The ‘hit list’ of Pro-EU Tory MPs the Lib Dems are targeting in Brexit election purge – Telegraph

The Telegraph reports:

The Liberal Democrats have drawn up a hit-list of pro-EU Tory MPs who they want to unseat as they plot a Brexit purge for the election campaign.

The Telegraph can reveal that four Conservatives in parts of the country which most voted to stay in the European Union have been singled out.

Among those targeted will be Tania Mathias MP, whose Twickenham constituency overwhelmingly backed staying in the EU at last year’s referendum.

According to Lib Dem party analysis just one in three voters in Twickenham wanted Brexit – something the Tories are now promising to deliver at this election.

…The Lib Dems will also seek to challenge Nicola Blackwood, the Conservative MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, along with Anne Main, the MP for St Albans and Ben Howlett, MP for Bath. All three are going into the election supporting Brexit despite a minority of their constituents voting for Brexit at the EU referendum.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Not sure any Tory candidate counts as pro-EU, given the manifesto they will be standing on.

  • Alisdair McGregor 23rd Apr '17 - 10:34am

    I assume this means “Tory MPs in pro-Remain seats”, rather than actually pro-EU Tory MPs?

  • The headline doesnt match the article

  • Indeed Alistair. They know that many people will only read the headline and maybe the first paragraph, which are almost the opposite of the actual story as revealed if you read the whole thing. The Torygraph wants its readers to be confused about what the Liberal Democrats are doing.

  • Richard Hall 23rd Apr '17 - 11:08am

    It should also be targeting pro-EU Tory MP’s in areas that voted leave as well. The MP for Weston-super-Mare John Penrose was on the remain side in last years referendum but is going to be doing the Brexit shuffle just like many other MP’s for his party and Labour, and that politically convenient shift should be called out and challenged.

  • I am sure that Twickenham, Bath and OxWab are no surprise. St Albans is not in the list the top 50 seats where we were closest to the winner. It is estimated at number 79 on the most pro-Remain seats with only 38% voting Leave. We came third in 2015, and second in 2010 with 36.4% of the vote 4.4% behind the Conservatives.

    @ Richard Hall

    This does not feature on my list of the highest pro-Remain vote seats that we should consider. This is because it is estimated that 56.66% of the electorate voted Leave! It is also not in the top 50 seats where we were closest to the winner! I don’t think we should include it on our list of targets.

    @ John McHugo
    “And let’s not forget Justine Greening in Putney”

    Putney is about 17th on the English and Welsh pro-Remain constituency list excluding seats we hold. It is not traditionally a good seat for us. The Liberals achieved 20.2% in February 1974; we achieved 16.9% and our usual third place in 2010. So let us not target this seat!

  • Target seats could include pro-remain constituents with a pro-remain Tory MP now implicit in May’s desire for a hard brexit and pro-remain constituents with a pro-leave Tory MP who is ignoring the local voice.

    In Wales I would go mainly on education: Kirsty Williams being education secretary and a champion of smaller class sizes and evidence based changes rather than May’s desire to have grammar schools and further cuts to education budgets. How many teachers can you get to say the Lib Dem policy is better than May’s plans? And it also always makes me question Labour when they so rarely speak about their record in Wales as a UK pitch.

  • Roger Billlins 23rd Apr '17 - 3:49pm

    I think we need to get a handle on target seats and a lot else. I Think the old rule book needs to be ripped up and re-written. Events, dear boy, have disrupted the old ways. I am our candidate in Shipston in the elections for Warwickshire County Council. It is not a target seat but (1) we have had six new members since last week (2) one of them is a former leading Tory activist who gas joined us not only because of Brexit but because their membership is elderly and too right wing. Within hours she has volunteered to run my social media campaign .(3) most of our very rural ward has had nothing from the Tories but by Election Day, Shipston itself will have had four leaflets from us.

    It is a difficult call but I think seats like Vauxhall, Putney, Woking, St Albans are entirely winnable.

  • I don’t know Wandsworth or how many members it had in 2010. However we have not elected a councillor to Wandsworth Borough Council ever! There was an Alliance councillor 1982-86. I expect those 1000 members would be better “employed” working in a London seat we could win. I have this idea that in 2015 we didn’t have enough money to finance all of our campaigns in the 57 seats we were defending!

  • “Not sure any Tory candidate counts as pro-EU, given the manifesto they will be standing on.”

    “I assume this means “Tory MPs in pro-Remain seats”

    It should mean both!

    Firstly, any Conservative standing who in the past has been pro-EU and supported Remain can and should be targetted to discredit them (thus this includes: T.May, D.Davis, B.Johnson…) because any Conservative standing this election is standing on a T.May defined Brexit.

    Secondly, it also means those currently Conservative constituencies that had a significant Remain vote (ie. not necessarily a majority who voted remain, just sufficient who could be mobilised to potentially swing the result away from the Conservative/Brexit candidate.)

