Opinion: Five quick thoughts on what we do next

Firstly we all need to take a few days off. Losing so many of our MPs is incredibly painful – when we know how they were champions of liberalism, as well as great local representatives. It’s easy for us to post-rationalise our problems to fit our existing prejudices, but smarter to take a short break.

Secondly we shouldn’t assume that everything winners do is good, and everything losers do is stupid. There are doubtless many things we did wrong, but not everything we did was wrong. Equally while we may have been hit hard by the other parties, we shouldn’t assume that aping them is the right solution.

Thirdly we should recognise that our problems fighting Labour, the Tories and the SNP may be very different. It is unlikely that there is one message or campaign technique that will allow us to be successful against all of these opponents.

Fourthly we shouldn’t assume that what will work in local, PR elections and Parliamentary elections is always the same.

Finally, we need to look to the future. The next five years of a Conservative government, Labour with a new leader, and a European referendum are going to be very different from anytime in the last 20 years. It will take a while to make sense of what that means for us, but the most obvious mistake will be to fight the 2015 election again in five years time.

* Rob Blackie is a candidate for the 2024 London Assembly elections. A former aid worker, he advises charities and corporates on strategy.

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  • ROB SHEFFIELD 8th May '15 - 7:10pm

    First and most of all: the new leader needs to announce categorically in their acceptance speech that formal coalition was a strategic mistake.

  • Andy Williams 8th May '15 - 7:10pm

    Agree with all of that.

  • The error was not coalition but our terms of the coalition, the tuition fees was the millstone from which we never recovered

  • Bill le Breton 8th May '15 - 7:22pm

    I would like to know how were the simple polling day, get the vote out, mechanics where you campaigned yesterday.? Were there tellers, effective shuttleworths, how close to a by-election in standards was it.

    Obviously my questions are related to held and good prospect seats, mostly.

    I realise Rob is addressing other issues, but just how much basic knowledge has been lost over the last few years about how to run a polling day organisation.

  • Bill, whilst I won’t name the seat as my job requires me to to be publically political, I was working in a then held seat. The operation was fantastic. I arrived, handed excellent knock-ups based on shuttleworths. Full credit to the team running that campaign. We lost by over 10k.

  • Gwyn Griffiths 8th May '15 - 7:41pm

    I visited 2 held seats. Cannot fault commitment and hard work, but some of the literature seemed to be from the 1990s rather than 2015.

  • Do nothing, everything is wonderful , that’s always the impression I got here .

  • I can only speak for one ward Bill but Connect was virtually unusable as a polling day tool. Had I known I would just have planned not to use it. We still won but that was because the work had been done before polling day arrived.

  • gavin grant 8th May '15 - 7:45pm

    The Postal Vote verification in a “safe” West Country seat was a huge. Shock. We were 13% behind. Debate raged about what was happening there as their Connect data also seemed to be moving in the wrong direction in two kkey groups. Was this down to some undetected local event or factor? In fact it was an accurate prediction of what happening everywhere. Survation’s final phone poll using a named candidate, ballot paper approach also has the result virtually spot on. When key voters are faced with instability with an “unpopular” Labour leader being “run” by the SNP, they “cling to nurse for fear of something worse”. The Tories played that card brilliantly. Now these voters will discover the realities of an unchecked Tory Government. As that reality dawns so may a different voting intention and view of us.

  • Spot on Gavin Grant. As soon as I heard the report in the press that Labour were talking to us about a LibLab Coalition, whether it was true or not, whether it was Labour (or Tory) mischief-making or not, I realised that we were doomed in Tory-facing seats. Our whole pitch to the electorate was that we would modify the behaviour of one or other of the major parties in government, and that came across as us only being interested in maintaining our party in office, the vehicle to achieve that being unimportant. We should instead have set out a values, principles and policies and said repeatedly that we would work with any party to advance those, but we would only enter a coalition again in a time of national crisis for the good of the country as we did in 2010.

  • If the Party had (a) ditched Clegg in 2014 and (b) pulled out of coalition immediately thereafter, that would have been good for an additional 20 seats. But no, “we’re doing such good work in government,” was all I heard. It’s not about limousines. The limousines are only a symbol. It’s about the intoxication of power, the delusion that one is needed, that you’re all that stands between the country and the abyss. Any time you start thinking like that it is time to resign.

  • Bill le Breton 8th May '15 - 8:45pm

    Gavin agree Survation now the market leader.

    Good to hear organisations up to date.

    But as I have said elsewhere, I heard the SNP scare on 14th April and it went thru me like electric shock. Surely it started registering on canvass returns from that moment onwards.

    If it wasn’t both succeeding and registering on returns why did the Tories know it was working? See Paul waugh’s tweet on when the Tories thought they’s got to 300. “Not *all* polls are wrong. I’m told Tories’ Crosby/Textor private polls pointed to 300+ seats on Tues, spiking to 316+ on Weds #evepollsurge”

    I still don;t understand why Paddy and others reacted as they did if they knew what others must have known.Why say you will eat your hat after polls closed unless you genuinely believed BBC exit poll wrong.

