Lib Dems seize election initiative – calling for pre-Brexit poll on 9th December

The Observer’s Michael Savage reports tonight that the Liberal Democrats have a plan to allow Boris Johnson a pre-Christmas election. But it would mean that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be taken forward by the next Parliament. Or maybe not. If the Lib Dems win a majority in a December 9th poll, PM Jo Swinson would revoke Article 50.

If the Conservatives lost the election, there would almost certainly be a majority for a People’s Vote so either  way the path to stopping Brexit once and for all would be clear.

This plan is great because it means that Boris Johnson can’t accuse us of being scared of an election. Why would we be when we have the chance to make the biggest gains in our existence?

It also shows up the so-called official opposition who have been less than pro-active in trying to find a way out of this mess.

See Michael Savage’s Twitter thread here.

Update: Here is Jo’s official comment:

Boris Johnson has missed his ‘do-or-die’ deadline and is now asking Parliament to give him a General Election and time for him to ram through his Brexit Bill through Parliament. That is a bad deal, and Liberal Democrats will not vote for it.

We need to get Boris Johnson out of office, unlock the gridlock in Parliament and give people the chance to vote to stay in the EU. A general election on our proposed timetable would take no-deal off the table, and give the public the chance to elect a Liberal Democrat Government who will revoke Article 50 or increase the number of MPs who support a People’s Vote.

The Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain and have led the campaign to stay in the EU for the last three years.

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  • This is clever. I like it. I was beginning to wonder why we had disappeared off the radar this week, but clearly this was being worked on behind the scenes.
    I know there will be people on here who will criticise it, but I think it would be really great if we all went out there to bat for it in the next few days, in conversations both real and digital. As I type this, our opponents will be attacking it and setting the narrative. Let’s for once go out and set the narrative ourselves: As Labour dither and the Tories pout, the LibDems have come up with a clever, sensible way forward to break this dreadful impasse. We’ve given Remainers a chance to stop Brexit (by voting LD in the election, per our pledge to revoke if we win it).

  • Absolutely looking forward to an election before xmas, lets once and for all get a real idea of what the public is thinking instead of all this speculation.
    Mind you if the polls are anything to go by then the Liberal Democrats are actually losing ground so I think that the claim “This plan is great because it means that Boris Johnson can’t accuse us of being scared of an election. Why would we be when we have the chance to make the biggest gains in our existence?” is being rather optimistic.
    Still it is the right thing to do, so lets get on with it

  • If Johnson can ram through Brexit and then hold an election on his chosen date of 12th December, how can Swinson be certain that he couldn’t rush through Brexit ahead of her proposed election date of 9th December, only 3 days earlier?

  • David Becket 26th Oct '19 - 11:04pm

    This does not look a good idea.

    A likely outcome is a Boris majority, a possible no deal and five years of Patel.\

    Lib Dem campaigns rely on a lot of door knocking and delivery, December is not a good time. We reduce our slim chances of winning.

    It smacks of playing party politics

    Let the Scrutiny of the bill go ahead, press amendments including a peoples vote.

    Who is doing the strategic thinking in this party?

  • Nom de Plume 26th Oct '19 - 11:10pm

    Also available from the Evening Standard.

    I agree with their approach. I hope Tusk gives them their extension before Monday, so that Labour have one less excuse to hide behind, and that they get the amendment to the election date they want (I also don’t trust Johnson). Good luck.

  • Venetia Caine 26th Oct '19 - 11:18pm

    Could you explain please? The polls indicate the Tories would have a majority. Which means they would be free to implement the hardest Brexit possible, including no deal. On the face of it this plan looks nuts.

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Oct '19 - 11:21pm

    What on earth? What possible advantage to us or the country is there in having a pre-Christmas election at all. when the most likely result judging by the polls is for Boris Johnson to be returned with a majority, enabling him to go on wrecking the country? Whereas if the alliance against him can fix the Parliamentary procedures to go on processing the Withdrawal Bill, there are good chances that amendments, for instance on proposing to stay in the EU customs union, will be passed and lead to the Bill being withdrawn or defeated.

    We, unlike the SNP, can have no advantage in trying to short-circuit the proceedings. Let the General Election be deferred to the spring, when proper campaigning and door-stop calling can duly take place. The EU will surely agree to an extension for proper purposes, of thoroughly considering the Bill, and following that with a referendum if it is passed, or an election if it is not, when the lighter nights return.

  • Venetia Caine 26th Oct '19 - 11:43pm

    Private constituency-by-constituency polling saying something not obvious from general polling?

  • Very interesting.

    It should be a no-brainer for the Tories to accept this but I wonder if those Tories with collywobbles about facing LibDem, SNP and Brexit Party challengers will be able to get behind this proposal. Their response will be telling.

  • The plan is great? The plan is complete, total and utter folly. The electorate will not thank any party for getting in the way of Christmas, poor weather tends to diminish progressive turnout, the SNP want an election now because they want to wipe everyone else out north of the border – and they want Boris in Downing St for another 5 years.

    Parliament was elected just two years ago to deal with Brexit, and a divided nation returned a divided Parliament. If the Tories win an election with just 1 seat majority all sorts of right wing claptrap will be built into the treaty and will have the effect t if undoing up to 49 years of progress. The fact that the country is impatient and MPs tired do not constitute reason enough to dissolve Parliament after just two years!

