Tag Archives: erlend watson

ALDC honours Erlend Watson

Today it has been announced that the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners (ALDC) has conferred Life Membership upon activist, election and by-election talisman Erlend Watson.

This follows the announcement from Erlend that his health prognosis is poor following a sustained period in The Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge.

ALDC President, Baroness Scott of Needham Market said:

Behind every successful  Lib Dem campaign there is a vast amount of behind of the scenes work.  Erlend has given so much to campaigns all over the country for very many years doing the essential jobs which make a campaign.

He doesn’t just work tirelessly himself but is   full of encouraging words for others and is a font of knowledge especially for younger people just starting their journey with the Party.  His commitment to Liberalism is profound, and a beacon to us all.

It is perhaps appropriate to note that Erlend was born in 1963 – at precisely the date at which ALDC was coming into existence and a consensus was emerging that the party needed an independent body for local government and local campaigning.  ALDC and Erlend have a shared existence and his work over decades has been in the support and advocacy of local government.

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Forever young: Erlend Watson accorded life membership of Young Liberals

Long-standing Liberal Democrat member, activist, and election talisman Erlend Watson has been accorded Honorary Life Membership of the Young Liberals.

The announcement comes after Erlend has undergone a serious period of hospitalisation at the Royal Papworth Cambridge and after he has himself issued a Farewell statement on his own Facebook page (copied below with his permission).

Young Liberals Chair Eleanor Kelly said:

Erlend has been a great friend of Young Liberals since before most of our members were born.

With a long and varied career within the party, he has been a fixture of general and by-election campaigns for decades. He has often used his experience to act as a sounding board for our Chairs and Executives and has been a source of advice, wisdom and good humour for many young activists. Most notably, he served as Honorary President of the then Liberal Youth between 2011-12.

“As an executive, we think it only fitting that we award Erlend Honorary Life Membership of the Young Liberals, which we will be moving at our upcoming Winter Conference, and would like to reiterate our thanks to him for being a great ally to our organisation.

Alistair Carmichael MP said:

I have known Erlend Watson since he was chronologically a Young Liberal in Orkney in the late 1980s in Orkney. His commitment to the cause of liberalism and to the Liberal Democrats since then has been unwavering. Look up the word “stalwart” in the dictionary and you will find a picture of Erlend Watson.

For Erlend to be given honorary life membership of The Young Liberals is a fitting way for his commitment to be recognised. He is someone who will always be a young liberal, whatever his age! All of us who know and love Erlend thank them for taking this decision.

Annette Brooke, former MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole (2001-2015) said”

This is brilliant news and much deserved. It is right to recognise his work with Liberal Democrats nationwide and across generations. Erlend played the most important part in the successful campaign to win the Mid Dorset and North Poole seat in the 2001 General Election. His hard work late into the night, his good humour and his tolerance for my butterfly moments and my frequent visits to the hairdressers knew no bounds!

Erlend is the person to have with you at an election count. We shared and survived two nail biting occasions – the critical, but winning, Canford Heath double-council by-election in 2000 and the 2001 General Election where our winning majority was 384 votes.Erlend is like a walking computer in these situations.

My life obviously changed in 2001 and I know Erlend’s did too. When Erlend moved on from Mid Dorset and North Poole, he and the whole team had shared experiences of fun, hard work, enduring friendships, snap decision making, development of organisational skills, success, celebrations, and so much more. I like to think that Erlend’s experiences in Dorset set him on the path to making even greater contributions to future Lib Dem campaigns. Thank you Erlend.

May there be many more campaigns ahead to which you can contribute albeit in a more advisory capacity.

Erlend’s personal statement:

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Chesham & Amersham: a campaign we’ll be talking about for years

Every so often a by-election campaign comes along that will be remembered for generations. Orpington in the 60s, Edge Hill in the 70s, Hillhead in the 80s, Littleborough and Saddleworth in the 90s, Dunfermline in the 2000s, Eastleigh in the 2010s. Many of them came at critical moments for the party, maybe at times when we were a bit down in the dumps. And at those times the party comes together and runs a spirited and joyful campaign that everyone talks about for years afterwards.

Chesham and Amersham comes on top of, to be honest, unspectacular elections in Scotland, Wales and English Councils in May.  It would be a massive ask to win it. This is true blue territory, after all. A year and a half ago, we got less than half the Tory vote, finishing in second place. In 2017, just 4 years ago, we got 13%. We need the sorts of swings we were getting in the 90s to win.

But we’ve given it our best efforts. We’ve run a good old fashioned Liberal Democrat by-election campaign at full pelt in the middle of a pandemic. I’ve seen so many comments about how the warmth of the welcome was matched by the efficiency of despatch with leaflets or canvassing pack.

From as far apart as Edinburgh and Cornwall, activists flocked in their thousands to help Sarah Green’s campaign. It was clear that this was a campaign everybody wanted to be a part of. My tiny contribution was to help host the nightly maraphones, where people from Orkney to Cornwall made thousands of calls.

 

I was very touched that Simon Foster from Southampton dedicated 50% of his sterling contribution putting up stakeboards to me as I couldn’t get there. But the loveliest gesture was friends of Erlend Watson, our campaigning legend who has been a key and beloved presence at so many by-elections, taking his place in this campaign. Natasha Chapman and Olly Craven from Lincoln were Team Erlend. Erlend himself is recovering well from major surgery and we hope to see him back at a by-election or Conference before too long.

The positive feedback from voters was incredible. Phoning voters and asking them to put up stakeboards is far from my favourite sort of campaigning activity, yet I couldn’t believe how easy a sell it was.

The Tories have been doing all sorts of expectation management.

Sometimes you can do every single thing right in a campaign and not get the result you deserve. Sarah Green and her campaign team richly deserve a victory. Let’s hope that they get it. She’s been a fantastic candidate – impressing voters on the doorsteps and motivating her army of helpers. One activist, bitten by a dog the other day, was very surprised that she took time out of her day to phone them and make sure they were ok.

In an email to members tonight, Ed Davey expressed his pride in the campaign we ran:

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Erlend Watson replaces James Graham on the Lib Dems’ Federal Executive

James Graham’s resignation from the Liberal Democrats on Sunday created a vacancy on the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Executive committee.

The Electoral Commission has now recounted the votes from the original internal party election in 2010 and named Erlend Watson as the winner. Party President Tim Farron phoned Erlend this morning to formally welcome him back to FE.

Erlend told the Voice:

I regard myself as a critical friend of the party leadership, we agree on our destination although the precise route to get there is up for discussion.

I was previously on the FE from 2006-2010 including the post General Election

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments
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