The Party President on our long term plan

Mark Pack’s report for February:

A familiar trio

By now, you’re most likely very familiar with the idea that we are concentrating our campaigning for the next Westminster general election on the NHS, the cost of living and sewage. You may well have heard that on Zoom calls with our Chief Executive, seen it in leaflets you’ve delivered or said it yourself in conversations with voters.

The prime reason for this trio is the humility that’s essential for a political party in an electoral democracy: the humility to listen to voters and to take their concerns as the starting point of our campaigning.

But there are two other important reasons for this trio too. One is that the trio is deliberately applicable to those of us fighting elections at other levels too, including incumbents and those running councils. Not all of our previous messaging – such as ‘time for a change’ – has been so adaptable. It’s always been a bit much to ask a Lib Dem council leader to go out and campaign with the slogan ‘time for a change’. That lack of consistency has held us back from communicating better to the public what we stand for.

This is a trio that works well for a national election yet also allows us in our local campaigning to showcase the difference Lib Dems in power in town halls have been making. Differences such as the innovative joined-up health services in Somerset or the provision of extra free school meals in Sutton.

Getting this right isn’t a short term task. Which is why it’s also a trio – health care, economy, environment – that will serve us well in the long-run. Whatever change of the political environment that the next election may bring, it’s the basis for a consistent, long-term approach to building a larger core vote for the party.

Part of that long-term outlook also has to be changing the way our politics works. Not just securing electoral reform for the Commons and local government in England and Wales. But also reforming the role of money in our politics and strengthening the power of Parliament to hold the government to account.

A record start to canvassing

If that is the long-term task, the short-term one is very clear: get more Liberal Democrats elected this year.

Which is why it’s fabulous to see us kick off the year with a record volume of canvassing in January, with activity at double the levels seen in January 2023. And that’s despite the weather being so much worse in the middle of January this year too!

Thank you so much to everyone who has been out on the doorsteps or picking up their phones to talk with voters already this year.

Party awards

We’ll be doing more thanks and recognition with our party awards at our spring Federal Conference coming up in York in March.

Four awards are open for nominations. They’re the usual four awards for a spring conference but this time the criteria have been tweaked to focus on what matters most in such a big election year:

  • Leader’s Award: awarded to someone who has shown exemplary dedication to canvassing voters.
  • Bertha Bowness Fischer Award: awarded a local party for the excellence of its local delivery network.
  • Albert Ingham  Award: awarded for a recent campaign that through its excellence, fastidiousness, tenacity or novelty is a model for others.
  • Laura Grimond Award: awarded to recognise the unsung work behind the scenes by someone whose contributions enable our frontline campaigns to go out and win.

More details and the nomination form are here.

February Federal Board

Speaking of conference… one of the main topics the February Federal Board will be looking at is our contingency planning around autumn conference. This may be just before, during or just after a general election. That has significant implications for staff time, the conference budget and people’s ability and willingness to take the time to come to conference.

Our conferences are a vital part of our democratic process, an important training and opportunity and, in the right circumstances, a great opportunity to engage with the outside world via media coverage, the exhibition and fringes.

But if a general election is called so that our planned conference would be in the middle of an election campaign, forcing its cancellation, and we’re left with a £550,000 financial hole when we need our money most, I am sure many members will – rightly! – ask what we’d done to anticipate that. We need to have good contingency plans in place.

Other topics at our February Board will include how we do Board appointments to party posts during general election year, our latest quarterly review of party performance and plans for membership recruitment and engagement around the general election.

Come to Federal Conference for free

If you volunteer as a steward you get free attendance plus help towards subsistence, travel and accommodation costs. Plus getting to be a member of a great team. More details are here.

Are you using WhatsApp locally?

One of the crucial parts of my role as President is being in touch with what members are saying all around the country (and overseas too). It’s been noticeable in the last year how much of the online conversation among members and supporters in local parties has moved away from (semi-)public social media, for example away from Facebook and X/Twitter and often moving to WhatsApp (and to a much lesser extent Slack).

If WhatsApp plays a big role in your local party’s chatter, and you wouldn’t mind an outsider being in your group so I can better see the temperature of members around the party, it’d be great if you can add me to your relevant group. You can either message me the join link on [email protected] or ask for my mobile number to add. Thank you.