    It seems to have been common knowledge back on 25 April Eastleighh in big trouble., two weeks before polling day. As I asked in the private forum, if Eastleigh was in trouble then we were heading then for 12 ish.

    We needed to run a counterattack on Tories from that moment the SNP scare started. Shortly after we did run on the Alexander child benefitr story, but we dod’t follow this up either specifically or with other attacks on Ts

    We seem to have remained in Coalition mode too long.

  • Peter Hayes 8th May '15 - 8:52pm

    I was only a deliverer so did not get the doorstep feedback a canvasser would get. But my experience in Cheltenham was I was not canvassed and a couple of people who I deliver to said the same. Of course to cover a whole constituency is difficult but multiple focuses is not the same as personal contact. In fact in 2010 one person complained she was getting too many leaflets with no coordination between the council and MP deliveries. I hope the computer system is better than it was in 2010 when I got an Election Day phone call even though I had a postal vote. I agree with most of what Rob B says but not Rob S. The coalition problem was not doing it, it was the rose garden and not being up front in saying we were the minor partner 5:1 and not saying we have to accept XYZ as a compromise as trade off for ABC.

  • Bill le Breton 8th May '15 - 8:55pm

    ATF – thanks for your encouraging info. In no way was I suggesting a better local organisation could have saved 10k or 5k, but I am worried about the destruction of knowledge within the party in recent years. No candidate need to think they lost because of this. It was the air war. But then when we should have detected the impact of the Tory SNP scare we needed to focus on the Tories to counter act the loss of votes to the Ts.

    How do you counteract a laser? With a mirror.

    It is always emotions and almost always fear. They got the fear working for them, we didn’t shine a mirror back at them.

    There were loads of people questioning why the Ts were concentrating on this. They clearly don’t understand how things work.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 8th May '15 - 8:56pm

    Dear Colleagues,

    We did not lose as a result of the actions/I nations of our volunteers and local candidates, who were/are remarkable from what I have seen.

    Following entering a Coalition that was initially very necessary and just, we as a Party made some grave errors which we did not overcome, but actually compounded over time.

    Our principles are still the finest, and as such we have a firm foundation to rebuild upon. Let us put recriminations behind us, and return to being progressive Centralists (albeit Left leaning) who are committed to enhancing people’s welfare and overall life experience at a local level.

    We also need to seriously look at just how reflective of society we are, throughout the Party at all levels, and organisations such the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats, as are the other SAO’s, are here to assist.

    I for one, look forward to assisting in the rebuilding our Party.

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera
    Chair – Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats.

  • One thing we can do forthwith is RETIRE ASHDOWN, Why on EARTH is he on Question Time. His image is totally wrong and has been for yonks. Please put him out to grass, we need a new generation He has a major responsibility for what has happened and the failure to change things over the past 3 years. The past is past, if we are to fight back we need a clear new vision that he no longer appears to possess. It happens to us all in the end.

  • If we had a truly proportional system, we would have had the following numbers (by my calculations):
    CON 240 LAB 198 UKIP 82 LIB 51 SNP 31 GRN 25 DUP 4 PC 4 SF 4 UUP 3 SDLP 2 APNI 2 OTH 4.

    So we’d probably be looking at a narrow CON-UKIP-DUP-UUP coalition, with slightly fewer MPs than the Tories actually have. Clearly the biggest loser from FPTP is UKIP!

    Of course, if we had a proportional system, people would no doubt vote somewhat differently.

  • It may be uncomfortable however when LibDem became party of EU in and the debate with Nick and Nigel Farage the party should have taken the hint that many of the electorate wanted a referendum and joined the Cons with a commitment.

    Tonight on Auestion Time Pady was expressing his sadness that the party would not have the strength in a referendum to argue for staying in massive wrong choice.

    The other silly election decision was knocking all you had done in coalition it just made you saound like petulant children, I really hope you find the strength for a fight back however it may take time.

  • jedibeeftrix 8th May '15 - 10:29pm


    Surely it’s time to admit that boat has sailed.
    Sailed, brutally torpedoed, and lieing unlamented at the bottom of the sea.

    Worry about being relevant to the largest achievable number of voters, not fantasy scenarios in which the British electorate care as much about PR as you do.

  • Laurence Scott-Mack 8th May '15 - 10:34pm

    You knew it was over for the radical party when they where standing around with placards saying “STABILITY”.
    What happened to the party of radical change, Home rule for Scotland, legalise drugs, votes at 16 etc etc.
    Support Free Education.
    Support Scottish Independance

    Support something.

  • I agree that it was the terms of the coalition that was the first mistake.

    The last was to believe that ruthless targeting and incumbency would save more MPs.

    To do next? Go back to your wards and get elected as councillors on the basis of traditional pavement work. There’s certainly going to be lots of case work.

  • @Bill – in full agreement. Was certainly not suggesting that you had thought otherwise, apologies for the lack of clarity in my first response – has been a long 48 hours with little sleep! As you likely noticed, I meant to say my job means I can;t be publically political!

    I think you are right – the excellent ground wars were always at a loss when facing the air wars. We could, of course, done better – the results speak for themselves – but we as members can be proud of how hard we worked and campaigned. We gave our all – this attitude must continue and I get the feeling, from LDV and elsewhere, that we will do so.