    Apart from all of that, we were the party behind the FTPA.


  • This looks an awful lot like putting party before the interests of the nation as a whole. The Lib Dems would obviously like an election where the big issue is going to be the unresolved BREXIT. However this is unlikely to suit all the other members of the strange coalition which is currently preventing a ‘no deal’ BREXIT. Unilateral initiatives weaken that coalition. Suppose Labour were to say to itself – if (thanks to the Lib Dems) we are going to have an election in December anyway we might as well have it on 12 December after the withdrawal act has been settled – then we can have an election on the NHS, universal credit, etc, etc. So let us defeat the Lib Dem’s proposal by agreeing to vote for Boris’s proposal of an election on 12 December.

  • chris moore 27th Oct '19 - 7:27am

    Jackm 27th Oct ’19 – 12:42am. The electorate will not thank any party for getting in the way of Christmas,

    I honestly thought that Christmas was on the 25th.

  • Arnold Kiel 27th Oct '19 - 7:32am

    Johnson, his cabinet, his policies and his WA are dreadful. The key question to me is: will more voters realise this with time? I would think so: apart from the fact that his deal cannot stand up to proper scrutiny, a deteriorating economic climate over the winter plays into the hands of the opposition. High-street is already in trouble, holiday shopping will be subdued, construction will seasonally weaken while investment, employment and the pound will continue to trend down. No Brexit-deal would change any of this, btw. No wonder the Chancellor is suppressing the latest OBR-numbers. They must be forced to the open before Parliament is dissolved. On balance, I would play a longer game.

    Furthermore, the currently contemplated 31 January prolongation is insufficient for most remain-scenarios (except the outright LibDem majority) to play out. If Monday ends inconclusive, EU-members should offer at least 30 June with early termination upon ratification of a WA. This would kill the entire Johnson-project: no-deal and the illusion of transition ending 2020 would be gone. There would be time for a spring-GE and a referendum. He would stand empty-handed, and a ready target for the opposition.

  • Roger Billins 27th Oct '19 - 7:41am

    I agree that this is reckless. If the polls are to be believed a general election will produce a large Tory majority and unless the campaign changes things we will be stuck with Johnson for 5 years and a hard Brexit. The only hope is in history. The last two winter elections-1923 and 1974 were bad news for the government although, in each case, leas to a Labour government.

  • Blimey – that’s a roll of the dice. As others have said, doesn’t a December election favour parties with lots of money to spend on advertising and social media bot armies, over those that rely on door knocking and leaflet delivering? I don’t doubt our activists will put the effort in, but people are less happy to open their doors to strangers when it’s dark, and damp leaflets are a bugger to get through letterboxes.

    Doesn’t this all hang on Macron giving in and the EU granting an extension at least into January?

  • I also am a bit baffled. But maybe the calculation is that the failure of Mr Johnson to deliver Brexit by 31 October 2019 (did he specify the year?) will energise the Brexit party, cutting into Conservative gains.

  • Panicos Georgiou 27th Oct '19 - 8:00am

    We need an election now. Parliament is deadlocked we need to have the courage of our conviction and believe that the Tories will not win. A Brexit election gives us the greatest opportunity Liberals have had in a century our message is clear

  • Richard Underhill 27th Oct '19 - 8:07am

    BBc reports that Boris has said no.
    DUP conference without Boris, Arlene Foster says Boris on the “naughty step” twice.
    “If he wants DUP support he must renegotiate.”

  • Boris Johnson wants a december election…He wanted one last week, this party didn’t.

    What has changed? Is it just me or is this a gamble that could see ‘Brexit’ passed on a single Tory seat with an all time low mid-winter GE turnout?

  • Richard Underhill 27th Oct '19 - 8:34am

    Labour should not think that the gains in seats and majorities that happened in 2017 will happen again. They should accept that Theresa May got it wrong and that Boris would be different.
    Firstly because she did not want the election to be all about her, whereas Boris has repeated the mantra that “all publicity is good publicity”.

  • I may not be a deep political thinker but it seems to me that a December (hopefully) pre-Brexit election is giving the Tories their best shot at getting what they want – An increased majority.
    Social media is no fun at all right now with a lot of “Yellow Tory” and “Oh look, after another coalition with the Tories again are we?” flak being thrown at LibDems.
    Napoleon famously said “Never interrupt ones opponent when he is making a mistake…” and I think letting the PM bluster and flail around is doing us more favours than getting him out on the campaign trail where (sadly) he seems to do well.

  • Bill le Breton 27th Oct '19 - 8:58am

    Another smart plan from the new and audacious leadership.

    We win both ways, whether Johnson accepts or retreats. Johnson is weak and fundamentally a coward. Always thought the accusation of weakness should be our sword issue in any coming campsign.

    The next election whenever fought will be more about keyboards and phones than doorsteps. And don’t underestimate the qty of money coming into us recently and during a campaign . Think electronic. Think abouT who our new voters will be.

    Finally our campaign must be for TOTAL CHANGE.

