Tag Archives: 2024 general election

BBC celebrates new MPs

The BBC has been profiling some of our new MPs, with great photos. (You will have to click through to see some of them).

Mike Martin: Tunbridge Wells

Mike told the BBC:

I am absolutely humbled being here and elected. It’s a total privilege.

I just can’t wait to get stuck in now, to help with all of the issues people have told me about over the past two years.

David Chadwick: Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe

Twelve years ago David was in a serious car crash and was put in an induced coma. On top of that he developed a rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome – I have huge sympathy for David as my husband has had it as well.   He said:

The experience made me realise how important a functioning health care system is, because we never know when we’re going to need it.

When I was totally paralysed I had a lot of time to think about my life and I decided I want to use my body and the rest of my life to do good.

I’ve met a lot of people over the past couple of weeks who really need support and it’s an honour to be in a place where I can hopefully help them as much as I can.

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Welcome to my day: 8 July 2024 – have you not been entertained?

Good heavens, wasn’t Thursday night fun? It’s been nearly twenty years since I enjoyed an election night that much, given that even 2010 was bittersweet as a series of seats slipped out of our grasp just when we thought that a massive surge was on.

Watching Conservative MP after Conservative MP lose their seats was reassurance that the British public can’t be fooled all of the time, taking the opportunity to find imaginative ways to defeat a discredited and disgraced administration. And to see so many new faces, many of whom will be new even to our own membership, can only inspire a new generation of activists to push on in next year’s local elections, both to shore up our support in the gained seats, but to create a new set of potential targets for 2029.

Because times are about to get interesting. Labour are going to have to do something similar in those seats that they gained on 4 July, especially those in rural areas such as Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket or Suffolk Coastal in my neighbourhood, where they won despite the almost total absence of a local government base. We know that their activist base is predominantly urban, but does success breed a new activist base for them beyond the old heartlands?

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How I spent Polling Day

During a very long and miserable campaign by both Labour and the Tories, we Liberal Democrats had to resort to some pretty inventive campaign stunts to grab national attention. These efforts  aimed to inject some much-needed positivity into the campaign.

Finally, Election Day arrived, A momentous occasion where the collective voices of millions shape our nation’s future. Where employees (the politicians) meet their managers for their performance review and interviews (the voters). This is my election diary.

Morning:

I was jolted awake by my dad’s cat, whom I am currently looking after.  Begrudgingly, I got out of bed and fed her her second meal of the morning. To unwind, I turned on the news, played some music, and tidied up my dad’s house. The day felt sluggish, and the anticipation of the election results only made time crawl slower. I couldn’t wait for the government to change.

Afternoon:

Feeling restless, I ventured out for a long walk to my local polling station. On my way back, I chatted with various people.  I noticed a concerning trend: many in Stoke-on-Trent Central were planning to vote for Reform UK. Discussions often centred on Farage’s rhetoric about the NHS, immigration, and “woke culture.”

Stoke has a troubling history with far-right politics, having seen the BNP hold council seats and UKIP’s Paul Nuttall come second in the 2016 by-election. Despite its low immigrant population, people feel threatened by immigration.  Stoke’s managed decline since the 1980s of poverty, drug addiction, inadequate housing, and council mismanagement is evident. Unlike Liverpool or Manchester, it hasn’t seen significant regeneration. I remember a local headline from my teenage years promising EU-funded regeneration that never materialised. It worries me that Reform UK’s divisive politics are gaining traction here.

Back home, I recorded a few videos and decided what to wear for the count.

Evening: Voting

I arrived at the polling station, where a clerk reminded me to have my ID ready. I confidently reached into my pocket, only to realise I’d left it at home. Embarrassed, I raced back to fetch it.

10 pm: Exit Poll

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Finally – We have 72 MPs

Finally, after a combined total of about 18 hours of counting over 2 days, we have our 72nd MP. Angus MacDonald was confirmed as MP for Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire a while ago.

