Liz Leffman: If you elect me as your MP, I will champion NHS services

Liz Leffman has an impressive record of campaigning for better NHS services in the Witney area. When I was there two weeks ago, people were saying things like “Ah, she’s the one who saved the hospital in Chipping Norton” on the doorsteps.

In this campaign video, she talks about the changes she wants to see and how she will be a local champion for the NHS if she is elected MP next Thursday.

The Guardian has a good profile of the by-election with coverage of Nick Clegg’s visit yesterday.

Few in the party still carry a torch for the coalition years, but the enduring popularity of Cameron in this corner of Oxfordshire is something that the Lib Dems feel they might be able to capitalise on. The party is throwing vast resources into next Thursday’s byelection, shipping down legions of activists – 600 over the weekend and another 1,000 over the next week, according to party officials.

Liz Leffman, the Lib Dem candidate collecting signatures by the Cotswolds Kids clothing shop, sees Brexit as being on the ballot paper for this fight. Leffman’s day job is in imports from clothing factories in eastern Europe, a business which would be directly affected by Brexit. Her Conservative rival, Robert Courts, a local councillor and barrister, is a Brexiter.

“This is such a pivotal election, I think the Conservatives believe they don’t have to do very much,” Leffman said. “But people feel let down by him, they weren’t expecting him to go. This is a very educated population here, and they are very worried. The Tory party conference saw a lot of rhetoric that people here have not been comfortable with. I think that’s changing the way people will vote.”

The constituency chalked up a strong remain vote in the EU referendum, and the business classes, professionals and academics who live in the town are broadly liberal.

They found Nick pointing out the difference between David Cameron’s Conservatives and his successor’s.

Among a cluster of voters on the town’s main thoroughfare, opposite the awnings of the Blue Boar pub, Clegg was full of praise for his former coalition partner, and derision for Theresa May. “She is only where she’s at because he led the party to an election victory last year – but there isn’t a single word of recognition or debt she owes them,” he said. “She tramples over his domestic policy but is also lurching towards a hard Brexit.”

Cameron would be horrified at the prospect of a hard Brexit, Clegg has said, touring the former prime minister’s home seat of Witney where the Sheffield Hallam MP’s party hopes to capitalise on concerns in the Cotswolds over a hard Brexit.

“You could absolutely see why people in a place like this would vote for David Cameron’s Conservatives,” Clegg said. “I suspect he would be mortified by what is happening, and by a Tory party leader behaving very gracelessly towards him.”

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

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  • Jayne Mansfield 12th Oct '16 - 10:10am

    So,’ Clegg was full of admiration for Cameron, and derision for Theresa May’.

    Oh dear, old habits die hard.

  • I personally can’t stand either of them and regard Cameron as the worst Prime Minister of my life – and that takes some doing. Theresa May is even worse.

    However, you have to look at his audience. People in Cameron’s former constituency. At least Cameron did campaign to remain whereas the Conservative candidate is a brexiteer who supports May’s line. These things are relative.

  • Chris Bertram 12th Oct '16 - 11:11am

    @Caron: “… the worst Prime Minister of my life …”.

    It has to be close, but Gordon Brown takes the palm for me.

  • Jayne Mansfield 12th Oct '16 - 11:26am

    @ Caron Lindsey,

    ‘ However you have to look at his audience’.

    Caron there were too things that were thrown at me when I used to be an openly supportive Liberal Democrat.

    1. Scratch a Liberal and you will find a fascist.
    2. Liberal Democrats change their arguments to suit the area. They argue for left wing values and policies if they are trying to win over a Labour leaning area and Tory if they are wanting to win a predominantly tory area.

    The problem for the Liberal Democrats was that when they became part of the coalition, they did not have this luxury. Voters were able to see what the Liberal Democrats as a party really believed in and supported.

    A reminder of the problems Nick Clegg had in finding reasons to disagree with David Cameron would not tempt those I know to return to voting Lib Dem in the areas where they live.

  • @chris bertram: Gordon Brown never put us through a disastrous and unnecessary EU referendum. And for all his flaws, he did the right thing during the financial crisis.

    @jayne Mansfield: The things that were thrown at you were rubbish and Godwin’s Law applies to 1.

    Nobody is arguing that we got everything right in coalition, but we protected civil liberties , reduced tax for the lowest paid and put extra money to disadvantaged kids in school and significantly improved mental health care. Oh, and gave consumers greater rights and introduced shared parental leave. All pretty good stuff.

    Nick Clegg spent a lot of the coalition years disagreeing with David Cameron and George Osborne.

  • Jayne Mansfield 12th Oct '16 - 2:54pm

    @ Caron Lindsey,
    I agree with you on 1.

    On 2 – sorry I don’t. I now base my decisions on MPs and parties according to past voting behaviour available on

    As for Nick Clegg’s disagreements with Cameron, his early support for the NHS Health and Social Care bill suggests that there were not too many of them when it came to, amongst other things, the marketisation of health and social care.

    Anyone who wishes to know what has been happening to the NHS during the coalition years and is concerned about hospital closures and the disintegration of health services across the country, not only in Witney, has the choice of a local General Practitioner standing for the NHS Action party.

  • Anthony Eden for my lifetimes worst. 😂

  • Neville chamberlain?

  • Actually for the the worst ever PM and one that made me become active was the really dreadful duplicitous Harold Wilson.

  • Catherine Royce 13th Oct '16 - 9:39am

    Liz’s piece is about NHS services, NOT who was the worst Prime Minister-you guys really do need to get out and about more.
    Community hospitals are an important and under-utilised part of the NHS, they could be an important part of the solution for managing an elderly and frail population who from time to time need hospitalisation for acute crises eg treatment of severe infections, rehabilitation after falls at home etc. etc. Many already make a big contribution to delivering out-patient services close to where people live, and these are greatly valued by local people.
    Lib Dems should be making unequivocal support of the NHS a central plank of our campaigning during this parliamentary term, the NHS is on its knees, we are back where we were in the 1980s when the worst excesses of the Thatcher govt. came very close to crashing the service completely. Since then both Tories and Labour have screwed things up; eg internal market, privatisation/fragmentation, PFI and a currently completely unnecessary contract dispute with doctors which is exacerbating a critical shortage of medical manpower. Is it really beyond us to make political capital out of this?

  • @ Neil, Harold Wilson kept us out of the Vietnam war, set up the Open University, promoted the most women Cabinet Ministers and never forgot where he came from.

  • 62% of those who voted at the last election, less than two years ago, voted for Cameron. For Liz to win, she needs to persuade many of them to change their allegiances. That 62% will feel you are insulting them if you go too hard on Cameron, and by emphasising the differences between him and May, and the local support for staying in the EU, gives them a reason for changing without them having to undergo a life changing epiphany.

    However, I’d say that it’s not accurate that he was “full of praise”, he just chose his words wisely and made it easier for locals to think of Liz as the candidate who will best represent their concerns.

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