Post 2017 Northern Liberalism – Part 3

As promised, the last part  (Part 1 here, part 2 here) of my foray into political analysis will look at how we move forward in an area of the UK where we kept less than deposits in June of this year. Central to this is, I believe, the strategy suggested by Mark Pack and David Howarth of creating a core vote. However, this is clearly a long-term strategy, and I want to look at the more immediate future.

It is because of our current situation that I welcome the appointment of Tim Farron as our new spokesperson for the North of England. It’s a logical place for him to be, proud as he clearly is of his Preston upbringing. I also think it is a great opportunity for Tim to get back to what he does best, rallying the troops. With all the important local elections coming up, our members really do need that drive. A good first step would be for us to denounce the Northern Powerhouse for the complete fudge that it is, and to scream it from the rooftops. Fractional funding increases in real terms does not constitute a powerhouse anywhere. We should also continue to speak out on the pointlessness of the new City Region Mayors, whose only success that I can see is to get flip-flop Burnham out of the Commons. I was very happy to hear Carl Cashman say that the first thing he would do if elected in the Liverpool City Region would be to have a referendum on his new position – because why on earth does Liverpool need three mayors?

Having mentioned Tim, I feel it is worth reiterating what is for me the defining message of his leadership, pick a ward and win it. We used to run a dozen councils in the North, but now it’s just South Lakeland. If we are to gain Parliamentary seats, we must gain council seats, it’s a very simple and uncontroversial truth. Council elections are always effected by national opinion, there’s no way around that, so we fall back on a record of local delivery, on Labour’s incompetence and the cruelty of the Conservatives. It will be an uphill battle, in some places it’ll be impossible for now. So we must focus our resources on winnable areas, not fritter them in hopeless contests. A strong organisation is also central, such as that now delivering impressive results in Sheffield. The ability of the Sheffield party to co-ordinate and focus their efforts to specific areas across the city is what made the win in Mosborough and the solid swing in Beighton last week possible.

I read an article recently which stated we should “stake it all on Brexit, live and die by it if we must”. This seems fundamentally wrong to me. As a party, we have so much more to offer than pro-Europeanism. It is certainly one of our key values, but it is not the be all and end all of who we are. Liberalism does not become any less necessary in a Britain outside the EU, in fact it will be the opposite. We did not become the party of “I told you so” after the 2008 crash, we got stuck in to fix it, we must not do that with Brexit either. This may seem contradictory, but to me there is a key difference between fighting the ill-effects of Brexit and obsessing over it to our own detriment. All polls show people are fed up with talk of Brexit, so we must also deal with the issues that they care about. That is why we must not ‘stake it all’, because we will be more needed after Brexit than we were before. So, we must have Liberal Democrats in positions where they can help our country once the calamity that is Brexit hits hard, which it will. Which brings me back to winning constituencies, which brings me back to winning council seats.

We recover in the North by winning local elections. We must be ruthlessly focussed in our efforts, because it will be a long haul. To my mind, there is no big breakthrough coming, so we must make one. So find the one, two or three wards in your council where a Liberal Democrat victory is most likely and do what we do best – pound the pavements, talk to local people and work for them. As Tim said, you can’t change people’s lives from second place.

* Ed Thornley is a member of Leeds Young Liberals, co-ordinated their campaigning in June’s General Election and is doing the same for the Leeds Council elections next year. He campaigned in Southport during the EU Referendum.

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38 Comments

  • Katharine Pindar 17th Oct '17 - 2:26pm

    I must fundamentally disagree with part of your post here, Ed. The most important work for Lib Dems in the north as elsewhere in Britain for the next twelve months will be indeed to focus on Brexit, because to have any chance of stopping it before the crucial date of March 2019, when our exiting will be finalised unless we stop it, we need to help generate a tidal wave of popular support to achieve this. People may indeed be ‘fed up with talk of Brexit’, but the important polls are like the YouGov one of last week which began to show a majority shift of opinion in favour of Remain. The vital work is within the next year, precisely, so that in October 2018 Parliament may decide itself that the negotiations have not been successful and withdrawal must stop, or else call a referendum to let the people make the final decision. As inflation rises and the economic situation worsens, and all the other ills of Brexit become more and more apparent, it should not be too difficult to persuade more people that Brexit can be and must be stopped. We must not give up talking on the doorsteps about this, and I have already felt encouraged by local canvassing.

