Tag Archives: 2019 general election

Dorothy Thornhill will chair panel to review into both the General election and the European elections

This comes from a post by Party President and Co-leader Mark Pack, on the party’s website, explaining some output from Saturday’s Federal Board meeting:

Election Review

The (Federal) Board has commissioned a review into both the General election and the European elections.

This review will be run independently of those who ran the elections, with a panel of experts who have a broad range of skills from knowing about grassroots election campaigns through to understanding what the very best decision-making processes in organisations look like.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 4 Comments

LibDems failed to shift enough Tory remainers – Electoral Calculus on 2017->2019 voter migration

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Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus website has an excellent Infographic on Voter migration 2017 – 2019. Using human figures (voters) to represent one percentage point of the voters, he not only shows where 2017 voters and non-voters went in 2019, he also graphically shows 2016 EU referendum preferences.

His conclusion on the LibDems is interesting:

Posted in Op-eds | 36 Comments

We let the remainers down – now we need to focus on a Green New Deal

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The Liberal Democrats let the EU Remainers down, right from the 2016 Referendum.

On Nick Clegg’s recommendation the architect of our disastrous 2015 election campaign was appointed as chief of strategy for the remain campaign. The result was entirely predictable.

The party then spent four years in the wilderness. A steady, but uninspiring, leadership from Vince and hard work from our local government activists saw the party slowly improve its position.

In the 2019 Euro Elections the Remainers put their faith in the Lib Dems, only to be let down again at the General Election. This time a combination of a terrible campaign, inexperienced and badly advised leadership, fear of Corbyn and First Past the Post ensured that faith in the Lib Dems was once again misplaced. Not all our fault, but with a good campaign and steady leadership we should have made 50 seats, and the picture today would have been different.

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Annoyance of LibDem MPs over power of “new sexy people” in 2019 election decisions – Five candidates ready for party leadership contest – Timetable today

Ailbhe Rea has written a long article on the Liberal Democrats for the New Statesman.

There are some interesting points about the 2019 election covered, based on reported conversations with our MPs:

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Paddy & President Jed Bartlet can’t both be wrong – Education should be our flagship

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Pretty much everyone has a view on why we had a bad election and, more importantly, what we should do next. I’m a member of Barnsley local party and here are my two cents…

Johnson’s Tories look like they have weathered the storm and are in for a few stable years as a version of Trumps Republicans, appealing to the English rustbelt and the odd white supremacist.

They may be untouchable for a while.

We have just experienced our third bad (so very bad) election in a row.

However Labour, by its standards, has had a shocker. They have not won an election now in 14 years.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 52 Comments

Antony Hook MEP writes… Co-operation to win in 2024? It comes down to four questions

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The 2019 General Election was the sixth since I joined the party as a student in 1998 and its result was by far the most frustrating. The consequences of the 2019 election will be more considerable and long-lasting for our country than any I saw before.

How this happened, and what needs to change to do better next time, will be subject of a General Election Review, which I expect will be rigorous and take an objective, honest view based on evidence.

If I quote a football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, do not think I am trivialising. Sir Alex understands more about successful leadership (including managing resources and dealing with the press and a support base) than many people in politics. One of his maxims was “defeat does not matter, what matters is how you come back from defeat.”

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

Confessions of an amateur activist

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I confess. I came late to the Party, almost three years late after post 2016 referendum ruminations on what life might be like on this small island, stranded at sea from our nearest European neighbours, reliant on our back gardens and allotments for a staple diet of root vegetables and tuber crops. We were taking back control of our borders, our people, our values, hell, even our bangers. As our nostalgia for the post-war period grew, so did our ability to stomach xenophobia in all its ugly guises, holding our metaphorical noses at the whiff of French saucisson or its bigger, brasher Bratwurst cousin.

Well, bollocks to that. Like nearly half of the electorate who voted Remain, we too felt stranded. We had a fight on our hands to stop Brexit and stand up for progressive pro-European liberalism. I joined the Liberal Democrats in early 2019 and took part in a couple of marches, the first time I had taken to the streets since my student days in the late 80s protesting against Maggie and the Poll Tax.

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

It must be the right people who fall on their swords

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In October 1805 Napoleon was in what is now the Czech Republic and desperate to engage the armies of Austria and Russia, which had converged, before they became too strong to overcome. The Russian commander-in-chief, Kutuzov, also realised that Napoleon needed to do battle, so he counselled retreat. But the Austrians and Tsar Alexander, buoyed by what they believed was reliable reconnaissance information, overruled Kutuzov, who was demoted. Napoleon, by various stratagems, lured the Austrians into a battle on terrain of his choosing, near Austerlitz.