    @Ruwan – a fair assessment and a strong message for the future. I for one am greatly heartend by the people now joining or rejoining the party

    . I sincerely hope we can now effectively reach out to those communites which your group helps to represent in the next, difficult five years ahead. The coming EU debate well stir, once more, the issue of immigration – we must not let our population be divded into isolated groups based on heritage, but we should now be prouder than ever of our rich, diverse humanity – a Liberal cause, if ever there was one.

  • Gwyn Griffiths 8th May '15 - 10:46pm

    @theakes Like others Paddy has done great service to the party BUT it is now 2015, not 1992 or 1997. One of the (several) reasons I do less in the party than in the past is because I KNOW that the approach of the 80s/90s is no longer appropriate, but it’s what I’m comfortable with. Time to move on.

  • Personally I am sadly coming to the conclusion that our famed resilience is blinding us to the reality that, for some years to come, there is no way back from the disaster we have just inflicted upon ourselves. After thirty five years activity and several terms on the council, I have pretty much had enough. The amount of effort it takes to beat the system and get elected as a LibDem is out of all proportion to the difference we can make if we succeed, and there are few areas of the country now where power is a realistic prospect; outside of a few random localities both our support and our resources have pretty much disappeared.

    We have sadly proven that there is no prospect of our being able to deliver any political reform whatsoever by leveraging balance of power, and any hope of meaningful change probably lies now with the SNP breaking up the UK and a future more-enlightened-than-usual Labour Party realising where it’s own long-term interests in England may lie. We have also proven conclusively that any dream we had about our national politicians turning out hugely better in office than the career politicians of the two big parties was just wishful thinking. Career politicians of all the main parties are the problem, not the solution, and the behaviour of too many of our parliamentarians these past few years has been shameful.

    We have spent the last few months campaigning for a few half-way-between-Tory-and-Labour policies and to hang on to some ministerial jobs in government; an offering that left even me as a long-term member wondering about the point of voting LibDem in the GE, a decision I made only with the ballot paper in front of me. Right now all this talk of starting again and in twenty years time maybe we will win back the parish council makes me want to resign on the spot.

  • We are all beneficiaries of Liberal thinking, but somehow all the values have been co-opted by the other parties. If only the campaign would have been more positive and assertive about what Liberalism means, it might have escaped the negativity of the other campaigns. Literally, posters identifying ‘common sense values’ like fair play, equal rights and opening of opportunity to all as being founded within liberalism. The post mortem is already about what a shame it will be that there aren’t any liberals left to counterbalance the anti-libertarian tendencies of the Conservatives and the first 100 days aren’t over yet. The failure of the liberals is not fighting the perception of conservatives ‘owning’ very popular classical liberal values, and relying too much on protest voting in practice.

  • Eddie Sammon 8th May '15 - 11:46pm

    Good point on not aping other parties, but if Labour choose the right candidate this time then it could be taken out of our hands.

    Some other thoughts: disappointing analysis by the usually excellent Alan Johnson in the Guardian. Interest rates are low partly because growth forecasts are low, but in typical Labour fashion caution is thrown to the wind.

    However, I think he is right to question the International Development Target. If Labour showed they had the bottle to get rid of this and elect a much better leader then I would be off pretty quickly. I like principles, but principles don’t buy you lunch.

  • Alfred Motspur 8th May '15 - 11:54pm

    I do think that the new administration would do well to accept that the coalition was a mistake for the Liberal Democrats. We sacrificed our identity by going into coalition government and effectively have somewhat lurched off to the right ourselves, when our rhetoric for years before was that we were neither to the left nor to the right, but to the liberal side.

    I think, ultimately, we lost this election because voters do not feel as if they can trust the Liberal Democrats anymore: in 2010, we surrendered our identity to the Conservatives, so it’s understandable that the British electorate has lost their trust in us. This is why the first priority of the new administration should be to reassert that the Liberal Democrats have their own identity, independent of Tory and Labour, and we seek not to satisfy either of them, but to rival them.

  • I can’t be involved for work reasons at the moment, and I have nothing but admiration for those who are involved, but I think we didn’t get even a leaflet here.
    Rest for a few days by all means, but Rome is burning!

  • The Lib Dem lost in the way they did for three simple reasons:

    1 = the message was wrong (Both Labour and the Lib Dems were more bothered about slinging mud at each other on the TV than building up a narrative, and for the Lb Dems stable, centre (right), soft progressiveness is not going to infuse anyone but soft Tories, who (being soft Tories) will vote for the Tories)

    2 = the Lib Dems were often in Tory facing seats where they won because they were seen to stand up for the sways of people in those seats who were ignored by the Tories (who were only focused on keeping their core, large minority support happy) and abandoned by Labour. The problem is these are not ideological voters. They vote Lib Dems to protect themselves from never-ending Tory oppression. They are an alliance of voters from all different walks of life and political viewpoints, united by two things: them wanting to escape Tory oppression, and two their liking that the local, hardworking Lib Dems are local hardworking Lib Dems who help them. The problem is that the second these people think their vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for the Tory light party, is the second those people abandon you and go back voting for whoever else is out there (even if the Tories only get 30% of the vote, if there is not focal point for the sways of non-Tory voters, they are still a large enough minority to win in our system.)
    – This is a long way of saying that Nick and Ryan did not fully appreciate who our voters were and how our system works.