    None of which will prevent me, as a northern activist, from helping local county councillors with their work, and, next spring, campaigning vigorously for the councillors of South Lakeland who will all be up for re-election. These tasks must go on together.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 17th Oct '17 - 3:00pm

    Katharine, I think Ed is making the point that the most important thing is for the party to focus on Liberalism – the party should be so much more than being pro EU, and being liberal has always been far more fundamental to the party than being pro EU.
    As Ed says, liberals will been needed after Brexit, more than ever.
    So the party does need to be making plans for after Brexit. That doesn’t mean becoming pro Brexit, it just means recognising the reality that Britain is almost certainly leaving the EU in 2019, and making plans for that reality. By not doing so, the party is actually letting the country down. We will find ourselves in 2019, outside the EU, but with the party having no plans to offer, because the whole focus has been on trying to prevent Brexit. It could actually have been possible to campaign for a “referendum on the deal”, while still planning for a future after Brexit in the almost certain event of Brexit occurring. But this, the party is failing to do.

  • Dave Orbison 17th Oct '17 - 5:13pm

    Why on earth does Liverpool need three mayors? It doesn’t. The Lord Mayor is historical (13th century) and then came along the Mayor of Liverpool . I’m not really a great fan – of the position or post holder to be honest. But the third the Metro mayor was a creation of the Coalition.

    “Directly-elected mayors – Parliament UK” (PDF). 19 April 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2012.

    As for Labour’s incompetence – the LibDems once controlled Liverpool. In 2007 the LibDems controlled the council with 56 seats to Labour’s 30. In 2010 Labour took control with 47 seats to LibDem 38.

    You claim Labour has been incompetent and make no mention of the huge cuts in funding of the council by the Coalition government. As a result, many services have been drastically cut. This is not incompetence by Labour but cuts by the last successive Government’s detached and uncaring as to the direct consequences of their actions.

    In 2016 Labour held 80 seats and LibDems 4. The people of Liverpool are not fools – that’s democracy for you.

  • paul barker 17th Oct '17 - 5:20pm

    Its 40 Years since I lived in The North of England but a lot of the points in this article apply elsewhere.
    The point I want to make about Brexit is that its about a lot more than The EU. To take the oddest example : two thirds of Remainers think that Gay Sex is “Normal” as against one in five Leavers. Clearly most Voters see Brexit as a “Gateway” issue, a sort of shorthand for more general cultural attitudes. That doesnt mean that we should abandon Leavers, especially not in Local Elections where more Voters are prepared to give us a hearing.
    On Tims mantra – “pick a Ward & win it”. That is absolutely right but we should combine that with fighting every Seat, Paper Candidates are the first step & even a dozen Votes are infinitely better than no Votes.
    The “Northern Powerhouse” was just an advertising Slogan, it sounds better than “some small shifts in Power which are just the first steps in a long process”. Its a beginning that can be built on. To be fair to The Tories the biggest messes, in Merseyside & The North East are more the fault of unimaginative Labour bigwigs.
    On whether we will see big improvements in May, its too soon to say; the last 3 Months have been encouraging but theres another 7 Months to go.

  • Peter Watson 17th Oct '17 - 6:02pm

    @Katharine Pindar “the important polls are like the YouGov one of last week which began to show a majority shift of opinion in favour of Remain”
    No it did not show that. In a month or two, if there is a trend, then it might be okay to make that claim, but the best that can be said at the moment is “the regular trackers do appear to have started to show some small movement towards regret” (http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9949). But let’s not forget the same sort of polling showed a victory for Remain in 2016!

