P-1: Deep breath

Well after a few weeks, numerous days, endless hours and given my tiredness, countless minutes – polling day is about to commence. And yes, we have reached that point. ‘No more leaflets’ shout the notices on the doors. Some of the notices scream ‘NO MORE LEAFLETS’, some of the house don’t want UKIP leaflets specifically and some of the residents are quite articulate in their resistance. The most receptive and consistent in welcoming the avalanche of the leaflets have been the recycling boxes and bins.

What has been striking and fellow Liberal Democrats will appreciate this – has been the warmth of reception that we have had. Without a doubt the candidate who has emerged as kind, honest, respected and yes distinctive has been Dr Zulfiqar Ali.

I have worked with many many candidates and I can confidently say that you can be proud of the work, standing and respect of Dr Zulfiqar Ali. Zulfi has been beset by media and unlike virtually all of the other candidates he has not been on the run – he has been calm and accessible.

So we clear the office, bundle the good morning leaflets and prepare for a full-on count where no party really knows what will happen. Can I on behalf of the team here, and perhaps on your behalf, thank Dr Zulfiqar Ali, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Stoke-on-Trent Central.

And, again on your behalf, thank Zulfi’s family, friends and the Local Party who have duly rallied to the cause and helped us fight the Battle of Stoke. Just the fourth battle in the list of Witney, Richmond, Sleaford & North Hykeham, and certainly not the end of the long steady climb that is the Liberal Democrat Fightback…

* Ed Fordham is a party member and activist in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Richard Underhill 22nd Feb '17 - 8:32pm

    There is a half-page cartoon on page 27 of The Times of 22/2/2017, which shows a man with a UKIP£ badge and a Liverpool FC scarf singing “You’ll ne-e-e-e-ever walk alo–o-one!”

  • Leekliberal 22nd Feb '17 - 8:36pm

    Ed -Thanks to you, Zulfi and all the Stoke Central team for a terrific effort!

  • Best of luck. Pay day tomorrow I really need to make a donation, my small way of thanking you for the effort you have all put in. Looking from afar it would be difficult to imagine a more dedicated campaign team or a better candidate.

    Break a leg.

  • You’ve done a great job Ed. Thanks to you, Zulfi, his family, friends and the Local Party.

    It’s essential we take the Lib Dem Fightback to places like Stoke, well done!

  • And …. do not forget Copeland …. 11 Lib Dem MPs on Friday ??

  • Well done Dr Ali and Team. Sorry couldn’t be with you this week; enjoyed my earlier visits. Great team – hope you get the result you deserve.

  • Katharine Pindar 23rd Feb '17 - 1:35am

    Thanks, Peter Kemp – no, let nobody forget about Copeland. We have a truly outstanding candidate in Rebecca Hanson, head and shoulders above the rest. And, to quote a couple of householders I was delivering one of Rebecca’s letters to yesterday, ‘ You have run a really good campaign this time, really effective!’ It has indeed been a great campaign, continually active with Rebecca’s daily presence on Facebook and in live appearances up and down our huge constituency, meeting people, shining at hustings and talking to the Media, while an increasingly large band of helpers from all over the country has distributed one telling publication after another from Keswick to Cockermouth South, from Whitehaven to Millom. The last will be going out in a few hours’ time. Grateful thanks to our highly experienced and effective agent, Andrew Sangar MBE and his Sheffield cohort, and to everyone from Harrow to Edinburgh (and including Staffordshire!) who has come and stayed and delivered, even sometimes in driving rain. We have had our Lords and our MPs, distributing with ordinary members we didn’t know until now but really value – a wonderful friendly, stimulating campaign it has been!

