New office opened for Richmond Park by-election


The sign above the shop front says ‘Free delivery’ – just as relevant for a by-election HQ as it was when it was a Chinese restaurant.  Today Floella Benjamin cut a yellow ribbon across the door and formally opened our second office in the Richmond Park constituency, alongside Sarah Olney, our candidate, and Susan Kramer, former MP.

We must have had 100 volunteers through the door today, from the party’s Chief Exec Tim Gordon to members from all over the country. There is plenty to do – admin tasks as well as delivering and canvassing – with encouragement in the form of cake and chocolate.

The new office is at 110 Canbury Park Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT2 6JZ, and is conveniently just a few minutes’ walk from Kingston Station. The other office is still running at 65a Sheen Lane, Mortlake, SW14 8AD.

So please come and join us at either base – they are both open from 10am to 9pm every day between now and 1st December. You can volunteer here. If that is not an option then please get on the phone – full instructions here (but only for party members).

If you come to the Kingston office in the evenings do look out for me and say hello, as I’m doing Front of House most days.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Nov '16 - 5:14pm

    Mary , superb as ever, Floella, one of the best this country and our party has to offer , Sarah , a marvellous new asset !

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Nov '16 - 11:12pm

    Lib Dems need a simpler message on the EU. Just make it about soft-brexit. This “a say on the deal” stuff is too complicated. I know that sounds silly, but from that sentence people still don’t know if the party wants brexit or not! Tim Farron and Nick Clegg seem to say no.

  • Basically the referendum is either legally or morally binding on the government or it is not. The High Court has just said that not only is the referendum not legally binding, it also can have no force without fully enabling Parliamentary legislation; the government is not enabled by the referendum to use its prerogative powers to bring in Brexit and, effectively, rewrite the laws of the UK. The government may wish that the court would change its mind but that seems quite unlikely.
    That leaves a moral argument: that the referendum constitutes a directive from the people to leave the EU, and that it would be anti-democratic for Parliament to block it. But MPs also have a moral imperative inherent in their very office: they are elected by the people to make decisions which are, in their opinion, best for the country.
    Now, if an MP is personally pro-Brexit, thinks that leaving the EU is good for the country, and comes from a constituency which resoundingly voted Leave, there is no particular issue. But if there is a disagreement between the MP’s own views, the views of his or her constituency, and/or the overall national opinion (such as it may be) it becomes increasingly difficult to claim that the overall result of the referendum imposes a moral obligation on any MP to act in accordance with that result.
    For instance, SNP MPs, who were pretty clearly elected in order to put Scottish interests first, and whose constituencies all (or almost all) voted Remain, would presumably feel no sort of moral compulsion resulting from the overall UK vote.

    Can the Liberal Democrats take a similar position? As it happens, six out of eight Liberal Democrat MPs are in constituencies which voted for Remain. But of course this is a national rather than a local matter, and Lib Dems may feel the need to consider some wider implications, both for the country and for the Party.

  • (Cont’d)
    These questions, I think, need to be asked:
    1. What is the likelihood of Parliament successfully blocking Brexit?
    If the likelihood is low, then Liberal Democrats could pose a negative vote as something symbolic, objecting to the concept or the details or the long-term consequences of Brexit. But that leads to:
    2. If Liberal Democrats vote to block Brexit without a real chance of success, how will it be perceived? If it is symbolic, what is the symbolism?
    Certainly many opposing parties will say that the symbolism is “Liberal Democrats do not care about the will of the people.” (Whether that’s a persuasive argument or not is another question; it is at any rate less persuasive if it is anticipated and prepared for.)
    3. If there is a real prospect of blocking Brexit, if not in the Commons then perhaps in the Lords, what are the consequences of doing so?
    Many would argue that negating a referendum decision in this way is a blow to democracy (or at least democracy-by-referendum). If you dislike referenda on principle this is somewhat easier to deal with, but one would still face the issue of confronting the expressed will of a majority of voters on a more-or-less clearly expressed decision versus the will of a Parliament composed partly of unelected Lords and partly of MPs who (as this Party has not hesitated to point out in the past) are elected in a very non-representative and dubiously democratic way.