    However, in the context of this thread on northern liberalism, the changes between the most recent YouGov polls (https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/xdlp14v0de/TimesResults_170922_VI_Trackers_W.pdf and https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ptmrf0v5kz/Timesresults_171011_VI_Trackers.pdf) suggest that the movement to Bregret was mostly in London and the South (and Scotland), with opinion in the North barely changing and Midlands/Wales being more convinced about the vote to leave.

  • Andrew McCaig 17th Oct '17 - 6:29pm

    We have been doing surveys in a 3 way marginal target ward in Kirklees. There is definitely a shift in opinion and a sample of 300 that voted 51-49 Levae would now vote 55-45 Remain

  • Dave Orbison 17th Oct '17 - 6:30pm

    Paul Barker – “To be fair to The Tories the biggest messes, in Merseyside & The North East are more the fault of unimaginative Labour bigwigs.”

    You state that you have not lived up North for 40 years. Over this time the LibDems position in Liverpool has all but collapsed. The destruction of public services is causing hardship and threatens those vulnerable who rely on such safety nets. I remember Danny Alexander being thrilled at every opportunity of getting onto the TV and telling us of the need to cut services – the need for pain, justification of benefits reform, public pay freeze and bedroom tax.

    As for ‘biggest messes’ – the current destruction of the NHS which has its foundation in the NHS reforms imposed by the Coalition must surely count as one of the most catastrophic decisions taken by any government.

    Labour bigwigs???? I’m afraid like so many in the Leadership of the party you are sadly out of touch. No wonder the LibDems have just 1 MP (just) in the whole of the North.

  • @ Paul Barker “Paper Candidates are the first step”. Sorry, Paul, no, they’re not. As is frequently said about the stable crop in Wakefield, – that’s rhubarb

    To ‘field’ a paper candidate is to treat the electorate with lack of respect and is a form of ineffective self indulgence. It’s non-serious politics and the electorate will regard the Liberal Democrat Party as non-serious as a consequence.

    If a candidate stands they shouldn’t sit at home ruminating on their own whimsical thoughts. They should get out on the door step, offer some sort of effort and service to the electorate and tease out the issues. They might, just might, then make some connections with the electorate and persuade a few folk that the Lib Dems actually have something they may want and value. Who knows, it even attract a few new supporters.

    Anything less is none serious. 99% of the electorate can, and frequently do, treat it with the contempt it deserves.

  • Peter Watson 17th Oct '17 - 7:33pm

    @Andrew McCaig “We have been doing surveys in a 3 way marginal target ward in Kirklees.”
    It is important to ensure that there is no unintentional “push polling” going on there that could generate misleading results.
    Despite voting Remain myself, I made money from a bet that polling under-represented shy Brexit supporters (hardly surprising given the way that they were demonised as ignorant racists). If I were a Brexit supporter approached by a Lib Dem and asked my opinion on Brexit I’d be sorely tempted to take the easy way out just to avoid a scene!

  • Andrew McCaig 17th Oct '17 - 7:59pm

    Peter,
    There is no “scene”. The survey is about local issues mainly and people fill it in in their own time. There is some bias towards supporters of course, but I am telling you how a sample of voters say they would change their vote if the referendum was held tomorrow. They don’t have to answer the question at all and about 12% did not.
    We also asked “do you think the British people should have their say on the final Brexit deal in a referendum?” 54% yes, 32% no, 13% did not answer. I have to admit that surprised me although we did not say what the alternatives would be.

  • Andrew McCaig 17th Oct '17 - 8:17pm

    When I say “some bias towards supporters” I mean 9% said they would vote for us in a General Election tomorrow while we know only 2.6% did on the day… Our supporters tend to return the survey using the freepost, with the knock and drop returns on the day probably more representative.

    Interestingly, in GE voting intention, our voters are strongly Remain, but in local voting intention a disproportionate number of Tories (who are mostly Leavers) say they will switch to us, and there is virtually no difference in local voting intention for us between Remainers and Leavers. Remainers are more likely to vote Labour even at local level, and Leavers more likely to vote Tory..

