Tag Archives: 2017 general election

The 2017 general election – the much overlooked rebalancing of British democracy

The British Election Study has been issuing data concerning the 2017 election based on their “face-to-face” process. They maintain, for example, that the much-acclaimed “Youthquake” of 2017 was in fact a myth.

But I was very interested in this graph, tweeted by James Kanagasooriam:

There are a number of conclusions to be drawn from this graph. Much has been made of the fact that the Tories had quite a chunk of Remainers voting for them – particularly in the South of the country.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

What is the government’s exact majority?

Since June 9th, I’ve been keeping a little spreadsheet to show the exact majority of the government.

First of all, the question arose: ‘What is the working majority of the government?’ That is, if the DUP don’t vote with the government but simply abstain (because they don’t want Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister). My calculations suggest this working majority is four, based on the following assumptions:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

Five General Election lessons from a newbie

 

I joined the Lib Dems in 2015, stood for Chester Police and Crime Commissioner in 2016 and for Bromsgrove in the 2017 General Election. Both were tough but fabulous experiences and I was hugely grateful for the opportunity to stand for our shared Liberal Democrat values and for the great local support I received.

So what lessons did a newbie learn in this General Election?

  1. All is not lost!

Yes, our vote share was disappointing – but from my conversations on the street, and also as the latest evidence, we were squeezed – dreadfully! So, we know the votes are there… for next time.

I campaigned in a strong Conservative seat and met people who shared our values but felt a Lib Dem vote would make no difference. Here’s what seemed to persuade them;

“… every Lib Dem vote counts because the BBC and media allocate TV and Radio time based on the number of votes we get – so, if you want to hear less of Nigel Farage and more of Tim Farron, you must vote Lib Dem…”

Posted in Op-eds | 41 Comments

The challenge in Yorkshire

 

Nationally it might be argued that the General Election was a moderate success for the Liberal Democrats and, maybe, even baby steps towards a revival.  A net increase of 4 seats on 2015 with a marginal decrease in the national share, which could arguably be put down to significant tactical voting, could provide some evidence of this.  However I would argue this masks disastrous performances regionally which should be of massive concern to the national party going forward.

I’d like to focus on my own region, Yorkshire.  Yorkshire contains 51 seats.  Going into the 2017 election you would have thought that the Lib Dems couldn’t do worse than their performance in 2015 where we had been reduced to just 2 Yorkshire MPs (Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam and Greg Mulholland in Leeds North West) and a massively reduced share of the regional vote.  In 2010, the Lib Dems won 3 seats in Yorkshire with near misses in Sheffield Central (less than 200 votes away) and Hull North (less than 650 votes away).  They polled 23% of the vote in Yorkshire and retained every deposit easily.

Fast forward to what many consider the nadir of Liberal Democratic performance in 2015.  It still resulted in 2 MPs and saved deposits in almost half of the seats in Yorkshire and a 7.3% share of the vote.  Surely this was as bad as it could get for the Liberal Democrats in Yorkshire?  Unfortunately not.  On 8th June the Lib Dems lost both seats they held as well as 41 of their 51 deposits. They polled in excess of 10% of the vote in only 4 of the 51 seats in Yorkshire.

Posted in Op-eds | 43 Comments

The choice for Lib Dems – embrace radicalism or die

I’m not going to mince my words or toe the centre-line in my summary of the Liberal Democrats’ election result for reasons that will become clearer the further you read.

Our result on the 8th June was embarrassing, demoralising, and worst of all, irrelevant. 7.4% of the vote was all that our party could accrue; 40,000 votes fewer than our 2015 performance which we naively thought was our floor. When the country was crying out for a party of the centre with both Labour and the Conservatives lurching to the extremes, we didn’t answer the call.

Whilst our swelling membership and activist base can feel rightly proud of their efforts in the campaign which saw an increase in Lib Dem MPs, they should also feel aggrieved at the lack of support our national message gave to them.