You can see where this is going.

French reinforcements, of whom the Austrians were unaware, arrived unexpectedly. Napoleon won one of his greatest victories, and an awful lot of people got killed. The Holy Roman Empire effectively came to an end a year later.

This is what happens when the top command makes the wrong decision.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 60 Comments

Opinion from an activist: What is happening now is just not good enough

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Billy Joel once wrote:

You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes
But they’re the only thing that you can truly call your own

This implies two things. Firstly, that you recognise a mistake when it happens. Secondly, you learn how not to make the same mistake again.

The Liberal Democrat leadership shows little realisation of step one and no recognition that step two might be helpful.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 33 Comments

“Her disastrous miscalculation” – Sir Nick Harvey’s view on Jo Swinson’s support for December election

Former North Devon MP, Sir Nick Harvey stood down as Liberal Democrat party chief executive shortly before 20th October last year.

In this fortnight’s Private Eye, a letter from Nick is published which severely criticises a decision made by the then party leader, Jo Swinson, soon after he left the role on 28th October.

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LibLink: Wera Hobhouse – Without proportional representation, there’s no future for moderate politics in Brexit Britain

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Over on the Independent, Wera Hobhouse MP argues that the whole EU referendum and ensuing mess came about due to the faults of the First Past the Post voting system, and has now left us with a government elected by 44% of voters which can deliver any Brexit it wants, despite 52% of voters voting for parties committed to a People’s Vote or revoking Article 50:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 48 Comments

No vision

‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’. The Lib Dems did not communicate a positive vision to the electorate because we have not created that vision for ourselves. Vision is derived from values and without a vision there is no plan. Our manifesto was wishy washy; no ifs, no buts, we failed to “Get it Done” and hence the General Election result.  Here are some ideas for debate. We need a Lib Dem vision and thereby a radical and progressive agenda.

  1. The Athenian leader Cleisthenes (507 BC) introduced demokratia, or “rule by the people”. Europe, its birthplace, and now, in the 21st century, the European Union (EU) embodies democracy. We need to resume our place at the heart of a flourishing EU to underpin the sovereignty of the citizen, underpinned by a common currency, universal security and democratic government which can ensure peace and security for our society.
  2. At the heart of global trade is money and that monetary system is out of control and injurious to humanity; it is not fit for purpose and must be reformed. The cause stems from the privilege enjoyed by private banking to create money from nothing in the form of demand deposits and lending it at interest. The solution is to correct the system by moving money creation to a public body working on behalf of citizens. A sound monetary system will underpin fair trade and thus ensure equality, liberty and freedom for citizens.
  3. Well-being is at the centre of individual and community health, happiness, and prosperity. Well-being pivots on the self worth of the individual citizens and their communities and is the foundation of an egalitarian society underscored by universal education and health care provision.
  4. There is limitless potential in the application of new technologies where advances in medicine, communications, power generation and food production can be exploited. We must rebuild our physical infrastructure. Cybernetics will be at the heart of this transformation. The purpose of technology is to free people from repetitive and boring jobs enabling them to become self fulfilled human beings.
  5. The long history of democracy and law enshrined in a written constitution is the underpinning of Human Rights. The Cyrus Cylinder (539 BC – religious freedom and racial equality), the Magna Carta (1215 – equality before the law), the First Geneva Convention (1864 – law of armed conflict), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the Ruggie Principles (2008 Human rights in the international private sector) all provide the basis for a written constitutional and electoral reform necessary to become a 21st century democracy.
  6. Ours is the first generation to properly understand the damage we have been doing to the planet and probably the last generation with the chance to do something about it. Our divisive and degenerative behaviour undermines households, the commons, the marketplace and the state. It needs to be replaced with a sustainable distributive and regenerative model whereby we husband our planet so that we cannot only survive but thrive.
Posted in Op-eds | 27 Comments

Thoughts from Guildford

The results of the GE have not been easy to digest. As one of the many target seat candidates who almost made it, the results hold a double dose of sadness. Sadness that in Guildford we came so close yet didn’t succeed this time and also for our nation that it’s ended up with a government so unrepresentative of the values that I still believe it holds at its core – fairness, openness, welcoming of diversity and a desire for integrity in its politicians.

Locally and nationally we will review the election campaign in due course, but I want to share two of my take-aways from this election.

Never underestimate the passion and resilience of Lib Dem campaigners!