    3 = there are many people out there who saw this election as a choice between the Tories, and the Tories and UKIP, and went with the Tories.

  • @ Liberal Al

    Your point 2 has lots of merit. In Labour facing seat (in Scotland and the north) we were often seen by people as not the Labour party who ignored them, while not being as bad as the Tories. Therefore being in government with the Tories and having agreed some of their policies we were seen as Tory light and we were rejected either for the SNP or Labour.

    Therefore if this analysis is correct we can only go into government with the Conservatives if we stop them carry out any policies that we object to and not do deals of one policy of yours for one policy of ours as happened in 2010.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th May '15 - 2:59am

    By the way, just reading the US news. It seems they aren’t paying us a lot of attention. Not as much as the Israel election or even German or French elections that I have followed recently.

    Their editorials, especially the New York Times one, seem aggrieved at the inward and isolationist nature that UK politics is heading towards. We have voted for a strong economy and, in a way, a fair society, but we need to start taking foreign affairs much more seriously. It’s about democracy. We can’t neglect it.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th May '15 - 3:00am

    I meant diplomacy, not democracy, sorry.

  • John Roffey 9th May '15 - 5:04am

    What troubles me most is that there must be a structural fault in the Party if it can reach a point where, essentially a fantasist, is its leader and there are no checks and balances in place to correct such a fundamental weakness. If this is not attended to – the long hard road back may be achieved – but another precipitous fall will alway be likely.

    I would suggest that this needs to be one of the first matters attended to by the new leader. In these days of the internet – it would not be difficult to obtain the approval of the membership on major issues such as changing from a left of centre party to one right of centre for instance.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th May '15 - 7:50am

    John Roffey 9th May ’15 – 5:04am

    There is much truth in what you say John. I agree that Clegg was in many ways a fanaticist who relentlessly pushed his Centrist line while encouraging the growth of the economic liberal wing in order to balance out the natural centre-left values of the party.

    In relentlessly following this strategy he may may yet have left us with a much more serious issue to deal with – and one which may yet turn out to be an unexploded bomb – and that is that, during his time he not only repelled many traditionally-valued members, but attracted many from the centre-right. So while his dream of attracting the mythical mass of soft Tories to vote for us was, and now is, demonstrably ridiculous, he may have been successful in attracting a significant number of personally and societally liberal but economically conservative new members to join the party.

    The single most important thing we can do now is move as quickly as reasonably possible to the election of a new leader.

    Clearly the MPs are going to have to do this temporarily over the coming days but until the national membership has had a chance to speak we will essentially be drifting in our life boats and unaware if a wide open sandy beach or tiny rocky cove awaits us.

    Clegg’s legacy to the party may yet be the latter.

  • Well it’s all over; the election that is…… I’m contacting my local LibDem party and can hopefully help rebuild the party the way it once was, with the values we once had….

    As for the election…The Tories won by running a campaign of personal attacks and fear…..Lynton Crosby proved, sadly, that he knew the UK electorate far better than Labour or LibDem strategists…

    The seeds were sown during the Scottish referendum; the Tories had nothing to lose in Scotland (Labour/LibDems did). 45% of Scots voted to leave and the Tory led “English votes on English Matters”, immediately after the “In” result led to the surge in SNP support….
    The strength of the SNP, and Milliband’s perceived weakness, was Cameron’s (and the right wing media’s) ‘doomsday weapon’ and it worked….

    The LibDem party have been an irrelevance since they entered coalition…We received all the blame and none of the credit for the last 5 years…..LDV has been fooling itself with articles like “The best government in my lifetime”; the electorate has shown in every poll that we were viewed as Tories2 and we appealed to almost no one…..

  • Roger Roberts 9th May '15 - 8:10am

    There will certainly be a major overhaul of our party at every level- let’s take our time -lives and livelihoods are at stake
    .Much of the parliamentary involvement could pass (needs must) to the unelected house.Not being tied to another party with a different DNA gives us the “liberal” opportunity.This is true of hundreds of Liberal groups throughout the UK. Liberalism does not need to be reinvented -we are not ashamed- we are proud of our history and record over many decades
    .I can never understand the rejection of May 7. Thank you to our great colleagues and the army of supporters who shared our dreams. After the nightmare the dream lives on….

  • Roger Roberts – ” After the nightmare – the dream lives on…”
    You cannot destroy liberalism – the light has dimmed but it will get brighter.

  • AC Trussell 9th May '15 - 8:30am

    I don’t think that people’s ignorance, fear of the SNP, and the bias -two party Media should decide who we have as a Leader. How about asking everyone of our members if they want Nick to return and if say 90% say yes; then why not? He is the best man for the job and – after all he has put up with for us- we should not lose him.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th May '15 - 8:33am

    Bill le Breton 9th May ’15 – 8:27am

    Spot on Bill.

