Tag Archives: #libdemfightback

#LibDemFightback campaigners busy on the streets this weekend

There are some fantastic, smiling action photos coming out from Lib Dem campaigners this weekend!

Victor Chamberlain has been out twice, campaigning for Simon Hughes with colleagues at the Elephant and Castle:

…and at Borough and Bankside:

Tim Farron visited Leeds – and Leeds Young Liberals captured their excitement at the leader’s arrival:

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Lib Dem members must all do their bit in this election

As I write this I am filled with pride as the party of rational thinking, the party of evidence based policy not knee-jerk reactions reaps the rewards of our stance on Brexit. Our membership is soaring, our poll ratings are creeping up and our results in by-elections both council and parliamentary are truly a sight to behold. However just beholding the wonders of our achievements since the General Election in 2015 isn’t enough. We have a General Election on the horizon!

While some may have the “Brenda “reaction of “not another one” we cannot be complacent. We must win as many seats as we can in order to show Mrs May we mean business! This means we have a number of Richmond Park campaigns to run.  We’ve got to win big in South London and return Sir Vince Cable and Sir Ed Davey to parliament. In Cambridge we’ve got to get the phenomenal campaigning machine who is Dr Julian Huppert back. But, we can only achieve this if we pull together and enthuse our newfound membership base.

To paraphrase Nelson, Tim expects every activist to do their duty! I am what we would call a “newbie” to the party. I joined during the local elections last year from Labour.They had a membership surge too  they they  haven’t motivated their new people. They obsess about internal matters and  not about who really matters, the public. We have so far engaged the membership, now we must motivate all of them into action.  Remember every vote counts. What this means is that we have target seats where we really must win. If you’re unsure where your nearest target seat is then bug your local party chair and they’ll let you know. We can only be an opposition truly worthy of the title if we take seats. Votes in all constituencies are needed but we won’t win them all (this time). Therefore targeting is key.

So remember:

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Islington’s Liberal opportunity

Islington is one of the most liberal places in the country. Cosmopolitan and confident, Islington was a natural home for the Liberal Democrats, but when voters moved on from Iraq, Labour moved back in. Labour hold 47 of 48 borough council seats (the other is a Green) and have held both parliamentary seats for longer than I’ve been alive.

I am relatively new to front line politics, but then so too are most of our members. Islington’s membership soared past 700 last week and from these newcomers, a majority of our executive have been elected into a Lib Dem role for the first time.

Our first action day of the year last Saturday was a spectacular success. 60 local members came out in the rain to help deliver four different wards across our two constituencies and for many, it was the first political thing they had ever done. An Islington veteran told me afterwards over a drink that she’d never seen anything like that level of enthusiasm, not even on general election day.

Our local residents are enthused as well and it was the first Lib Dem leaflet they had received for at least a year.  Since we delivered our bundles, dozens of residents have emailed through our contact address asking how they can join the party, asking how they can help locally, and of course there are always, always pot holes to fix!

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WATCH: The fightback continues in 2017 and READ how it’s happening in the South West

A short video released by the party over the holiday period summing up the last two years. Enjoy and share.

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I should have joined the Lib Dems years ago

One of my earliest memories is sitting on my father’s shoulders, protesting the poll tax. I don’t remember much, just the feeling of all those people being together, a community outraged by what was happening.

A few years later, I stayed up with my parents to watch the 1997 election. When the exit polls came through, they popped champagne. I remember my mum crying: “it’s over and we’ll have socialism again”. Sometimes people live a stereotype all too easily.

As I grew up, it seemed preordained. My parents became more and more disillusioned by Blair, but for me any time before New Labour was a distant blur. When I could vote, I voted Labour without question – who else would I vote for?

When the coalition came to power, my parents prophesied doom. Many of my friends had voted Lib Dem, on the strength of their promises about tuition fees and in the thrall of Cleggmania, but I hadn’t. I voted Labour, of course. It was in my blood. Not being able to imagine anything else, I joined the party.

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If you thought we were having a #libdemfightback – you’ve seen nothing yet!

Like many people, both in our party and out of it, I felt a sense of numb devastation following the result on June 23, a date etched into our country’s storied history.

