Opinion: My post election promise

We’re really struggling right now, and I know that. Even the sorry few who managed to keep their seats are looking at a pretty rough time over the next 5 years. 2015 has been a bad year for us, as liberals, so what can we do to fix that?

One of the best things about the Lib Dems is that we know we can bounce back in the face of adversity. Yes, it’s not been as tough as this in a long time, but we’re made of sterner stuff. We’re not going to roll over and let this be it.

I spent far too many hours out on doorsteps recently, in the gorgeous sunshine and the pouring rain, chapping on doors and persuading lovely people to vote for us. And I learned a lot. I learned that there are some die-hard supporters out there – some who will not change their vote, the vote that their fathers and even grandfathers made all their lives. And sometimes that works in our favour (yay – a life-long Lib Dem) and sometimes it doesn’t (“I’ll vote Labour like my father before me”, a favourite line from my grandmother of all people). These people are never going to change, although my gran has reliably informed me that she would vote for me if I ever stood as a candidate, even as a  liberal!

But there are also the people that feel let down by us. There are many people who wanted to tell me why they weren’t voting for us – this time. The people who didn’t want an EU referendum and were worried we’d go with the Conservatives and do that. The people who are still upset about the tuition fees . The people who wanted more power for Scotland and didn’t think that could happen without the SNP fighting their corner. The people that tried to open a dialogue with us so we could understand. All the people that said “Pass that onto Nick for me, will ya? I want to vote for you, but I just can’t because…” As if I have some direct line to Nick Clegg (although I did get a chance to speak to Miriam last weekend, and she was terribly nice.)

These people want to feel listened to, they want to feel like we’re there for them, and most importantly, they want to feel like they are making the right choice. So how can we prove that?

I would challenge every single party member to try and talk to one person a week. One person a week to swing to the Lib Dems, per member, and we’ve got a resounding success for the next general election. Even if you don’t convert someone every week, even trying might be enough to give them second thoughts in the polling booth. People want us to spend time with them, and they want to be heard, and having one last push in the final throes of an election isn’t going to do that.

We need to be there for people, so here’s my 2015 challenge, and a promise I’m making myself. Every week before the next general election, I’m going to bring someone into the Lib Dem fold. Whether it’s a someone who votes for another party or a current non-voter. And I’m going to listen to them, and I’m going to help them understand what we’re about. And in five years time… we’re going to bounce back.

* Lauren Jones is a LIberal Democrat member from Scotland

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10 Comments

  • So what is the feeling in Scotland, more devolution or should we as Liberals be talking about Federalism. With localism thrown in?

  • Peter Hayes 10th May '15 - 6:51pm

    Nice idea but where do I start when my wife is a Labour supporter! There are a lot of us who are quiet deliverers who need to be encouraged by what the party leadership does and says. Talking to supporters on the doorstep is one thing, we need a positive message to take to other voters, when will we get it?

  • If the Lib Dems do recover from this (and that is by no means certain) it will take at least a generation.

    The 2010 voters who abandoned you in 2015 remain furious and for good reason. They were used and then cast aside immediately after the election.

    The only hope for the Lib Dems now, is to make a full and sincere apology for this betrayal.

    Additionally, measures need to be put in place to better restrain the Parliamentary side of the party should they ever again manage to hold office.

    Humble pie is never tasty but I believe that this is the only chance the Lib Dems now have to survive.

  • I have voted Lib Dem all my life apart from last Thursday when I voted Green. For me the Lib Dems sold their soul when in coalition and it will take a lot to get it back. Don’t get me wrong, I approved of going into coalition, it was the right thing to do and could have worked. But our soul was slowly eaten away by The Conservatives until there was nothing left. Health service reform, benefit reform, legal reform, all voted for by Lib Dem MPs in the name of coalition but against the principals of the party I have always supported. By the time of the election, what did the Lib Dems stand for? Cutting less than the Tories but not spending as much as Labour, that was never a vision or narrative to inspire voters.
    I want to support a party that espouses the ethos that a more equal society is a healthier and happier society. I want a party with radical policies that give everyone the opportunity of fulfilling their potential. The benefits accruing to a wealthy country need to be shared fairly. Those left behind are still part of our society and need to be supported and sustained.
    Above all else I want a party that is prepared to move away from the sterile economic dogma that has taken hold with its focus on the futile pursuit of austerity and deficit reduction.