  • John Roffey 9th May '15 - 8:35am

    expats 9th May ’15 – 8:01am

    “The LibDem party have been an irrelevance since they entered coalition…We received all the blame and none of the credit for the last 5 years…..LDV has been fooling itself with articles like “The best government in my lifetime”; the electorate has shown in every poll that we were viewed as Tories2 and we appealed to almost no one…..”

    In my earlier post I referred to a fantasist leader – I also posted a number of times, during the election, that some of the editors on LDV were also living in a fantasy world with the tone of their articles. I would read the morning papers, log onto LDV, and find a world unrelated to that reported by the press & TV stations.

    I do believe that every effort to be realistic here on LDV would help the Party considerably to prevent another fantasist leading the Party into La La Land.

  • “The amount of effort it takes to beat the system and get elected as a LibDem is out of all proportion to the difference we can make if we succeed”

    I know a lot of people who are feeling the way anon is.

  • Bill le Breton 9th May '15 - 9:06am

    Like the rest of you I am very tired,so may not be thinking straight but have I had a comment quietly removed here?

    Stephen Hesketh points to a comment I made this morning at 8.27, immediately below Roger’s comment, but it had gone!

    If the editor doesn’t want it, could I have it back please?

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th May '15 - 9:06am

    Jennie 9th May ’15 – 8:42am

    Yes Jennie, interlaced with my own feelings about rebuilding are those echoing Anon’s “We have also proven conclusively that any dream we had about our national politicians turning out hugely better in office than the career politicians of the two big parties was just wishful thinking. Career politicians of all the main parties are the problem, not the solution”.

    The electorate and the foot soldiers members of all the parties deserve better but just how much of this is ultimately driven by the cynical activities of the media and ‘professional’ journalists and PR types.

    We, as a wider society, need to get back to truth and reality. Popping the Westminster bubble would be a very good start.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th May '15 - 9:10am

    Bill, I believe it is time for an open letter to LDV. I too have suffered many ‘lost’ posts.

  • Paul In Wokingham 9th May '15 - 9:15am

    It is interesting to compare the results of Ashcroft’s last set of constituency polls (fieldwork 24/4 to 30/4) versus the actual results. He looked at 7 Lab/Con marginals and 1 LD/Con marginal (North Cornwall).

    Here is Ashcroft Standard Voting Intention/Ashcroft Constituency Voting Intention/Actual Result:

    Con 40/36/45
    LD 30/38/31
    L 7/5/5
    UKIP 15/14/13
    G 5/5/4

    So – at least in North Cornwall – the final result looked remarkably like the result for a “Standard Voting Intention” and absolutely nothing like the “Constituency Voting Intention”, much less the “Named Candidate” voting question that was constantly being talked-up here on LDV.

    This seems consistent with the idea that something (the SNP fear factor?) drove those soft Tories who had voted LD back to the Tories.

  • Christine Headley 9th May '15 - 9:16am

    Among the people I was knocking up in a West country held seat were some postal voters, and we were supposed to call on people marked ‘no data’ as well. Our shuttleworths were timed 9 pm eve of poll and we were given a 20-page walk which took three hours, excluding our lunch break. And the cover sheet did not have any postcode on it, so we had to have that looked up before we left.
    I did some telling before and after knocking up. I opened up the polling station at 10 am, but was relieved by someone else before going knocking up. When I returned late afternoon – taking over from someone not the person who had relieved me – there was a Tory there as well.
    I also think ‘less is more’ when it comes to leaflets. We delivered a couple of times in a different West country held seat where the number of leaflets going out from all parties must have severely irritated the residents. I wasn’t impressed by the Connect walk sheet either, I came fourth in my ward, but my walk sheets are brilliant!
    This was my first experience of Connect, as I still use EARS . I have issues with EARS, but didn’t find Connect foot-soldier-friendly.

  • John Roffey 9th May '15 - 9:21am

    Stephen Hesketh 9th May ’15 – 7:50am

    “In relentlessly following this strategy he may may yet have left us with a much more serious issue to deal with – and one which may yet turn out to be an unexploded bomb – and that is that, during his time he not only repelled many traditionally-valued members, but attracted many from the centre-right. So while his dream of attracting the mythical mass of soft Tories to vote for us was, and now is, demonstrably ridiculous, he may have been successful in attracting a significant number of personally and societally liberal but economically conservative new members to join the party.”

    Returning to my previous post – if the MSM is to be believed – the natural supporters of the Party are left of centre. As you say it is a myth to believe there is a ‘mass of soft Tories’ available to the Party – those that fall into this category, as yesterday proved, predominantly vote ‘Tory’ at elections.

    The Party must return to its traditional left of centre position if it hopes to survive at Westminster – and at this stage I would have thought the odds are against this being the case with the SNP the 3rd largest party and both the Greens & UKIP clearly on the rise.

  • Christine Headley 9th May '15 - 9:21am

    @ Jedi. Surely the mistake was when Richard Reeves got the job, not when he left it. Clegg needed someone with good antennae – an preferably a track record in the Party – in the bunker, and he never had it as far as I can see.