Do you have questions on any of this report, or other Lib Dem matters? Then please drop me a line on [email protected]. Do also get in touch if you would like to invite me to do a Zoom call with your local party or party body.

 

* Mark Pack is Party President and is the editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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44 Comments

  • Katharine Pindar 13th Feb '24 - 11:16am

    I wasn’t myself aware that campaigning is concentrating on the NHS, the cost of living and sewage, and am not sure what we are offering on cost of living. Do we take it from your further remarks that the trio of leading topics for the General Election are to be health care, economy and environment?

    I have noticed that Labour have reduced their proposed spending on the environment so that in the fifth year an extra £20 billion a year will be spent, perhaps £24 bn over five years, of which £12.7 bn would be funded from borrowing. I believe our existing policy is to spend £200 bn over five years on environment policies. We have surely therefore a great opportunity to appeal to Labour voters by pointing this out to them.

  • Mary Fulton 13th Feb '24 - 1:52pm

    The Labour website identifies their 3 priorities as Economic stability, strong national defence and secure borders. There was a time when this would be viewed as the priorities of the Conservative Party. Today’s Conservative Party set itself 5 priorities – 3 about the economy, one about the NHS and one also about securing our borders (from small boats). And the Liberal Democrats… the economy, the NHS and sewage.

    I’m afraid there is a crying need for a party willing to stand up with an offer of transformational change. Why are the Liberal Democrats not willing to take on that task?

  • Steve Trevethan 13th Feb '24 - 2:18pm

    Well commented Katherine Pindar!

    Might H. Q. please let us have some more detail with which contacts with potential voters might become more interesting and persuasive?

  • Paul Barker 13th Feb '24 - 6:57pm

    Parties can say what they want but if they don’t talk about the things The Voters care about then those Voters may just ignore them.
    All 3 Mainstream Parties will be talking about The NHS & The Economy but they will be saying very different things.
    The Tories will in fact say as little as possible about The NHS & The Economy & what they do say will be mostly vacuous slogans – where they can they will try to shift the conversation to Tax Cuts, Immigrants & Culture Wars. They can’t defend their Record because its crap.
    As The Third Party in England & The Fourth in Scotland & Wales we don’t get to decide what the conversation is about – we have to fight to be heard at all.

  • Katharine Pindar 13th Feb '24 - 7:13pm

    In today’s Guardian I have just read that SNP leader Humza Yousaf is to focus on ‘child poverty, fairness and social justice in the coming months, attacking Starmer’s caution and fiscal conservatism, for instance on the two-child benefit cap.’ If only our own leader would take the same line! Does the SNP have a policy like ours, to end deep poverty and the need for food banks within a decade? (see policy F23 For a Fair Deal, passed at Bournemouth – a summary from the York Conference F12 A Fairer Society). Why on earth don’t we proclaim it? (Thanks, Mary and Steve, for the encouragement.)

  • Nonconformistradical 13th Feb '24 - 7:18pm

    “If you’re not seeing information like that at the moment (and are a party member!) you can sign up for our Campaign Hub”

    Campaign Hub appears to be on google.

    Why should I have to have any dealings with google? An organisation which I wouldn’t dream of trusting with my personal data?

  • Mark Pack,

    When we talk about the cost of living, what do we say we will do?

    We had policies that have ended or will end soon:
    Continuing the Business Energy Bill Relief Scheme until October 2023;
    Cut the Energy Price Guarantee to £1,971 for the average household ending April 2024.
    What are we saying now about these items?

    Are we still saying that we would insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030?

    Are we still saying we will invest £200 billion over five years on environment policies?

  • Roger Crouch 14th Feb '24 - 7:54am

    It is a great pity that no major political party is talking about the importance of investing in schools and lifelong education. You cannot have an effective NHS, a thriving economy or meet the challenges of climate change without a well educated workforce.

    As it is, we have a crumbling school estate, a recruitment and retention crisis in teaching, under-resourced schools unable to meet the challenges of technological change and provide an inclusive education, a curriculum which needs an overhaul, and a patchwork of different providers.

    Paddy Ashdown’s Liberal Democrats understood this and responded with the 1p on income tax policy. Instead, we echo Labour, and worship the NHS.

  • Steve Trevethan 14th Feb '24 - 9:16am

    Why is H. Q. not leading on tax reform, tax education and socio-economics education?