In recent years Guildford have struggled to build a team. Yes, we took the leadership of Guildford Borough Council in May but when the election was called my campaign manager and I questioned how we could deliver the scale of campaign needed. Our action days have been poorly attended, our delivery network had shrunk significantly, and the team of active campaigners had shrunk to 10 maybe 15. We couldn’t envisage what happened once the election was announced.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 10 Comments

Glass looks half full to me

Trawling through the general election results, I see that the Liberal Democrats finished second in 91 seats.

Disappointed they didn’t finish first in all of these? Of course. Disappointed they didn’t finish first in even 10 of these? Yes, that too.

But the disappointment should be set in relation to the progress the party has made since 2015 and not just compared to expectations from earlier in the summer this year. For this, I’ve been crunching some numbers to see how Liberal Democrats have fared over recent general elections.

Following the 2015 election, there was a general expectation that it would take many years for the party to recover. That’s still the case. Remember, in 2015 the Lib Dems came fourth or worse in 524 seats. And in 185 of these seats the Lib Dems actually finished fifth, sixth or seventh.

So the party could potentially claim a respectable result in barely 100 seats across the UK four years ago. By contrast, in the 2019 election the party finished in the top three in 443 seats.

Posted in Op-eds | 55 Comments

General Election 2019 – campaign positives and negatives

Here are what I think were some positives and negatives about our campaign messages and strategy. They are based largely on the points made to me as a candidate by voters or members and other party activists have endorsed the points I make. They are not in any particular order of priority. Some of the negatives were to some extent beyond our control, but they are matters we need to face better in future.


  1. We said correctly that we are by far the strongest party for Remain.
  2. Our manifesto was full of excellent proposals and was the only credibly costed

Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments

Hard work and optimism will be our party’s salvation

So it’s happened again. Despite hoping against hope that the polls were wrong, and that we were having an impact in the target seats way above our polling levels, we’ve been left with a diminished parliamentary party for the third successive general election.

We started with such high hopes, but end with the cause of Remain now surely lost, and a hard-right Tory government with a majority big enough to do more or less what it likes.

Are there any reasons to be cheerful?

The seeds of our possible regrowth are contained in our defeat. We must start by holding this government to account, exposing their lies and broken promises. Boris Johnson will surely get the Withdrawal Agreement through parliament now, but that is the easy part. The protracted negotiations that follow will be a major test for Johnsons’ government, and may well provide opportunities to score hits.

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What should we do first?

I am reeling. It’s not just the catastrophe of this election, but what feels like our country sliding inexorably into darkness, to which we’ve been turning for more than a decade and which, despite our good intentions, could not have happened without LibDems.

One of the few benefits of disaster, is that it forces you to take stock and examine things you might never question otherwise. It drives you to redefine and rediscover what is really important to you: to find a firm foundation on which you can rebuild when everything else has been swept away.

We are in a new world with no way back. I don’t think this is a time to move a bit to the left or right, tweak a few policies, start co-operating with Brexit or Labour or whatever else. It’s certainly not a time to try to “get our old party back” to when things were marginally better than they are now. There’s no possible leader who can magically solve all our problems.

It is a time to revisit our core values and beliefs.

Posted in Op-eds | 22 Comments

Back to radical

A Radio 4 pre-election programme featured a ‘focus group’ which described the Lib Dems as “irrelevant” and “wishy-washy”. They were neither ‘left’, nor ‘right’, but somewhere lost in the middle. The Benny Hill tune was suggested as an appropriate Party theme.

This and the election result may be a distortion of the true representation of what the majority of people think, but for too many the Lib Dems are seen as stuck ‘hey-diddle-diddle-in-the-middle’ of nowhere, taking a little from both of the two major parties without constituting anything of great substance or profundity itself.

So, whatever the debate within the party might be about ‘centrist positioning’, for much of the electorate, Lib Dem positioning has little ‘relevance’; at best it insinuates a willingness to join a party coalition, and we know what a disaster that can be.

Posted in Op-eds | 51 Comments

2019 was the party’s least efficient General Election campaign

If the objective of a general election is to win the most Commons’ seats we can (which I assume it is), then 2019 was the least efficient general election in the party’s history.

That is, if you define efficiency as garnering votes in such a geographical way so that we maximise the number of seats we win. The figures are as follows:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 33 Comments

Our party co-leaders want to hear from us

Our current co-leaders, Sal Brinton and Ed Davey, have written to party members asking for their initial thoughts on the general election campaign and results.

They write:

…we know we have a lot of work to do and many lessons to learn.

In the new year, we’ll be conducting a full independent review of this election. This will include a chance for you to give us all of your views on what worked, what didn’t, and what we need to do differently in the future.

But we also want to give you a chance to share your views before the Christmas break.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 29 Comments

Nick Tyrone: At least the general election result has buried the UK’s flirtation with direct democracy

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On his website, writer Nick Tyrone has written a post entitled “Here’s one thing that was definitely positive about the general election result”.