The resulting euphoria of the Leave campaign, pouring salt into the wound, has little consolation in that the Remain euphoria would have been as high. It doesn’t surprise many of us, however, that a Conservative election for a new leader has started (don’t be so sure that Boris is loved by everyone in that party).

What did come as a surprise to me, is how quickly the Leave team have started rowing back.

Controlled immigration at a lower level? No, they say no.

£350million a week to the EU? Oh, I never believed that, some say.

You’re now giving all that to the NHS? We aren’t the government; we can’t make spending commitments they now admit.

I’ve been keen to say the Leave team – implying the leaders of the Leave campaign. Please remember, there are liberals who did want to leave in our party. The ones I know personally, are not anti-LGBT, anti-NHS or any other badges we could give to the likes of Boris or Farage so please, be careful when directing your anger to the right places.

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Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity


Each day seems to bring another installment in the ongoing sagas of the red and blue camp. Either it’s the EU referendum backbiting and divisiveness in the Tory party or the long, slow and painful fall out from Corbyn’s election and the unleashing of some rather unsavoury elements in the party.

Scandal, drama and political machination may command media attention and interest from keen political observers, but it’s another nail in the coffin for the reputation of politicians and crucially politics in the eyes of the voter.

Politics should be about improving people’s lives, creating a more harmonious society and ensuring that our country is in the best position economically both now and in the future. In a word it should be about ‘opportunity.’ Opportunity and improvement is something we all strive for and is a uniting and resonant word shared with people across classes, faiths and creeds. It’s a word that often crops up in our conference speeches, slogans and leaflets because it is a natural fit for our party, but now is the time to make it central to our message and communications.

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Why I’ve just joined the Liberal Democrats

Hello! My name is Tom Sutton and I am a 16-year-old student from the Wirral Peninsula near Liverpool currently sitting my GCSEs and I want to just explain what brought me to the party.

I have been interested in politics since I was about 8 or 9. I was a Labour supporter who liked Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. This was probably due to the fact that my parents owned a rather successful business during that period so I personally saw prosperity under their rule. I always said my favourite PM was Brown because in my mind, he managed to prevent national bankruptcy during the dark days of recession.

When the 2010 Election came along, I was hoping for another majority or a Lab-Lib Coalition as the Lib Dems were my second favourites. This to me seemed feasible after the result but it went differently. So I spent the last 5 years of my life calling the Tories fit to burn. However, I was indifferent to the Lib Dems. That indifferent, I would often forget they were there as you could’ve easily thought there was a Tory majority!

The same thing occurred at the 2015 Election and I hoped that the electorate would “see sense” as I was livid with Tory policies such as the Bedroom Tax and the GCSE reforms and thought we needed real change. Then the result came and it was a shock. What the biggest shocks for me were the colossal drop in Lib Dem seats and the massive rise in SNP seats. I felt the Lib Dems’ pain, but I still supported Labour.

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They can’t keep us social liberals down – congratulations from D66

Dear fellow Liberal Democrats,

My most sincere congratulations with your encouraging results at the local & regional elections last week.

A special “congratulations” to the batch of young Liberal Democrats, who became party members and activists after your/our meltdown in 2015, and got elected within the year. I enjoyed seeing one of them, Caroline Warner, making it to the BBC online liveblog of results with her tweet, after “waking up [being} a councillor” in Tandridge.

The BBC clearly was aware of this important aspect of this Lib Dem revival…

I attended your Autumn Conference last year, and was impressed with the quality of that new generation of “post-meltdown members” who had already been chosen as constituency representatives and mounted the rostrum delivering impressive, passionate speeches on all kinds of subjects. A promise for the future indeed!

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From new member to candidate – the Lib Dem newbies fighting their first election

Snow doesn't stop Becca Plenderleith and team campaigning Inspired by a post in one of those Lib Dem Facebook groups, I thought it would be a good idea to give a special shout-out for these wonderful new members of the party who have become so involved that they are standing for election this year. This is by no means an exclusive list, so please feel free to add to it. The enthusiasm of our new members has really invigorated the party the length and breadth of the country this year. In Scotland, people like Rebecca Plenderleith, a fantastic campaigner for mental health who has written for us about why she became a Lib Dem, Charity Pierce, Giovanni Caccavello, Bryn Jones, Lauren Jones, Kaitey Blair are flying the Lib Dem flag. Rebecca and colleagues are pictured above campaigning in the worst snow the Scottish Winter had to throw at us. Another of our regular contributors Alex H is standing and co-ordinating campaigns across his town. Greg Webb is running for the Council in Derby and gaining valuable experience for the future. In London, Rachel Waitt is standing in a Council by-election in Figge’s Marsh ward in Mitcham tomorrow. Julie Ireland is standing for the constituency of Bexley and Bromley.