Alex Cole-Hamilton was very happy indeed:

My heart is in the highlands today. The Liberal Democrats were all but wiped out in 2015, but that wasn’t the worst thing to happen to us that year. Weeks later we lost Charles Kennedy.

That the final act of this general election should see his old seat returned to Lib Dem hands and the care of Angus MacDonald is simply wonderful.

I’m overjoyed that Angus has become the sensational sixth Scottish Liberal Democrat MP.

Angus has shown that the Liberal Democrats are the strongest voice for the Highlands. He will focus on what really matters, such as getting you NHS care close to home, improving dangerous roads and fighting for a fair deal for the Highlands.

Millions of people have voted for change and put their trust in us, so our job now is to repay it in full and be their local champions.

Join the Liberal Democrats today and you can be part of the change in both Scotland and the UK.

Here is the result

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We need to move from the shires and suburbs into the deprived areas of the UK

No matter how successful we have been in the many General Elections that I have been involved in since my first in 1970 there has always been someone who, after the elections, says, ….”but!” So, it might as well be me! In fact, let me correct my own first sentence. For the first time since 1970 I have not been involved in the General Election at all. Convention in Liverpool is that for the year that you are in office the Lord Mayor plays no part in politics so that they can act as the only member of the council able to speak in Purdah periods but also, as with the Speaker, can be neutral throughout the year.

For most of my political life I have been involved in the school of hard politics, which is Liverpool, but it could be any other rough, tough, urban core city or borough. Although I represent a reasonably affluent area now, the fabulous Penny Lane Ward, for much of my time on the council I represented difficult inner-city areas. My lament through the whole of this period has been that the Liberals and then Liberal Democrats have been a party of the suburbs and shires. A quick look at the map of where Lib Dems took seats on Thursday will see that this has not changed at all.

I do understand the need for targeting and believe that this policy was absolutely necessary to ensure that we came back from the political wilderness to enable the Party as a whole to be relevant to the law-making processes of the nation as a whole. But we have now achieved that and my plea to Ed Davey and our other leaders is that now is the time to be bold and push for real representation in our major cities.

Now I know that we are not entirely unrepresented in urban areas at local level. We control Hull and have significant and growing numbers of councillors in places like Sheffield, Newcastle and a growing re-energised presence in my own city of Liverpool. But over the whole of my 50 years in Liverpool we have had to do everything ourselves and fight a poorly funded urban guerilla warfare against Labour’s well-funded mighty machines.

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Didn’t we have a good national campaign!

Few of us dreamed that we could come out of this election campaign with over 70 seats.  The willingness of Liberal Democrats across the country to travel to target seats, the high quality of the local campaign organisation when we got there, determined efforts to raise more money than most local campaigns have ever thought of before, all helped to maximise our gains.  But we must also give full credit to the high quality and sustained consistency of the national campaign.

I expect that many Liberal Democrats – naturally argumentative, with strong opinions of our own – have had their doubts about aspects of our national strategy over the past year or more: a focus on sewage and water pollution rather than Europe or Liberal values, a ruthless approach to target seat selection and to the demands placed upon them, stunts and photo-opportunities that attracted attention but didn’t seem sufficiently serious. 

Well, the results have justified the hard discipline our central organisation imposed.  Concentrated campaigning harvested tactical votes and used our limited funds effectively.  Ed Davey’s standing in the polls rose as Sunak’s fell; he was seen to be the most human and approachable of the three main party leaders.  And as to sewage: the issue of water pollution ‘cut through’, as the phrase goes, to a point where much of the Thames Valley has turned orange.

Liberal Democrats outside London may grasp only with difficulty how much smaller our professional staff is than those who have thronged Conservative and Labour headquarters in their hundreds: extensive media and digital teams, multiple fundraisers, ranks of policy advisers, organisers for national and local campaigns.  Our headquarters has unavoidably remained small, within our limited budget – with its staff probably paid a good deal less than elsewhere, and helped by volunteers.  I think I have had half our media team in my Lords office once or twice – and it’s not a large office!  