  • Alex Macfie 27th Oct '19 - 9:48am

    Those who say a December election will lead to a Johnson majority government, based on present opinion polls, are assuming (1) that the polls will stay as they are during an election campaign, and (2) that we’ll have something approaching uniform national swing. We know that in 2017 that assumption (1) was way off the mark, and (2) didn’t really apply either, as there were seat exchanges in both directions between the Tories and Labour. In a near-future election, it would be Lib Dems taking seats off the Tories over Brexit, and the Tories would have to rely on getting sufficient seats from Labour in Leave-voting traditionally safe Labour areas to make up for those losses. The Brexit Party is a wildcard, which is unlikely to win many seats, but which would take votes mostly off the Tories.
    Leave voters are certainly likely to support the “Get Brexit done” line, but where I live (North Kingston) the main message on the doorstep seems to be “Get Brexit stopped”.

  • @chrismoore – would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. You think businesses will enjoy sharing lucrative Xmas advertising with politicians? That they won’t mind their catalogues and flyers getting lost amongst the (damp) political avalanche of the same. That all they need now is to lose sales during the golden quarter? You maybe haven’t been into a shop, school, old folks home or anywhere else in the UK in the second week of December before. It’s not like anyone has anything else they’d (probably rather) need to think about. And of course the climate is great at that time of the year, it being of course a whole two and a bit weeks from the shortest day. What a joy canvassing, leafleting and being canvassed will all be!

    Seriously if this is anything other than a big gamble to make labour look ponderous I don’t see it. It reminds me too much of 1979, when the small parties were goaded into voting down Callaghan and force an election (the famous original turkeys voting for Christmas, albeit that time in the spring).

    It is clever politics by the SNP who want to take out everyone north of the border (which would include our leader btw) and face the Scots with 5 more years of alien Tory rule … thereby giving their leader her excuse to demand another Indyref before the end of the year, as she has promised.

    Parliament was elected only two and about years ago, and it was doing its job well (as defined by not letting reckless legislation through) because it is hung. With Johnson on 40% and the Brexits on another 10, how is it likely that the result of this won’t be a small majority Tory government (but short of its expelled moderates) that will do as it likes for 5 years … and having bought into the fiction that what we need is an election, and brought this on our own heads, what do we do then?

  • Jackm:

    “With Johnson on 40% and the Brexits on another 10, how is it likely that the result of this won’t be a small majority Tory government”

    Clearly you didn’t read my comment (possibly because of the moderation). You are assuming uniform national swing, which is simply not going to happen. The Tories are likely to lose seats to the Lib Dems in Remain areas, and this could well be enough to deny the Tories a majority, whatever the national poll ratings. And, of course, Theresa May was going to win a landslide victory right up until the exit poll came out after polls had closed in 2017.
    As for the Brexit Party, it’s going to take votes mostly from the Tories. Unless the Tories and Brexit Party have an electoral pact (unlikely, and if it did happen then it could cause even further bleeding of moderate Tory support), its main effect will be to prevent the Tories from winning seats necessary to gain an overall majority.

  • I have been arguing for some time that the longer the Elction is delayed, the better but Macron put a spoke in that; he seems serious about cutting the Extension to a few Weeks unless The UK have a specific proposal. The new Libdem/SNP plan is that proposal, an Election & an Extension to give any New Parliament time to decide.
    This is a very High-Risk proposition but there are no Low-Risk options; thats the nature of the present crisis.

  • Charles Pragnell 27th Oct '19 - 11:33am

    I really think this is knee jerk thinking from Jo Swinson, and the only beneficiary to having an election on 9th would be a SNP surge, that would also endanger all our MPs north of the border. So much now depends on the EU! I don’t think the French will do us any favours.
    I think Jo is being very naive , no deal needs to be off the table before any election is called.
    I also do not think it did us any favours abstaining in the health vote, we play into the hands of Labour, and accusations of Orange Tories.
    Before any election is called we have a plan B ,if the deal is passed. Such as a strong radical Liberal manefesto.
    I run a horticultural business in Scotland, and the long range weather forecast is for a harsh Winter.
    Any election in December in the North runs the risk of bad weather. I foresee and election where results take a couple of days to come in. Due to difficult conditions in large rural seats. The party will have to push for postal voting too counteract such weather.

    Also it is the tradition that elections are held on Thursdays, so having an election before 12 is unlikely as the 9th is on a Monday!

    Also due to Christmas , how would a Queens speech be fitted in before Christmas. As Christmas recess fills the Friday before Christmad. So a Queens speech would have to be in January.

  • Sue Sutherland 27th Oct '19 - 12:53pm

    Like Bill le Breton I think this is an audacious move and hope along with Venetia Caine that private polling is with us. Jo is making a brave move, but a calculated one and keeping us in the public eye whether Johnson agrees or not. We don’t have power in parliament so we must do what we can to change circumstances to being more favourable for a second referendum and ultimately revocation.
    In the meantime more information is being given about the long drawn out process of renegotiating deals with the EU and the rest of the world. I think more voters will be swayed towards Remain by this mind numbing process and some Brexiters will be gobsmacked that this is what Leave means. The once great British lion going cap in hand to every other nation, begging for a few scraps to keep us from going hungry. This is not taking back control.
    I’d also like to say that there is something happening in politics that I haven’t seen since I first joined in the 80s. We are getting tremendous swings in a lot of places where we are working. This isn’t showing up on national polls but we are welcome as an alternative to Brexit loving parties who are getting the country into a worse and worse mess.
    Jo is trying to take advantage of this so let’s get behind her and get positive.