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The #LibDemFightback: things to look for on May 5th

Eastleigh HQ leaflets

I’ve never been one for negativity.  I’m all for realism, however stark – provided that one is permitted to also consider how to change one’s circumstances if the current ones are dire.  This is one of the many reasons why the Lib Dems attracted me as a party – evidence-based policy, and a ‘well, let’s fix it’ attitude to tackling problems, offering solutions and alternatives instead of simply complaining.

The membership surge after last May’s elections, and the ensuing #LibDemFightback have been extremely heartening.  Outside the comfort zones of the Liberal Democrat community, the evidence for that fightback is there, but the new reality we face is that it is much harder to make ourselves heard than it was before last May.

So, I thought I’d try some evidence-gathering myself from council by-elections; you can see what I found here.

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Moving beyond fightback

Have we reached the point when it is right to move from “fightback” to something more positive?

Talking of “fightback” made sense for a while after the election, when we bruised after an almighty pounding but were also experiencing a membership surge.

Even recently I have seen talk of “fightback” on web sites and in emails to activists in different parts of the country and even in literature going out to the public. I am thinking in terms of things inviting people to “be part of the fightback”, or proclaiming that the “fightback is on”, or linking “fightback” to having more members than this time last year.

The snag is that this can sound as if we are fighting back against our political opponents and against the electorate who deserted us. This might be compounded by grief over electoral losses. Though understandable, it is not a reason for people to vote Liberal Democrat. But we have a rich heritage and set of values, well-summarised in the preamble to the constitution. That, and the policies that flow from it, are well-worth voting for.

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Tim’s pick a ward and win it – how that’s part of the Isle of Wight’s #libdemfightback

Nicholas Belfitt winning hereIn June last year I attended a small event in Guildford in the run-up to the leadership election where I was lucky to meet Tim Farron. He  made a great speech which, as always was both thorough and entertaining. But it was in the end what he said that began to push me to believe in the Lib Dems. Pick a ward and win it.

No words have been so strong for me. After the event it was all I could think about for weeks and weeks during which time I returned  home to the Isle of Wight. I had always dreamed of being able to be involved, but like many young liberals I thought that caution and moving through groups such as the Liberal Youth were the formats in which make  progress. But I could not get that line out of my head.

I began to be involved in my local party and before I knew it I was swiftly elected Vice-Chair. ME? At 22? The only experience I had of campaigning was under Kelly-Marie Blundell in her Guildford campaign, but I had no training or preparation.  

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The #libdemfightback continues in Hinckley and Bosworth

I would echo my good friend Caron Lindsay in her congratulations to Sheree Miller for gaining 9% and coming second in a by election in Newham in London, in a Ward where we did not stand at all last time around. Likewise Tim Farron’s congratulations to Jane Brophy and her team for their campaign in Oldham. If we do not contest such elections hard then we cannot build for the future.

In the same vein the efforts of Hinckley and Bosworth Liberal Democrats deserve recognition. In September their candidate Shani Smith gained a by election contest from Labour in the Barwell area. Thursday 3rd December saw another by election in the adjacent Ward in Barwell. This time their candidate Terry Kirby almost doubled our vote share taking us from fourth place in May to 36% of the vote in a close second place and missing beating the Conservatives by just 25 votes.

Spearheading both campaigns alongside the candidates was Michael Mullaney who as Parliamentary Candidate moved the Liberal Democrats from third to second place in the 2010 General Election. In May 2015 Michael gained one of the better Liberal Democrat results in the UK, moving the Constituency from 100th most winnable to 44th most winnable.

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“I realised my vote was not enough” – why Wendy Chamberlain joined #libdemfightback

One of the highlights of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference last Saturday was seeing new member Wendy Chamberlain introduce Willie Rennie for his keynote speech.

This is what she said:

Firstly, may I offer my thanks to Sheila Thomson and the Conference Committee for asking me as a new party member to speak and introduce Willie to you to deliver his leader’s speech.