  • Bill Chapman 10th May '15 - 7:41pm

    I wonder whether I would be allowed to offer a radical solution which I have proposed here before? That solution would be for the Liberal Democrats to become a freestanding part of the Labour Party. I propose this not simply to bring greater marital harmony to Peter Hayes.

    Keith’s view is that “I want a party with radical policies that give everyone the opportunity of fulfilling their potential. The benefits accruing to a wealthy country need to be shared fairly. Those left behind are still part of our society and need to be supported and sustained.” Splendid. That is exactly what I have been fighting for for months as a Labour Party member.

  • You say rightly 2015 was a bad year for LibDems. but every year since 2010 has been a bad year and if the people at the top don’t realise this you are in big trouble. Unfortunately, all I am hearing is that the Tories fought a great campaign and that the LibDem support fell away in the last week because of Tory scare tactics. This is total rubbish, the party had been polling in single figures for over a year, so why was the leadership surprised when they got 8% of the vote.

  • Bill C, that gave me the first good belly laugh I’ve had in a long while; thanks for that.

    Lauren, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. I suspect the trick will be in finding the way to get through to people on a wider basis. But talking to people is a fantastic start. 🙂

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th May '15 - 6:44am

    Bill Chapman

    Keith’s view is that “I want a party with radical policies that give everyone the opportunity of fulfilling their potential. The benefits accruing to a wealthy country need to be shared fairly. Those left behind are still part of our society and need to be supported and sustained.” Splendid. That is exactly what I have been fighting for for months as a Labour Party member.

    I believe in political plurality. You do not. From what you have written, like many Labour Party members you do not even understand the issue. To you it is natural that there should be one monopoly party of the left. To me, it is vital that there should not be. That is why, though my politics are of the left, I have never wanted to join or support the Labour Party.

  • Maggie Smith 11th May '15 - 1:44pm

    @Matthew Huntbach

    Now would be a good time for those slightly left of center to mover FROM the Labour party to The lIb dems, but a few observations.

    because imo

    1) The lib dem civil liberties agenda is (even now) still much better than that of Labour. Laws enacted by the last Labour government were one of the biggest turn offs from the Blair years.

    2) I feel the Labour party is going to lurch right here, Mandelson and Blairites are popping up like hydra heads with the “I told you so!” comments, I’m sure they wont be going more left (Although IMO the left thing isn’t why they lost).

    But….

    Many people, like myself had voted Lib Dem in the past because of our distaste of Blair (The Iraq war being the most obvious point) BUT Clegg and a few people on here, naming no names basically told us, just after 2010 that they didn’t want the votes of the disillusioned left anyway. Politics is a funny thing, when you get told to stick your vote, that takes a lot of getting over.

    I’ll be honest and say that I’m waiting to see primarily where the LDs go in the next few months and then I may consider joining the party. But I’ll not be joining the party that might most closely represents my view if I’m not welcome. I’m no more disillusioned with Labour than I was in 2010 or back to 1997, but the lib dems under Charles Kennedy almost won me over (membership wise).

    To represent what is most important to me for that “move” (since I’m not a labour party member ) is based 90% on where the LDs go now and 10% on where Labour go. Politically the choices made by the LDs, is far more important to me at the moment than where the Labour party choose to position themselves. I am not expecting The LDs to sharp left, I’m saying that if they move just a little back toward their traditional position (pre Clegg) then I’m willing to move a long way to meet them there.

  • Kevin Hammond 11th May '15 - 10:58pm

    No one has mentioned the role of the Sun, Mail and Express here. They have been systematically character assassinating Nick Clegg for the last 5 years (and Ed Miliband by the way). When people read this unsubstantiated slander every other day over a period of time, they start to believe it. I am appalled that these papers have the opportunity to do this and very disappointed that many people actually believe what they read in these papers. The tuition fees business was blown up and kept alive by these papers for the whole of the term of the last parliament.

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