Tag Archives: richmond park by-election

Sarah Olney: Richmond Park By-Election was one of the best experiences of my life

Our newest MP has been talking to The House magazine, along with other recent by-election winners, about the Liberal Democrats’ winning campaign in Richmond Park. She described it as one of the best experiences of her life:

Running in a by-election was one of the best experiences of my life. I am very new to politics, I’ve never been involved in a parliamentary campaign of any kind, I’ve never been a candidate in any election before, so I had no idea what to expect. It was quite a high profile campaign, right from the beginning I was right in the

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Our not-so-decrepit peers

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If you read the Evening Standard the day before the Richmond Park by-election, you might have noticed this wonderful comment on the participation of Liberal Democrat peers in the campaign, which I suspect came from someone in Zac Goldsmith’s team who was overwhelmed by how many Liberal Democrat activists were on the streets.

One hundred Lib Dem peers were sent to knock on doors. Only a handful of the ill and very old were spared by-election duties – in echoes of James Graham’s play This House which recounts how MPs close to death were dragged to the Commons for crunch votes in the seventies.

If you’ve seen the play, you will appreciate the picture of the elderly and infirm being wheeled in to do their bit.  Of course it wasn’t at all like that.  I don’t think more than 25 of us were ever there together at one time, though many of us went as often as we could, and canvassed over the phone when we couldn’t:  not as a ‘duty’, but because we enjoy election campaigns, we’ve done a lot of campaigning in our time, and we’re committed to the party.

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What a campaign!

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The Richmond Park campaign was the biggest the party has ever done. Phew!

In writing this post I don’t want to give away too many campaigning strategies, although the media have been pretty quick to spot our ways of working. They know that we are good at ‘deploying’ volunteers, but they don’t really understand how we do it. How, they wonder, do we manage to recruit 1000 people in one weekend, from all over the country? How do we get them to travel and stay at their own expense and then embark on some punishing walking, talking and delivering in the cold and dark for hours on end?

However, I know that many of our readers do understand what that is all about. We all care passionately about our values and the vision we have for our society, and we enjoy putting them into action in the company of like-minded people, who quickly become our friends.

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WATCH: Nick Clegg: Voters don’t like being told by Brexiteers that they have no right to a say

Classy stuff from Nick Clegg on the BBC News Channel. It was put to him that we couldn’t extrapolate a wider Liberal Democrat resurgence from the Richmond Park result. That’s perfectly right, he said, and then came out with a whole stream of stats showing how well we are doing in local government by-elections and everywhere where people get a chance to hear what we have to say.

He also said that Brexiteers are rubbing voters up the wrong way by dismissing their concerns and right to be heard. Watch the interview here.

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Richmond Park: what happens next for Sarah Olney and her team?

10 years ago, I was part of the team in the last by-electon we gained, when Willie Rennie spectacularly won Dunfermline and West Fife in then Chancellor Gordon Brown’s backyard. At that time it was a political earthquake. It was also a huge victory at a time of crisis for our party. Only weeks before, Charles Kennedy had resigned as leader. During the by-election campaign there seemed to be a tabloid scandal about our leadership candidates around every half hour. We still came through and elected Willie as our 63rd MP.

A decade on, we only have a 7th of that number and the Richmond Park by-election win comes at a time when our party has stared down extinction. It confirms what we have come to realise over the past few months – that the old adage that where we have a presence, and are willing to put the effort in, we can have some spectacular results. That should also impress anyone who might be thinking about backing us financially. That backing in turn gives us the capacity to expand our operations, creating a virtuous cycle. We have to make sure that we seize this moment.

Sarah Olney enters the Commons as part of a band of 9 and as the only woman. The 8 men will need to make extra effort to make sure that they welcome her and listen to her.  One of the things we found really useful was the advice and support from colleagues and I’m sure that they will have lots of helpful advice for her and her team.  Susan Kramer as the previous MP for the constituency will no doubt be a marvellous help too.

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Richmond Park is an important milestone – but it’s only the start

Well, we’re winning parliamentary by-elections again. Who’d have thought it possible on that awful night almost 19 months ago?

