Tag Archives: copeland by-election

In praise of being a by-election candidate

It’s 18 months since Jamie Reed resigned as the MP for Copeland, forcing a very unexpected by-election.

I’d never intended standing for parliament.  I was very content running my own business and being a local (lowest level – unpaid) Councillor, campaigning on a local issue I was passionate about (keeping our maternity services).

Copeland was not a winnable seat (we had no Lib Dem councillors there and all the Lib Dems were in Stoke fighting Nuttall) but by-elections command a lot of party and media attention, so being the candidate gave me the chance to do many things I couldn’t have done in an unwinnable seat in a general election for example:

– Copeland contains Sellafield – the hub of the nuclear industry.  Our nuclear experts were very worried about the consequences of the UK pulling out of the Euratom agreement as part of Brexit.  Lord Teverson and Baroness Featherstone helped me get this issue rapidly on the Westminster agenda.  Because I was raising it in Copeland, the main party candidates had to know about it so their parties had to help them and this issue quickly gained cross party attention.

– I was also very concerned about a particularly toxic academy issue we faced.  The other candidates didn’t properly understand it but by raising it again and again and explaining it in depth at hustings I was able to make sure they did.  To her credit, Trudy Harrison (the elected Conservative MP) has got herself onto the Education Select Committee and is working hard on this issue.

– I was able to drive forward my work on our maternity issues with the help of Norman Lamb, Baroness Brinton and the local media.

 – I was able to be a role model for the kind of evidence-based inclusive democracy I believe in, for example I was able to set up hustings in areas that felt neglected.

I got high level training on working with the media and plenty of experience.  I got the support of very experienced politicians and my fantastic agent Andy Sanger and so was able to learn a great deal very quickly.

The credibility I gained during the by-election meant that I was elected to Cumbria County Council last May.  From there I’ve been able to continue to protect maternity services and I’ve been able to have a positive impact on more issues than I can count.  

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

Mrs Copeland

Copeland is a place of significance for me, I love it to bits, and I wish I had been able to come up and help the campaign. On Thursday, Rebecca Hanson and team delivered a solid result for us in Copeland, doubling our vote share and forcing UKIP down into fourth place. Of course, we are by no means a close third, but over time could this become a Lib Dem target seat?

Neighbouring seat Westmorland and Lonsdale, held by our own Tim Farron, had a strong tradition of Lib Dem second places by the time he won in 2005, while in Copeland our vote has snuck above ten percent only twice; in 2005 and 2010. This by-election has been seen by some as purely a start to the Cumbria County Council elections in May, and I think that has its own benefits. Rebecca did a fantastic job of getting our name out there, even to the isolated villages in the fells.

My Grandma lives in one of those villages, and tells me that they have a lamppost at the bottom of her road which has been broken for approaching a year. The council have been contacted again and again to fix it, but nothing has been done, except a bloke coming to take the bulb out. This broken lamppost makes it incredibly difficult to see pedestrians or to pull out of the road at night – it is impossible to see the cars that race over the fells like lemmings, flinging themselves around corners without slowing or looking. A small thing to be sure, but this local dog-dirt politics is how we built ourselves up across the country – if evidence is needed, I refer you to Paddy Ashdown’s book ‘A Fortunate Life’ where he details how he won Yeovil on campaigns of this kind.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

++Copeland by-election – Lib Dems more than double vote share and move up to third place, beating UKIP

Congratulations to Rebecca Hanson and the team for an excellent showing at the Copeland by-election, caused by the resignation of Labour’s Jamie Reed. Our vote share more than doubled from 3.5% at the 2015 general election to 7.25%. We moved up from fourth place to third – beating UKIP.

Dramatically, the Tories won the by-election in this normally rock-solid Labour seat. Psephologist John Curtice told the BBC that this was the biggest gain, in share of the vote, by a governing party in a byelection since the Hull North byelection in 1966.

Here is the result in full, plus some bar charts from the Press Association’s Ian Jones:

Posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged | 10 Comments

LibLink: Tom Brake: Why the Liberal Democrats won’t stand aside in Copeland

In an article for the New Statesman, Tom Brake explains why the Liberal Democrats will be fighting the Copeland candidate with our excellent candidate, Rebecca Hanson. The brief summary is that you can’t have a “Progressive Alliance” with a party that isn’t very progressive. Labour’s approach to Brexit is something that we could not support.

But ultimately we will not help progressive politics if we stand aside for Corbyn’s Labour, which would merely give the left false hope that someone of the hard left could become Prime Minister. To us, a Eurosceptic statist such as Corbyn is not even progressive. By doing well ourselves, the Lib Dems will strengthen the hand of Labour moderates to seize back control of their party, or else leave it entirely. Only then will re-alignment be back on the agenda.

Brexit changes everything. So, whatever you thought of the Coalition or the Lib Dems, think again: if you are a progressive, you need Europe – and the Lib Dems are the only party fighting for your European future.

He also reminds readers how Jeremy Corbyn refused to share a platform with Tim Farron during the referendum to highlight how the EU protects workers’ rights.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

Copeland – a chance to reach out to both sides of the Remain/Leave divide

They’re calling Copeland, soon to have a by-election after its MP decided to go work at Sellafield, a three way marginal between the Tories, Labour and UKIP. Maybe in old money it would have been, but that was before Brexit. Now those three can fight over whose Brexit is bigger and harder, giving us a unique position. The 38% who voted to Remain, and a good chunk of the 62% who voted to leave in June may well be attracted by the thought of a vote on the final deal, a chance to legitimise what is being done in their name by the Government.

I tend to view the 2015 election results as a bit of an aberration. In Copeland we got 3.5%, but for the previous three decades, we’d been trundling along at around the 10% mark. We should certainly aim to improve on that as we did in Sleaford.

Posted in Op-eds | 44 Comments
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