In it, he argues that at least the general election has killed off the UK experiment with direct democracy and led to a resumption of our historical representative democarcy:

One of the things that has infected UK politics since June 2016 has been this clash between direct and representative democracy, with direct democracy often being given the greater nod by both the public and the media. The Leavers began to treat the referendum result as if it was the ultimate democratic event for all time, one that trumps every other election that has ever been and will ever be; Remainers played the same game for the most part, campaigning for a second referendum. It was as if we had changed the entire constitution without anyone being consulted.

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

The General Election – it’s time to stop looking for someone to blame and take action

In March 2017, I wrote a thought piece for this journal called “Brexit, it’s time to stop looking for someone to blame and take action”. I took my own advice (more on this later on) but it made me think it was important to write a similar article today simply changing a couple of words in the title.

When that exit poll dropped on Thursday night I was distraught.  Unlike in June 2016, I had feared this result would happen  as soon as the Farage/Johnson pact came out and given the way the  campaign had gone, but seeing it actually materialise was a fundamental blow.  Once again that sinking feeling, both for what it meant for the country but also how harsh it was on so many candidates and activists who deserved far better.

Like in June 2016, I fear for what the result will mean for the U.K (and to some extent this party) in the short, medium and long term. And like in June 2016, its easy to spend your time looking for someone to blame:

  • Should it be at all who voted for this General Election to take place?
  • Should it be once again be at Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and their cabal for putting together a campaign full of lies, most notably that ridiculous “GetBrexitDone” which is so far from the truth it is unbelievable.
  • Should it once again be at many sections of the media who failed to properly hold the Tories to account and call out the lies?
  • Should it be at all those that voted Conservative, against their interests, for the first time, for being persuaded by their false arguments?
  • Should it be those within the LibDems for the general strategy in the campaign including sticking with the Revoke Policy (which for balance I voted for at conference having listened carefully to the debate and thought was right when up against no deal) once a Brexit “deal” was agreed?
  • Should it be at Jeremy Corbyn for being so unelectable to so many of the population that those who would be inclined to vote Lib Dem (or Dominic Grieve in my seat) – or even tactically for an anti-brexit Labour MP, decided that they could not take the risk their votes could put him in Downing Street?
  • Should it be at the whole Labour Leadership for being hostile to any sort of anti-tory pact and then actively campaigning in seats they could not win (e.g. Wimbledon & Finchley) costing the Lib Dems the seats?

Like in March 2017, I realise that, although whilst all these points may well be justified, some more than others, just looking to apportion blame is not going to help. Of course you need to reflect and learn from mistakes but simply looking backwards will not help.

Well a few months after March 2017 I took my own advice, I rose up and took action.  Two years ago this weekend (15th December 2017) I started a new non-partisan twitter account building a community of regretful leavers called @RemainerNow!  It soon became a national campaign using various channels and I would like to think it became a key part in the anti-brexit movement (more on @RemainerNow).  We may have failed in our quest to get a Final Say and stop Brexit but I at least know that I (and the others that contributed) tried our hearts out.  But we have only lost the battle, we must win the war for our country’s soul.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 17 Comments

More out of Hope than Love

I rejoined the Liberal Democrats this weekend.

I left some 18 months ago, agreeing with many that the party had lost its way over Europe. Our MPs voted for a referendum and then we denied its legitimacy.  It was a fair call to demand any deal be put back to the British people – but it was not fair to block and obfuscate at any attempt to ensure that deal kept us close to our European friends. I felt really angry that values we all shared had been eroded for short term political convenience.

In the end the party became a single issue Revoke campaign that appealed to absolutely nobody. We have ultimately failed to stop or lessen what amounts to a Hard Brexit. Combined, this is a crushing defeat.

So why rejoin?

This time for me, it’s more out of hope than love. I had a go at being part of something new, but as the last few years have shown, all these movements have been beset by the problems of ego and insular thinking. I came to the conclusion that the most likely way to create the country I’d like to see is by being part of changing our party from the inside. I don’t think it will be easy. Nor do I think there will be much point hanging around if, after a terrible election campaign, the party fails to listen and adapt.

Having had the chance to look from the outside and analyse our rivals, it’s quite clear the Lib Dems have lost their way as a campaigning force. As a former organiser I know how heretical it is to question our field campaigns – where simply slogging it out and dumping tonnes of paper through doors, regardless of what it says, will lead to ultimate victory. It hasn’t and it won’t.

