New seats for our new MPs

This afternoon it’s been announced that Phillip Lee will be taking on John Redwood for the Liberal Democrats at the General Election. He will move from his current seat in Bracknell to Wokingham, which is considered winnable for the party.

According to the Wokingham Paper:

THE Liberal Democrats have announced that their candidate for Wokingham will be one of its newest MPs, Dr Phillip Lee. It sets up a Leave v Remain contest against the incumbent, Sir John Redwood.

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats deputy leader, announced the news to a packed meeting of Wokingham party members held at the Hilton St Anne’s Manor hotel in London Road.

The seat is one that polling by ComRes suggests could switch to the Lib Dems.

A projection suggests that the party would have a 37% vote share, compared to 33% for the Conservatives and 14% for Labour.

However, it also lists the Brexit party as 9% – the party is unlikely to field a candidate in Wokingham constituency as Sir John Redwood is a committed Leaver.

This move will be more controversial than Chuka Umunna moving to Cities of London and Westminster or Luciana Berger moving to Finchley and Golders Green. Both of these moves were widely welcomed in the party.

There are still tensions among some Lib Dems over Lee’s past views, which he talked about in an interview for us last month.

I’m sure people will want to recognise Clive Jones, who has been displaced by the move and thank him for all he has done for the party.

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

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13 Comments

  • Tony Greaves 28th Sep '19 - 5:43pm

    What is the constitutional and procedural position in relation to moving an existing MP from one seat to another? How does it work and who gives consent (or otherwise?) It does not seem to be covered in our existing constitution and rules!

  • Charles Pragnell 28th Sep '19 - 7:26pm

    It makes logical sense to move our new MPs to winnable seats. We will need to have experienced MPs along with our new crop of MPs when they are elected. Luicinda’s move to Finchley and Golders Green makes sense, ladbrookes gave her odds on to win the seat. That will be some battle between Philip and John Redwood. If Boris fails to get us out of the EU on the 31st ! I suspect the Brexit party will stand, as they will be out to damage the Tories.
    Chuka stands a great chance in City and Westminster . The question is do we leave Sam in Surrey East , or might it be worth moving him to a winable Surrey seat, such as Guildford, Mole Valley and Woking! Or perhaps a London seat like Putney, where its all to play for, as Greening is standing down.
    The other question is Angela Smith ?

    If a miracle happened and we were to form a government, we would need are experienced MPs in cabinet.
    In these unusual times we have to be a little more unconventional in candidate selection.

    What are the Lib Dems going to do about Cambridgeshire South West ? “Heidi Allen”, do we stand down and give Heidi a clear run, and then she takes the Lib Dem whip if elected.

  • “This move will be more controversial than Chuka Umunna moving to Cities of London and Westminster or Luciana Berger moving to Finchley and Golders Green.”

    This reads like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Richard O'Neill 29th Sep '19 - 12:29am

    Surely it’s becoming a little embarrassing how few of the defectors are willing to stand for their existing seats, but still feel comfortable using the voting rights in Parliament that they were elected for under the banner of another party. As far as I’m aware only Sarah Wollaston has had the courage to vote for a general election.

    Fair play, I guess, to the existing candidates who stand down for them, but I hope they haven’t come under party pressure to do so.

  • Well, these are _winnable_ seats, not safe seats. I guess one factor that will help to actually win a seat is a well-known candidate. Though the MPs that are transferred to new seats aren’t incumbents in the new seats, they still have a certain visibility that helps.

  • Robert Canno 29th Sep '19 - 2:39am

    @ Richard O’Neill

    To be fair to Chuka Umunna, he’s standing in a seat where the best result for the LibDems was coming second behind the Conservatives with 21.8 in 1987 and the LibDems have underperformed in. There are certainly easier seats he could have gone for. Chuka’s profile gives the LibDems a chance of taking a seat from the Conservatives that would otherwise only be a realistic prospect if the LibDems were winning 100+ seats. He can also fairly say that he has spent his time both before and while an MP working in the constituency.

