outside of their comfort zone is no bad thing.
    Also, Paul holmes – very interested in your point re the ‘one trick pony’.
    I too as a fellow Northerner (and Derbyshire resident), am very concerned about this too.

    I think the Lib Dem’s need to decide before very long, if they are serious about engaging with the concerns of the electorate up here, or prefer just to build a core vote from south and west of the M25.
    This is I think a serious question for the strategists. I do wonder (apart from Tim obviously, who will be well aware), how many other senior Lib Dems realise the concerns people really have here.
    Hopefully the questiontime last week from Wakefield would have focused a few minds.

    Finally Ed – yes agree Eddie could have been be more positive here and still a massive fan of your communication style which is I believe hugely motivational to very many people.
    I am not surprised the party holds you in high regard.
    Cheers Mike

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Dec '16 - 6:01pm

    To be truthful I hate it when I dominate comment threads too, but I said something quite provocative and people engaged. I’ll try harder to minimise comments per thread.

    Regarding whether it was off-topic or not: I think partly, but partly off comment comments are usually allowed.


  • Eddie Sammon 11th Dec '16 - 7:13pm

    Mike S, no I am not female. This is my real name, not a pseudo. And thanks to Ruth too for the nice words.

    Happy debating.

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Dec '16 - 7:52pm

    Ed Fordham, hi! I’ve just realised thanks to Paul Holmes’ remark that you are moving to Chesterfield that it was you I encountered in a Chipping Norton estate, two days before the Witney by-election, when I helped you to finish delivering there, and then drove you back to Witney through the golden-stone villages that I rhapsodised about afterwards, having a good discussion about poetry and books as we went. So you certainly get about from London, welcome to the north (well, almost!), hope your move goes well, and congratulations on your splendid work in Sleaford and excellent, practical and sensitive article here. It was good to know you had so many helpers and inspirations there: we are a real Lib Dem family.

  • Thanks Eddie – quite obviously age is well and truly catching up with me 🙂

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Dec '16 - 11:54pm

    Thank you to Catherine , Ruth , others defending Eddie and criticising His Lordship , you and most ,real Liberal colleagues , the comments from Lord Greaves are a comment too far ! For him of all people , the Albert Steptoe of Liberal politics, to call anyone sour, is already hilarious ! For it to be Eddie ,a constructive and polite contributor, is preposterous !To basically tell someone where to go , to put it more than mildly , in any context, is wrong , on here ,outrageous. Maybe he has a sense of humour…? I totally understand he does not want rain on the parade Ed has stated or developed in this excellent article however, as Lord Greaves must be pleased with the words about the genuine good in community politics , whether of the seventies , or , differently , now.

    But , a Ruth so well describes , and Paul alludes to , there is more to politics than one view , Brexit ,is one subject, and some are not very accomadating of a variety of views , and that is a problem.

    I know there is a core of leftwing Liberals ,of a certain age, and nearly always male , who are more like socialists for a smaller , ” liberaler “, state, than maybe ,Eastern Europe circa 1960, yet somehow , whose “red guard ” opinions thrill nostalgists , but most of us , even of the Nick and Tim generation, like some of us , let alone the youth , have moved on ! We actually rather like debate amongst friends . Even when not of the same view , in a hissy fit ,better to throw the toys out of the pram ,or get out of it ,than push another out !

    I disagree with Eddie about Tim Farron , who I want to continue as leader a good number more years. But I defend Eddie’s right to say what he thinks ! That is what Liberalism is all about !

    On the other hand Eddie could always play Harold Steptoe . It is Christmas. All in good fun, eh ?!

  • suzanne fletcher 12th Dec '16 - 12:05am

    thank you Ed for all you did, and the legacy you leave. I so agree with your points, thank you again.

  • Simon Freeman 12th Dec '16 - 7:24am

    I think the main lesson is that if you come out and take a principled stand on things not everyone will agree with you. The important thing is to have a clear line. If the Liberal Democrats are a centrish/leftish/ideally stay in EU but will accept soft-brexit then that is the kind of person they will appeal to-ie people like me. You won’t get the support of my anti-European socially conservative friend who won’t vote for anyone as things stand.
    The odd thing is we were were both members of the Alliance-me SDP, my friend a Liberal, then both members of the LibDems. Both left for different reasons at different times. Now we seem to be on opposite sides of the new political divide.

  • Ed’s point 10 is perhaps the most important, at least for the local party concerned. After our by-election 17 years ago I was warned about the aftermath by Tony Greaves. He was right and we ended up with a number of problems which could have destroyed us.
    It took a while to recover, but in the end we had a stronger local party.

  • Ed – That’s a fantastic article, and you are a fantastic asset to this party.
    I’m sorry that you’ve had problems coming to term with your experience in Hampstead & Kilburn – but how brave of you to talk about that, and I’m sure lots of our other ‘near-miss’ candidates will identify. It was pretty clearly H&K’s loss, I’d say!
    Your 10 messages are interesting and I hope the party takes them to heart (I like #10 especially). But overall, I think the party owes you a big debt here for taking on what frankly seemed like a pretty grim task, and actually turning it into a very positive experience/result. So thankyou!

  • Sandy Walkington 12th Dec '16 - 1:07pm

    A brilliant helicopter view of what was an excellent looking campaign, I’m sorry I was not able to come. As agent at the Cambridge by-election in the 1970s much of this resonates! Onwards and upwards.

  • Mark Goodrich 13th Dec '16 - 12:33am

    Bit late on this but three things:

    1. Fantastic article, Ed. You may have missed out in Hampstead & Kilburn but I have a feeling that you have many more successes to come.

    2. I absolutely think that our current line on Brexit is the right one – both in principle and electorally. A few years ago, I somewhat randomly saw Lady Gaga in concert. She related how she was initially told that she was a niche act. Then looked out at the huge crowd and said: “Pretty big [expletive] niche”. Remainers, Leavers who have realised that they were sold a pup, new younger voters who didn’t get the chance – that’s our niche and it is a pretty big one. It helps that these people should also be attracted to a range of our other policies.

    3. Labour finished 4th because they are not speaking to anyone clearly. I fear for their prospects unless they get some kind of policy that they can unite round. (Ironically, their best bet might be a second referendum on the deal but I can’t see that happening).

  • Did the announement by the Electoral Commission the day before polling day have any effect on the result ? I would have expected a higher percentage for the Liberal Democrats despite the best efforts of the BBC to promote UKIP and ignore us.

  • nvelope: not just the BBC and it is continuing.

  • I suppose that under Farron’s leadersip the party will have to change its name to the Lib Undems.

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