    However, having gone on about Brexit a lot in our General Election literature (with certainly not a paperless campaign), we saw our vote go from 5.8 to 2.6%. So I am afraid Katherine we will not be making that mistake again, and our campaign will be unashamably local and about the quality of our candidate, because we aim to win rather than lose by 60 votes as we did in 2016…. Brexit gets mentioned as an aside now and again, but we are not going to do anything to get those Tory Leavers angry. To be perfectly honest I think moderate intensity local campaigning, certainly with leaflets, has very little effect on national voting intention either in a GE or a referendum. People make their decisions in other ways…

  • Andrew McCaig 17th Oct '17 - 8:23pm

    David,
    I don’t agree with you. Standing a candidate is important. There are people out there who want to vote for our Party, and we should give them the chance. Most “paper candidates” in my experience are not “sitting at home ruminating” but are busy trying to get a Lib Dem elected in a more winnable ward. Certainly in Kirklees they have to be panelled so are almost always activists.

  • Standing candidates is extremely important, even the ‘paper’ variety. ALDC and all the top campaigners in the party are clear on this.

  • @ Andrew “Standing a candidate is important”. Yes, of course it is…….. if they are really candidates and if they are really standing.

    But by definition, they are not standing………. nor can they be said to be candidates. A candidate is a person who seeks office or a job. A person doing what you describe is doing neither of these things.

    I’m afraid it is simply the fashionable futile part of what passes for Liberal Democrat politics in these modern times. “Vote for us….. but we don’t really want to get in” is an odd slogan and not one that my old friends Richard Wainwright and Edward Dunford would ever countenance.

    And what “the people out there who want to vote for us” think when they discover after polling day that they are only 1.8% of the voting public in that ward is best left to the imagination.

  • @ TonyH ALDC and all the top campaigners in the party are clear on this.

    Why is it important ? What does it achieve ?

    Tell me, why. Give me a reason instead of trotting that old chestnut out.

  • David – 1.8% is far better than O% with no candidate. We have a duty to give people the opportunity to vote Liberal Democrat. Paper candidates are a vital part of our recovery and are just as much heroes as our target seat candidates. No candidate implies we are not a national party.

  • Tim Hill 17th Oct ’17 – 10:02pm……….. 1.8% is far better than O% with no candidate. …….

    I disagree…To paraphrase the old adage, “Better to not stand and be thought unpopular than to stand and remove all doubt.”

  • David Becket 17th Oct '17 - 10:47pm

    The common comment from the Public is we have not heard anything from the X party. A paperless candidate with no effort at all put in gives rise to that view, and we are seen as treating the public with contempt.
    By all means stand in a hopeless seat, but do something, Social Media, a Web site, A stand in the High Street.
    The other issue is finding candidates. I have experienced, and it hurt, standing down in a seat for personal reasons with my successor not up to the job, not putting in the work but was the only one we could find. We lost the seat.

  • On Paper Candidates. It is “literally” impossible for people like us, (the ones who read threads like this) to underestimate how little interest most Voters take in Politics. The voters are mostly aware that The Libdems exist, somewhere else, but may well believe that we are dying or have died in their patch. Standing Candidates who do nothing reminds them that we are still there & prepares the ground for a real campaign later. All the evidence suggests that its much easier to go from 1 or 2% to a decent result than starting from scratch, particularly if the inactivity goes back a long way.
    In both the wards with no Libdem Candidate last Week, we hadnt stood in well over a Decade. That sort of absense makes it harder to get voters to even consider voting for us.

  • Little Jackie Paper 17th Oct '17 - 10:55pm

    Andrew McCaig – On leaving the EU. The impression I get from the northern areas I know well (North West, small/medium sized/mostly ex production line places) is that REMAIN now, as at the referendum, is badly misjudging what is needed.

    At the referendum the basic Cameron message amounted to, ‘come on – it’s not that bad.’ Usually followed up by telling the sceptical voters they were wrong. That approach seems to still be the one used by REMAINers. The question is not why people have problems with the EU – after all a lot of REMAIN voters gritted their teeth. The question is what to do about it. That was the signal failure in 2016, and it’s the same now.