  • Thankyou and Best of Luck to both campaigns.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Feb '17 - 8:17am

    Good luck to both campaigns 🙂
    I am wondering what impact Storm Doris may have on turnout in both constituencies. It may be that the weather will be less extreme than predicted. But if there is very extreme weather, it is likely that even people who always vote, may wonder if it is wise to venture out to go to the polling station.
    Extreme weather will also make things very difficult for activists who had planned to spend the day going round the constituency knocking on doors to “get out the vote”. People who had been intending to travel to the constituency from further afield will probably be wondering now if it is wise to travel.
    If the weather turns out to be so extreme that there is actual danger, I would urge activists not to be careless of their own safely. It is not worth putting yourself in danger for the sake of a few possible extra votes!
    Presumably the weather will affect voters and activists of all parties more or less equally, so it is unlikely to affect the outcome – each party is likely to get the same proportion of votes it would have anyway, but the actual numbers will be lower. The traditional belief that bad weather had an adverse affect on the Labour Party’s share of the vote is probably outdated, and may have always been something of an urban myth.

  • Andrew McCaig 23rd Feb '17 - 8:44am

    The weather definitely affects people without cars disproportionately.. It also makes it harder to get reluctant voters out, and at the moment the polls show many 2015 Labour voters are undecided..

    However if it becomes dangerous to go out in the Copeland countryside that might affect the Tory vote..

    Either way it just emphasises how important the postal vote is these days..

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Feb '17 - 9:18am

    Andrew McCraig, you are right. I am already rethinking my earlier suggestion that a low turnout, due to bad weather, probably would not affect the actual outcome. It is likely that postal votes will turn out to be a far higher proportion than usual of votes cast, and it does seem that the proportion of votes cast for different parties is often different among postal voters, than among people in the same constituency who vote in person at the polling station.

  • David Evershed 23rd Feb '17 - 10:19am

    Postal votes rule. OK!

  • Best of luck to the Lib Dem candidates today.

    I’m not a Lib Dem, just a disgruntled Lib Dem/Labour floating voter who would like to see a competent centrist/centre-left administration running the country. As such, I despair at the state of British politics because such a desire has never seemed so far from reality. I really cannot decide what (realistic) outcome I would like to see in the two by-elections. It would be a disaster for Labour to win either of the seats and shore up support for Corbyn’s continued non-existence as leader. I’ve always been of the opinion that the Tories were the main contenders for both seats, but I can’t bring myself to cheer for the Tories, especially as it would give some electoral credibility to their anti-intellectualism and desire to chase popular ignorance at the expense of this country’ s future.

    So, what I’m hoping for, above all, is for UKIP to be punished and forgotten and for the media to end it’s un-evidenced narrative about their future electoral prospects. And for Corbyn’s strategy of chasing UKIP voters to be exposed for the nonsense it is.

  • Chris Bertram 23rd Feb '17 - 12:02pm

    Good luck out there, and well done to all regardless of the result. The only thing that worries me a little from a distance, is that we don’t seem to have been able to shift the national media narrative from it being about UKIP v Labour, and now the Tories coming up on the rails. So I hope that the local media has been a bit more even-handed. All the same our own boots on the ground are probably the best weapon we have.

    Hoping for encouraging news tomorrow morning.

  • I know of the Stoke campaign: whatever happens victory or lost deposit you and your team could not have done more. Tomorrow take a well earned rest.
    If Failsworth and Basingstioke are followed the tide may have turned for Labour. We shall see.

  • Matt (Bristol) 23rd Feb '17 - 12:23pm

    What I’m hoping for: LibDem second or first in both seats, with UKIP third or lower in Stoke, and fourth or lower in Copeland.

    Best wishes to both teams.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Feb '17 - 12:36pm

    Doris may be blamed. She might have been called Storm Donald.
    There is an ancient theory that Tories own cars and go to the polls despite the weather, whereas Labour supporters need to walk through the storm, as if they were not used to that. Professor Top psephologist John Curtice (Strathclyde University) was asked about this on the Daily Politics in June 2016 and said the issue was not statistically significant. His data were presumably derived from previous general elections.
    Tim Shipman (Sunday Times, All Out War) had access to both Remain and Leave campaigns in 2016 and reports that very heavy rain on polling day affected turnout in parts of London likely to vote Remain. They could see this in the data. This is also true of Tunbridge Wells which had very heavy rainfall all afternoon, and which voted Remain by less than those looking at the demographic data had expected.

  • Sue Sutherland 23rd Feb '17 - 1:33pm

    Good luck to both teams and candidates, you’ve done an amazing job, hope our vote gets out to the polls in droves.

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