    Until the societal harms of neoliberal « economics » are exposed and attacked, our society and our party, are trapped in the currently fashionable and dominating socio-economic mind and attitude sets which result in evident macro child hunger, collapsing schools, understaffed surgeries, hospitals, dentistries, police forces, mental and emotional health and well being provisions, lack of support for those with disabilities, disgraceful prisons, etc. etc, etc.

    Might our party stand out, speak out and lead?

  • Katharine Pindar 14th Feb '24 - 10:59am

    Well said, Steve. The neo-liberal economics which belong to the Conservative mind-set, and have subjected the country to fourteen years of their thinking as they ruled. Aux armes, Lib Dem citoyens!

  • Nigel Quinton 14th Feb '24 - 4:40pm

    Well said Katharine, Steve and Michael. The first I heard of the NHS focus was at East of England conference when Ed proclaimed it to an entirely underwhelmed audience – what on earth have we got to say that is distinctive on the NHS – a guarantee to see a GP seems to be the gist of it. What about public health, healthy environments, prevention is better than cure etc, working with NHS and Social Care to create a wellness service? All stuff we have excellent policy on (if you can find it).

    We can do so much better than this. As others have pointed out, the environment is not just about sewage – we have policies to actually tackle in a meaningful way both climate and nature emergencies, in stark contrast to Labour since their retreat in the face of Tory scare mongering on debt. If we don’t take that opportunity I despair, because the only way this gets done properly is if we influence it. We cannot rely on Labour.

  • Graham Jeffs 15th Feb '24 - 2:20pm

    Mark Pack – clearly many of us feel that your/leadership approach is inadequate,

    Currently this has resulted in the party having very little identity. Unless this is addressed there is little chance of the electorate in general engaging with us. To them, the current approach has no meaning – it’s perceived as ‘more of the same’ and also not part of any wider beliefs. We are not getting leadership worthy of the name.

  • All the eggs in the one basket of the prosperous Home Counties is a mistake. In due time they will revert to type. There’s more to the UK than the comfy grumbling South East.

  • Traditionally the Lib Dems and Liberals have been the party of Education, Localism, Internationalism, Political Reform and Human Rights. The long term plan should be based on this. The skill is to link these issues to people’s daily lives so their relevance is accepted as has been done successfully in the past.

  • Steve Trevethan 15th Feb '24 - 5:56pm

    As our nation is now, officially, in recession and as this is significantly an inevitable consequence of years of austerity aka. Neoliberal Socio- Economics, might our party speak up about this form of national self-harm and even ask analytical questions and put forward kinder and more efficient suggestions?

    At the present, might our leadership be reasonably described as, « The bland leading the bland? »

  • Paul Barker 15th Feb '24 - 7:09pm

    Sigh….
    Let me repeat that most predictions about The coming Election suggest a Libdem haul of between 25 & 50 MPs. Even the lower end is more than double what we got in 2019 – why are we so down ?
    Less negativity please.

  • Sadly Paul, the models that are being used to produce the number of seats you are referring to are all based on assumptions that are dodgy to begin with and are then totally undermined once campaigning starts.

    I would suggest, less naive optimism please.

    If we over extend ourselves and target too many seats, we will end up losing seats not gaining them. Just as happened in 2010, 2015 and 2019. In 2017 our targeting was very tight and we gained 4 on a lower share of the vote.

    Simple experience counts for a lot more than the latest over complex, over optimistic modelling.

  • Nigel Quinton,

    Indeed, we can’t rely on Labour. We need to set out what a government should do to fix the problems of the UK.

    Steve Trevethan,

    In the pre-manifesto ‘For a Fair Deal’ passed at Bournemouth we still seem to be talking about having a fiscal rule. It is not as bad as the Government’s and the Labour Party’s but it says we would balance the current spending budget over the medium term except maybe during an economic crisis.

    I would prefer it if we said we would run the economy to benefit the people and grow the economy with the expectation that the current spending budget would balance over the economic cycle.

    David Evans,

    Are you saying the party is targeting too many seats?

    Paul Barker,

    We are so down because many believe we could do better in national share if we talked more about our policies. Many look back to 1997 when we gained 26 more seats than we did in 1992. Also many are worried that what John Curtice said at Bournemouth could happen will happen – that in 32 seats where we are second to the Conservatives, Labour will come second. And feel the party is not doing anything to stop this from happening, with better national messaging. (In 1997 we had a reduced share of the vote than in 1992 – down 1%. We don’t want this to happen in the next general election.)