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Inverness recount: WATCH LIVE

Are you excited for the Inverness result which could give us our 72nd (yes, that’s SEVENTY TWO) MP?

Highland Council are streaming it on  You Tube. Watch, live from Dingwall.

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Christine Jardine: “We have a job to do, a country to repair and liberalism to defend”

At about 4am on Friday, 26,645 residents of Edinburgh West voted for Christine Jardine to continue as MP. This gave her a stonking majority of almost 16,500 over the SNP. To put this in perspective, in 2017, when she won the seat for the first time, she got 18,108 votes and a majority of just under 3000. It is the best  performance in the seat since 1955.

She is pictured here with her daughter Mhairi. Here is her victory speech.

 

Returning officer, counting staff, police, everyone who has worked to distribute polling cards, postal voting packs, staff polling stations and count the votes.Thank You.

What you have done has allowed us to demonstrate just how well we do democracy, and just how much we should value it.

To the people of Edinburgh West thank you. Thank you, for the faith you have shown in me, and my party, at a time when people are crying out for better governments you have put your trust in us to fight for the change that you want to see.

At a time when democracy across the world is under threat and there are those in this country who would undermine it, I promise you I will do everything in my power to protect those rights we hold dear for all of us.

This is also a hugely significant night for representation in Scotland and for the Liberal Democrats.

Nine years ago, we suffered a very difficult, different evening which Charles Kennedy described as the night of the long Sgian dubhs.

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Ed Davey’s victory speech

This is what Ed said after his result was announced in Kingston & Surbiton:

Thank you. It’s been a great privilege to serve our Kingston and Surbiton communities over many years.

And I am humbled that you’ve put your faith in me – to do it again. So let me say a big “thank you”.

And thank you too, to Sarah our Returning Officer, and to all the staff and police who’ve worked here through the night.

You are the unsung heroes of our democracy. It simply wouldn’t work without you. And thank you to my fellow candidates. For making this, a campaign we

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That went pretty well

Anticappointment is a concept coined by Toby Hadoke, a prominent Doctor Who commentator, to describe how Doctor Who fans approach a new series. They worry that they are not going to like it, even though they probably will. As a Liberal Democrat it fits well with how we approach elections.

Over forty years of disappointing election results has made me very cautious about predicting how many MPs we will end up with. I eventually decided to predict 32 MPs, pretty much our main target list. By the time polling day arrived, I knew that even though I was trying to limit my expectations, I’d be devastated if that was all we won.

But it wasn’t. We have 71 MPs. 71. SEVENTY ONE.  By the time I’ve finished writing this, it could be 72. Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire, in essence much of Charles Kennedy’s old seat, is recounting and I hear our folks our chipper.

Here’s Ed Davey exuberantly dad dancing and loads of Lib Dems singing Sweet Caroline. I always loved that song, but this has written it on my heart forever.

It’s a brilliant night for us. The best we have known in the history of our party by some margin.

Since Mary’s last update, we have added Chesham and Amersham to our list of technical gains. Sarah Green won it in a by-election in 2021, and few expected her to hang on to it. But she did. With a majority of around 5,500.  We also held on to our other three by-election gains. Helen Morgan’s vote in North Shropshire practically had to be weighed as she romped to a 15,300 majority. Incredible to think that in 2019 and forever before this was a rock solid Tory seat.  The one people were really worried about was Honiton and Sidmouth, the re-boundaried half of Tiverton and Honiton, won by Richard Foord in June 2o22. But Richard smashed it, beating Tory Simon Jupp by around 7000 votes. As an added bonus, the Tiverton part of the by-election seat was won by our Rachel Gilmour.  Sarah Dyke also held onto Glastonbury and Somerton by 6,500 votes. The icing on that cake was Anna Sabine winning the other half of that by-election seat for us.

