Sleaford & North Hykeham: Steeped in Lib Dem history and an important part of the Lib Dem revival

Every time I hear more about what’s going on in the Liberal Democrat campaign in Sleaford and North Hykeham, it just makes me smile.

My 11 years in the East Midlands has left me with a huge affection for the area and I’m just thrilled that an initially small band of Lib Dems with a mission are delivering an energetic and positive campaign in a part of the world that has been relatively unblessed with regular Focus delivery. Until now.

Candidate Ross Pepper and ace campaigner and regular LDV contributor Ed Fordham have put together a campaign that has reached all those communities the Tories have been taking for granted for years. They even have a minibus!

Ross has the advantage of being the only candidate who voted for Remain in the referendum so he alone is in tune with 40% of the electorate. But it’s not just about Remain and Leave. Many people are alarmed by what has happened since the Referendum, how the Tories are pushing us towards a hard Brexit and how Labour don’t really seem interested in doing even the most basic job of an opposition. They like what we have to say about putting the power in their hands by giving them a vote on the final deal.

Ed has serious form for leading Liberal Democrat revivals. Back in the 90s, he got some stonking results in Stoke-on-Trent. He and I were on the same Training for Trainers course just after an unlikely by-electon win. The story of how he ended up being publicly challenged to a Tennis match by one of the Labour councillors is probably best left for him to tell you. Perhaps he will if enough people volunteer.

Sleaford has a special place in Lib Dem history and in the political and personal life of Nick Clegg. Back in 1998, I helped organise his European election campaign launch, where he set off loads of yellow balloons. It took place at the home of Ada Trethewey, 38 Electric Station Road. That is today’s by-election HQ. Ada, now in her 80s, has found herself hosting these volunteers and has thrown herself into the campaign.

Nick Clegg recounted the other day how he had chosen Rauceby Station, near Sleaford, on the day of that launch, to propose to Miriam. They were married 16 months later. The Sleaford Standard has more:

He said: “It was in Sleaford that I launched the 1999 East Midlands European Election campaign. That campaign was my first ever election – and we won. I became the first Liberal parliamentarian elected anywhere in the East Midlands since 1931.

“Another thing happened that day. On our way to the launch, whilst standing at Rauceby Railway Station a few miles outside Sleaford, I asked Miriam to marry me. She said yes.” Mr Clegg was Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands from 1999-2004 before becoming an MP in Sheffield. “So I’m enthusiastically backing our campaign in the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election. Our candidate, Ross Pepper, is young, positive and energetic – and he has lead the local team for a number of years – growing the party dramatically along the way.”

Mr Clegg adds: “Ross and his team are determined to use this rare opportunity to grow the party further and lay the foundations for a rekindling of the long-established Lincolnshire liberalism.”

If we are going to see a revival of support for the party, it’s important that we fight every election with passion and enthusiasm in every part of the country. Already so many people have come forward to help, that the seeds have been sown for a future strengthening of the party in the constituency.

The Sleaford team can’t be accused of lacking either of these elements. They are achieving lots and one phrase I keep hearing is that they are having the time of their lives while they do it. The party should be incredibly proud of them.

In these last few days before the by-election on Thursday, why not give them a hand and help enhance the local and national reputation of the party with a good result. As Andrew said this morning, there are three ways to help: campaigning in person, phoning or donating.

f you can go in person, please head to 38 Electric Staton Road, Sleaford, NG34 7QJ.  If you’re not able get there, please make some phone calls by visiting here or by donating here.

Don’t miss the chance to show that we can move forward in any part of the country where we can get our message out.

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

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13 Comments

  • David Pearce 5th Dec '16 - 8:09am

    If libs are the only party campaigning for Remain, and UkIP are fighting to take leave votes, then this becomes a three way marginal seat. I hope someone is working towards a lib dem win, because it is winnable.

  • David Evans 5th Dec '16 - 9:31am

    I was fortunate enough to meet Ada yesterday, a very nice lady, steeped in Liberalism. The Lincolnshire Wolds are a lovely part of the country and Sleaford is not far off the A1, but watch out for speed cameras on the main A17 route. I counted four. Lincolnshire seem rather keen on them, all out of town in the countryside areas!

  • Mark Smulian 5th Dec '16 - 12:48pm

    My friend the late Simon Titley fought Grantham in 1983, much of which is now covered by Sleaford and North Hykeham.
    He claimed to be the last UK election candidate ever to feature in a silent newsreel.
    A local photographer asked to cover one of Simon’s campaign meeting and after this was filmed Simon discovered it was being shown in a local cinema without sound – it turned out that as late as 1983 this man still made silent films every week of local news!

  • Dan Falchikov 5th Dec '16 - 5:55pm

    I’m somewhat perplexed by the Nick Clegg engagement story. Rauceby station is not a place you’d casually change trains or indeed get off if you wanted to meet someone. It was built to serve a nearby mental hospital and has a very infrequent service as there’s basically nothing there anymore. Quite why you’d abandon your new fiance there is anyone’s guess…

  • Jayne Mansfield 5th Dec '16 - 6:22pm

    @ Dan Falchikov,
    Perhaps he thought that any woman who agreed to marry a politician needed their head examining.

  • The bookies are all over the place with this by-election. The money seems to be going on UKIP at the moment – now 4/1 with Hills – although the Tories are still massive favorites. The Lib Dems are anything from 25/1 to 40/1 so not really fancied. You can get 100/1 on Labour who finished 2nd in the GE – well done Jeremy! A lot of if’s, but if the Tories are splitting the brexit vote with UKIP and if the Lib Dems can attract nearly all the Labour vote, who knows anything is possible. Caron is right this by-election is important to the Lib Dem revival. More than 25% would be very good and keep the momentum going, less than 15% and I think many people would ask “what revival?”.

  • paul holmes 5th Dec '16 - 11:44pm

    Which is exactly why people need to go to Sleaford and help over the last 3 days -speculating on social media wins no votes but delivering leaflets does. I went for the third time today and am taking a car load of deliverers from Chesterfield for a fourth time tomorrow.

    The small team in Sleaford have run an excellent campaign given that most potential helpers were preoccupied with Richmond. It’s not too late for people to give crucial help over the last 3 days.

  • David Evans 6th Dec '16 - 12:50am

    Paul,

    Good on you and the Chesterfield team. I will get down one more time if I can.

  • Ruth Bright 6th Dec '16 - 11:14am

    Can someone sort the donation link out. Thanks!

    Mark – a Simon Titley anecdote. What joy.

  • I hope one of the target sectors for the LibDem campaign is the Sleaford and North Hykeham manufacturing sector. Almost certainly much better off if we do not leave the Single Market, otherwise hidden “technical” barriers to trade are likely to begin to appear.

  • Slight diversion if I may. Things going so well recently but unfortunately no candidates at Maldon and Tonbridge this week. What a pity, they would have come off the Richmond result with any momentum taking place. We must try and stand in all seats.
    But well done in Lincolnshire, is that Ed Fordham whom I use to know from Stoke days?

  • Jenny Barnes 6th Dec '16 - 7:33pm

    I was going to make a donation, but the data required and presumed consents associated with the dd form put me off. Paypal would be much better.

  • It’s great to see the Chesterfield teams helping out in by-elections across the region again. Proper reminds me of some very happy times in the 90s.

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