Tag Archives: chesterfield

Paul Holmes writes…Fighting Labour in Chesterfield

The new LD Council Group in Chesterfield minus Kelly Thornton who has gone on a well deserved holiday. Centre front are Cllr Paul Holmes former MPa nd Cllr Emily Coy Parliamentary Candidate.

In 2015 Chesterfield Lib Dems returned only 9 Cllrs, our lowest number since the 1980s. On Thursday we elected 17, missed one more by one vote (after 3 recounts) and another by 53 votes. 

The historian in me points at past precedent. In 1995 we elected 10 Cllrs, in 1999 it was 19 and in 2003 it was 37. There was also the minor side issue of electing the MP in 2001. So, we are now looking forward to the 2023 Council elections with considerable anticipation – and have already started the planning!

Our excellent gains of seats and Council control across England are a source of great joy. At a personal level I am particularly pleased at the Hinckley and Bosworth result where my old friends Stuart Bray and Michael Mullaney masterminded and drove another fantastic campaign as they always do. Then there is Southport where my friend and former Parliamentary colleague John Pugh and his colleagues did well.

However, my greatest delight is in those areas where we made progress against Labour. For half a century we have won most of our Councillors and MPs from the Conservatives in generally more affluent areas. Winning against Labour has always been much harder and less usual. When we won the Chesterfield Parliamentary seat in 2001 it was, I think, only the second time since WW2 that we had won a seat direct from Labour (without a prior by election success) in a General Election. 

So, the less glamorous progress against Labour on Thursday was what I especially noticed – in Liverpool, Sheffield, Derby, Barnsley, Sunderland and Bassetlaw for example. I have asked ALDC and as far as they could tell me Chesterfield, with 7 gains from Labour and 1 from UKIP, had the highest number of gains from Labour in England. This is a source of particular satisfaction to me.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 47 Comments

A very sweet Lib Dem GAIN in Chesterfield

Back in 1994 or thereabouts, we failed to gain a labour seat in a by-election by a handful of votes. 17 stuck in my mind, but Paul Holmes tells me it’s 34. 17 extra voters.

Tonight, we won that Moor ward seat by a few more votes – a gain from Labour.

That is THE legendary Tony Rogers, becoming …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Lib Dems GAIN two Council seats from Labour

About 20.5 years ago, I was part of the campaign which beat Labour to win the Holmebrook ward in Chesterfield in a council by-election. A certain Keith Falconer won. Later on, his wife Glenys Falconer also represented the ward. In fact, since I wrote this, I have learned that it is the third time Keith has won this seat in a by-election. The first was in 1986, before my time in the East Midlands. He then represented the ward for 22 of the 25 years until 2011. He fell victim to an utterly unprincipled and nasty Labour campaign in 1995.

Anyway, that campaign was a really good springboard for the General Election. If I remember rightly, there was a newspaper which screamed “Poll sensation for Tony Rogers” on its front page.

20 years on, the Liberal Democrats have taken a fair few knocks in the Derbyshire town. They may be down but they sure as hell aren’t out – and they are still capable of an audacious result.

And the winner? A certain Cllr Keith Falconer.

ALDC celebrate in suitable style.

Now I know my dear friend Paul Holmes will come on here and say “We never talked about any of that Brexit rubbish.” And I might just let him gloat for a bit. But, seriously, I am thrilled to bits for all my old friends in Chesterfield who were part of this. I wonder if they are off drinking in the Tullamore like they used to after a good by-election win.

However, I do think that the Brexit stuff is responsible for Vince’s rather good poll figure. The man’s almost in positive figures, for goodness sake.

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What were you doing 20 years ago today?

Some of you reading this won’t even have been born in 1997, or have been too young to take part in the General Election that year.

20 years ago today was a blistering hot day in Chesterfield. I was knocking up all over town.

I had spent most of the campaign doing front of house in our brilliant little office which was happily situated right next door to a pretty decent Italian restaurant. Several times we ordered food from them and they brought it across on proper plates, with real cutlery. A total luxury for an election office.

We had been working hard to get Tony Rogers elected in Chesterfield. Over the previous few years, we had really been challenging the local Labour hegemony, winning by-election after by-election. While New Labour were very much ahead in the polls, it was very much Old Labour who ran the Derbyshire town.

It was such brilliant fun. Very busy, of course. Paul Holmes as agent is never one to under-estimate anyone’s capacity for work. Legend had it that he took envelopes to stuff to a woman in the early stages of labour. He says he can’t remember doing such a thing, but nobody who knows him seems to have much trouble believing it. There was one time during the European campaign in 1994 when he decided that sorting out a million election addresses wasn’t enough work for us to do and he got us all stuffing envelopes for a by-election in Bradford South too.

He certainly liked to challenge us. You’d be in the middle of doing something and he’d come along with some mailing that needed to go out by the last posting time which was impossibly close. And we always stepped up and did it. We called him lots of names in the process, always to his face and he bore that with good humour.

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Tony Benn: an appreciation

imageSummer 1993. I’d just finished my GCSEs and so, like any other teenager, spent the next few weeks reading Tony Benn’s diaries from start to finish. They are an immense achievement, as was his life.

They had a pretty major impact on me: I joined the Labour Party aged 16.The effect wore off in time: I left Labour (in 1999), and the Labour Party left Tony Benn.

Posted in News and Obituaries | Also tagged | 19 Comments

Paul Holmes writes: In memory of Asad Shafi Qazi

Nicky Qazi, a good personal friend and political colleague, died in hospital last week aged 82. Nicky was one of those unsung heroes of the Liberal Democrats who give over a large part of their life to voluntarily pounding the streets, campaigning to spread the cause they believe in however unfashionable it may be at times.

I joined the SDP wing of the Alliance in Chesterfield in 1983 and soon got to know and admire Nicky a near neighbour who had joined the Liberal Party a few years earlier. He had a shrewd intelligence, a quiet but devastating sense of humour and was unfailingly polite and patient. I don’t think I ever saw him lose his temper although, always in private and never with rancour, he could certainly succinctly and with a sad air make clear his view of the occasional antics of some of our own colleagues let alone the opposition.

Posted in Obituaries | Also tagged | 2 Comments
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