  • John Marriott 27th Oct '19 - 12:55pm

    Where is ‘Brenda of Bristol’ when you need her? Jo Swinson didn’t give that reassuring a performance on the Andrew Marr Show. As I said on another thread, there are obviously enough turkeys still around who are looking forward to immolation before Christmas.

  • Bill le Breton 27th Oct ’19 – 8:58am…..Another smart plan from the new and audacious leadership. We win both ways, whether Johnson accepts or retreats. Johnson is weak and fundamentally a coward. Always thought the accusation of weakness should be our sword issue in any coming campsign………………………..

    I completely disagree. Boris Johnson is currently running a rather successful ‘Man of the people’ campaign. Boris Johnson has been calling for a december election ( who helped him get it will be ‘lost in the noise’) and ‘I did it my way’ will be his anthem.
    The election will be just six weeks away; far too short a time for ‘Get Brexit done’ to have lost enough appeal to cost him any non remain votes.

    I have refrained from likening the whole ‘Brexit’ saga to a game but this seems, at least to me, to be raising the stakes on a rather weak hand.

  • Sandra Hammett 27th Oct '19 - 2:17pm

    I foresee choppy waters ahead. We have left certain questions unanswered which has provided significant ammunition for our opponents.
    The Tories will attack us with asking for an EU referendum but not being prepared to deliver (the offensive is already underway see Norman Lamont on Question Time and James Cleverly on Marr).
    Labour will attack us on the Coalition’s impact, austerity etc and for going after Revoke which would further polarise.
    The SNP will attack for wanting a second EU because it didn’t go our way but holding out on a second independence referendum even though circumstances have changed. (This alone may cost Jo Swinson her seat.)

    My election prediction: we take 25 seats (maximum) and Chuka Umunna LibDem leader by this time next year.

  • Insane idea.

    Johnson is squirming; in trouble with his own soft-Brexit ,Benn Act supporting MPs for refusing to submit his WAB for scrutiny and the Lib Dems come like a knight in yellow armour to his rescue?

    Does anyone have any longer term strategic vision or foresight in the party?

    How is a few more seats under a Johnson majority going to prevent or mitigate Brexit?

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Oct '19 - 5:47pm

    I agree with the (unknown till now) Jackm – this plan is folly. A polling expert suggested that even 8% advantage in the polls could be enough to give Johnson a majority, so it’s hardly likely that any combination of Opposition will defeat him on a 16% lead.

    Moreover this idea is likely to make us as divided as the two largest parties. It would be good if Jo consulted her parliamentary colleagues before speaking for us all! Maybe a winter election has no fears for city dwellers, whether in Edinburgh or London, but Alistair Carmichael, with the UK’s most northerly rural constituency, was quoted in Saturday’s Guardian as saying “one week of bad weather turns your calendar on its head”, while Tim Fallon, our MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, remarked that his constituency had been hit by three severe floods at this time of year in the past 15 years, and that “I like elections but there’s an enormous risk given the time of year that it could be disrupted. ” The Guardian article showed how a December election could be very much of a logistical nightmare.

  • Ross McLean 27th Oct '19 - 7:15pm

    To all those who are attacking this proposal and saying we should delay an election until well into next year, I do hope you are certain that Johnson won’t get his Brexit deal through before then, or that the EU won’t get fed up and stop granting us extensions – in which case it’s No Deal.
    You all don’t need to worry though – Johnson and Corbyn have both rejected the proposal today. It may occur to some of you to wonder why.

  • @ Paul Walter “Do you have evidence that she didn’t consult parliamentary colleagues before this announcement?”

    ….. And do you, Paul, have any evidence that they were consulted ?

    Given that, apart from Devon & Cornwall, l sunset is before 4.00 pm in the rest of the UK – and before 3.00 pm in the northern most Lib Dem held seat) there is a very grave doubt about the size of the turnout….. and difficulties for those voting, organising and campaigning in an election.

    The announcement of 9 December is ill judged for a host of reasons. It would be far better to let the Prime Minister take the blame for calling an unpopular election date.

  • Richard Underhill 27th Oct '19 - 8:24pm

    Alex Macfie 27th Oct ’19 – 9:48am
    “seat exchanges in both directions between the Tories and Labour”
    also Tories to and from Brexit,
    These undercurrents can leave a net zero change on the topline of the opinion polls.
    Journalists on BBC Southeast have interviewed a Brexit supporter who was previously in the Revolutionary Communist Party for more than a decade. He said that the biggest issue in the Brexit party is that they are NOT MEMBERS.
    We know that the Brexit party is a business and should say so much more often.
    Even the Tories elect their leader nowadays and have done so since Edward Heath, a carpenter’s son on an organ scholarship was elected by Tory MPs.