    The failure to address this core question left REMAIN looking out of touch at best and hectoring at worst. To equate a distaste for the EU to racism in towns often with high Asian populations was and is taken as a slap across the face. LEAVE were not lying to people or using them, they were representing them and their concerns. REMAIN at the moment just give me the impression that they feel that all they need to do is explain it better and the concerns will just fall away.

    My feeling is that on the EU the concerns maybe don’t follow a neat north/south divide – but this is a series about the north. If you can’t explain to voters why there’s money to build markets in Romania, but no money for a local NHS unit then you don’t have answers. At worst it does come over (surely inadvertently) as ‘your workshops have gone East, but EU liberalisation now means you have poundshops.’

    And, yes, in all of this there is a need to talk about influxes of people, particularly under the Posted Workers Directives. Believe me, people in the north are quite aware of that particular directive.

    What REMAIN needs to do in the north is what it needs to do in many parts of the south. Tell people what you will do about problems from WITHIN the EU. Without that the impression I get is that people in the north will think that REMAIN is code for More Of The Same.

  • Laurence Cox 17th Oct '17 - 11:31pm

    @David Raw, @Expats

    There are perfectly good reasons for standing a paperless candidate in local elections:

    First, unlike a General Election, it doesn’t cost anything to stand.

    Secondly, you still have to get ten signatures of ward residents to stand a candidate, so the candidate or agent does have to knock on some doors. I was agent in a by-election this year where we had not fought the ward since 2010 and we had one member in the ward (who was out of the country). That door knocking found a number of people whom we had not asked to support us before and to whom we can go back to in future.

    Thirdly, if you don’t stand a candidate, you cannot have counting agents at the count and therefore you don’t know which areas your vote would have come from (or other parties’ best and worst areas). Our wards are typically around 8,000 electors (5-6 ballot boxes plus postal ballot boxes), and we might get 100 electors voting for one of our paperless candidates in a by-election (compared with perhaps 3-400 in a non-target ward where we do a reasonable campaign). If we find that most of them come from a single ballot box, then we know where to concentrate our efforts in future. All of that needs people who can get a count of the votes for each candidate during the first (verification) stage of the count before the papers in the different ballot boxes are mixed up for the second stage of the count.

    Obviously, if we can run a campaign then we do, even if it is in just one polling district in a ward, but even paperless candidates give us some information providing that people take the trouble to collect it (and of course make use of it later).

  • Katharine Pindar 18th Oct '17 - 12:21am

    Andrew McCaig – hi, Andrew, I must challenge the logic of your statement, 8.17 pm, that having ‘gone on a lot about Brexit’ in your GE campaign you saw your vote share drop from 5.8 to 2.6% and therefore ‘we will not be making that mistake again’. How do you know that the drop in vote share was the result of your focus on Brexit? There is no logical connection between your premise and your conclusion, and could not be unless you had done a market survey which showed that voters who had voted LD in the past and had not done so this time changed their minds because you emphasised our Brexit policies. Given the national trend of polarised voting, with people opting mainly for one or other of the two main parties, it is possible that Kirklees voters would have deserted you whatever campaign you conducted. Now that you are finding in your local canvassing that there is a ‘definite shift in opinion’ towards Remain, and majority opinion in one survey even backing another referendum, I also don’t see the logic of dropping your previous focus just as it is growing in popularity.

    However, as a one-time chair of Huddersfield Young Liberals, I applaud your active campaigning and wish you greater success. I hope the roads haven’t succumbed to potholes again, they must have been filled up long since the days when I tried to organise a pothole survey and campaign. I seem to remember the bed-race was more popular… what do your current YLs organise now, I wonder?