Liberal Democrats everywhere are grinning this morning. We’ve seen the brilliant local government results over the past few months. We saw the amazing Liz Leffman surge forward in the Tory heartland of Witney in October. Now, we have actually won another MP.

We shouldn’t under-estimate how massive a task winning Richmond Park was. It’s only been 37 days since Zac resigned. We had just over 5 weeks to change the agenda from Heathrow to Brexit and win the argument. A combination of clever literature, a fantastic candidate and an army of activists prepared to drop everything did it. Way back in the 90s when we were winning by-elections all the time, we had at least 3 times as long to make our case.

We also shouldn’t under-estimate how important it was that we won this. It was a seat we used to hold with a whacking great Remain vote. If we hadn’t, even if we had had a Witney type surge, people would have doubted our ability to change the political weather.

Sarah Olney’s victory has shown that we have still got what it takes to win the big moments. That is incredibly important for the outside world to see. Theresa May will be hoping that her MPs in similar seats to Richmond, where there is Liberal Democrat history, don’t cause any further by-elections.

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Lib Dems win Richmond Park: Reaction led by Tim Farron and Sal Brinton

Here’s some of the reaction to Sarah Olney’s incredible victory in Richmond Park.

Tim Farron said that the Liberal Democrats are the standard bearers for those who oppose the dangerous path towards Brexit being pursued by the Government.

The message is clear: The Liberal Democrats are back and we are carrying the torch for all of those who want a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government.

We are the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united, and the only party that has said, loudly and proudly, that we want Britain to remain a member of the Single Market and that we want the people to be given the final say over the Brexit deal. That message has been resoundingly backed by the people of Richmond Park.

This was a remarkable, come-from-nowhere upset that will terrify the Conservatives. A year and a half ago, their man won by nearly 40% and had a majority of more than 20,000. In one fell swoop we have wiped that out completely.

If this was a General Election, this swing would mean the Conservatives would lose dozens of seats to the Liberal Democrats – and their majority with it. No one believes the Labour Party will win any seats off the Tories – and the SNP could only possibly take one off them. But there are dozens in our reach. So, as this by-election has demonstrated, the only way to prevent a Conservative majority at the next election is to vote Liberal Democrat.

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In full: Sarah Olney’s victory speech: No to politics of division. We will defend the Britain we love

Just in case you missed it earlier, we won! Sarah Olney defeated Zac Goldsmith by 1872 votes.

We can’t call her Sarah Olney MP yet. She only officially acquires that title when she takes the oath in the Commons on Monday.

Her speech at the count tonight was gracious, determined and passionate. Here it is in full:

Let me start by thanking the other candidates for a hard-fought campaign – and to Zac Goldsmith in particular, I wish you well and assure you that I will continue your fight against the expansion of Heathrow.

I also would like to thank the returning officer, the staff that have worked so hard today and yesterday and of course the police. I want to thank my amazing campaign team led by James Lillis and the thousands of volunteers who have taken time to support me over the course of the campaign. I want to thank my family and friends for the wonderful support they’ve given me – particularly my husband Ben and our children. I want to thank our leader Tim Farron, and all the other party members who could not have been more supportive. And I’d like to thank the Greens, More United, the Women’s Equality Party and all the other people beyond the Lib Dems who have supported me in this campaign.

A year and a half ago, I wasn’t involved in politics. I wasn’t a member of a political party. I’d never been involved in a political campaign. I’d never thought about being a politician. But I knew I was a Liberal – I believed in openness, tolerance, compassion, working with our neighbours at home and around the world – and when I saw what happened at the General Election and I felt I had to get involved.

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++++++++Breaking: Richmond Park Result: We’ve done it! Well done Sarah Olney, our Newbie MP

We have done it! We had just 37 days to persuade the voters of Richmond Park. To overturn a 23,000 majority in such a short time is incredible.

Initially, the two numbers that matter.