  • Richard Underhill 27th Oct '19 - 8:29pm

    Paul Walter 27th Oct ’19 – 6:57pm
    Green Party co-leader/s were consulted, but declined to be involved (Andrew Marr Show)

  • Ross McLean 27th Oct '19 - 8:54pm

    If this party’s criteria for policies is ‘they must be good if Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn don’t like them’ then heaven help it.
    This isn’t a policy, it’s an idea about strategy. But actually, as a general principle I do think joint Corbyn/Johnson opposition to something is a pretty good recommendation for that thing. I’m surprised that’s controversial in here.
    BTW..Channel 4 news reported that “No.10 are looking at the deal”
    James Cleverly and Nikki Morgan both rejected it on TV this morning. If Cummings and Johnson are going to accept it now, that just makes the Tories look as split as Labour.
    If Boris Johnson decides he’ll adopt it, what then?
    Then, great. I do genuinely think it is a good idea. Certainly the best option we have at the moment, both to stop Brexit and to increase our number of MPs. The ‘do nothing’ approach you are all suggesting is fraught with danger. The more time this stalemate continues, the more chance BJ will get his Brexit through, or that Macron will win the argument in the EU to just stop granting extensions. At least the election now gives Remain a chance to mobilise the public vote. Risky? Yes, but less so than the status quo.

  • Paul Barker 27th Oct '19 - 9:18pm

    We have to remember that the current Deal did pass its 2nd Reading, do we want to risk it going further ? As long as Johnson is PM the threat of No-Deal hovers over us, the idea of a Temporary Administration is dead so an Election remains as the only way to (possibly) remove the Danger.
    Polling suggests that an Early Election is overwhelmingly popular, a measure of the frustration many feel, its time to call Johnsons bluff.

  • Chris Leeds 27th Oct '19 - 9:27pm

    An election before Brexit is resolved is a huge risk. There’s no denying that.

    The trouble is that the alternative is just as big a risk. All the talk of the Remainer HoC is nonsense. The centre of gravity there is soft Brexit, but that can’t find its voice, so if the deal goes through its stages, Johnson’s deal is likely to prevail. A Peoples’ Vote amendment is highly unlikely. A Customs Union is possible, but probably not. Even if either of those happened, Johnson would go for a GE rather that accept that.

    Much as I hate the risk of an early GE, it’s the least worst option. We can campaign to stop Brexit in its tracks. If the deal goes through first, we’ll be agonising about whether to campaign for re-entry or for as soft a Brexit as possible. The electorate won’t then see us as anywhere near so relevant as we are now.

    However much it goes against our instincts, mine too, rolling the dice and making our case without hesitation is our only viable option.

    We’ll be devastated if we lose, but no less devastated if we allow Johnson’s deal through without giving ourselves the chance of killing it at a GE.

  • This would be handing Brexit to Johnson on a plate, just at the point where things might finally be moving in the direction of a second referendum. I realise that this might be in the narrow party interests, but what is the point in having, say, 50 Lib Dem MPs if the Tories end up with 350+ and can ram through whatever Brexit and long-term trade arrangement they want?

    We are currently at peak-Boris. That will subside as people realise he is all bluster and has failed to deliver his promises. A couple of winter political crises (as always happens) will add to that.

    The opposition parties all need to continue working together to ensure that the next PM is not a Conservative, as that is the only realistic route to a second referendum and stopping Brexit. That means choosing an election date that works for ALL the opposition parties (inc. Labour) and not simply giving Johnson his get out of jail free card now.

  • The bad news is that Electoral Calculus currently predicts a Tory overall majority of 58 seats, based on a 9% lead in polls earlier this month (and the Tory lead has risen since then). The “good” news is that EC predicts 31 Lib Dem seats, so if EC has got it right, we would gain an extra 12 spectators to be paid an MP’s salary for the privilege of watching Johnson push through as hard a Brexit as he liked.

    Nevertheless, there are quite a lot of Lib Dems posting above who think they should push for that election as early as possible. I can see only two possible explanations:

    (1) Lib Dems are eternal optimists. They believe that huge numbers of voters are in an undecided mood, ready to change their minds about Brexit. They trust that the Lib Dems will surge during the campaign. They also think Corbyn will show an ability to walk on water and close the massive gap with the Tories, because that is also essential if Johnson is to bedenied an overall majority.


    (2) Some Lib Dems don’t truly much care about what happens over Brexit, provided the Lib Dems can gain a few seats. After all, a national disaster of a Brexit would itself be a great springboard for further Lib Dem advance in the years to come, wouldn’t it?

  • Geoff Hale wrote: “Social media is no fun at all right now with a lot of “Yellow Tory” and “Oh look, after another coalition with the Tories again are we?” flak being thrown at LibDems.”

    – I’ve been thinking, that maybe the Lib Dems should begin to use again the name “Whigs” as an unofficial shorthand of the party. After all, Lib Dems are the legitimate heirs of the Whig party, and everybody knows, that Whigs aren’t Tories, because Whigs and Tories were opposed to the other.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Oct '19 - 11:30pm

    Thanks, David (7.39 pm). Paul, it would seem rather unlikely that Alistair Carmichael’s opinion was taken into account, as he faces the prospect of a winter campaign in the 34 inhabited islands of his Orkney and Shetland constituency. Is he still Chief Whip? Did he not suggest, possibly, that this plan is a gift to the Scots Nats if not to Johnson himself (cue more ‘Yellow Tories’ slurs) and of no advantage to ourselves?

    Realistically, I understand we have about 80 target seats, the ones that activists will be directed to help in – including those of our sitting MPs; and the only one in Cumbria is Tim Farron’s. Who is going to work in the other 120 seats we airily talk of taking? Stick to the Christmas preparations, friends, and forget this daft idea. The Brexit deal needs to be worked on by the anti-Johnson alliance, and good amendments passed; let’s go on till we achieve calling the referendum that the country deserves.