We also held on to all the MPs we won in 2017.

There’s always one result that breaks your heart, though. Poor Paul Follows had been widely anticipated to beat Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in Godalming and Ash. He just fell short by 800 votes.

I am thrilled beyond measure to see Vikki Slade finally elected in Mid Dorset and North Poole. After four attempts to win the seat, she made it, with a majority of just under 1400.

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An early morning apology

I’m afraid that the speed of the results – plus increasing tiredness – has meant that we have got a bit behind in reporting Lib Dem successes.

I will be putting together a (almost) final summary of our wins shortly.

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More new seats – and some old ones

Glastonbury and Somerton is one of those newly drawn constituencies that is difficult to predict, but it has been shown as a Lib Dem gain from Conservatives. Sarah Dyke was our by-election winner in the overlapping constituency of Somerton & Frome so we are delighted to see her success in the new patch.

And how lovely to see Tessa Munt returning to Parliament after losing her seat in 2015. Her new seat is called Wells and Mendip Hills.

Wera Hobhouse has held Bath, I’m pleased to say.

Over in North Norfolk Steff Aquarone has regained the North Norfolk seat where Norman Lamb was MP until he stood down in 2019.

Another scorching victory in Wimbledon where Paul Kohler has taken the seat from the Tories with a 12,000 majority. (There is a bit of a theme developing here – 12,000 is the cool number).

Dorking and Horley is another blue wall seat that has fallen to us. Chris Coghlan is our new MP there.

Another pleasing gain in Melksham & Devizes – so congratulations to Brian Mathew.

Sadly for us we did not manage to snatch Jeremy Hunt’s seat of Godalming & Ash, in spite of a strong campaign by our candidate.

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More blue wall and South West seats

Another South West seat has come our way – Ian Roome has won Devon North from the Conservatives. It was previously Nick Harvey’s seat – until 2015.

Hampshire North East has also come to us, thanks to Alex Brewer overturning a huge Conservative majority.

And Jess Brown-Fuller has achieved a whopping 12,000 majority in Chichester – another seat we have never held before!

Tunbridge Wells is similar – another blue wall seat that we have never held – but Mike Martin has taken it with a 8,000 majority.

We are building up pockets of Lim Demmery and in Cambridgeshire Ely & East Cambridgeshire lies alongside St Neots & Mid Cams and South Cambridgeshire. Charlotte Cane is now the MP for Ely & East Cambridgeshire.

Then what can we say about Thornbury & Yate? Claire Young has regained the seat previously held by revered Pensions Minister Steve Webb in the Coalition.

And now Yeovil is back with us! Adam Dance has managed to overturn the Conservatives to come in with a 12,000 majority. This was, of course, Paddy Ashdown’s seat, followed by David Laws so it is good to see it back in the fold again.

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More Lib Dem wins

Well, Ed Davey’s record was short lived. Munira Wilson has held on to her Twickenham seat with a massive 21,000 majority!

Huge congratulations to Marie Goldman who took Chelmsford from the Conservatives with a good majority! This is the first time we have won that seat.

Then there is Steve Darling in Torbay, who turns the town orange again, following a challenging campaign.

And Lisa Smart in Hazel Grove (back with us at last!).

Bobby Dean regains Carshalton and Wallington – another seat we lost in 2015.

They are just announcing that we have regained Cheltenham, one of our top target seats, as well – well done to Max Wilkinson!

And now Sutton & Cheam returns to the Lib Dems with Luke Taylor.

Now Sarah Olney matches Ed Davey’s majority in her seat of Richmond Park.

And we have gained Stratford on Avon for the first time – previously held by Nadhim Zahawi with a huge majority.  Welcome to Manuela Perteghella!

Congratulations to all our new MPs – 1r so far.

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Our first gain(s) of the night!

Congratulations to Tom Gordon – our first MP so far, and our first gain, in Harrogate and Knaresborough.

