The Election Result – musings of a (relative) newbie

I joined the Lib Dems in 2016, on the day after the leave vote happened. At the time, if felt I could no longer be a bystander, I had to do something. In the time since, I certainly have, becoming the convener of my local party and a committee member of the LGBT+ Lib Dems.

When I joined the party, my thoughts were primarily on Brexit, and the party’s stance of opposing it. But as I’ve become more involved, met members, attended conferences I have realised how much more we are and how truly I do belong.

I spent last night at the count in Edinburgh, and on my way there I turned on the radio to hear the Exit Poll results. It was like a gut punch, and like I’m sure many of you were I was disheartened that our stance against Brexit didn’t seem to have worked. But on arriving at the count hall I was buoyed by all of my fellow activists, their support for each other and the raising of spirits that all was not lost.

And it wasn’t. In Edinburgh, we gained vote share in every single seat and retained all deposits lost in 2017. The same thing happened in many places across the country. In North East Fife we gained a seat we missed by the narrowest margin in 2017. In St Albans we also gained a seat, electing the fantastic Daisy Cooper.

Of course, we also lost seats. I attended Autumn Conference and can remember the rousing, inspiring and passionate speech Jo gave as leader. In fact, it was the first leader’s speech I’ve ever sat through at conference. Jo has been a fantastic parliamentarian for the party and had built so much energy in the party in her short time as leader. She will be missed, and I echo Alex Cole-Hamilton’s hope that we see her make a third return to Parliament in the future.

Following the results, some might feel that all is lost. It’s not. We are still standing, we’ve gained vote share across the country and as such have boosted our Short Money and improved our positions for next time in many seats. I may have joined this party to stop Brexit, but that’s not why I’m staying. I’m staying because together we can build a better future for the country, we can defeat the awful nationalism that has swept the nation and we can protect and improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society.

Everyone in this party has worked so hard this year, with the Local Elections in England and Wales, the European Election and this General Election. My suggestion to you now is this: over the festive period, go and do at least one thing that’s just for you. Whether that’s sitting down with a good book, spending time with family, friends or pets, going for a long walk or just binge-watching Series 3 of the Crown that you missed because you were busy campaigning.

Looking after yourself and each other is crucial at times like this, so reach out to your fellow activists, your family and friends and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There are so many great help and support charities you can turn to.

And most of all, try to enjoy this festive season, however you choose to celebrate.

And finally, thank you for reading the confused ramblings of an activist who has had far too little sleep.

* Fraser Graham is an Executive member of LGBT+ Lib Dems.

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9 Comments

  • Thanks Fraser. You must be exhausted, and it must have been nail-biting being at the count after that exit poll, and while some might think that the increased vote share is cold comfort, it really isn’t to be sniffed at. Who knows when the next election will be, but all of those 2nd places will come in handy.

    Everyone deserves a well earned break, and the inevitable post-mortems, but I’m reassured to see your determination to keep up the ongoing fight to support our current, and especially the new parliamentarians and to stay prepared for future elections.

  • I signed up as a schoolboy in the 1970s, excited and inspired by the vision of a liberal future that seemed such a radical break from what was on offer from the two main parties.

    Forty years later I find myself trapped in the status quo party, which offers next to nothing by way of meaningful change (other than its increasing and disturbing obsession with identity politics) whilst appearing to think that delivering leaflets with photos of our leader to voters every day and sending them letters with absurd polling advice constitutes an inspirational election campaign.

    The real tragedy of last night is that we got the result that we deserved.

  • Paul Barker 13th Dec '19 - 6:30pm

    I am on my 2nd stint as a Libdem. I joined when The Party was founded & then left in 1989 when I thought it was dying & would be replaced by The Greens. After we got 6% in The 1989 European Elections (The Greens got 15%) The Death of The Libdems was a widely held assumption. I rejoined in 2004.
    We got hammered in 2015, 2017 & again Yesterday, less badly. The same reasons were in play each time, our slow recovery from The Coalition Years & the way that Big Money, The National Media & Our Electoral System are stacked against Us.

  • nigel hunter 13th Dec '19 - 7:42pm

    Money, media and system have to be got round. How about a standing order for money built up over the years to give a war chest for each election.ege from individuals (only a small amount).
    I noticed at one media discussion to do with London Jeremy vine mentioned the drop on both Lab con votes but ignored the 6% increase in our vote. I would say the BBC is not our friend (also the rest?!) Ways must be found to make the media our friend. Equally when the printed media is 70% owned by just a few right wing supporters we must find a way of getting across our ideas by using our leaflets to show our policies both national and local (and the internet). The Labour Party must be shown that PR is a friend, especially if they keep losing seats.. Equally it could be sold as a friend to Tories Our ‘market selling of ourselves must be improved. The party must meet to confront the future. eopleaslo seem to be conservative (with a small c) and thus we should become right of centre .

  • Peter Hayes 13th Dec '19 - 8:00pm

    A couple of comments from Cheltenham. I am a member and a regular deliver for many years, but had to give up last year, in what is a strong LibDem ward. There was a lot of press about so called “fake” local newspapers from the LibDems but I got two each from LibDems and Tories, so I suppose a “score draw” for Tories because only ours got a negative press. More concerning, I got canvassed from the LibDems and he did not seem to know I was a member and postal voter, I though we had a powerful database for canvassers. No other party was visible except for the one free mailing.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Dec '19 - 10:45pm

    The decision to agree to pressure from the SNP in the Commons and call for a general election on December 9 is one that felt wrong at the time,
    not because the gloss on the results in June was fading,
    not because the SNP were sensing an urgency to get campaigning,
    but because we did not create a solid Remain campaign.
    In the process we will, next month, lose the MEPs who were elected in June,
    none of whom have been elected as MPs in this party.

  • Totally agree we are the only answer to this authoritarian right wing government we are the largest pro European Liberal party in this country and we must work hard to get the Chukkas et al elected.

  • Phil Beesley 14th Dec '19 - 12:58pm

    In 2015, I was shocked and angry at the General Election result. Shocked because I thought that more sitting MPs would hang on to their seats against the tide. Angry because so much hard work over many years had been destroyed by inept handling of the coalition process.

    My feelings for the last fortnight have been of sorrow. For a fortnight because it was obvious on Dec 1st that the trajectory of this election would not change. There were 11 days to send Jo Swinson back to her constituency to campaign on the stump — that was a ridiculous error to have made. Sorrow for repeating the mistakes made by the SDP in 1983 that intensive campaigning for a high profile candidate will work. Sorrow for blundered policy and strategy presentation. Sorrow for the next four years of Lib Dem non-existence in political news reporting and the improbability of winning a ticket for a private members bill in parliament.

    Congratulations to Stephen Farry MP of the Alliance Pary of Northern Ireland. Commiserations to Claire Wright, Independent candidate in East Devon for her 40% and second place.

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