Posted in Op-eds | 31 Comments

We did dreadfully badly amongst lower earners and those without university degrees – poll of 13,000 voters on election day

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Lord Ashcroft has published the results of a poll his organisation conducted with 13,000 voters on election day.

The output from the 29 questions gives some interesting insights and can be read here, complete with clear graphs and downloadable xls data tables.

A few observations from me. Based on this sample:

  • It is noticeable that a high proportion of our voters were “AB” in socio-economic terms. 15% of ABs voted for us (two points of the across-the-board total of 12% in this poll). But

Posted in News | 66 Comments

Prioritising soft Conservative voters will always lead to failure

I strongly agree with Nick Barlow’s call yesterday for the Party to do some serious introspection. We failed to properly do so after 2014 and 2015 and we won’t proceed on firm foundations until we do.

One reason the 2019 General Election campaign was so disastrous for us was because Labour leaning remainers went back to supporting Labour in droves. Other parties attempt to squeeze us at every Election, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. But what should deeply concern us is the degree to which Labour’s squeeze took effect and what we did to help make this happen.

The …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 58 Comments


You viewed Liberal Democrat Voice 25,892 times today.

Thank you for making us the place you come to when the proverbial solids of fate hit the Vent-Axia© of the Electoral Process.

(RIP Humphrey Lyttelton).

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The Election Result – musings of a (relative) newbie

I joined the Lib Dems in 2016, on the day after the leave vote happened. At the time, if felt I could no longer be a bystander, I had to do something. In the time since, I certainly have, becoming the convener of my local party and a committee member of the LGBT+ Lib Dems.

When I joined the party, my thoughts were primarily on Brexit, and the party’s stance of opposing it. But as I’ve become more involved, met members, attended conferences I have realised how much more we are and how truly I do belong.

I spent last …

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

9am update

This email has come into members’ inboxes from Shaun Roberts, the party’s Director of Campaigns and Elections:

I’m tired, I’m sad and I’m frustrated, (member).

In 6 seats, we were less than a thousand votes away from winning. That is agonising. Some of these campaigns saw increases in vote share of 20-30% – an extraordinary leap forward, achieved by hard work from fantastic teams.

Posted in News | 49 Comments

Winter elections

The last time there was a General Election in December was in 1923. The BBC has a fascinating account of the event.

It was not a particularly cold winter, more dull and drizzly than crisp and blindingly white, although there were occasional snow and sleet flurries with December seeing a mean temperature of 3.9C.

Houses were decorated with festive bunting and heated by coal fires, shopping streets bustled with rattling trams and women wore ankle-length skirts and cloche hats.

The Representation of the People Act five years previously had given them the vote, although not all women – only those aged 30 or over who owned property worth at least £5, which accounted for about two thirds of the nation’s women (full voting rights would come in 1928).

Back in 2012, Mark Pack brilliantly developed a suggestion I had made to the LDV team and reported the Government’s proposal to move the day of local elections from May to February. There were howls of protest until someone noticed the date.  I particularly loved the final sentence:

As a planned cost saving measure, if the last Thursday in February falls on a leap day, the elections will be skipped and all incumbents automatically re-elected …

Posted in Op-eds | 1 Comment

Jo Swinson is impressive under the Andrew Neil grilling

Jo Swinson gave a very impressive performance under the grilling of Andrew Neil this evening on primetime BBC1. (You can view it here).

She was confident, offering contrition on the mistakes of the coalition and outlining the Liberal Democrat positions clearly.

There are plenty of past examples of car crash interviews with Andrew Neil at the helm. Jo did very well under his forensic questioning.

Here’s a selection of tweets reacting to tonight’s programme:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Evans 23rd Jan - 7:06pm
    Dorothy is a very nice lady and a good Lib Dem, but she is also a member of the party metropolitan establishment. And it is...
  • User Avatarn hunter 23rd Jan - 7:02pm
    Build up the organisations in those 2ndplace seats . 'Change the Planet' would be a good headline for us Return (to EU) would be another...
  • User AvatarIan Sanderson (RM3) 23rd Jan - 6:57pm
    There is some backbreaking, unpleasant and badly paid work to be done harvesting, especially in eastern England. A lot of it is done by EU...
  • User AvatarIan Sanderson (RM3) 23rd Jan - 6:50pm
    I don't know what planet Javid is living on. Even before we joined the EU's predecessor in the 1970s, British made car components were made...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 23rd Jan - 6:46pm
    Silvio, they forgot about fairness, that was the trouble. Fairness for everyone, including the poorest and most disadvantaged Fairness was forgotten again lately by party...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 23rd Jan - 6:26pm
    David I am not using MP numbers as the only measurement. We have a pretty high level of membership, loads of great activists, the local...