  • Bill le Breton 28th Oct '19 - 7:53am

    People should read Alex Macfie’s two comments above. Any system that projects polls across our countries uniformly are not worth the both of reading. Any system that does not factor in the influence of Brexit Party votes … ditto. (These will not just be Tory voters, they will diminish the Labour vote too). If people do want a better source, they should refer to the work of Giles Wilkes has been doing – see Freethinking Liberal.

    Those who do not factor in differential turn-out will also err in their predictions. Imagine a Brexit voter, then imagine a Remainer. Give me a rough guess on their percentage chances of voting with a postal vote or by getting to a polling station? Remainers will vote come snow or wind or earthquake.

    Johnson is not going to get a majority. We are going to stop him. We the Liberal Democrats. Hear this. But only if there is a general election before a deal is done (or the far less likely ‘no deal’)

    If you want to have negative thoughts, OK. Think them and then as penance send your local Party £100s. Every time you have a negative thought send another £100.

    You want to stop Brexit? Well this is it! Stop moaning and fight.

  • @ Paul Walter. Thanks for your response, Paul. Whatever one may or may not assume about who was or wasn’t consulted, one thing is pretty clear from this thread : the notion of an election on 9 December has not aroused great enthusiasm amongst the lower ranks.

    It’s also clear to me that it suits the SNP to have an election on 9 December – a few weeks before the political embarrassment of the former First Minister Alex Salmond’s full trial opens in Edinburgh in January.

  • I loved your comment, Bill le Breton. We are currently drifting towards a soft Brexit with the continuing possibility of a no-deal at the end of the transition. An early election offers the only realistic chance to stop Brexit for good. So let’s unleash our activists and messaging on those target Tory seats and do everything we can to deny Johnson his majority. It’s certainly risky but there comes a time to stand up and be brave.

  • “Private constituency-by-constituency polling saying something not obvious from general polling?”

    The party has been in that place before!

  • Bill le Breton 28th Oct ’19 – 7:53am,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Those who do not factor in differential turn-out will also err in their predictions. Imagine a Brexit voter, then imagine a Remainer. Give me a rough guess on their percentage chances of voting with a postal vote or by getting to a polling station? Remainers will vote come snow or wind or earthquake………………………

    That is not my impression….OK, it’s a survey of only around 30 people BUT all those ‘Leavers’ I know are determined to ‘get it done’ and more than a few ‘Remainers’ feel the same (Brexit fatigue?). I’d suggest that, of my sample group, the turn out would be about 2 to 1 in favour of ‘I’ll vote just to get it over and done’

    As for your……”Johnson is not going to get a majority. We are going to stop him. We the Liberal Democrats. Hear this. But only if there is a general election before a deal is done (or the far less likely ‘no deal’)”,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    I’ve heard of “5 a day” but is this one of your “six impossible things before breakfast?”

  • Anthony Acton 28th Oct '19 - 9:17am

    This Parliament is not going to vote for a second referendum any time soon and probably will never do so. Meanwhile every delay increases the risk of an accidental no deal when the EU finally runs out of patience. A GE will give the people a clear choice – Tories for Brexit or LibDems for Remain. Seems like the best option left to Stop Brexit.

  • expats: Except that it won’t be “done”, because then there would then be the UK’s future relationship with the EU to decide. Ironically the best way of moving the political debate away from Brexit would be to stop it altogether. The Brexiters would still be around, and still campaign for Brexit, but they wouldn’t be able to do much about it in the short term.

    And an election campaign is a good opportunity (the next best thing to a PV) to ensure that the reality of Johnson’s Brexit deal sinks in with voters.

  • The EU have granted yet another Extension but they are making it plain that this is the last. We have run out of road, the next 3 Months is our last chance to get an Election before Brexit. Given that GNUs & a Referendum before an Election are now impossible this Election is our last chance to stop Brexit.
    Its already too late for an Election in November & an Election in January would require a Campaign over Xmas & The New Year so thats out. Essentially, the Vote has to fall in the 1st half of December so its The 9th or a few Days either side.
    We just have to do our best.

  • John Barrett 28th Oct '19 - 11:00am

    David Raw is absolutely right about the situation north of the border.

    In January, the trial of Alex Salmond will dominate the political and news agenda and the SNP strategists will do anything to have a General Election before then.

  • A December election leaves us with the same problem – not enough time for a referendum before the crash-out date of 31st January. The new parliament would need time to go through traditional post-election processes (interrupted by Christmas and New Year holidays) before returning to ‘normal’ business. Just enough time to push a Revoke bill through (if there is a majority for it) in January, but yet another delay may be asked for – will the EU 27 agree to it yet again? We may be forced to accept the current Deal or revoke/crash. BoJo or No Go.

  • “A GE will give the people a clear choice – Tories for Brexit or LibDems for Remain.”

    I’m sorry, but with the best will in the world the Lib Dems are not going to win more seats than the Tories. We all know their is a general election coming in the next few months, but the only realistic way to stop Brexit is for the opposition parties to pick a time that minimises the risk of a Conservative majority government.

    That time is not now. Johnson wants an election now because he knows he is at peak popularity and this will fall away. He also knows that, as people realise he can’t “Get Brexit Done” they will come to accept a second referendum as the only sensible route out of this mess.