  • Steve Trevethan 16th Feb '24 - 8:02am

    Might the actual votes, or lack of them, for our party at Kingswood and Wellingborough, give a noticeable message to our leadership that more particular and energetic policies are quickly needed?

    What does « balance the current spending budget over the medium term » mean?

    How do we use « still seem to be talking about having a fiscal rule » when canvassing?

  • Peter Martin 16th Feb '24 - 8:14am

    @ Michael BG,

    “…… that in 32 seats where we are second to the Conservatives, Labour will come second.”

    There may well also be seats where Labour will do even better and actually win.

    Lib Dems seem to take the view that all that matters is to get rid of a Tory government. I’m not sure why when Labour have jettisoned just about all their policies which might distinguish them and give them some right to call themselves a Labour Party. We’ll still have a Tory government in all but name even if Starmer becomes PM.

    Cap on bankers’ bonuses? Scrapped. Ending Non Dom Tax Status? Scrapped. Higher tax for high earners? Scrapped. Meaningful Action on the Environment? Scrapped. Two Child limit on benefits? Retained.

    Apparently the Tories have left the economy is such a mess that we can’t afford to tax the rich! How does that work?

    So by all means go after the Tories in the next election but don’t forget that the most likely alternative will be no better.

    You’ll need to go after Labour too.

  • Steve Trevethan 16th Feb '24 - 8:47am

    Here is something for us and, especially our leaders, to think about and, even, use!

    https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2024/02/16/how-we-got-into-this-mess/

  • @Michael BG:

    “(In 1997 we had a reduced share of the vote than in 1992 – down 1%. We don’t want this to happen in the next general election.)”

    Why not? As you yourself note, we made a net gain of 26 seats from 1992. It would be a darned sight better than increasing our vote share but losing seats (as in 2010 and 2019). Under the FPTP electoral system what matters is the number of seats won, not votes. A larger Parliamentary party would mean more public exposure and more opportunities to speak in Parliament, especially if we regain 3rd party status. We have to play by the rules of the game, however unfair we might think they are.

    I really doubt voters care at all how we perform in non-target by-elections. Voters don’t think like party hacks, they don’t follow every election result in every locality, let alone think it has any relevance to who is competitive where they live. I remember some suggestion that our lost deposit in OB&S would hamper our campaign in North Shropshire. Well, it didn’t. They just didn’t take any notice. Kingswood may be “close to Bath”, but it isn’t Bath and we’ve never been strong there (it was Labour held in the Blair years).

  • Martin Bennett talks sense. He should be listened to by those calling the shots in the party’s strategy, especially by those claiming to have ‘a long term plan’.

    It appears from the media (and an LDV vacuum) that very little Lib Dem effort was put into either Wellingborough or Kingswood. The candidates appear to have been left to swing in the wind which was a profoundly serious strategic mistake. The results will be noticed in the so called ‘Blue Wall’ target seats.

    Does it have to be like this ? Certainly not. I’m old enough and long enough in the tooth to recall canvassing in the 1973 Chester-le-Street byelection in County Durham. It was a safe Labour seat with no Liberal candidate since 1929. A real effort was made from all parts of the country. The Party Leader spent days campaigning there. The result ? A very respectable second place with 39% and 18,808 votes. The impetus helped Alan Beith to gain Berwick a few months later.

    If then, why not now ? My message to President Pack is that the policy of focussing on low hanging fruit in the Home Counties and London suburbs is profoundly wrong. Vast areas of the UK are being abandoned in pursuit of a mistaken policy (described as a ‘long term plan’). The low hanging fruit will wither away.

  • The two by election were once again a Lib Dem humiliation.
    It is very hard to answer the party when it asks for money when we act so neglectfully.
    Wimbledon will go Labour at the General as will others we have our eyes on.
    If we are a national party we MUST act like one and contest seats properly, think of the future not the present.

  • I would be less willing to give The Party money if it wasted it fighting Byelections where We are irrelevant.
    Just read some of the dozens of pieces about these Byelections – how many even mention The Libdems or The Greens ? Reform get talked about but only because they threaten an even worse result for The Tories in The General Election.

    If things are so bad for Us why are we doing so well in Local Byelections ?