  • Ruth Bright 9th May '15 - 9:32am

    Ian Sanderson – what an endearing contribution.

    my morning is as follows: woke up, had a little cry (again) because Simon lost. Sent husband to fetch daughter’s birthday cake. Resolved (after 6 General Elections in Southwark and Bermondsey) to not, in 2020, be dragging my by then 53 year-old carcass around tower blocks fruitlessly failing to get out a vote that is not there.

    Off to get a life (or at least that is what I say now!) xxx

  • Peter Galton 9th May '15 - 9:42am

    We try and use Connect in Southampton, but to be honest most of us do not know how to use it. I am one of them and do not like going near it. In the end simple tasked became very hard and I was thinking that it never used to be like this !!. Getting information like new voters for example seemed to be a work up. It was easier for me to do certain tasks by hand. I think most of us need to be trained in certain fields even if I am reluctant to do so. We did not have as many problems when we were using EARS.

  • Bill le Breton 9th May '15 - 9:52am

    Christine Headley, your experience of these shuttleworths matched mine precisely.

    Perhaps someone here can tell us why we were expected to knock up people for whom we had “no data”. Where I was it was worse as we also had strong and weak Tories on them! And the volume of info printed out on them was excessive and not friendly to the people doing the knocking up.

    I asked the person running the computer in the committee room to reprint them without the no data and Tories on them, but they couldn’t. Ours too were printed the night before which suggests that someone had accepted that they couldn’t be produced in the committee room.

    No doubt by being sent out for three hours there would have been people who had voted after you left Christine and before you reached them. So you would have been wasting time on these ‘doors’. The whole idea of shuttleworths is that you get a ‘street’ to do and return so that the info you have is put into the computer before being turned round pronto with your next street. Anyway, if you say the telling operation didn’t start til ten, then, the system is cronk from the start.

    Some have suggested there is no point looking back, but on these technical issues we do need to know whether the system was badly run, or whether the system itself was at fault.

    It suggests to me that people running the system just don’t understsand the basics.

    Christine, where were you and are you the CH formerly of Leeds?

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 9th May '15 - 9:53am

    Negative reactions are completely understandable – but we must pick ourselves up rapidly. Don’t spend too much time licking your wounds – come together with support as if for your family members. Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard – yes, you were – and still are – amazing!

    There are immediate reactions of support we must share with those who have been crushed, including all workers; and quickly also bring the fallen into the work we need to do – as we still rely on them and their experience [Nick included] – but we will look forward not back negatively.

    Sal, our President, has begun a series of great rallying calls to members and former members to get onboard – and members are returning or joining for the first time – 1000 yesterday. Voters do realise what we stand for. We do believe in our party’s principles and we will fight to keep them despite our first reactions to where they went into the shade over time. That *was* a Coalition we’ll remember but not allow to rule our future.

    Our ‘to do list’: firstly, encourage our LibDem family and hold everyone together. Encourage the fallen to take up new positions within the party – we need them. There is also great and widespread sympathy for our Party from those who voted elsewhere. Receive new members and cherish what they will do in future. Join everyone into the amazing workers we already have. Start the return.

  • Bill le Breton 9th May '15 - 9:54am

    Well done Ruth. Some xxx to you too.

  • Christine Headley
    I agree with you. I had came across Richard Reeves when he was working for Andy Burnham the Labour Secretary of State for Health before 2010. When he was appointed as a senior SpAd to NC I wondered what special qualities he had. It seems in retrospect that someone must have been impresed because he had written a book on JS Mill.

    In the knowledge of Mill’s own attitude toward campaigning and asking the voters to support him (he was against it) I did not think that was a good omen. 🙁

  • Bill le Breton 9th May '15 - 10:00am

    Do I dare to raise the issue of the missing comment from 8.27. It was about the Blukip campaign that the party invested so much in.

    Liberal Al above had said that the GE campaign was encapsulated by this choice that the electorate had; either to wake up on Friday morning to find a Tory/UKIP government or a Tory one and they all chose the latter.

    How right he was.

    But this means that our BluKip campaign was reinforcing this false choice. It was spelling out that choice, making more and more potential LD voters go Tory to stop a Tory/UKIP Government.

    And secondly by bigging up the UKIP threat it was encouraging our 2010 voters who were flirting with UKIP to seem them not as a wasted vote but as a useful vote.

    Iand others took this up with the powers that be but our points of concern were dismissed.

    It just seems such an obvious blunder. The Blukip campaign must have done huge damage to our overall vote.

  • I agree with Christine and others about EARS, which has been much maligned in our party. In my Borough during last year’s elections we had one target on Connect and one on EARS (different constituencies) and, in the heat of the campaign, there was no doubt that EARS’s familiarity and ease of use made it far superior to Connect; indeed the Connect ward struggled to get useful data from the system and the printouts they did produce proved difficult to use.

    I have no doubt Connect is the superior system, but in the heat of battle reliability and ease of use are worth more than functionality many people don’t need or understand.

    But, anyhow, I don’t think system issues really figure in any analysis of our problems this week – indeed the Tories I know are always moaning about how useless their system is, and I believe I read somewhere that it collapsed nationwide for more than an hour on polling day?

