New Labour group: Lib Dems might prove more tenacious than many people expect

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKProgress is a New Labour pressure group. On their website, Mark Rusling argues that there are strong signs that the Lib Dems are “waving, not drowning”. He bases this on evidence from local government, particularly from Waltham Forest Council:

…I have a gnawing worry that, while the Liberals aren’t thriving, neither are they drowning. They might prove more tenacious than many people expect.

The evidence from local by-elections backs this up. On the day that most politicos were talking about the police and crime commissioner ballots, as well as three Westminster elections, a host of local contests registered five gains for the Lib Dems and no losses. Taking seats off the Tories and Labour, this pattern has been repeated throughout England recently. Local Lib Dems are not always being blamed for the sins of their Westminster masters.

Waltham Forest gives an example of how the Lib Dems will approach the next couple of years. For two terms until 2010, the council was hung, with 24 Labour and 21 Liberal councillors. They were a significant local political force, having grown from nothing over 20 years to a position in which they believed that, in 2010, they would take control of the council and run us close in the parliamentary seats of Walthamstow and Leyton and Wanstead. That did not happen – 2010 brought hefty parliamentary majorities and 36 Labour councillors. The Liberals were left with just six.

For much of the previous two-and-a-half years, the local Lib Dems appeared shell-shocked and without any direction at all. Yet, in the last six months, something has changed. Things are still pretty desperate for them, but they no longer appear quite as resigned to their own demise. They have found some direction and, while the content of that direction is not surprising, the sheer chutzpah of it may be.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • The evidence, from polling & elections is so fragmented & contradictory that we are all left free to beleive what we want to beleive. Almost all the articles on Labour sites that Ive seen that play up Libdem chances are from bloggers on the Labour right, just as the Libdems spreading gloom are mostly on our left, often people who never wanted us in the Coalition to begin with.
    We need to keep reminding ourselves that we dont know what will happen in 2015, we should be prepared for a very wide range of outcomes & that is hard to do. We all prefer certainty to the nagging pain of hope.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 28th Jan '13 - 1:25pm

    @ paul barker: What was John Cleese’s line in “Clockwise, “It’s not the despair that kills you; it’s the hope”, or something like that?

  • Jedi “they now take the party seriously.”

    I really struggle to do this after Clegg’s apology, Laws and expenses, Vince being hoodwinked by two attractive young women, , Huhne and… well ’nuff said

  • Paul McKeown 30th Jan '13 - 10:56pm

    I think one factor that will be important is how prepared the LD electoral machine is for the vituperative Tory/Tory Press campaign that will be waged in an attempt to suppress the LD vote. The themes used can already be predicted.

    Twice in the last three years an LD electoral campaign has shown a distinct lack of preparedness, gumption and fight for this. In the aftermath of the first General Election TV debate, and during the AV debate. Both nasty, both a string of half truths and blatant untruths, both extremely effective, as the LD machine lacked the bottle, the wit and the venom to respond adequately.

    If the the LDs are ready for the nasty, personalised attacks (Nick Clegg’s Tory cabinet colleagues will swear to a man jack what an unreliable person he is), the contemptuous denigration of LD achievements in government and the utter misrepresentation of the LD policy platform, then I see no reason that the LDs cannot shock the follow my leader sheep in the political commentariat, out of their “story already written” complacency.

  • Simon Banks 31st Jan '13 - 1:50pm

    Having read the full article, it underlines for me why we don’t want Blairites like Rusling in the Liberal Democrats. Apparently Liberal Democrat motions to full council are disctated by head office! New one to me. But when local Liberal Democrats put a motion to council criticising changes in planning law, that’s “utterly cynical”. Doesn’t seem to occur to him that (1) Lib Dems are under no duty to argue for Tory policies they don’t like or – well beyond such people’s intellectual range – that local Lib Dems might for good reasons take a policy stance at variance with Coalition proposals. No, of course, you wouldn’t find these people criticising the actions of a Labour government. That would be off-message. In essence he’s no further forward in understanding us than Labour were thirty years ago, simply describing us as opportunists and not wondering why pure opportunists would work so hard in an uphill struggle instead of, for example, joing the Labour Party.

  • jedibeeftrix 28th Jan ’13 – 10:04pm
    ” politics appeals to people who’ll tolerate scoundrels if they’re competent as well as those who’ll die in a political ditch for high-minded moral principle.”

    True, but where is the competence?

  • Though I did say that any of the people I listed are ‘scoundrels’ by the way (though in the case of Huhne this may change depending on the outcome of the trial) . Rather that they are hard to take seriously, ESP in the light of incompetence.

  • Oops that should of course read ” though I did NOT say ….” (Fat fingers, small keyboard and full of lurgy!!! )

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