    Pushing the button now simply to keep the LDs “relevant” would be to put party above country, something we’ve been accusing the Tories of for years.

    The EU has said they will extend until January, so we don’t need to do anything drastic until at least then. By that time, the numbers will have shifted and an early spring election could well result in a Remain coalition government.

    That would be the smart option, not this narrow party political manoeuvre, which Remainers would punish the LDs for in the years to come.

  • Alex Macfie 28th Oct ’19 – 10:17am……………………expats: Except that it won’t be “done”, because then there would then be the UK’s future relationship with the EU to decide…………..

    That fact has been around since before the referendum and it hasn’t affected the way the ‘Brexit’ fiasco has been run for the last three years; it also won’t be how the december election will be run.
    Now it seems the government will put foreward an ‘almost identical’ bill which, according to the Guardian, ” Lib Dem source indicates they’ll back a government one-line Bill for a general election, similar to their own, if No10 decide to bring it forward themselves tomorrow.”

    Someone’s ‘fox just got shot’ and Boris Johnson gets his pre-Christmas election present. It couldn’t have worked out much better for him; an election when his popularity is at it’s peak, when students are off campus, before the probable NHS winter crisis, etc. No.10 must be rubbing their hands with glee; if he can’t win then he never would! When, as seems most likely, he wins a majority, his deal will be done and dusted before Christmas.

    What will this party get; maybe an extra 20 seats. Still, the Labour party will still be the official opposition and, as the disaster that will be another 5 years of Tory rule bites home, this party will be blamed; 2017 all over again.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Oct '19 - 1:29pm

    It is possible to be too clever. When considering whether an opponent is tribal or simply stupid we should try to judge whether an opponent is likely to act in this way. We would be unwise if we dismiss as biased, stupid, tribal, ideological, etcetera aspects which an opponent would not consider to be biased, stupid, tribal, ideological, etcetera.
    There is a danger here that we have shown Boris, Cummings and Co. how to get round the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Oct '19 - 1:43pm

    Katharine Pindar 27th Oct ’19 – 11:30pm
    I worked in a target seat in 2015, from the start, knowing the candidate and in another where we had won a bye-election and thereby had an MP.
    The number of target seats gradually reduced as local parties failed to meet a variety of objectives.
    Former leader Paddy Ashdown came to the last one. Local parties in target seats should not assume that target seat status will persist throughout the election, doing so could cause some complacency, thereby risking defeat.

  • Paul Barker 28th Oct '19 - 2:46pm

    I f anyone cares to go over to “Labour List”, the Labour equivalent of this Site, theres an article by The Editor (Paid, Full time !) arguing that Labour risk looking like they are propping up The Tories & being afraid of an Election. She makes the point that A “Peoples Vote” wont get through this Parliament.

  • Bill le Breton 28th Oct '19 - 3:27pm

    I am not sure Johnson will be strong in a General Election campaign. Stewart took him apart in the leadership campaign. His WA is appalling. And indefensible. Farage will erode a vital part of his vote. Our firm and unequivocal position will be seen as the top remain option.

    And I still think that at the critical margins those telling pollsters they will vote Tory won’t on s cold night in December and won’t have got it together to organise a postal vote.

    Knowing ‘your people’ is the key to winning. The remain campaign didn’t know people who’d vote to leave in 2016 and they don’t with respect know why lots won’t vote Tory in Dec 2019.

    Get onto your social networks now and start campaigning. Make the algos work for us.

  • @ John Barrett “In January, the trial of Alex Salmond will dominate the political and news agenda and the SNP strategists will do anything to have a General Election before then”. One of the many reasons why Ms Swinson’s announcement baffles me.

    As for some of the contributors on LDV, I’m tempted to suggest that when many of them get north of Northampton they tend to put on blinkers and get vertigo….. as do most Tory politicians.

    A likely outcome of Brexit – and it looks more likely every day – is that England will have to get used to permanent Tory rule if Scotland opts to become an independent social democratic country in the EU in two or three years time…. when Wee Eck’s trial has faded from the public memory.

    It could be that a social democratic country remaining in the EU, without the burden of nuclear weapons, academy schools, or an un-elected second chamber with fancy titles, but with PR elections nationally and in local government, with better health and welfare benefits, much lower student fees and world class universities and medical research is an attractive proposition. Looks like it’s started already :

    How St Andrews broke the Oxbridge … › st-andrews-overtake-oxford-university-guide
    7 Jun 2019 – “I think St Andrews has many of the qualities of Oxford and Cambridge, although it’s not a collegiate university. It’s a small, highly international …………..

  • Well, if we want to be the party of small business, why are we precipitating a general election just before Christmas, when most small business owners will be working 24/7 trying to make enough cash to make up for another slack year? Do we think many small business owners will be able to take part – do we even care?

  • Brilliant, your plan is to have an election which will give us a hard brexit and 5 years of Boris. Which fool in your party came up with this ridiculous plan?

  • Paul Barker said:

    “If anyone cares to go over to “Labour List”, the Labour equivalent of this Site, theres an article by The Editor … She makes the point that A “Peoples Vote” wont get through this Parliament.”