  • Lester Holloway 9th May '15 - 10:35am

    The election data I’ve been looking at shows, with very few exceptions, that the more racially diverse a seat is the larger the swing against the LibDems. It underlines why connecting with BAME communities is so crucial to rebuilding and, in my opinion, demands more than merely “reaching out” or expecting EMLD to do it for everyone else. It requires so much more. Some have been saying such things in the past to no avail but, looking at the election, what have you got to lose now?

  • Once again Bill sums it up. Another thing my spell deprived self forgot to mention is that the whole focus on ‘getting the Lib Dems back into Government’ was possibly the worst message we could have given for reasons that have been said all too many times (and ignored all too many times) on this site before. To the causal onlooker, it would just reinforce all the wrong messages about what the Lib Dems got into politics for, the Rose garden onwards.

    Furthermore, as someone above said, the Conservative mastermind had a vote winning plan for the United Kingdom and its system: we had a strategy that was based on a different system and the strange presumption that people vote on policy first and trust second.

    A campaign based on the idea that, here are the policies people who ‘may’ vote us like, so let make these policies ignores the basic truth that people on voting day often do not think of policies much (beyond the rare big one), as people do not much care how the Government carries out its abstract and detracted from reality responsibilities, so long as it is seen to be doing so competently and honestly.

    The Conservatives understood this and ran a simple campaign: we are competent, everyone else is a big scary political monster, which you cannot trust because it wants to work with other people to stitch you up and grab power for itself.

    Sure, to political lovers, it may seem a laughable message because we have seen Tory dishonesty and incompetence firsthand, but to the causal onlooker, they played the tough, but competent card well this time, and in a time of uncertainty, there were enough people willing to go with it.

  • @Liberal Al
    “the whole focus on ‘getting the Lib Dems back into Government’ was possibly the worst message we could have given for reasons that have been said all too many times”

    In the last week of the campaign, Clegg’s main two messages were 1) we can’t let the SNP have a say in the government, and 2) if we don’t get a clear result there’ll be another election by Christmas.

    He might as well have just been saying: “Vote Tory”. To what extent he caused the late Tory surge, we cannot know, but he certainly didn’t do anything to hold it back.

  • AC Trussell – I agree. We need to rebuild and we need to learn, but our country did not abandon Nick, they abandoned us and the country lurched to the right – not centre right and not centre. This is complex and we need to work together, with good debates; inspite of it being continually dragged up lots of people make judgements about more than tuition fees or even joining the coalition; we need to campaign positively as we can be very effective when we do and be clear on our achievements; there us integrity shown there.

  • Sadie Smith 9th May '15 - 11:43am

    We have lost competent people, including a couple of economists I trust not to screw things up. And Liberals I trust not to get it too badly wrong. We need these basics at Parliamentary level. I don’t think I need to bother with that level, other than try to defeat *****Tories. How many MPs have thought that?

    Our Committees need to take a hard look at the Campaign. This is the second bad campaign and selling ‘we are not the others’ will not do. The positive case for values and the Party matters. I rather think our new members will find it refreshing.

    Practicals like polling day matter for large, organised Local Parties. I could pull one together before moving to live in a black hole but not now for too many years. We need extraParliamentary activity . And getting access to everything online and changing systems close to elections is not helpful.

    I would like someone to take up the media (including comedians who use us to get a cheap laugh without bothering to think of a joke). Political commentary is in too few hands. One only asks the ‘exactly how much money/things’ question and is one of the group who promoted Ukip beyond reason.. The BBC is pretty awful at politics nationally and in the West Midlands And local paper believes everything the Labour Council tells it.

    It could have been less bad. Would not have stopped Tories targeting our seats.

    When I was a new member there were some things we knew. You needed to be able to think for yourself. And you knew that HQ would get it wrong so you needed local control.

  • jedibeeftrix 9th May ’15 – 10:48am
    “…… Richard Reeves was pushing in the wrong direction, but his goal was correct to make liberalism relevant beyond the limited pool of ‘authentic’ liberals (15%?), and so make it a creed that could win …”

    To be honest, Jedi, I had not realised that was what he was trying to do. It was not obvious. Those of us who did manage to make Liberalism relevant to ordinary voters, keep their trust and get elected and re-elected in a majority on local councils and then put Liberalism into practice did not recognise that was what Richard Reeves was trying to do. I wonder why?

    I agree with you about the folly of “core vote masquerading as centrism” it was as you say even worse.

  • Robert Shepherd 9th May '15 - 3:37pm

    I am not a Liberal Democrat; I’m just some guy on the internet, but it strikes me that a majority Tory government gives you a proper opportunity here to talk in detail about the benefits your party bought to the coalition. If I were you I’d start a blog that follows the policies developed over the next 5 years and clearly sets out what you’d have done differently- preferably with as little politicking as possible. I think a genuine, easy-to-understand thing from you like that would do a lot to both win people back and define what you stood and stand for, but you should begin doing this right now if it’s going to be effective.

