Tag Archives: 2024 general election

The Party President on our long term plan

Mark Pack’s report for February:

A familiar trio

By now, you’re most likely very familiar with the idea that we are concentrating our campaigning for the next Westminster general election on the NHS, the cost of living and sewage. You may well have heard that on Zoom calls with our Chief Executive, seen it in leaflets you’ve delivered or said it yourself in conversations with voters.

The prime reason for this trio is the humility that’s essential for a political party in an electoral democracy: the humility to listen to voters and to take their concerns as the starting point of our …

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Coming to a seat near you…Ed Davey’s Tory Removal Service

There is nothing like a good hi-viz jacket to show that an election is on the way, but it can’t come soon enough for our Ed Davey.

He’s just been on BBC News, surrounded by a pretty massive crowd in Guildford launching his Tory Removal Service.

Nothing shows what a seasoned political nerd I am like my first reaction to the poster. Not the message, but the font. That’s a new one.

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Will we learn the lessons of 2014 in 2024?

It hit me yesterday that 2024 marks 10 years since the Scottish referendum on independence. How on earth did that happen?  Given the failure of the SNP to manage Scotland’s public services using the extensive powers they already have, you could argue that we had a very lucky escape.

For me, that referendum set in motion the events that led to where we are now. David Cameron learned that a broadly negative status quo campaign could win the day and transferred that experience to the campaign to remain in the EU.  He should have realised that the pro-UK side was lucky to get away with such a poor campaign and should have done so much better. If we had managed to get over 60%, we could have perhaps avoided all the arguments about a second referendum that have paralysed Scottish politics since.

The campaigns to stay in both unions failed to inspire, or offer any sort of positive vision. The Scottish independence campaign cunningly hid the negativity at its core with a frothy, engaging message that touched people’s hearts. The campaign to leave the EU just flat out lied to people and wasn’t effectively challenged either by the media or the opposition.

The Yes campaign and the campaign to leave the EU touched a nerve with people because they felt powerless to change their own destiny. It is also 10 years since our Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper, half a decade before she became an MP, suggested “Take Back Control” as a slogan for us.  It would be a slogan with meaning, too, because so many of our policies are about exercising power as close to the people as possible.  Liberal Democrats could deliver so much more than the non-existent control promised by the Brexiteers.

Liberal Democrats have so much substance in our policies to help deliver a much more equal, happier, sustainable society. From our guaranteed basic income, to strengthening our democracy by cleaning up our politics and making sure people get the parliament they ask for, to restoring our international reputation, to tackling the housing crisis and slowing our rush to climate catastrophe, we have some solid ideas that will make a huge difference to people.

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Mark Pack’s December report – the challenges of 2024

Bigger stakes, harder choices: general election year

It now looks pretty certain that 2024 will be a general election year. Or perhaps I should say that 2024 will have at least one Westminster general election, because if there is a close result…

We do, however, know for sure that regardless of what happens with general elections, there is an important round of local elections – and Police and Crime Commissioner contests – in May.

It will therefore be an important year in which everyone can play a part in our success, whether it is about winning a target local or Westminster seat near where you live, or helping to build up the party locally while supporting our target seats elsewhere.

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UPDATED: Senior Liberal Democrats call for “bold and distinctive offer to voters”

Thirty Liberal Democrats, including the chiefs of staff to two of the three most recent leaders, a former policy director, a former MP, two peers, members of federal committees, councillors and current and former candidates have called for the party to be bolder in the run-up to the General Election.

In a letter to the Guardian, they said:

There is a massive opportunity for a liberal alternative based on internationalism, environmental awareness and modernising Britain. But we believe the Liberal Democrats are swerving this opportunity, not seizing it.

It is crucial that we are brave and honest about the challenges a new government will face, with distinctive positions the Tories would never take and Labour dares not adopt.

They argue that rejoining the single market, creating a “dividend” that would revive our public services, should be part of what we offer.

Citing the way Paddy Ashdown set out a clear alternative to both parties, they continue:

We have bolder policies than Labour on the environment, fair votes and human rights, but we are not communicating them. At a general election, echoing Labour’s general antipathy to the Tories through local campaigns is part of the battle but insufficient on its own.

Only a statement of confident liberalism – on Europe, the environment, political reform and public services – will show people that the Lib Dems are a national force worth supporting. We do well when we have a principled message that cuts through, such as our current one on Gaza.

In the accompanying story,  former Policy Director and Federal Policy Committee Vice Chair Duncan Brack is quoted:

We’re not criticising the target seats strategy, but focusing on target seats alone is not enough,” said Duncan Brack, a member of the party’s federal policy committee who was an adviser to Chris Huhne in the coalition government.

“We need to stand for something inspiring. Otherwise, why should people join the Lib Dems, pay money into campaign war chests, go delivering and canvassing? And why should anti-Tory voters vote for us as opposed to another opposition party if it’s not clear what we stand for?”

The Party’s response shows that it is capable of delivering a robust message:

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Three ways the Lib Dems should use our distinctive voice at the next election

Alex Davies was Vince Cable’s Chief of Staff when he was Lib Dem leader between 2017 and 2019, a time of tumultuous and febrile politics when our “Bollocks to Brexit” message gained us 16 MEPs at the same time as we won hundreds of new councillors. We used the unique opportunities offered to us in the European elections to the max.

He, like many of us in the party, including me, are concerned that the party’s messaging is too timid for the coming General Election and feel that we need to be offering a much more distinctive liberal voice. Having put virtually all our eggs in the Blue Wall, we think that our strategy needs to be refined to make sure that we make the gains we have worked so hard for over the past four years.

In an article for Comment Central, Alex sets out three ways in which he thinks we could say something different and popular. Essentially, he says not being the Tories is just not enough. Mid Bedfordshire gave us a clue on how the next election could play out if we don’t enhance our message.

On the airwaves – where most voters consume election campaigns – there is no ‘two horse race’ with the Conservatives. Rather Ed Davey has to be heard above both Sunak and Starmer.

He reminded us of what Paddy said just before the last time the British public dumped a failing Conservative Government for Labour:

“My fear is this,” he said, “that we shall see an election, and maybe a change of government – but we shall not see a change of direction. We shall still be starved of clear vision, a commitment to change, the courage to face up to what must be done. It is the first crucial role of this Party to see that that does not happen.”

He sets out three ways in which we could tweak our message to challenge Labour as well as oppose the Conservatives.

First of all, the single market. We need to talk about getting back in there:

The Lib Dems could argue that the British people cannot afford to pay for his political caution. Britain’s third party should be brave enough to say that only a ‘single market dividend’ will yield the billions needed to fund real change in the country.

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