Oldham East & Saddleworth: It’s already on

We currently expect a parliamentary by-election for the Oldham East & Saddleworth constituency to take place well before Christmas. This will be one of the shorter by-election campaigns we have seen but it is important that people in Oldham are not left unrepresented after what has happened there.

Within 24 hours of Phil Woolas being found guilty of breaking election law last Friday, we had a new campaign HQ up and running. There is an experienced campaign team already in place: veterans of many victories, including the last by-election in this area, Littleborough and Saddleworth in 1995.

My experience of by-elections (and I’ve lost count how many I’ve been to!) is that more people arrive to help the closer you get to polling day. But my experience is also that the most effective help is early help. Activists on the ground in the first days of the Cheadle by-election in 2005 were key to electing Mark Hunter to Parliament.

So please come to Oldham East & Saddleworth as soon as you can. You will not be short of things to do! We have leaflets printed and there are thousands of doors to knock on (and some lovely countryside to see).

Our HQ is close to the M60 and the M62. It’s within easy driving distance of much of the north of England and the Midlands so even if you only have a few hours to spare, the team would really appreciate your time. Greenfield is the nearest train station, just down the road from the HQ. Full details are at http://elwynwatkins.co.uk/pages/help-us-win.html

If you’re only able to come up once during the campaign, please don’t leave it: make it this weekend – or even better, this week.

Our candidate, Elwyn Watkins, was within a hair’s breadth of winning here in May. Now that the shameful Labour campaign has been exposed, we are fighting the most winnable by-election for four years. We only have a few weeks to win. Every second counts.

Hilary Stephenson is the Liberal Democrats’ Director of Campaigns and Elections

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14 Comments

  • If you lose will you the Lib dems draw some lesson?

  • What is Elwyn’s stance on tuition fees?

  • richard heathcote 11th Nov '10 - 2:11am

    i actually dont think you will win in oldham after supporting this coalition and converting to a right wing party.

  • It’s entirely possible the voters of Oldham East & Saddleworth will choose not to vote Lib Dem because we have mutated into Conservatives and tout their policies as our own and clearly cannot be trusted.

    It’s also possible that they aren’t idiots, will accept, given enough canvassing, that we are a pluralist party, and vote against the vile local Labour party. Perhaps Elwyn Watkins could find success taking a role as an anti-coalitionist.

  • Grammar Police 11th Nov '10 - 7:50am

    The local Labour party accepted a campaign that deliberately tried to whip up racist fears in order to win. I don’t really care what Elwyn’s stance on tuition fees is, or nonsense about us “converting to a right wing party”.

    We sure as hell have an uphill struggle given that we’re down in the polls, but better one more liberal in parliament than another Labour apologist who’ll pretend that lying about your opponent in such hideous ways is actually about freedom of speech.

  • GP – hear hear.

  • Dominic Curran 11th Nov '10 - 1:38pm

    MORAL HIGH GROUND CAUTION: it’s not like everything we’ve ever said in a focus leaflet was entirely accurate…

  • Sam Hansford 11th Nov '10 - 2:39pm

    Students from around the UK will be making sure you don’t win this. BRING IT ON.

  • David Evans 11th Nov '10 - 7:47pm

    If we were within one of Elwyn’s hair’s breadths last May, it must have been very, very close or was measured by someone with a long memory! Good luck, Elwyn!

  • patricia roche 12th Nov '10 - 9:36am

    you cant have short money and be in governement. I am sure that the new ministers will be able to donate lots of dosh for the cause

  • This by-election must be one of the very best victory prospects we’ve had for many years.

    Usually we have to overturn majorities of 10,000+ to win. Here it’s just 100 votes and with 11,000 third place Tory votes to squeeze we should win and win well.

    So if we don’t, how will the Leadership explain our failure I wonder?

  • My dealings with Mr Watkins were extremely disappointing. When the public meeting concerning Birks Quarry had ended Mr Watkins approached me and told me that he knew exactly what to do to to prevent the site being used for landfill. I asked him why he hadn’t spoken at the meeting. No answer was forthcoming. He then asked me if I would give him copies of all my notes concerning the quarry. I viewed his action as parasitic, that is attemting to live off the backs of others. At a later date he made comments in the press to the effect that he with the local Lib Dem party had been the major force in overturning the decision to use Birks Quarry for landfill. Not so. The Birks Quarry Action Group led that campaign, albeit some councillors attempted to. The residents asked for two of the councillors who had joined the Action Group not to attend after about three meetings; their contribution was totally negative and ineffective. The remaining two did not attend a meeting for well over 7 months (I acknowledge that one was ill at the time,)

    Following his false claim I viewed Mr Watkins as lacking in honour and integrity. Consequently I consider that he would be a very poor representative for the local community. A political opportunist is how I would best describe him.

    I was not a supporter of Mr Woolas and do not support the action taken by his party.

    In witnessing the about turn by the Lib Dem leadership with respect to University Education fees one also has to question their integrity and their consequent lack of honour when they go against a firm election promise. The people who will suffer from increased university fees are the middle class. Those with sufficient money can afford the increases, the children of lowly paid parents won’t have to pay out (and rightly so). The easy targets are the middle class parents with children who will be burdened with unacceptable debts.

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