Sal Brinton on the next steps for the Liberal Democrats

Party president Sal Brinton has emailed party members tonight to let them know what is happening with the general election review and leadership election.

The Federal Board discussed both yesterday.

We decided that everyone was knackered over the election and needed a rest over Christmas. The Federal Board meeting in January will look again at when to hold the leadership election but the feeling was that we aren’t in a massive hurry. The process takes around 9 weeks once it is kicked off.

I think this is a good idea. The 2015 leadership election was conducted when we were all still grieving after the result and was a pretty gruesome affair as a result.

We need to rest and recharge before we do anything.

Here is Sal’s email.

I want to thank you for all your hard work over the last six weeks. Everyone did everything they could in this campaign but the result has been deeply disappointing.

Despite Liberal Democrats gaining 1.2m votes and our share of the vote increasing in every region of the UK, we are now one seat down compared to 2017. Under a proportional system, we would now have 84 MPs.

In many contests, we achieved some of the biggest ever swings in election history. But in six tight races, we lost by just a few hundred votes.

For me, Jo missing out by just 149 votes was heartbreaking. In her time as Leader, she gave us hope about a new progressive politics. If you missed her moving speech you can see it here.

We also lost too many other exceptional MPs: Jane Dodds, Tom Brake, Stephen Lloyd, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston, Sam Gyimah, Philip Lee, Angela Smith and Antoinette Sandbach. Each had made their mark as outstanding MPs standing up for liberal principles. We will miss them all.

And of course, to see the Conservatives win a majority after their disgraceful campaign is appalling. As was Nicola Sturgeon’s awful reaction to Jo’s news.

Our task now is to learn and look ahead.

Under the Party Constitution, if the Leader loses their seat, the Deputy Leader in the Commons and the President jointly take on the role of co-interim Leader. Ed Davey and I are already working closely together.

I am delighted to say that Mark Pack has been elected as Party President from 1 January, and I will hand my share of that role to him then.

Ed and I will write to you in the next day or two to let you know about the review of both our European Election and General Election Campaigns this year. As before it will be full and frank, and we will, of course, seek your views.

We will also set out the arrangements for electing a new leader next year.

Right now, our urgent political priority is to hold the Conservatives to account over their Brexit preparations and their election promises.

Thank you again for everything you have done over the last six weeks. I hope you get some rest over the Christmas period and come back feeling refreshed in January.

There is also a link to an online thank you card for Jo.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Can I suggest you allow supporters to vote in the election for a new leader. There are some excellent leadership candidates like Wera and Layla and I am sure many supporters, who donate to the party and assisted in the general election campaign, would like to be included in the decision making process rather than be excluded. It was Vince’s idea to create the scheme. They are now an integral part of the party and I think what supporters can and can’t do needs to be reviewed.

  • Doug Chisholm 16th Dec '19 - 8:19am

    We should *not* be conducting a leadership election until we have had a chance to review the result. Pointless beauty contests with no substance is partly what got us into this mess.

    We have an interim leader – and we should with some urgency change our constitution to not limit our leadership to those fortunate souls who manage to win a seat in the FPTP system.

    Until we win about 200 seats we should never ever fight a general election pretending our “leader” will be the next prime minister – so we can afford to go off piste and be more imaginative – also having a collegiate leadership might actually win us more air time.

  • Last time Lib Dem leadership election was overshadowed by the Conservative leadership election. I hope that this time, to maximize the publicity the leadership candidates will get, Lib Dems will wait and let Labour elect its new leader first. According to this morning’s news Labour’s leadership race should start in January.

  • This will be the third post-election inquest Sal has Presided over.

    Can someone say what happened to the first two?

  • Whether increasing the vote would actually increase seats depends on the system used. It’s true with a national party list system but it’s not necessarily true with a preferential system like STV – which is Lib Dem policy.

    Under systems which include some kind of ordering of preferences for candidates, to get quota (e.g. 50% under AV or 25% under the kind of 3-MP STV seats they have in Ireland), it helps to have plenty of votes yourself but you often get over the line by picking up second preferences from other candidate’s voters.

    Increasing your share of first preferences by 4% at the expense of making 52% of the population implacably opposed to you is not rewarded by those systems – particularly when its done by a party that would normally be a common second choice. This is a feature not a bug.

    The British system of first past the post with heavy tactical voting functions as a kind of “Do It Yourself AV”, so it should be no surprise that the number or seats did not increase with the number of votes.

  • We should make sure that Our New Leader is announced well after the new Labour leader, that gives us a chance for a longer Campaign, combined with Our “Big Conversation” on where we go next.
    Is there any chance that some of Our Lost MPs could go into The Lords ?

  • Martin Land 16th Dec '19 - 8:20pm

    @hywel Nothing ever comes out of such reviews. We just do the same things all over
    again. The committee set up will represent and be populated by the same people as ran the campaign. The committee should be set up by the new Leader and the new President and clearly instructed that there are no sacred cows.

  • I agree with Martin and Huw. We need a proper independent review of the election campaign and result. There is no point in doing another whitewash like the 2017 review, then carrying on the same as before.

  • David Garlick 17th Dec '19 - 9:29pm

    N Sturgeon Has converted many of her political opponents into political enemies. This is a shame at a time when we should be working together to defeat those on the right. I don’t see any reason to work with her and will send a small donation to the Scottish LP to help defeat her.

  • David Garlick 17th Dec '19 - 9:29pm

    If anyone else sends aa donation to the Scottish LP I am sure that they will use it wisely.

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