Lib Dems first won the seat in 1997, and Phil Willis held on to it right through until he stood down in 2010, when it passed to the Conservatives. Wonderful to gain it back!

And the next one to come in is also technically a gain, though one we held before the meltdown in 2015. Eastleigh is triumphant again with Liz Jarvis!

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Tales from the campaign

Yet more waiting until the key results, from our perspective, start to come in.

So let’s fill in the time with reflections on the campaign. Thanks to Andy Boddington for this photo of farmer and Shropshire Councillor Richard Huffer who finds a different way to draw attention to the campaign for Matthew Green, PPC for South Shropshire.

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Scottish exit poll comes with a large pinch of salt

The Scottish constituency breakdown of the exit poll should be taken with a fairly large pinch of salt. In 2019, it predicted we would lose all of our seats north of the border and we won 4. The MRP models don’t generally do Scotland that well.

This time, it predicts that we are on 5 our current 4 plus Mid Dumbartonshire. That would coincide with our own hopes and, I think, backs up what we have picked up on the ground during the campaign. So, fingers crossed  that is accurate.

Labour are predicted to gain 29 seats, bringing them to 30, and the Tories are supposed to double their seats from 6 to 12. The SNP are predicted to do worse than even the most pessimistic predictions, with just 10 seats, down from 48.

However, it seems unlikely that the Tories will double their seats, least of all themselves who are doing a bit of expectation management on this. Nobody really believes that their current Westminster leader Stephen Flynn will lose his Aberdeen South seat to them, a key target for Labour. Pete Wishart would also lose his Perth seat to the Conservatives.  However, there may be a return for Stephen Gethins, beaten by Wendy Chamberlain in North East Fife in 2019 and now standing in Arbroath.

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Ed Davey: Lib Dems on course for best results in a century

Ed Davey made these comments after the polls closed:

The Liberal Democrats are on course for our best results in a century, thanks to our positive campaign with health and care at its heart.

I am humbled by the millions of people who backed the Liberal Democrats to both kick the Conservatives out of power and deliver the change our country needs.

Every Liberal Democrat MP will be a strong local champion for their community standing up for the NHS and care. Whether you voted for us or not, we will work day in and day out and we will not let you down.

He also pointed out that if the Liberal Democrat make 29 gains, bringing them to 37 seats, this would be the highest number of seats gained by the party at a General Election since 1923.

If the exit poll is accurate then we could smash that.

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That exit poll

So – the prediction is 61 Lib Dem MPs!

That is a rise of 53 on the 2019 result!!!

Just brilliant.

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It’s almost all over

So how has polling day been for you? I am sure I am not the only person who got sunburnt while telling at a polling station.

Talking of which, did anyone mention dogs at polling stations? I had a conversation with this beautiful Pyrenean Mountain Dog while taking numbers.

We now wait for the exit polls, which have been pretty accurate in previous elections. To keep you entertained I thought I might remind you of what happened to a previous editor of Lib Dem Voice, Stephen Tall, back in 2015.

You may have noticed that the members of the Lib Dem Voice team have been reticent to make predictions about how many seats we will win. That’s because we don’t want to follow in Stephen’s footsteps – quite literally.

He pledged to run naked down Whitehall if the party gained fewer than 20 seats in the General Election in 2015.  Here is a reminder of what happened next…

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Go for it!

Embed from Getty Images

Our warmest wishes go to everyone out campaigning today.

If you are a candidate realistically hoping that you will be an MP tomorrow, then go for it (and stop reading political blogs for the time being!).

If you are a candidate with little chance of winning, then keep cheerful – we owe you a huge thank you for giving so much to this campaign and keeping the Lib Dem diamonds bright.

If you are an activist or supporter who will be spending the day door knocking, delivering, telling or doing those all vital back room tasks, then you are the real heroes of this campaign. Enjoy the day, and be pleased that you have participated in an election that we will be talking about for many years to come.