Zac Goldsmith 18,638

Sarah Olney 20,510

Monster Raving Loony Party 184

One Love Party 67

Christian People’s Alliance 164

Independent 173

Christian Woolmar (Labour) 1515

Liberal Democrat majority 1872 on a turnout of 53.6%. It’s a swing of 21.6%.

And the percentage changes via Britain Elects:

Sarah Olney is on Sky News now, saying that we didn’t know until the last minute how it was going to go. People wanted her to win, she says, because of Brexit. They were alarmed about the direction the Conservative Brexit government was going in.

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Richmond Park by-election: Liberal Democrats have very big smiles

“The mood music,” says the BBC’s Chris Mason, “is that the Liberal Democrats are running Zac Goldsmith very close.” He says that the Liberal Democrats have the biggest smiles.

The Guardian live blog has some piles of votes looking very close. They report that Labour and Betfair are saying we have won. Mind you, Labour are not always the best judges of such things, though, so that comes with a big health warning. We had to convince them that they had won in Glenrothes in 2008. Our box counts had the result within half a percentage point. They thought the SNP had won when it was clear to us that they hadn’t.

Let’s put some context into this.

Last year, we were absolutely stuffed in that seat, not to put too fine a point on it. We had an excellent candidate in Robin Meltzer, but this was on of the seats where the Conservatives’ scare tactics about Ed Miliband and the SNP took hold. Our support bombed from 42% to 19.3%, while Zac took 58.2%. The Labour vote unsqueezed itself. Their 12.3% was their best result since 1997.

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WATCH: Bob Geldof: “The Lib Dems are the only party ballsy enough……”

Listen to Bob Geldof explain why he wants the people of Richmond Park to vote for Sarah Olney tomorrow. Choice quotes include:

“You can’t have the settled will of the people of Richmond to stay in Europe betrayed by the poster boy of the Brexiteers.”

He appealed to pro EU voters to back Sarah Olney to beat Zac.

Bob Geldof is as I write this outside a station in the constituency campaigning with Sarah Olney.

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This week in Richmond Park – all to fight for

This was the headline in the print version of the Observer yesterday, although it came out rather differently online.

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It states:

The Liberal Democrats are to target pro-EU Labour supporters and “soft Tories” who backed remain, in a final canvassing blitz ahead of Thursday’s Richmond byelection, amid growing confidence in their camp that they are within striking distance of winning the seat.

Party documents obtained by the Observer, laying out their strategy for the final days, suggest undecided Labour voters will be key, and failure to persuade enough of them to vote tactically may prevent the Lib Dems pulling off one of the biggest byelection upsets of recent years.

… The Lib Dems’ own internal polling now puts Goldsmith on 46.7%, the Lib Dems on 43.3% and Labour on 9.5%.

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Lib Dems surge as Corbyn’s Labour falters behind Tories

Since May 2016, the Liberal Democrats have been the clear winners when it comes to taking seats in local by-elections.  Many campaigners will have seen the following graph:
bar-chart
With 21 seats gained, and only 1 lost, the net result of +20, with our vote share averaging up 9% is a good recovery which the party should be proud of.   We need to continue to work hard, but at the same time, steady progress.

Conventional thinking would have us believe that when a party is in Government, they do badly in elections.  Conversely, opposition parties should be doing well.  Therefore, if Labour were to be on a serious road to power, it should be thrashing the Conservatives by achieving net gains from them.

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A win in Richmond Park will put rocket boosters under the Lib Dem Fightback

sarah-olney-for-rp-600There are a lot of good reasons to go and campaign for Sarah Olney in Richmond Park – to send the government a message on Brexit, Heathrow and our NHS, to champion our open, tolerant and united message and to support our fantastic candidate Sarah.

But if that’s not enough for some of you, think about this: We lost 3 seats in South West London in 2015 – at least 2 of which voted heavily to remain in the referendum on 23rd June. And neighbouring seats like Wimbledon where I’m the candidate and even Putney, are stack full of moderate, centrist, pro-EU voters who are just as open to our pro-EU message.