  • I am not a liberal democrat though very likely I am ideologically closest to that position. In my mind the following are all serious problems:

    1. The way the broken promises and backtracking have been handled in government has been truly embarrassing. It will not do to have a principled position on something like higher education (as the Lib Dems had in 2010) and then say “we’re sorry we did not realise the state of the economy.” Neutrals rightly think that sounds ridiculous and justification needs to be offered beyond “well we mediated the bad Tories.” If the reality of this example clouds your thinking imagine Lib Dems supporting longer detention without charge because “they did not realise the state of national security.” Senior Lib Dems complaining of being punished for doing what is in the national interest need to not reduce the narrative to an act of heroic self sacrifice.

    2. Related to that point, there seems to be far too much talk of local policy and working issue by issue (important though these are). One of the failures of the campaign is the lack of grand vision for the UK. I got the impression of a party of rule keepers and presumptuous king makers. It is telling that Nick Clegg spoke most eloquently about the need for liberalism in his resignation speech. A feeble offer to restrain the Tories’ heartlessness and Labour’s profligacy does nothing to enliven the prospect.

    3. As with the labour party the thinking seems utterly deadened by the myths of the party’s history. “In the past a ground war gained us seats, lets do that again.” “We have just been in coalition government, here is what we would do next time in coalition.” Not all ideas have to be regurgitated from one’s own history.

  • History is often an excellent guide as to what things not to do in future; it is a much less sure guide as to the positive steps to be taken.

  • Graham Jeffs 11th May '15 - 8:45am

    It’s a long time since I was able to be an activist, I can only observe.

    Here in much of the south of England we have been experiencing an ongoing deterioration in our political organisation as local activists have aged, councillors have been lost and the practice of appointing PPCs well in advance of an election [hopefully to focus and galvanise campaigning and organisation] has been replaced with last minute appointments who mean nothing to the local electorate.

    We didn’t even receive a LD election address this GE. I haven’t seen a local election leaflet for 15 years – I used to be asked to sign the nomination papers of local election candidates, but after I suggested that I thought that at the very least the membership should be told something about the candidates (and was promised that this would be rectified) I have stopped receiving even these visitations. We used to ridicule the Conservatives for being prepared to vote for any old donkey with a blue ribbon!!

    I am a passionate believer in feisty, professional local campaigning in order to build a base for whatever level of local representation that can realistically be achieved – which in turn helps to recruit new (hopefully younger) members and might also collectively improve our opinion poll ratings – perceptions are important.

    We can’t afford to sit around intellectualising – and right now we actually need to maintain the tension in our stronger areas in particular or further organisational deterioration will occur. So exhausted as many may be, this is not the moment to take a break of more than a couple of weeks at most!

    We need to start organising and finding candidates for next year’s local elections right now. There has to be a lot more “hurry up”, a lot more focus and a lot less navel gazing.

  • SIMON BANKS 11th May '15 - 9:57am

    Surveys which correlated voting behaviour with social values and policy choices showed that before 2010, we’d rubbished the old stereotype that the Liberals (Liberal Democrats) just hoovered up protest votes which went out the other end next time. Our voters had a profile at least as clear as Conservatives or Labour: they were more pro-diversity and pro-civil-liberties than Labour and much more than Conservatives. They supported redistribution of income from rich to poor. On tax and spend they lay between Labour and Conservatives. I remember finding that profile satisfying and reassuring. During 2010 we contrived to alienate most of our core voters and we never won them back. The first task of the party now, if we are not to vanish, is to win back the people who are natural Liberal Democrat voters.

    We had good reason to think despite the plunge in our poll ratings, we’d hold on to enough bastions to give us 26 to 32 seats. Local polls said so. But this support was soft. Much of it was based on appreciation of what a good fellow and what a good constituency MP Bob Russell or Stephen Lloyd was. In the last few days there was a predictable Tory surge based on Cameron looking a more credible PM than Miliband and especially on the Labour government in the pocket of the SNP scare. People who had genuinely intended to vote for us voted Tory. I was knocking up early evening in a Colchester ward where we had savvy activists and were very well organised. We were of course knocking up canvass definites and probables. Far too many of them were saying they’d voted but not for us. I don’t believe that was poor canvassing.

    Far too many people have no idea what we stand for – and I don’t mean detailed policies, even flagship policies like the pupil premium or taking low earners out of income tax. They didn’t see a connection between these policies and values.

    We need to put that right. We also need to reinvigorate and increase the activist base, which won’t happen without a clear message on values. We’ve reversed the decline in membership, but many of the new members see no connection between paying subs to a national party and doing anything local – and in my constituency (NE Essex) we’ve tried to engage them. At least we must make sure the national volunteers for this election are invited to get involved locally.

    One technical point. Connect (which was horribly slow on the day, not good enough for all the money it costs) is good at telling us how well we’re getting out our declared supporters compared to those we’ve canvassed and put down as opponents’ voters. That has worked very well in the past, especially in local elections where the turnout is low and all parties struggle to get out more than half of the people who would vote for them if they could bother. But in this election the problem was people we believed were supporters voting otherwise and on the ground that was becoming evident at least in that Colchester ward. How well is that information recorded and assessed nationally? It wouldn’t have made a difference in East Anglia, but it might have led to some reallocation of workers in the South-West or outer South-West London and to saving three or four seat we lost.

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