  • Ed Thornley writes, “So we must focus our resources on winnable areas, not fritter them in hopeless contests. … We must be ruthlessly focussed in our efforts, because it will be a long haul. … So find the one, two or three wards in your council where a Liberal Democrat victory is most likely and do what we do best – pound the pavements, talk to local people and work for them.” It sounds the right thing to do. I am sure I have advocated it. But it wasn’t what happened in my area. One person decided to work an area and then they won it and we won all the councillors for that area. Another person worked an area starting off in third and won it and we won all the councillors for that area. The first person having resigned his seat and not been active for years decided to become active again. He worked the area where he lived and won it and we won all the councillors for that area. He then picked another area, it was not the next best area, he worked it with someone else and got them elected and we won all the councillors for that area. The Local Party didn’t pick these areas and ruthlessly focus on them, in fact sometimes they were targeting other areas.

    The point is that if someone wants to work a particular area, it might be better to let them work it on their own with their family and friends rather than try to stop them working it.

    @ David Raw
    “Why is it (standing paperless candidates) important ? What does it achieve ?
    “Tell me, why. Give me a reason instead of trotting that old chestnut out.”

    I am not sure if it is important, or that it achieves much, but I still think we should stand paperless candidates, because it allows our core supporters to vote for us and assists us to decide where we should consider putting our efforts next. (It has been known for a party supporter to write to the party to complain that we didn’t stand a candidate in their local area.)

  • William Ross 18th Oct '17 - 8:36am

    Katharine

    If the SNP`s share of the vote anywhere dropped from 5.8 to 2.6 & I would tend to give up! However, if the SNP were the only party supporting Scottish independence in any given election and polled 2.6% ( or even 26%) I would conclude that the cause of Scottish independence was irretrievably lost.

    Still, things are clearly different with Brexit. Didn`t someone once say, ” There is no democracy against the EU treaties”????

  • OnceALibDem 18th Oct '17 - 9:04am

    “However, if the SNP were the only party supporting Scottish independence in any given election and polled 2.6% ( or even 26%) I would conclude that the cause of Scottish independence was irretrievably lost.”

    2003 Scottish Parliament election. SNP vote share: 23%

  • William Ross 18th Oct '17 - 9:08am

    Yes, a vote of 23% for the SNP in 2003 meant that Scottish Independence was
    ” irretrievably lost ” for a generation.

    Correct Sir.

  • Laurence Cox 17th Oct ’17 – 11:31pm….. @Expats…There are perfectly good reasons for standing a paperless candidate in local elections………………

    A personal observation…

    As a voter, if I read …Conservative 40%
    Labour 35%
    Independent 25%

    I move on..

    If I read …Conservative 40%
    Labour 35%
    Independent 24%
    LibDem 1%

    It concentrates my mind on what a waste of time voting LibDem was and THAT WILL BE REFLECTED IN MY THINKING ELSEWHERE…

  • Laurence Cox 18th Oct '17 - 11:15am

    @expats

    And how many voters do you think pay as close attention to local council by-election results as you do. I’ll give you a clue, it’s only us political nerds who frequent sites like this, and we are such a small percentage of the population that it doesn’t make any difference.

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Oct '17 - 11:43am

    Katharine,

    I think to be honest the mistake we will not be making again is spending several £k (kindly donated by local members) on leaflets that had no effect whatsoever. We expected at least to hold our vote and keep our deposit. We did equally badly where we had a local government profile and delivered leaflets as well as using the Royal Mail freepost, and where we did not. We did some target letters to young voters as well. We did more than the Tories and about as much as Labour (although they did more with young voters). Other constituencies nearby did more with Facebook ads. That had no discernible effect either.
    So our campaigning had no effect. I am sure it would have had little effect whatever we had said, but we had high hopes that strong Remainers would see that Labour were equivocating over Europe and would go for us. Instead they thought there was a danger of Labour losing to the Tories (they told us), or simply wanted Jeremy as President, or something. There was definitely a regional effect. I think with the same campaign in a similar constituency in London we would probably have increased our vote. Everywhere in the North we went backwards, even with well known local councillors standing. So did the Greens.