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Why are you a Liberal Democrat?

That’s the question Tim Farron is asking this evening in the following mail to members:

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How the #libdemfightback is happening in Barwell

Team BarwellSince May tens of thousands of words have been written here on Lib Dem Voice and other Social Media about the Lib Dem Fightback. Since last Saturday tens of thousands more have been written about whether we should or should not welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

However, we should not repeat the mistake of the Coalition years and define ourselves only in relation to others. We are not Conservative or Labour Lite, we are Liberal Democrats, otherwise surely we should just join one of the other Parties in the first place? Proclaiming in 2010 that the Coalition was a ‘meeting of minds not a marriage of convenience’ was a disaster for our Party. So was the 2015 national election campaign in arguing that we were just a bit different to Conservative and Labour. In which case people might as well vote for the real thing –and they did. 

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LDV Poetry: Moving forward



what a cruel night

and so unexpected.

Friends and colleagues


so much expertise


as if on a whim.

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Nine seats held, nine seats gained since May 8th #libdemfightback

Well Done image (Aug 14 - website)
The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC) has been a fundamental engine of Liberal Democrat growth. Now, more than ever, they have a crucial role to play in helping to lead the Liberal Democrat fightback. And they have recently stepped up to the plate in spectacular style with their By-election HQ. This is a newly launched service which is a one-stop go-to website for all of us to find out information about council by-elections across the country. These are an essential way for the party to grow back.

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New members declare why they are liberal on Twitter #libdemnewbies #imliberal

This is a great sort of viral sort of thing. You can join in with the hashtag #imliberal and/or #libdemnewbies.

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Tim Farron’s seven campaign priorities

Just before heading off on holiday, Tim Farron has announced his seven campaign priorities. As they cross departmental boundaries, he’s put together a campaign team to lead on each issue. It’s a sign of how much importance he attaches to housing that he has taken the lead role on that issue himself.

The team will be responsible for taking our campaign messages and making sure that they get out on the ground. The seven priorities and the lead people responsible are as follows:


Chaired by Greg Mulholland MP, the Parliamentary Campaigns Team will consist of:

  • Rural Communities and Vice Chair – Mark Williams MP
  • EU referendum – Catherine Bearder MEP and Lord Jim Wallace (Deputy)
  • Mental Health – Norman Lamb MP
  • Immigration – Shas Sheehan
  • Civil Liberties – Alistair Carmichael MP
  • Green Economy – Baroness Susan Kramer
  • Housing – Tim Farron MP

Tim said:

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I’m not currently a member of the Lib Dems, but I’m teetering…

I do support the party and have done since before it was the Lib-Dems. As “Chairman” of the Plymouth Polytechnic Liberal Society in the early 80s I worked with other “grown-up” Liberals to get David Owen re-elected in his Devonport seat in those heady days of the Liberal-SDP Alliance.

I campaigned with David Penhaligon, I played host to Paddy Ashdown, I had lunch with David Steele. I can remember times back then when 8 MPs seemed a far-off fantasy.

But I’ve drifted from time to time too. I voted for Tony Blair’s New Labour and was broadly behind his policies for all of his time at number 10. I may even have supported the invasion of Iraq, but at the time I thought someone had worked out the endgame, which it turned out they hadn’t. When Brown blustered his way into Downing Street I saw the end was nigh, and I felt that bad times were coming, and it was second nature to resume my former allegiances.

When Nick Clegg went into coalition with the Conservatives, I believed it was what the country needed: a Liberal voice at the heart of Government, and a much-needed break on the ruthlessness of the Tories. To be honest, I must have been out of the room when Nick Clegg made his promise to scrap tuition fees, and I could never see why people harped on about it, ignoring all that was right about Lib Dems in power.

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Opinion: We need to be more aware of neural diversity

It’s obvious that whomever wins the leadership we’re going to have to nurture a lot of new people (as well as the `old hands`.

I think it’s important that we do so working with the grain of that individual’s personality to allow it to grow for the benefit of the Party. After all, celebration of the individual is supposedly part of the Party’s DNA.

We have started to talk about mental health a lot – and rightly so. It’s a key aspect of our view that everyone should reach their own potential.

Let me introduce you to another concept: Neural Diversity.