    Remember a good result for this general election is for T.May to have both a reduced majority and ideally an overall minority in Westminster but to also suffer a significantly reduced share of the vote.

    Now, given campaign funds are not limitless, those seats the LibDems might invest in with the prospect of actually winning will form a subset of the above.

  • Michael BG “it had in 2010. However we have not elected a councillor to Wandsworth Borough Council ever! There was an Alliance councillor 1982-86.” So we did have a Cllr there !

  • Stephan Breban 24th Apr '17 - 11:23am

    Target list? That sounds like a defeatist approach. Target the whole bloody country. There are three big parties campaigning for brexit, one for remain. 48 >> 52/3. This is not complex mathematics.

  • Michael Cole 24th Apr '17 - 11:42am

    Stephen Breban: Hear, Hear.

    Obviously resources are finite, but Stephen’s post is worth repeating: “Target list? That sounds like a defeatist approach. Target the whole bloody country. There are three big parties campaigning for brexit, one for remain. 48 >> 52/3. This is not complex mathematics.”

  • Yeovil Yokel 24th Apr '17 - 12:28pm

    Roland – with a majority of 29,059 in 2015 in her Maidenhead constituency I suppose it wouldn’t be worth targeting Theresa May herself – but think of the consequences if the LD’s could unseat her!

  • phil ashley 24th Apr '17 - 3:19pm

    Do the world a favour and target Corbyn. Steven Twigg moment is possible there as so many dont like him. Tories were 2nd there but prob more winnable for LD.

  • @ Tim Hill
    “Michael BG “However we have not elected a councillor to Wandsworth Borough Council ever! There was an Alliance councillor 1982-86.” So we did have a Cllr there !”
    We have never elected a Liberal Democrat councillor there. Why would we wish to put resources into a seat where we have no councillors and no ex-Lib Dem councillors?

    @ Stephan Breban
    “Target list? That sounds like a defeatist approach. Target the whole bloody country. There are three big parties campaigning for brexit, one for remain. 48 >> 52/3. This is not complex mathematics.”

    I have no idea what “48 >> 52/3” is meant to mean?

    @ Michael Cole
    “Stephen Breban: Hear, Hear.”

    “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it” (misquote).

    Why do we have members who have not learnt the lessons of history? – 1983, 1987 and 1992. If everyone works in their own constituency then those seats we could win we will not win because we didn’t have enough resources in them to get our message out and convince the people to vote for us. (Some people see Cleggmania and the idea we could win in lots more seats as a factor in our dropping from 62 to 57 MPs in 2010.)

    The 1997 election is the one to emulate.

  • With the exception of St Albans, these are seats we held in 2005 or 2010 and that you’d expect to be Liberal Democrat targets irrespective of Brexit.

  • Stephan Breban 25th Apr '17 - 11:56am

    Michael BG –

    52% voted to leave. There are three parties supporting leave, Tory, Labour and UKIP. The vote is split three ways; traditional Tory who will never vote Labour, traditional Labour who will never vote Tory, and increasingly racist UKIP who are too angry to tactically vote. The brexit voters are split three ways. Thus 52/3

    48% voted to remain. There is a single party stating for remain. In theory, we can will ever seat in England and Wales!

    If the LibDems do this properly, and apply a healthy dose of cynicism, they can emphasise how much this is a single-issue-election. Probably the first ever truly single-policy-election in the UK. Let remain supporters know that the LibDems are the only party that has any interest in keeping the UK in the EU. The LibDems are not renowned for cynical electioneering. Time to grow up and get the job done. Blair did that sublimely. You don’t have to like the guy to acknowledge that he did a brilliant job in turning around a totally unelectable party.

    48 is a lot bigger than 52 split three ways.

    Target Corbyn. Target May. Target Davis. Target BoJo. Target every lying little turd that peddled the lies about the spending.

  • Stephan Breban 25th Apr '17 - 12:31pm

    Michael BG –

    The leave vote is split three ways. Traditional die-hard Labour voters, who will never tactically vote Tory. Traditional die-hard Tory voters, who will never tactically vote Labour. Increasingly racist UKIP supporters, who are too angry to vote tactically. 52/3; that is less than 20%.

    The 48% remain has only one option. The LibDems need to aggressively and cynically emphasise that this is truly a single-issue-election. Probably the first in UK history. The LibDems have not been either aggressive enough or cynical enough in the past. You don’t need to like Tony Blair to what a brilliant job he did taking Labour from completely unelectable to a 100 seat majority.

    If we can convince 40 of the 48 to continue to oppose brexit and vote LibDem, then there is not a seat in England or Wales that can not be won. Except, possibly, Sunderland. Target May. Target Corbyn. Target Davis. Target Bojo.