You won’t be hearing much from the Lib Dem Voice team during the day today – we are all a bit busy. But we will be offering news and commentary throughout the night so do check in after 10pm and maybe share stories with us at [email protected].

We should also remember the many council by-elections taking place today as well. The news about those contests may get buried under the national news, but please let us know and we will highlight what we can.

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It’s Eve of Poll. How are you going to help Lib Dems win tomorrow?

It’s hard to believe that it’s 6 weeks since Rishi Sunak stood in the rain in Downing Street to fire the starting gun to the General Election campaign.

Since then, there hasn’t been much movement in the polls, apart from a few points up for us, sparked by the brilliant, positive, incredible images and messages coming from our leader. What a time to come in to the form of your life, Ed Davey!

This party has fought our best campaign for years at every possible level. Our media spokespeople have been amazing. Ed has shown in the debates, Question Times and interviews that there is a huge amount of substance behind the style. He has tackled tough questions head on, with honesty and humility.

It’s all getting real now. Tomorrow, people in our target seats will have to clear a path through their Lib Dem leaflets to their door and go out to vote. Some will still be wrestling with their choice even as they stand in the voting booth with the pencil in hand. We need to be in their heads with our positive messages at that point. That is why it is so important that we get our eve of polls and good mornings out and knock on as many doors and make as many phone calls as possible.

And it’s why it is really really important that every single ounce of our efforts goes into seats where we are in the running.

If you need convincing of this, here’s the North East Fife result from 2017:

Stephen Gethins Scottish National Party 13,743 32.9% -8.1%
Elizabeth Riches Liberal Democrat 13,741 32.9% 1.5%
Tony Miklinski Conservative 10,088 24.1% 7.8%
Rosalind Garton Labour 4,026 9.6% 1.9%
Mike Scott-Hayward Independent 224 0.5% 0.5%

Two votes in it. Don’t let that happen again.

And even this May 97 more votes could have given us control of 3 more Councils.

What you do and where you do it on Polling day really matters. If you can’t travel, please think about making calls from home – or from holiday.

The messages that the Tories are putting out might seem bizarre to us. Their “letter from July 2044” aimed at bringing Reform voters back on board is probably the weirdest bit of literature we’ve ever seen, but we are not their target audience.

Mel Stride’s extraordinary comments this morning that you need enough Tories around to scrutinise Labour are very strange indeed. The only thing that the Tories will be capable of scrutinising over the next five years will be each other, with menaces. They are a party riven with irreconcilable differences and they will make a load of ferrets in a sack seem like the best of friends.

If you want a really good opposition to Labour, you will need a coherent, confident, capable party to keep their feet to the fire. So you obviously need lots of Liberal Democrats.

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Bungee jumping and Zumba – all in a day’s campaigning for Ed Davey

In this long election campaign, we’ve had Rishi Sunak deliver a never-ending stream of negativity and misery, Keir Starmer being so nervous about screwing things up that he’s coming across as walking on eggshells and Nigel Farage being as objectionable as ever.

Ed Davey’s bright and happy photo opportunities have provided a welcome contrast and attracted lots of positive comment.

Today, he decided to throw himself off a platform from a great height by way of inviting people to vote Liberal Democrat.

Watch, courtesy of Sky News:

The rationale for this:

To get the change our country needs this week and beat the Conservatives in scores of seats, I am asking people to take a leap of faith and vote for the Liberal Democrats.

A lot of people are on the cusp of doing something they’ve never done before on Thursday and voting for the Liberal Democrats, so I decided to do something I’ve never done before too.

Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to fix the NHS and care, end the sewage scandal and tackle the cost of living crisis.

Ed talked to The Guardian about the rationale for the stunts:

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Liberal Democrats winning here

Local parties and residents have been creative in the use of posters.

This splendid display is in our target seat of Esher and Walton:

Here is a novel cantilevered approach in Ed Davey’s constituency:

I like the way the diamond points to a leaflet. Thanks to Ruth Bright for this one from a home in Eastleigh:

Got a (copyright-free) photo to share? Landscape works best. Email them to [email protected] and we will add them to the post.