    Actually, the Labour List article in question said:

    “Jo Swinson’s lot have now acknowledged that this parliament won’t vote for a public vote”

    So there we have it. Frit Labourites say it’s the Lib Dems who are running away from a people’s vote, frit Lib Dems say it’s Labour who are running away from it. They’re both weaselling, aren’t they!

    There are in fact 244 Labour, 35 SNP, 19 Lib Dem, 5 TIG, 4 Plaid, 1 Green MP, which totals 308. Plus 35 Independents including several ex-Tories who definitely support a referendum, plus the 10 DUP who relish being pivotal. There are only 288 Tories. Who the heck says it’s a lost cause?

    An election will be disastrous for Labour. Swinson should be saying that Labour can avoid that disaster if they can join the Lib Dems and SNP and push through a referendum instead.

  • Mike MacSween 29th Oct '19 - 12:56am

    It could be a tactic to push the Labour leadership and other Remain parties and MPs towards a People’s Vote:

    “Support a People’s Vote, or we’ll ask for an election, Boris will support it, and you’ll lose the election”. Type of thing.

  • This ‘Christmas election’ narrative is actually a bit silly. If the election is on 9 December (as we want), that means most of the campaigning would happen in November. Sure that will coincide with the early Christmas shopping, but I think our traders are perfectly capable of coping with that. The savvier ones will see it as an opportunity, and direct their marketing accordingly.
    Oh and if a primary school somewhere has its nativity play scheduled for 9 December, I’m sure the local authority can be prevailed upon to find a different polling station just this once, or the school can hold their nativity play off-site somewhere. Or change the date. These are silly arguments against an election. If you don’t want an election, by all means say so, but don’t enlist Santa in your cause.

  • Dean Clarke 29th Oct '19 - 8:00am

    If we are going for a December date how about a Sunday?

  • Despite all the above it does appear to me that the Lib Dems and probably the SNP have had this planned for a bit, they are both casmpaigning very hard in some of their target seats, the former have I understand delivered three sets of literature in more than one over the past 3-4 weeks!¬ That is surely campaign mode for a very imminent planned election.

  • Mike MacSween 29th Oct '19 - 9:47am

    This has been tabled today. I don’t know enough about parliamentary procedures to know if this has any chance.

  • TonyH 29th Oct ’19 – 1:28am……This ‘Christmas election’ narrative is actually a bit silly. If the election is on 9 December (as we want), that means most of the campaigning would happen in November………………

    You mean apart from the ‘total’ campaigning in the last week? Students off (or partying), Christmas party season for businesses in fiull swing, TV Christmas adverising in full swing, etc., etc.
    There has been no December GE for almost a century ( before universal suffrage). There must be good reason.

  • There’s no other time for it. A Jan election leaves things far too late to get stuff reliably sorted ahead of 31 Jan, even assuming a clear Johnson win and a free passage to pass his deal. If there’s a hung Parliament we may well drift out. It took 17 (?) days to hammer out that Tory-DUP deal last time.

    If there aren’t the numbers for a referendum, but you don’t want a GE, it’s Johnson’s deal anyway isn’t it? So what do we really have to lose? The longer the impasse at Westminster continues, the more we turn people off politics full stop.

    If we can’t motivate people to vote in an election in December (in person or by post), despite what’s at stake, that suggests we’ve lost the argument..?

  • John Marriott 29th Oct '19 - 4:19pm

    If parliament does vote for a GE in December, does that mean that, unless the FTPA is repealed, we could in theory be facing December GEs for ever more?

  • @expats – I just don’t see why any of those issues stops a General Election, or makes it in any way problematic. Students party in June as well (end of exams) and we regularly have elections then. TV advertising? Give me a break – in what way does that cause a problem for an election. As for businesses… I’ve said already, the smart ones will actually see it as an opportunity: I once ran a committee room for a local election and the pizza parlour next door negotiated a very nice ’12 for the price of 10′ sort of deal for our big canvassing nights when lots of people turned up. I also know pubs that have declared themselves an ‘election free zone’ during a GE and have done a roaring trade as a result.
    The one good reason for not having a winter election is the weather. But the current situation with Brexit is such a crisis that we just need to over-ride that. This parliament is broken and if we leave it to go on, Johnson will get his awful Brexit bill through. That’s the reality, and that’s why we need to have the election. By polling day, all this talk about it not being compatible with Christmas won’t be an issue.

  • Richard Elliott 29th Oct '19 - 8:19pm

    Its a tough call but on balance probably the right one as Johnson with Macrons help holds the cards. It is clear that Macron will not support an extension beyond January unless say this parliament votes for a second ref. Remainers options are limited – firstly a January election is worst than Dec – colder and closer to 31 Jan with the election period starting at xmas, thus clearly a non-starter. Therefore without a GE Boris will go for his Brexit Deal or No Deal. If he passes the deal unamended he then calls a GE as labour leadership would back it – we would in a much worse position post-Brexit to fight a GE. If wrecking amendments were passed, Johnson would go back to No Deal.

    To be against a Dec GE you have to believe not only that this parliament will vote for a Peoples Vote (no evidence to suggest this) but also that we can get a government to undertake the work to make it happen – a Tory Govt could stall it, backed by the EU who want a deal with Johnson. A national unity govt in this parliament isn’t going to happen either. Therefore a GE is our only hope to get a PV and a govt who could enact it. Its risky but probably the only option

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