    One way out is to assert that the long-term consequences of Brexit are so bad, and are so clearly foreseeable, that the electorate has no more right to leave the EU than a homeowner has to set his house on fire. Or, if one prefers something less extreme, that wisdom suggests that a significant delay to assess likely consequences is desirable. But in either case the rationale should be stated and clearly explained.

  • Simon Freeman 5th Nov '16 - 10:50am

    The deal to go for now should be a soft Brexit, with access to the single market, guaranteed rights for EU citizens living here and UK citizens living in Europe. And we need to ensure environmental protection laws, health and safety at work laws and employment protection laws are written into UK law. I voted to remain, but we have to try and make our ideals match the new reality. And we need to maintain links with Europe over fighting crime.
    i think the UK isn’t looking a very good place to the rest of the world right now. The rising levels of intolerance are intolerable! It’s up to Liberal Democrats to show how we can all live together. Best of luck to Sarah Olney in the by-election, and let’s hope Hilary Clinton is succesful in America.

  • Conor McGovern 5th Nov '16 - 11:44am

    About 30 seconds from my house. Oh joy 😉

  • Lorenzo Cherin 5th Nov '16 - 2:03pm

    The above excellent to the point and positive little article by the ever reliable and sensible Mary Reid , was basically all about the opening of a new campaign headquarters , by our wonderful veteran , Baroness Floella , for our fine newcomer , Sarah Olney and our party in Richmond , does even this have to be about Brexit to such an extent that every bit of the subject is analysed on a thread that is basically , ” I name this headquarters , Liberal Democrats trying to win here !”

  • paul barker 5th Nov '16 - 4:36pm

    Can I ask a question for everybody involved the campaign ? Obviously we want to squeeze the Labour vote, a lot of it based in the remaining Council Housing. Do we want to make anything of The Labour Candidates past history as an activist in The Squatting movement? I feel unsure about this, squatting isnt really a live issue anymore & Christian Wolmars involvement ended in about 1980 I think. It was all a long time ago but then a lot of Labour voters may be old enough to remember.
    We would certainly have to be very careful, I dont think the question of whether squatting was a good thing or not is not simply answered & given the apparent split in the Local Labour over whether to even stand we may not face much of a Labour campaign in any case. Rightly or wrongly we have a reputation for dirty tricks & bringing up things Wolmar did 35 years ago might well look bad, we might end up simply persuading more Labour activists to campaign against us.
    What do people think ?

  • Peter Davies 5th Nov '16 - 6:11pm

    @Paul Barker
    You don’t squeeze a party by attacking its candidate. If you want Labour voters to vote tactically, you attack the Tories (and Goldsmith is still a Tory).

  • Lorenzo Cherin 6th Nov '16 - 12:02am

    Paul Barker
    A completely daft thing indeed would be to even mention it again ! Far better to show , if any mention is necessary , that , now , not thirty years ago ,as he is against the runway and Brexit as is , why not back Sarah ?!

  • paul barker 6th Nov '16 - 9:49am

    @ Lorenzo Cherin
    I have been making the point that Labour are fighting to stop us & thus to save Zac. I have been making that point on Labour List ( along with a lot of Labour activists, to be fair) where its likely to be seen by some Labour supporters. Theres not really much point saying it here surely ?

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Nov '16 - 11:55am

    @ Peter Davies,
    Indeed, but some former members of the Labour Party, now Liberal Democrats, seem unable to get over their differences with their former party, preferring to attack Labour rather than Tories like Zac Goldsmith.

    Does Sarah Olney’s history of praise for Theresa May as a politician and her fulsome comments about the new PM ‘s first speech show naivety, or are they indicative of the Liberal Democrat’s position on the political spectrum?

    What is the point of those who opposed the Conservative government of David Cameron and now that of Teresa May in voting Liberal Democrat in this election?

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