  • Labour leapfrogging us to win is something that happened in several seats in 1997. St Albans was one of them. The risk of this happening is rather less in the next GE, because (i) there is much less enthusiasm for Keir Starmer than there was for Blair among swing voters, and (ii) there are far fewer seats where both Lib Dems and Labour are in contention. I suspect people like Curtice are making too much of seat predictions from some opinion polls, based either on UNS or some sort of MRP that takes insufficient account of local factors (instead assuming that particular types of voters swing the same way wherever they live).
    @David Raw: “The [Wellingborough and Kingswood] results will be noticed in the so called ‘Blue Wall’ target seats.” Honestly they won’t. Only political nerds care what or how minor parties do in by-elections, and they are a small minority of the electorate. Voters might notice a respectable showing, but it’s unlikely to make much difference in any subsequent election. Berwick-upon-Tweed was a seat where the Liberals had finished a respectable 3rd (21.6%) in 1970, and it came after several good by-election results. It’s only the narrowness of the result in the 1973 by-election that meant previous by-election performances might have helped us.
    Wimbledon is gaining 2 wards from Kingston & Surbiton, meaning an influx of voters used to a binary Conservative v Lib Dem choice. Lib Dems are working the seat hard, so are in a good position to win next time.

  • @ Paul Barker, “if it wasted it fighting Byelections where We are irrelevant.”

    Have your considered why, “We are irrelevant”, Paul, and is (the possibility) of a dozen seats in the Home Counties the height of your ambitions ? Or is the Party supposed to be a serious political enterprise espousing Liberal principles and aiming for social justice and aiming to improve the lives and welfare of the people throughout the whole of the UK ?

    Are the people of Kingswood and Wellingborough ‘lesser breeds without the law’ ?

  • I’m not in the least surprised that this party did so badly in the two by-elections…

    In an article, about Ed Davey’s initial failure to apologise over the Post Office scandal, I wrote that I thought his refusal might come back to bite us in the Wellingborough and Kingswood by-elections…I was summarily ‘slapped down’ with the reminder that ‘It didn’t matter as WE weren’t putting any serious effort into these elections’ (or words to that effect)…
    We didn’t, and we fell below ‘Reform’.. as a ‘one-off’ that might not be a calamity; BUT it sets a precedent in the eyes of voters and re-inforces the Tory mantra that a “Vote for the LibDems is a wasted vote”..

  • Alex Macfie 16th Feb '24 - 1:41pm

    @expats: The results in Wellingborough and Kingswood were in line with other non-target Parliamentary by-elections in this Parliament (e.g. OB&S). It’s highly unlikely that anything Ed said or did on the PO scandal made any difference at all.

  • Alex Macfie 16th Feb '24 - 1:54pm

    @expats: Like many others here, you are imagining that ordinary voters are political obsessives who assiduously follow every election result and try to apply it to the politics of their own area. They are not. They are concerned about what’s happening around them in the present, not past performance in other parts of the country. The Lib Dem showing has mostly gone unreported, and therefore will not be noticed by the vast majority of voters.

  • John Bicknell 16th Feb '24 - 2:06pm

    Whilst I agree with Alex M that few people in the country are interested enough in politics to follow election results in detail, they probably do have a sense when a party is ‘on the up’, and winning creates its own momentum. Thus, whilst even Labour-inclined people that I speak to refer to Starmer as a ‘charisma free zone’, and are cynical about what they might expect from a Labour government, that party is still able to record spectacular by election wins, such as those seen this week, as they are perceived as the only ones who can beat the Conservatives. I do wonder if that mentality might creep into seats where the LDs hope to prosper. Before anyone mentions the four by election gains made by the LDs this parliament as a counter to that view, I would suggest that these were only achieved with an immense effort, the extent of which could not be brought to bear in a GE.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Feb '24 - 6:02pm

    Yes, John Bicknell, and I can’t see why HQ is NOT calling for an immense effort in the remaining time to try to snatch a by-election victory for Iain Donaldson in Rochdale, given that unexpected gift from Labour: the Liberal Democrats might well seem a sensible alternative for the bemused ill-treated voters there.