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This is why you need to help Lib Dem target seat candidates win

With just 8 days to go before the election, our target seat candidates need the help of every single one of us between now and polling day.

They have a huge amount to do and the more people we can talk to between now and polling day, the better the chance we have of filling up those green benches and once again being the third party in the House of Commons. That will guarantee us more media coverage and Ed will get two questions to the Prime Minister every week.

Our target seat candidates have been campaigning at high intensity for years. Some of them have completely given up other work this year to concentrate full time on their campaigns. That is a huge personal sacrifice. But it’s what we need to do to win.

The last thing we need to wake up to on 5th July  is a string of near misses. Remember in the local elections, a handful more votes would have given us control of another 3 councils.

We know that the Conservatives are going to pull out all the stops in the last few days of the campaign to stop us winning. They are very worried about the scale of the losses we can inflict. On the For the Many Podcast last Friday, broadcaster Iain Dale said:

I hear on the grapevine that Conservative candidates in Conservative seats with a majority of, say 5000 or 6000,  they are all being re-deployed to seats which have a majority of say 15,000 or 20,000.

He confirmed to co-host Jacqui Smith that this included candidates who are defending their seats.

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Welcome to my day: 24 June 2024 – it would take a heart of stone, wouldn’t it?

Greetings from Lithuania, where your Day Editor is currently located following a rather enjoyable weekend away on Party business. Think of it as one of the side effects of a snap General Election…

Having spent much of the weekend surrounded by European liberal colleagues asking optimistically after our prospects, I’ve been talking them down a bit. After all, I’ve been around a long time and I know that the evil Tories always have something up their sleeves to unleash upon us at the moment of greatest vulnerability, usually courtesy of their mates in the right-wing press.

And yet, and yet, I fret that something beyond our control might harm our prospects. However, despite my vague disquiet, our campaign still appears to be running as smoothly as you could reasonably ask, and our key messages continue to resonate.

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Doctor Who actor endorses Lib Dem candidates and compliments Ed Davey

There were some bleary eyes in many campaign headquarters yesterday after many of our campaigners had stayed up beyond midnight to see the finale of this year’s all too short series of Doctor Who. There are a lot of Doctor Who fans in this party.

They will be interested to know that actor, writer and director Nicholas Pegg, who has spent much of the past 20 years as a dalek operator on the series, has endorsed two Lib Dem candidates in Devon, where he lives. He also had some very positive things to say on Twitter about Ed Davey’s performance on Question Time this week.

He said:

I continue to be impressed by Ed Davey. He’s not a sensation-seeking populist quote machine. He’s not rising to the bait thrown by a patently partisan presenter, and he’s dealing superbly with her pugnacious interruptions. He’s a grown-up. He’s a proper politician.

His own vote in this election is going to Lib Dem Paul Arnott in order to beat the Conservative in Exmouth and Exeter East:

In the new constituency of Exmouth & Exeter East, I shall be voting for the Lib Dem candidate @paularnottLd, a well-known and well-liked Devon councillor with years of local experience. The Electoral Calculus website predicts a close run, but only Paul Arnott can beat the Tory.

He is also supporting our by-election winner Richard Foord to win in the new constituency of Honiton and Sidmouth:

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Access our manifesto

The BSL version of our manifesto has now been launched.

The web based manifesto can be read here.

You can also download other versions from this page (scroll down to the bottom), including Braille, clear print, plain text and easy read versions and as a normal pdf.

The costings of our manifesto can be examined here.

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The Liberal Democrat Manifesto: Politics for the Common Good

In 1912 Britain was a surprisingly shabby place. Despite the country’s immense foreign possessions and vast export trade, the UK was suffering the enfeebling effects of a drastic readjustment of global trade. In the decades to come, these economic tides would cause the British Empire to recede into the history books. But for the Edwardians, these future chimes of doom were felt first as industrial sluggishness and mass hardship. The grand Imperial centre was witnessing an explosion of poverty, malnutrition, and ill-health, decaying infrastructure and insecure work.