  • @ Stephan Breban
    “52% voted to leave. There are three parties supporting leave,
    “48% voted to remain. There is a single party stating for remain”

    Thank you for explaining. If we were on 48% in the opinion polls your logic would be correct.

    I think there might be four parties for Remain in Britain (excluding NI) – us, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru.

    @ Stephan Breban
    “then there is not a seat in England or Wales that can not be won. …”

    According to Chris Hanretty there were 153 seats in England and Wales where there was a majority voting Remain (

    Some of these might be worth targeting if the Local Party is big and strong enough to organise a full campaign. I would expect all of them to put out leaflets in the freepost delivery to every home. However I don’t think we could win a seat without putting out at least a further three leaflets across almost the whole constituency.

    Targeting is not just about moving people to our best 50 seats but it is also knowing when we have data that implies we have a plurality of votes so outside help is no longer needed.

  • If you win more than twenty seats I will be amazed. More likely ten.

  • @ Martin
    “If you win more than twenty seats I will be amazed. More likely ten.”

    I think it is highly likely we will win more than 10 seats.
    I think it would not be amazing to win 20 which would get us back to the 1992 number of MPs. I would be amazed if we won 62 or more seats.

  • Stephan Breban 28th Apr '17 - 1:34pm

    Michael BG, I accept there are four parties supporting remain, but they don’t have a national reach. That is why the LibDems have to set out their stall on this. I don’t see the point of opposing the Greens where they are strong, nor Plaid Cymru nor SNP. The rest are up for grabs. I can accept prioritisation, but to be a serious party we need to get more than 20 seats.

    Brexit, is a huge threat to the UK. It needs to be confronted now. This is an all or nothing gambit for me.

  • The difference between this election and previous ones where the Liberal Democrats have done well such as 1964,1974, 1992, 1997, 2001 2005 and even 1983 and 1987 is that this time the Conservatives have such a huge lead in opinion polls which not only reduces the chances of Labour doing well but also the Liberal Democrats. The gains in 1997, 2001 and 2005 were often due to the weakness of the Conservative vote, particularly in 1997 in the West of England. I do not wish to be discouraging but this will be a very difficult election for the party with UKIP and Labour voters switching to the Conservatives in droves and little sign of any recent movement towards the Liberal Democrats. In fact there seems to have been a fall lately. We can only hope that local factors in some areas will help the party – for instance in Scotland and SW London.

  • @ Stephan Breban
    “The rest are up for grabs”

    I wish this was true. I think the party has a clear message on Brexit and there are lots of seats where this should benefit us, but NOT most English seats where the Greens are not the main challengers.

    You believe that everyone who voted Remain is a potential voter for us because of our position on Brexit. This sadly is not true. Only about 21% of the population think we should have a second referendum or ignore the result of the 2016 referendum, while 25% of the population now accept “the result” but had voted Remain. This leaves 2% not knowing their position ( it might be possible to convince some of the 25+2% to change their opinion and vote for us, I think it unlikely we could convince them all.

    It should be remembered that we won Richmond Park with 49.68% of the vote, but 71.32% voted Remain. This means if all our voters were Remain voters we only achieved 69.65% of the Remain vote if the turnout in the referendum and the by-election were the same. The by-election turnout was 53.44% and the referendum was about 80%. This reduces further the percentage of Remain voters who voted for Sarah Olney. Richmond Park was number 88 on our top 100 target seats but I think there is a chance we will not retain the seat in this general election. I am not sure how anyone can make a strong case for us winning any seat below Richmond Park on our target seat list unless that seat is above Richmond Park in percentage of Remain voters. Richmond Park is the 32nd most Remain seat in Britain.

  • nvelope2003 29th Apr '17 - 3:35pm

    The problem with placing all your faith in opposition to leaving the EU is that for many people it is just a matter of personal faith like voting Labour or Conservative or
    being a Catholic or a Baptist even if you do not believe in any of their policies or beliefs. So many of the voters seemed to be indifferent as to whether it would be harmful to leave or stay in the EU, even if it damaged their incomes or living standards. For many it was about either independence or being part of a wider community. The Leavers made me think of the people who wanted to go to war with Germany in 1939 even though they knew people would be killed in vast numbers and their lives would be changed for ever. It is hard to understand really but should not be relied on in elections.

  • I hope this set of comments is not a guide to the overall party strategy. EVERY election is one where the right constituency strategy is target, target, target. If we get carried to 100s of MPs by a massive national swing, then so be it. However in the more likely case that we don’t then any effort or money spent in an unwinnable seat is essentially wasted. Each area/county should have 1, 2 or 3 target seats and members should be bused over to them (after the County elections where they are happening) on a regular basis. I was concerned to find in a recent conversation that a leading councillor in my Devon constituency had no idea which were the constituency targets within the county. If this is the general state of tactical awareness in an area of potential gains it doesn’t bode well.

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