That means if we can win in Richmond Park, we can show that we can give a real voice to the 60-70%+ of voters in these areas that wanted to remain in the EU and are worried about what comes next. It means that we can challenge the Conservatives in areas we never thought possible before – areas that voted strongly to remain but have not had a Lib Dem MP for a long time, if ever– areas like Wimbledon, Battersea or even Kensington. Taking the fight to the Tories almost literally where they live.

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Last weekend – big push for Sarah Olney in Richmond Park

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Yesterday I spent all day at Richmond Park. In the morning I was delivering Gazette newspapers in New Malden. Then in the afternoon I joined our very hard-working clerical team in the Kingston office. I bumped into LDV colleague, Mary Reid, who has a crucial top secret role at the Kingston office, which she fulfils every evening. I could tell you what this role involves, but I’d have to eat you afterwards.

It was great to see the streets teeming with orange diamond posters and busy LibDem volunteers.

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More United joins Greens and Women’s Equality Party in endorsing Lib Dem Sarah Olney for Richmond Park

More UnitedEarlier this week, More United consulted its members on whether to endorse Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney in the Richmond Park by-election.

The result was pretty conclusive. From More United’s email email to supporters:

The result was overwhelming. 10,000 of you voted, and 96% said we should campaign for Sarah.

We think this is an amazing chance for us to have a real impact on the result of this by-election. Sarah has said she supports our principles and has put opposition to a hard Brexit at the centre of her campaign.

Sarah is facing a tough fight against Zac Goldsmith, but if she wins it will send the Government a clear message that millions of people believe in a more united, less divided Britain.

More United seeks to support candidates who support their five key principles:

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Richmond Park – more pictures and a caption competition

Richmond Park is on course to be the biggest Lib Dem by-election campaign ever. Last weekend the Campaign Team put a call-out for 1000 volunteers, and very nearly reached that target. This weekend the team is planning to deliver an attractive magazine across the whole constituency, as well as make serious inroads into the canvassing. There are always admin jobs to do in the Kingston office as well.

People have been turning up from all over the country. Yesterday, in the space of a few minutes, I chatted with a couple of new members who had come down from Macclesfield for three days to help, as well as volunteers from Newcastle and Hull.

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Mark Williams and John Pugh out on the streets of Richmond.

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Richmond Park massive Action Weekend in pictures

James Lillis, the Campaign Manager in Richmond Park, must have woken up with a sense of dread yesterday morning – it was raining, heavily. His challenge to the party was to get 1000 people along to the biggest Action Weekend ever.

But Liberal Democrats arrived, and kept on arriving.

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New office opened for Richmond Park by-election

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The sign above the shop front says ‘Free delivery’ – just as relevant for a by-election HQ as it was when it was a Chinese restaurant.  Today Floella Benjamin cut a yellow ribbon across the door and formally opened our second office in the Richmond Park constituency, alongside Sarah Olney, our candidate, and Susan Kramer, former MP.

We must have had 100 volunteers through the door today, from the party’s Chief Exec Tim Gordon to members from all over the country. There is plenty to do – admin tasks as well as delivering and canvassing – with encouragement in the form of cake and chocolate.

The new office is at 110 Canbury Park Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT2 6JZ, and is conveniently just a few minutes’ walk from Kingston Station. The other office is still running at 65a Sheen Lane, Mortlake, SW14 8AD.

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Ten questions about the Richmond Park by-election

 

1. What is the correct name for the constituency? That question we can answer. The constituency is called Richmond Park. But all the parties seem to refer to it locally as Richmond Park and North Kingston, because it is easy to forget that four of its wards lie within Kingston Borough rather than Richmond Borough.

2. How posh is Richmond Park? Well someone did have the task of delivering our tabloid to a certain Royal elector who actually lives inside the park – you can’t get much posher than that. But the constituency also includes council-owned estates and relatively modest housing in well-established communities, as well as large secluded private houses.  In Richmond itself the average house price is not far short of £900k.

3. Zac Goldsmith has resigned as an MP, as he had promised to do if the Government backed the expansion of Heathrow. Has he resigned from the Conservative party as well? No-one seems to know.