As a party we have failed to broaden our support, something that would have seen unthinkable in the wake of the 2015 election or even just a few weeks ago. We must address why we are primarily appealing to the white middle-classes and not other groups. As per Lord Ashcroft’s exit poll, just 6% of BME voters lent their support to the Liberal Democrats in this election, compared to 9% of white voters.

Posted in Op-eds | 69 Comments

How do the Lib Dems survive a stronger than ever two-party system?

During this General Election campaign I spent my time helping my local party and in the last week, helping in a target seat. It became clear that this election wasn’t a Brexit election but instead a clear battle between Corbyn and May, Red vs Blue.

The policies of the Lib Dems didn’t seem to resonate nationally even though they were clearly sensible and credible, which lead to our party’s vote share declining by 0.5% compared to 2015. From this it’s clear to see that tactical voting damaged the party in nine target seats leading to deposits been lost in the most extreme circumstances. With the two main parties obtaining a collective 82.4% of the vote, higher than any election since 1970, we need to focus on surviving in a two party system now more than ever.

While our vote share did decline, we did however make net gains but also losing some of the party’s best talent like Nick Clegg on the way. The fact that the party could still make gains in such a tough political climate for third parties is a demonstration for future survival. Targeting the right seats with a mass amount of resources from the central party and the nearby local parties shows how, as a party, we can still stand toe-to-toe with the two larger parties.

Posted in Op-eds | 18 Comments

How we lost Southport

Gut wrenching horrible was how it felt to be pushed into third place in a seat we have held for the last twenty years but by way of catharsis I would like to tell you good folks what I think happened.It would be good to have other tales of success and failure here.

The election took us as by surprise.Weeks before the Constituency Chair and I had decided that I would announce my retirement from Westminster after what we assumed would be good set of local election results. The snap election forced my hand. But we had ready a great alternative in Sue McGuire ,our council group leader with considerable profile in the town and a real record of action.

The campaign was much better and more high powered than any Southport campaign I have been previously associated with. Lots of help from outside (some incredible shifts put in), bigger canvassing teams, good literature, armies of stuffers, IT & Connect sophistication, bags of help from the national party and two leader’s visits. The pace was unrelenting; the output impressive. Neither the Labour nor the Tory candidate lived in Southport- a fact we sought to exploit. We lobbied at the school gates on education cuts and throughout the town on the dementia tax. Squeezes and switches galore. Other parties campaigns seemed modest in comparison.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 84 Comments

What a wonderful day to walk up to a young voter, hug them* and say: “THANK YOU”

I braced myself at 10pm last night. “Oh gawd – here we go again” I thought – along with “goodness how I hate David Dimbleby’s pompous accent and patronising manner”.

There were some distressing losses for us, and some frustrating near-wins, which Caron wrote about earlier.

But I’d like to just think about the wider picture.

As the exit poll appeared, and then the results unraveled, one thing became clear:

This was the election of the young voter. There were reports of queues of young people waiting to vote all over the place. The effect could be seen in result after result.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 61 Comments

Insanity, stupidity or senility?

Is it insanity, stupidity or senility that has led me to volunteer to deliver so many pigging Good Mornings tomorrow? Eight bundles!

Tim Farron says he’ll be up at 5am, so I will be up at 5am. I am not going to be outdone by Tim Farron. But I have had to carefully choose the sequence of the roads I will do. One has to carefully judge the extent to which residents in certain roads will tolerate some numpty stumbling around at 5am delivering “Good Morning” leaflets. (By the way, if you knock over some milk bottles, take a tip from an old colleague of mine and shout: “Sorry – Labour Party delivering leaflets!”. (That’s a joke by the way)).

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Photo feature: Ballot box goes off to Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, a day early due to the ferry schedule

Some great photos from Getty Images (click on the arrows to see the slide show) which give a great view of the workings of democracy on “these islands” (as they say).

Mandy Hassan, an assistant area electoral officer for Antrim and mid Ulster, accompanies the ballot box on the ferry destined for Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland. There are 99 voters on the island and they usually have a 80% turnout.

Update 8/6: I changed the title upon sage advice from locals. Weather concerns were not a factor.