    All the same, I do think our party should stop depending on by-elections to revive us. Martin Bennett and David Raw are surely right: we need a national profile to show that we are a serious national Liberal party, aiming continually for a share of power in order to serve the British people. It is so futile, it seems to me, to aim simply to get a bunch of extra MPs from the south, as if to become the third voice in Parliament is a sufficient aim for us. We should be aiming for influence in the government. What happens when the Conservatives revive in Opposition and ask their former voters to turn back to them? Just don’t let them – let’s convince the nation that we are a continuing force for good, as worthy of our fellow citizens’ votes as either Tories or Labour.

  • Alex Macfie 16th Feb ’24 – 1:41pm..

    Please re-read my post…I am NOT claiming that Wellingborough and Kingswood results were affected by Ed Davey’s refusal to apologise; however, I am claiming that our reluctance to engage in the electoral process (as shown in the response to my claim, on LDV, that it might) DID affect the result..

    I believe that, in politics, ‘perception is everything’ and, listening to Tice (Reform) claiming that the LibDems are irrelevant, has an an effect… All the news channels showed footage of the Tice/Habib post result interview; no news channel featured Ana Gunn, the LibDem candidate…

  • Alex Macfie,

    While it was fine in 1992 to lose 1% of our vote; down to 16.8%, to do so in the next general election will mean we would only be on 10.6%. It is unlikely we will gain 26 seats and end up with 37 MPs after the next general election. I hope we can get to 30 MPs after the general election and regain the 3rd party status, but I haven’t seen any evidence this will happen. It reminds me of the claims before the 2010 general election that we wouldn’t lose most of our MPs.

  • Sorry, – before the 2015 general election.

  • Martin Gray 17th Feb '24 - 7:53am

    @Alex Macfie …
    Let’s hope you’re right Alex . How that labour vote is going in our target seats looks very unpredictable.
    We should be cautious especially in places like North Shropshire where historically labour has been solid.
    Hopefully your prediction is better than the last GE – which was painfully wide of the mark..

  • Alex Macfie 17th Feb '24 - 1:12pm

    @expats: What you call “reluctance to engage in the electoral process” in Wellingborough and Kingswood is no different from what we did in previous non-target by-election campaigns. So the mention of the PO scandal was gratuitous. Anyway we don’t fail to engage in non-target by-elections. The campaigns focused on wards where we are strong locally to consolidate our vote there and make sure people didn’t think we had forgotten about them.
    And just how many potential Lib Dem voters are going to be persuaded by the rantings of Richard Tice about our “irrelevance”? The intersection in the Venn diagram of Lib Dem sympathisers and people who take their cues from the likes of Tice is miniscule. And who follows political news? Mainly political obsessives, once again a small minority of voters. Ordinary voters in our target seats are far more likely to be swayed by our ground campaigns.

  • Alex Macfie 17th Feb '24 - 1:20pm

    @Martin Gray: I seriously underestimated the strength of the Conservative message in the Red Wall in 2019. I put my hand up for that. However, we have no stake there. As for our target seats, Labour has detargeted most of them (in contrast to 2019, when the Corbynite faction was in control and sought to undermine us in seats where they knew they had no chance), so what’s mainly of interest is what happens in the small number of seats where they are possibly in contention (e.g. North Shropshire, Wimbledon and the defector seats such as F&GG). FWIW I expect Labour to revive in the defector seats, but probably not in the others where Lib Dem strength is based on local campaigning.

  • Peter Hirst 17th Feb '24 - 2:30pm

    Regarding the cost of living crisis, we could use it to educate the electorate on its causes as well as its solution. This could delve into the state of our economy, inflation and our continued poor growth and investment. If we beleive in a well educated electorate our campaigning should include a large element of humble informing.

  • Alex: Opinion poll ratings are now well below our vote at the last General. We have ceased to be of any relevance in at least half the country, probably more. We do not contest Parliamentary By Elections where we are in an already poor position, so there appears little or no prospect of building support in those seats. You yourself appear to dismiss any reference to working a number of Labour constituencies in the Midlands and the North, even where we had the sitting MP till 2015. Do you haver any concept of the despair and not a little anger the current party strategy has up here away from Richmond and Kingston. Personally I will be over the moon if we manage to get 25 MPS later this year, realistically I fear it well be less. With the present dire poll ratings and ED Davey being hounded about the Post Office it could be single figures.
    We cannot be a West Country and Home Counties party, we have to be a National one.
    Perhaps Lib Dem HQ should get out of London and base itself in Birmingham, Manchester or Newcastle! Then the penny might begin to drop.

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