What I mean by that is really taking into account the way an individual’s brain ACTUALLY works rather than as we think it SHOULD work. A key difference is that between a preference for Introversion and Extroversion.

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Lib Dem Geraldine Locke takes safe Tory Council seat in Richmond

Just under two months ago,  Liberal Democrats in South West London suffered the shock loss of Vince Cable in Twickenham. It would be understandable if they had just curled up in a ball and sulked. They didn’t get the chance to do that. The new Tory MP, Tania Mathias, resigned her Council seat so they had to get back out on the streets campaigning. The Hampton Wick ward was a massively safe Tory seat. Last year, the Liberal Democrats polled about half as well as the Tory candidates.

Well, our fabulous team in Twickenham and Richmond managed to pull off a brilliant, confidence-boosting victory, with Geraldine Locke taking the seat by just over 100 votes. The excitement on Twitter was palpable!

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Opinion: The habit of liberalism

I read somewhere that it takes 30 days to make a new habit. By all accounts, predictable behaviour is what the old brain likes. When it sniffs out something new, something out of the everyday ordinary, it’ll fire up the fragile in us and persuade our will power into a quick surrender. Any attempts to break with our norm will be wrestled from us. Until 30 days. At 30 days, the brain tells itself…. hold on, I recognise this, this thing you’re doing – carry on, nothing to see here. 30 days for the reluctant plodder to transcend into the regular jogger; 30 days until the ciggie quitter becomes the “No thanks I don’t smoke”-er.

30 days ago I made a decision to make a new habit. I decided I was going to care more about what happens next in our country. I was a bit nervous; ‘caring’ isn’t really something that comes naturally to me. I am a prolific helper of old ladies with heavy suitcases, and I will confidently stand by my record for apprehending dog walkers with a laissez faire attitude to canine bowel movements; but give me bad things happening elsewhere, to other people, and my default is to lurch for my off switch. Out of sight, ‘n all that. The “And here’s where your money will go to” bits of Comic Relief, the “Scenes some viewers may find distressing…” – these are my tea brewing moments. It’s appalling. I know it’s appalling. But, you know… habits!

So that’s why I joined the Lib Dems, 30 days ago. I had voted for them in the General Election, and they had lost gigantically. I’m not suggesting the former led to the latter, but somehow I felt responsible that I hadn’t done enough. So what better place to kickstart a habit for wanting things to be better.

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Lib Dem fightback is strong in Kent  

liberalyouth2015In the South East we took a bit of battering, just like the rest of the country. On Thursday, 18th June 2015 Kent Liberal Youth held a #liberalpint event in Maidstone. Considering everyone is saying that the Lib Dems are slowly dying out, it’s not the case for Kent Liberal Youth. We had over eleven new members who were under the age of eighteen, plus another five who were over eighteen.

We had a great discussion on what issues we were passionate about, we had members say they were passionate about drug reform, education, civil liberties, campaigning against secret courts and being liberal.

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Opinon: #libdemfightback is for old and new members working together to rebuild the party

Aye, I can remember the good old days for the Liberal Democrats. Eighteen percent popular vote share, twenty members of Parliament including one in Liverpool. Aye, golden days indeed.

When you are the baby of your local community council and eligible for the long service award at the annual membership awards at the age of 40, it can make you wonder if it’s time for me to rest on my laurels and let the fightback be done by these new 16,000 members.  If that is the case, then I am sorry but that is not how we work because (and this may come as a surprise to our new members) this is fightback number five.

Fightback number one lasted from 1951 – 1966, a time when it was not only impossible to get people to vote Liberal but also impossible to even find someone to stand for the Liberals. At the 1955 general election, we only managed to field a hundred and ten candidates but by 1964 we were managing to field almost a full slate of candidates and in 1966 we won twelve seats across the UK, our highest post war level.

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Opinion: On joining the Liberal Democrats and being a Normtrooper

I’ve always had an interest in politics. I’ve never obsessed about it, like I’ve obsessed about football, but I’ve always read and followed political stories and I’ve certainly always voted. My vote hasn’t always been heard, but that’s another issue.