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

How you can volunteer to help Sarah Olney win in Richmond Park

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After her selection yesterday as our candidate at the Richmond Park December 1st by-election, Sarah Olney is calling for volunteers to help her campaign.

Update: Sarah’s website has now gone live.

Click here to choose how you can help Sarah.

This webpage has the information you need about making calls.

This webpage allows you to donate to the campaign.

We leafleted the whole constituency within 48 hours of Zac Goldsmith announcing that he was standing down.

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++Lib Dems select Sarah Olney to be our candidate at the Richmond Park by-election



Sarah Olney has been selected to contest the Richmond Park and North Kingston December 1st by-election for the Liberal Democrats.

An opinion poll has shown it is a two-horse race between local woman Sarah and Zac Goldsmith, the out-going Conservative Brexit MP whose resignation triggered the by-election. Sarah, an accountant and married mother of two, was selected at a meeting of the local party in Richmond today.

Sarah Olney said:

This by-election is a chance for people to have their say on Brexit, the NHS and Heathrow. Only a vote for the Liberal Democrats will make a stand against Heathrow and Brexit, not to mention the scandalous underfunding of the NHS.

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‘Within 48 hours of Goldsmith’s standing down on Tuesday, the Lib Dems had leafleted the entire constituency’ – Guardian

richmond parkThe Guardian have a great article which liberally quotes Sarah Olney, the Lib Dems’ “prospective candidate” for Richmond Park and has this passage:

Within 48 hours of Goldsmith’s standing down on Tuesday, the Lib Dems had leafleted the entire constituency and were trying to find a bigger office from which to mastermind their campaign.

Nassar Kessell, a party activist who was out on the streets on Friday, admitted that Goldsmith, who fought an unsuccessful campaign to become mayor of London earlier this year, was popular locally. But he was still beatable.

“There’s no doubt that people like him. He’s been the MP for a very long time. But there is certainly a part of the constituency that is upset about the issues he’s championed – Brexit, for example. We can absolutely provide the alternative.”

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Tim Farron reacts to UKIP’s endorsement of Zac Goldsmith

Following UKIP’s endorsement of Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election, Tim Farron commented:

Zac Goldsmith claimed Brexit has nothing to do with this by-election. The very public endorsement he has picked up from the party of Nigel Farage nails that lie.

Zac Goldsmith was already the Conservative Party candidate. Now he is also the UKIP candidate. His campaign is the Nigel and Zac show.

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Reasons to doubt Zac Goldsmith will be re-elected

So we have the first by-election test in London for the Prime Minister who wants a country that works for everyone. How does Zac Goldsmith stack up against this mantra (even if not the official Tory candidate)?

Firstly he voted to cut disability benefits by £30 a week, resulting in him being dumped by a local disabled charity.

Secondly he has never railed against the lack of affordable housing in his own area as Richmond Council allows more and more luxury flats to be built in a form of Bosnian style ethic cleansing as his friend Boris described the London housing crisis. He also supported the sale of precious social housing stock.

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In the mayoral election, why did Zac Goldsmith get such a low vote in his own backyard?

Zac Goldsmith’s bid to become London mayor was memorably described as a “dog whistle campaign in a city with no dogs.” And few places in the capital demonstrate that better than Richmond Park itself.

As the local MP you would have thought his personal vote would make it a walkover. First preference mayoral votes, a good indicator of popularity, in Richmond Park shows that Boris Johnson won his second term in 2012 by a greater share in all but one of the constituency’s eleven wards compared to Zac in 2016.

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Baroness Jenny Randerson writes: Heathrow expansion is bad economics, bad for the environment and bad for residents.

Pidgeon and Randerson no to Heathrow expansionYesterday’s announcement has confirmed what we have long suspected. That Theresa May would bow down to external pressures from big business and the foreign owners of Heathrow Airport to give expansion the green light – disregarding her own constituents and MPs in the process.

This is a green light that will see 800 homes and parts of the M25 demolished to make way for a development that even in its current form exceeds EU laws on emissions and is the cause of 28% …

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