E.M. Forster memorably dramatized this national condition in his 1913 novel Maurice through the metaphor of the tumbled down country house of Penge. This once-grand seat of the genteel Durham family is now beset by staff-shortages, leaky roofs and pathologically complacent owners. And to compound the estate’s troubles, the working-classes over whom the Durham’s bestow their parasitic patronage no-longer see the point of their old masters. The aristocrats grumble that the scullery maids have become unreliable while the game-keepers have gone socialist. As Forster puts it wryly: ‘ people had the air of settling something; they either just had arranged or soon would arrange England. Yet, the gate posts, the roads…were in bad repair, and the timber wasn’t kept properly, the windows stuck, the boards creaked.’ Plutocratic pretentions were finally hitting the cold and unforgiving buffers of economic reality. It is impossible to read Forster’s description of this sad and decaying estate without seeing something of ourselves.

Since the 2008 Financial Crisis the UK economy has stuttered along, struggling with low productivity, stagnant wages and a rising tide of social need. But if we find ourselves resolutely within the walls of Forster’s dilapidated Penge, the avoidable shabbiness of the Edwardians points us towards something like a remedy. Forster knew (and in time would become part of) a new circle of intellectuals, often dubbed ‘the New Liberals’. In the face of an ‘individualism which ignores the social factor in wealth’, that depletes ‘the national resources’ and deprives ‘the community of its just share in the fruits of industry’ (L.T. Hobhouse), New Liberals sought to establish a new set of political principles:

  • Wealth is produced by a dynamic partnership between personal initiative and social organisation
  • Society possesses common goods which must be met collectively
  • Government (on behalf of society) has a right to demand a reasonable portion of private wealth in recognition of the social dimension of all personal initiative

As Hobhouse summarised this posture: ‘The prosperous businessman who thinks that he has made his fortune entirely by self-help does not pause to consider what single step he could have taken on the road to his success but for the ordered tranquillity which has made commercial development possible, the security by road, and rail, and sea, the masses of skilled labour, and the sum of intelligence which civilization has placed at his disposal …If he dug to the foundations of his fortune he would recognize that, as it is society that maintains and guarantees his possessions, so also it is society which is an indispensable partner in its original creation’.

And yet an atmosphere of structural individualism pervades our lives. Common needs are repeatedly neglected and common sources of prosperity are frittered away. The country is ailing, with an extractive economy, characterised by high rents, low savings and even lower investment. The jaded house-maids and socialist gamekeepers have morphed into precarious renters who yearn for a humane collectivism to rescue them from what Forster called the rootless ‘civilisation of luggage’.  This was once the grand mission of our public services, but they are looking increasingly threadbare and dysfunctional, with their maintenance falling on shoulders that simply cannot bare them.

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

A “herbivorous showpony” – behind the scenes of the Scottish Manifesto launch

As we reported yesterday, the Scottish Lib Dems launched their manifesto at the beautiful Craigie’s Farm near South Queensferry. If you are in the area, do pop in for a visit, pick some fruit, enjoy the gorgeous views and buy some lovely food and drink from the shop and cafe. You can even order online.

The event looked great. There were a couple of hiccups though.

Frankly, Wendy Chamberlain should get danger money for appearing with leaders. In 2021, Willie Rennie accidentally hit her with a shinty ball during a photo opportunity for the Holyrrod Elections.

Yesterday, they let Alex Cole-Hamilton loose with a tractor. When Ed Davey did similar for the local elections last year, he demolished a mock up of a blue wall. Alex nearly demolished his deputy leader, not once, but twice.

The BBC have a video here.

Thankfully Wendy survived and she was much more forgiving than we would have been. Later she and Alex recorded a video about the event:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment
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