    Next May we will definitely not win without the votes of Leavers. And Remainers have shown us that if they are making their choice on national issues, they will go for Labour.
    Personally I think our Liberal Democrat cause will be best served by holding onto council seats. If we turn our Focus onto Brexit between now and May we will lose, even if we manage to convince one or two more people to support us nationally. I think opinion is changing on Brexit regardless of what we say or do, and one day we may get the benefit, but I fear Labour are cleverly courting Remainers and hold all the cards in delivery of their message. It is just routine that every political issue on teh Today programme they invite one Tory and one Labour spokesperson to discuss it. Then on the rare occasions we are invited they will give 2/3 of the time to Labour and Tory views. I fear a period of Labour government and broken promises is needed before we start polling much above 10% again…Until then we have to try and hold onto and preferably develop our local government base in all the many places where we have no chance at the moment of gaining a parliamentary seat…

    Active Young Liberals in Huddersfield? Times have changed I fear.

  • Laurence Cox 18th Oct ’17 – 11:15am…[email protected]…And how many voters do you think pay as close attention to local council by-election results as you do. I’ll give you a clue, it’s only us political nerds who frequent sites like this, and we are such a small percentage of the population that it doesn’t make any difference………………

    You make my point.
    As in any race, the one trailing home, miles behind the rest, attracts as much attention as those at the front… When ‘the voter’ sees only the result printed in the local newspaper, ‘L ibDem 1%’ has a negative impact which far outweighs any why/when/how behind the result…

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Oct '17 - 11:51am

    As for standing paper candidates: evidently opinions differ on this. Policy is to stand, and I don’t think complaining about multiple times it is very productive. Aggregate vote shares tend to count “no candidate” as zero votes, and that is how our progress is measured nationally. So if we stop standing paper candidates our national vote share will go down and our opponents will be even more gleeful. I find it very hard to find people on the doorstep who have much idea about how the votes went in their ward last time, so I don’t think people are drawing much conclusion from our performances either way

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Oct '17 - 12:29pm

    @Expats
    “As in any race, the one trailing home, miles behind the rest, attracts as much attention as those at the front… When ‘the voter’ sees only the result printed in the local newspaper, ‘L ibDem 1%’ has a negative impact which far outweighs any why/when/how behind the result…”

    You appear to be assuming that a significant number of voters do actually see the result. Isn’t it much more likely that the bulk of voters eligible to have voted in the election in question won’t have seen a local newspaper anyway?

  • markfairclough 18th Oct '17 - 3:08pm

    We had a council by-election here in Barnsley on 28th Sept & pulled 19.5% in 2nd place.I did mention the by-election on another post on here before the vote ,also contacting Flock Together before the by-election

  • Tony Greaves 18th Oct '17 - 4:02pm

    As well as South Lakeland which we run as a majority administration, we share the running of Pendle BC with Labour. (posted by the Deputy Leader of the Council).

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Oct ’17 – 12:29pm
    @Expats…You appear to be assuming that a significant number of voters do actually see the result. Isn’t it much more likely that the bulk of voters eligible to have voted in the election in question won’t have seen a local newspaper anyway?……………

    So your defence of ‘paper candidates is that the negative impression won’t be noticed (hopefully)?

  • Katharine Pindar 18th Oct '17 - 6:08pm

    Andrew, you and your colleagues show wonderful spirit, like I suspect many other Lib Dem activists ruefully aware of their lost deposits, in getting straight on with campaigning for the next contest. It’s admirable, and does tend to support the social psychologists’ theory that I cite in my current post (see Op Eds), that concentrated activity in pursuit of a good aim with like-minded companions is a source of pleasure, if not exactly happiness. Anyway, well done, and there is ample evidence, as Michael BG’s lovely examples help to confirm, that the hard work does result in councillors getting elected. I do tend to agree with expats though, that a paper candidate getting a derisory result IS noticed, with plenty of free newspapers around for people to glance through.

    There was just no chance for good results in the polarisation of the General Election. I believe our national polling will improve as the economic disaster of Brexit shows up the useless manoeuvres of the Government and the shameful equivocation of the Labour Party on this vital issue. We can go with the flow of rising alarm about its consequences, I think, so long as we keep reminding people of our pro-EU (a reformed EU!) stance, and our idea of giving the people a chance to vote again when the facts of leaving are fully realised.

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