    The issue for Luciana Berger is less about her standing for Finchley and Golders Green and more about her abandoning Liverpool. The criticism made of her when she arrived in Liverpool was that she had no connection with the area and was just uninterested in developing one and, unfortunately, by relocating back to north London she has given fodder to that. To be fair, however, she’s far from the only MP that operates in this way – look at our own Nick Clegg and Sheffield.

    There is no chance of a LibDem win in Philip Lee’s existing constituency of Bracknell. Wokingham is an adjacent constituency to Bracknell (not miles away!), had a 55-45 Remain lead, in the referendum has a significant LibDem presence on the borough counsel (31 Con, 16 LibDem, 4 Lab), is represented by ultra-Brexiteer John Redwood. Philip Lee’s higher profile and his Conservative background give the LibDems at least some possibility of taking the seat off John Redwood.

    I criticise the LibDem leadership on lots of things. However, from what I have seen they (and local members!) have done a very good job on candidate selection this year. I see candidates that fit their constituencies and are well-placed to attract votes from a wide spectrum.

  • William Fowler 29th Sep '19 - 7:55am

    It tells you something about the incompetence of post 2017 Conservatives in that they did not get the boundary changes for MP constituencies through parliament, which would have given them an edge and reduced the actual number of MP’s. There is now the possibility that the governor of the BOE will be chosen by Labour. The thought of Brexit seems to be eating through brain cells at an exponential rate. It would be hilarious if Boris won a GE but lost his own seat! Be interesting to see if a Remainer backlash does take the likes of Redwood down.

  • Richard O’Neill
    It’s telling more than it’s embarrassing. The argument goes that we live in a representative democracy and that we the electorate is voting for the great and the good to make decisions on our behalf. It’s a view of politics steeped in the idea of deference and class. I, strongly, suspect you could put pretty much any candidate up for election with little impact on results because the electorate is voting for party and policy rather than for the guidance of honourable people of good character.

  • Getting John Redwood out of his seat would be a fantastic scalp. I find him extremely unpleasant and completely lacking in humanity

  • I wish to echo Tony Greaves’ concern. (Before tackling that I will say that I have seen and understand the justification for the choice of seats for Chuka, Phillip and Luciana.)

    Our party constitution does not mention “defecting MPs” anywhere. It says that any person wishing to enter a selection contest must go through the party’s approval process first. It also says (Article 18.6, federal const) that a sitting MP must be “reselected” by an Open Meeting of the Local Party before every subsequent General Election. What this does not clarify if whether the Local Party is in fact the same LP for which they are currently the MP. However, the use of the word “reselection” suggests that the intention was that this applied to the local party for which the MP was previously selected. Which, of course, a defector never was.

    Dr Lee and the others became sitting MPs without having gone through the approval process.

    The constitution needs to be amended to make the situation clearer.

  • Sean Hyland 29th Sep '19 - 7:56pm

    I hope adequate support is given if a previously selected PPC steps aside. Whatever the mechanism used there have been posts on here regarding the costs bourne by these individuals and not just financially. It must be difficult if a PPC and local parties have been working for some time to build a local profile and recognition within their community and this is all suddenly lost. I’m not sure if I would be comfortable in my constituency knowing through the press etc of the work of my existing candidate was doing if they were switched to allow a sitting MP to stand instead.

  • Michael, sometimes a bit of vagueness in rules enables flexibility to make the best of a situation

  • Ross McLean 30th Sep '19 - 2:07pm

    I’m not sure if it has been reported here on LDV that Kirsten Johnson stood down as our PPC in North Devon, following a controversial Radio 4 interview. This was a week or so ago. It happened not long after Nick Harvey announced he was standing down as the party CEO, so I wondered if he might be tempted to resume his parliamentary career? If not, then maybe a Sam Gyimah or Angela Smith might be interested? There’s also North Norfolk of course.
    Generally I have no problem with the defectors applying for these seats as long as it is all done with the approval of the local party and other candidates are allowed to put their names forward as well. We should never do ‘parachutes’ in the LibDems!

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