Liberal Youth : Reporting Back From Feltham

In recent years the festive season seems more likely to bring a byelection than it does a white Christmas. With Christmas shopping, horrible weather, and the prospect of a few short days where politics stands still, Liberal Democrat activists could be forgiven for not prioritising a byelection in the safe Labour seat of Feltham and Heston.

With the writ moved for before Christmas, and the Eurozone crisis boosting UKIP’s support, the local party and campaign team, led by Dan Purchese, had a fight on their hands. In an election where we needed to at least retain our deposit, we needed a hell of a campaign – and a lot of campaigners to deliver it.

Luckily, Liberal Youth were happy to step up, and joined the wonderful core team of Dan, Simon Drage and Theo Butt-Phillip for a fortnight in Feltham. With 25 Liberal Youth activists on the campaign, we were able to establish a real presence in the Hansworth and Bedfont areas of the constituency and lay the groundwork for a Liberal Democrat win in Vince Cable’s new constituency in 2015.

With our dynamic campaign and unceasing support from several MPs including Tim Farron, Julian Huppert and Tom Brake, we offered the voters of Feltham and Heston a real choice on 15 December. We provided an alternative to an out of touch Labour candidate and a Conservative with his head in the sand, as well as preventing a BNP surge, and holding our own.

Feltham and Heston was a good result for the Liberal Democrats. 6% may not seem like a lot, but the keeping third place not to mention our deposit signified that we can hold our own even in a safe Labour seat, and that there are untapped pockets of potential in the party. We beat UKIP by just 88 votes on 15 December, and every single person who walked through the doors of the Greenway headquarters contributed to that.

Here, we pay special tribute to the core team, to the local party, to candidate Roger Crouch and to the Liberal Youth activists who came from all over the country to fight an unwinnable fight. They volunteered their time, gained some valuable campaigning skills and contributed to avoiding the party’s political obituary being written in Friday morning papers.

Elections are about more than just poll-numbers. In Feltham and Heston, we trained a whole new crop of activists in byelection campaigning, strengthened morale in our party and prevented the media writing off the Liberal Democrats. We all had great fun and our fair share of hilarious moments. We proved that Liberal Youth can make a difference in our party and that even in another party’s safe seat we’re willing to come in droves and campaign for you.

So, ladies and gentlemen, what do you get when you put 25 Liberal Youth members, 100,000 leaflets and Theo Butt-Phillip’s dancing in a room together? A lot more than just your deposit back.

Tom Wood is Chair of Liberal Youth.

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This entry was posted in Parliamentary by-elections.
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4 Comments

  • Patricia Stokes-Smith 6th Jan '12 - 10:40am

    Thank you Tom – great stuff – you’ve just lifted the morale of one not-so-young Liberal

    Pat Stokes-Smith, Ludlow Lib Dems

  • Thanks Tom you and the team from Liberal Youth really did make a vital difference.

  • Well done everyone on beating UKIP in Feltham and Heston – even if it was by only 88 votes! There’s really no reason why the LibDems should fall to 4th place in the next general election if everyone works this hard.

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