I feel strongly about environmental issues. We must take more action, and soon, to tackle climate change. We, as a family of four, only fill our black landfill bin to less than a quarter full once a fortnight, but our blue recycling bin is always full to overflowing. More can be done by our district council though. A friend of ours can put all the recyclables that we can into their bin(s), plus their recycling bins can take glass and food waste. I also believe in clean energy so choose my energy supplier accordingly, and I’m paper free wherever I can be.

About that other issue I mentioned earlier, I’m also in favour of electoral reform. I live in a safe seat that’s been Tory since it was created in 1983. As I said above, I’ve always voted, but I’ve never voted for either my current MP, or his predecessor. You might wonder what the point is in voting How can it be right that a party who only got 36.9% of the vote got 50.9% of the seats, but another party got 12.6% of the vote, and only 0.2% of the seats. In Scotland, around 50% of the electorate are represented by 56 MPs, but the other 50% are represented by just 3 MPs. The ‘First Past The Post’ system worked fine when more than 90% of people voted for only 2 of the parties, but that has changed, and so must the way we vote, to engage the electorate, and let everyone feel they have a voice.

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Why it’s worth being a member of the Liberal Democrats

The New Statesman is doing a series of features on membership of political parties. They feature Lizzie Jewkes, who was responsible for the current incarnation of the policy of raising the tax threshold. “Meet the ordinary political party member who will cost the Treasury £4 billion a year” says the headline:

She was in the auditorium during Nick Clegg’s first conference as leader of the party, in 2008. He mooted that £20bn of savings could be spent on reducing the rate of standard income tax.

“We all duly voted for this,” Jewkes explains. But discussing Clegg’s idea with a friend and fellow party member, Jewkes concluded they should be using those savings to raise the income tax threshold instead.

“It’s like a lightbulb went on,” she says.

Later that year, when Vince Cable – then the Lib Dems’ Treasury spokesperson – visited a regional conference Jewkes was also attending, she ran her idea past him. “He came as a keynote speaker and I just nobbled him when he was having a cup of tea,” she laughs.

“I said to him, ‘is there any reason we don’t do this?’ and he said to me, ‘ah, that’s my ultimate dream.’”

Jewkes wrote her idea up as a policy motion and submitted it to party conference in the summer of 2009. The party didn’t even wait until that conference to announce it.

“The next thing I know, Nick is on the news saying, ‘we have a new tax policy – first £10,000 tax-free’ And I thought ‘hold on a minute…’” says Jewkes of first discovering her policy had been taken on.

“I was just completely astonished,” she recalls. Yet she still never imagined it would become government policy.

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Cllr Fran Oborski MBE writes… Why I rejoined the Liberal Democrats

Fran Oborski and Sal BrintonFor someone who was effectively forced to leave the Liberal Democrats in 1996 I found the behaviour of the Party during the coalition heartbreaking at times.

Hearing Nick Clegg embracing social mobility and seeming to somehow equate it with liberty, equality and justice rang alarm bells in that first summer in 2010 but things then rapidly went downhill as far as this lifelong Liberal was concerned.

In 42 years of being regularly re-elected as a Councillor the one lesson I really have learnt is never, ever to make promises that you either cannot, or do not intend, to keep. Indeed it was the vociferous objections of my late husband Mike when Hereford and Worcester CC Lib Dem Group betrayed an election pledge not to privatise OAP Homes in 1995 that led to our leaving the Party in the first place so to see the totally unnecessary car crash over tuition fees  was like a horrendous case of déjà vu.

When this was compounded by support for the “bedroom tax” I seriously began to wonder if there was anyone with “streetwise” experience offering advice. Although sitting as a Liberal Party Councillor I have been in a joint Group on Worcestershire CC with Liberal Democrat Cllrs. (most of whom were “twin hatted” since 2007 and I was frankly amazed when I found that none of them had been asked for their detailed advice as to the likely impact of the Bedroom Tax on Social Housing tenants and their landlords! Any experienced Cllr could tell you that:

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Recent Comments

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    @Peter Martin - How many seats did the Lib Dems win simply because the Tory/Reform was split? Yes we won seats because the Tory/Reform vote was split. However, ...
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  • Peter Martin
    @ Alex, “How many seats did the Lib Dems win simply because the Tory/Reform vote was split?” "Probably not very many actually." "Actual...
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    @ Tristan Ward Lessons of History ? Not advisable to ride on the back of an alligator, no matter how vulnerable and docile it may appear at first sight ....
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