Posted in Photo feature | Also tagged | 7 Comments

New members, En Marche and non-target seats

Our huge number of new members are making me think differently about the familiar problem of balancing resources between target and non-target seats, and the possibility of attracting support in a way that parallels En Marche in France.

For a long time targetting has been a difficult decision. The electoral system means that, if we lean too far one way, we spread ourselves too thinly and are even more badly under-represented in parliament. If we lean too far the other way, we create Liberal Democrat “holes” where there is more-or-less little for people to join, which makes it really hard for that situation to change.

But one of the many unusual things about this General Election campaign is that it is taking place in a period of rapid growth while our membership is growing rapidly. At the moment I am parliamentary candidate in a constituency where membership is up 400% since the General Election and 250% since the EU referendum.

Posted in Op-eds | 11 Comments

Big beasts

A press release from the Liberal Democrats today announces that ‘Big beasts return to Lib Dem front line as Farron announces election campaign team‘.

I’m not sure whether Jo Swinson, Vince Cable and Ed Davey like being referred to as beasts – what sort might they be?

But here is the full list of the new General Election Campaign Team:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 23 Comments

Battle Bus debuts in Surbiton

Around 300 people braved the drizzle this morning in Surbiton, west London, to welcome the Liberal Democrat battle bus as it embarks on a tour of the country ahead of next month’s election.

Party leader Tim Farron was joined by Sarah Olney, MP for nearby Richmond Park & North Kingston, along with former cabinet ministers and parliamentary candidates Vince Cable and Ed Davey. The pair are standing in Twickenham and Kingston & Surbiton constituencies, respectively.

Addressing the crowd, Tim Farron acknowledged the “Lake District-style weather”, before attacking both the Conservatives and Labour.

The worst governments are the ones with the weakest oppositions. There is a vacancy for an opposition in this country, and the Liberal Democrats are here to fill it.

This will not be a coronation. This will be a contest.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 20 Comments

We’ve learnt the hard way not to stand in the middle of the road

We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.

Aneurin Bevan quoted in the Observer, 6 December 1953

We have reason to be cautiously optimistic about the forthcoming elections.

It will probably take years to clarify why we had such a disastrous result in the 2015 general election, but it seems plausible to say that it was because people did not know what we stood for any more. Despite a laundry list of governmental achievements, we had, to an extent, sold our soul to the devil – the tuition fees disaster being emblematic of the whole thing. Then we went into the election saying effectively that we’d put a tape measure between the two other main parties and stand exactly equidistant between them. OK, that’s not what we said, but that was the perception that came over.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 38 Comments

Lib Dems put forward youngest candidate on Isle of Wight


The Isle of Wight County Press reports:

A FRESH face will be taking the reigns in the Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats’ fight for parliament on June 8.

Nicholas Belfitt, 24, of Shanklin, was selected as the parliamentary candidate at a local party meeting today Saturday.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 2 Comments

General election campaigns get off to a flying start across the country

Campaigns, of course, are already up and running across the country for the May 4th local elections, but Theresa May’s announcement has given even greater impetus to Lib Dem activists across the country.

Here’s a round-up of some of today’s action via Twitter – please let us know about any other team action photos in the comments field below!:

Caroline Pidgeon was up in Cambridge lending her support to Julian Huppert in his campaign to regain the city’s parliamentary seat and also to Rod Cantrill in his bid to be the first Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough:

Jane Dodds and the team have been out in Montgomeryshire:

Posted in Campaign Corner | 1 Comment

Soft Brexit Tory MPs who sign up for a hard Brexit manifesto will be responsible for an historic mistake

In August 2016, unusually, I made an appointment to see my MP. I wanted to talk to him about Britain, after Brexit, being part of the EEA and EFTA – in other words “a soft Brexit”.

My Conservative MP unequivocally explained that he campaigned for “remain”, his constituency voted “remain” and he wanted to salvage a good deal for local companies from Brexit. He spoke about making sure there are no extra barriers for local businesses exporting abroad. He enthusiastically received a paper I gave him from the Adam Smith Institute advocating EEA/EFTA membership after Brexit.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 21 Comments
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