The road map to 2024

We are all heartily fed up with this government but unfortunately we are likely to have to put up with them for some while yet. When we do get the chance to kick them out which will probably be sometime in 2024 and we need to be in the best possible shape to do so.

Right at the top of the list has to be some level of cooperation with the Labour Party. Having spoken to hundreds of members during the recent leadership election I can testify that there is overwhelming support for this regardless of which candidate was being supported. Both Ed and Layla set out a similar vision as to how this could work and that needs to be put into action ASAP. It doesn’t mean the withdrawal of candidates anywhere – that would be counterproductive – but it does mean trying to re-employ the approach so successfully deployed by Paddy Ashdown in the run up to the 1997 General Election. Of course the price for us must be a firm commitment to electoral reform.

The other lesson we must learn is that building any relationship will take time, so we need to unite behind our new leader and give him time. I appreciate that many fellow Liberals found the result personally devastating. As an enthusiastic supporter of Layla I was disappointed but I am determined to put it behind for the greater good; millions of our fellow citizens are suffering under this cruel government and we need to get them out.

Next May we expect to see a whole swathe of elections for the Scottish and Welsh devolved assemblies, Mayors, local authorities etc. These will be our first real test of our support since the December 2019 General Election. It is probably a bit early to say how we will do but there is certainly potential. The 2017 County Council elections were not particularly good for us and the rise of UKIP (now a spent force) hurt us badly in Wales. As always our success will depend on the work we do on the ground but it will also be a test of whether voters see us as centre left again. There are signs that this has been happening over the last two General Elections and some kind of non aggression pact with Labour will assist that.

We need those tactical voters in our target seats to increase our Commons representation and make us a player in any future hung parliament. If that can happen we really are in the territory we have long hoped for. It won’t be easy; many of us, myself included, will get angry and frustrated along the way but we must keep our eyes on the prize. The Road Map to 2024 is all about unity and cooperation. Let’s do it.

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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16 Comments

  • John Marriott 4th Sep '20 - 11:30am

    All this presupposes that the Labour Party wants to do a deal with anyone. My hunch is that, if its poll standing remains buoyant, there’s a fat chance of that happening. For years I used to cling to the belief that we were really entering an age of multi party politics. It was just that it was ill served by our voting system. Now, with no sight of that system changing in the near future, I’m not so sure.

  • David Warren 4th Sep '20 - 1:01pm

    @Freddie The Ashdown/Blair arrangement involved the two parties not attacking each other in public and putting resources into target seats.

    As for winning over Labour voters if we are going to make gains we need to win back those who used to vote tactically for us in areas where we are the main challenger to the Tories. They deserted us in droves in 2015 when we fell from 57 MPs to 8.

  • Paul Barker 4th Sep '20 - 1:48pm

    Martin hits the nail on the head, any talk of a “Deal” with Labour at a Westminster level will actually make such a deal harder to do. No Labour Leader can be seen to make “Concessions” to another Party – especially not The “Yellow Slime”.
    The same argument goes double for any Labour move towards Electoral Reform, it has to be seen as coming from Labour Values.
    What we can do is talk to other Parties at all levels while restarting Formal negotiations with The Greens (outside Scotland) & Plaid.

    PS Does anyone know when Local Byelections in England & Wales are going to restart ?

  • David Warren 4th Sep '20 - 2:31pm

    @Freddie Yes to your first point. Policy differences will remain but not fighting each other in respective target seats is a must.

    As for the tactical Labour vote in 2015 a lot of it went back to Labour. In Guildford where I campaigned in that General Election it more than doubled, similar in Newbury both seats we used to hold. It didn’t make Labour competitive because they were already at a very low level but it demonstrates that coalition made us toxic.

    In 2024 we need to be winning those voters back. As for moderate Tories some may come to us but if the government is unpopular which I expect it to be many will just stay at home.

  • It’s obvious that that tactical votes from Labour will be essential in 2024. Just look at target seats where Labour are in double figures or even 20%:

    #14 City L&W LAB 27.21%
    #17 Finchley & GG LAB 24.22%
    #2 Wimbledon LAB 23.65%
    #16 Hitchin and Harpenden 16.92%
    #24 Cambridgeshire South East LAB 16.30%
    #21 Sutton and Cheam LAB 14.26%
    #15 Hazel Grove LAB 12.44%
    #4 Carshalton & W LAB 12.39%
    #7 Cheadle LAB 12.26%

    Quite a few others as well.

  • That there was a non-aggresion pact in 1997 has a big element of rose tinted spectacles.

    As regards tactical voting there was only one seat gained by the LIb Dems in 1997 where the Labour vote fell from 1992 (Hallam).

  • David Warren 4th Sep '20 - 10:51pm

    Thanks Marco. Based on those figures most if not all those constituencies can be won by us in 2024.

  • Paul,
    By-elections of any kind, from what was said in March by someone in government, will be held over until next May.
    Good way of avoiding that form of bad news for a year, and then getting them all out of the way in one night under the cover of whole host of other elections!

  • Hywel – Research from LSE found that in 1997 the Lib Dem’s gained 21 seats due to tactical voting from Labour supporters:

    https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/the-conventional-wisdom-about-tactical-voting-is-wrong/

    The key point is that nationally LAB vote was up by 10% and LIB vote down 1%. Yet in LIB-CON seats the LAB vote went up by much smaller amounts and the LIB vote went up by as much or more. That is clear evidence of tactical voting and the trend continued in 2001.

  • It would be better if we forgot about labelling people – spite of the fact that many in the party love the bar charts that can result from this activity.
    If we are to start to make progress again we start with the members. They are the party and the building of enthusiasm is essential. We have a blueprint on the first steps to take. Of course we must not rush things, Christmas this year would be a good date to have things finalised by.
    We must recognise that the reason on so many issues we find that the majority of the population seem to agree with us and yet won’t vote for us is that in one way or another they do not believe that we stand for these things. In fact probably most of the population have no idea what the party wants to do, nor in the main do they care.
    We need to consider why it is that our vote shoots up where there is intense activity. We also need to realise that similar results are shown by other parties when they work intensively in places.
    So we are back again to the members. It must be the first priority of the leadership to communicate with the members. The leadership must also demonstrate that there are better ways of involving and consulting than is demonstrated by the present U.K. government.
    This means would must have a constitution fit for purpose.

  • David Warren 5th Sep '20 - 2:28pm

    Couldn’t agree more Tom. Having phoned a lot of members recently I can testify to the fact that many only expect to hear from us when there is an election on or we want money from them.

    The party needs to get its head round the concept that regular contact with its members is a must if we are to be successful.

  • Sue Sutherland 5th Sep '20 - 3:02pm

    Angela Rayner has already come out against a pact with us because Ed Davey was part of the coalition government which made life harder for the poor and vulnerable. I think she mentioned austerity too. We need to be able to combat this whether we want a pact or not. What were Labour’s economic proposals in 2010? We need 3 simple points that can go out in every piece of literature we deliver.

  • John Littler 5th Sep '20 - 6:47pm

    Davey was making some interesting centre left noises during the hustings, not so very different from. Layla’s which gives me some encouragement.

    Under FPTP there is no remaining political space on the centre right able to win a chuck raffle, as it is monopolised by the ever morphing Tory Party. Surely the coalition was proof of that. If the electorate want right wingery they know where to get it. Farage’s brand of it was also unable to win, even with millions of pounds donated to them by the likes of Banks and other vulture capitalists

    The public will turn to the LibDem when they show an imaginative, kinder alternative to the Tories that grabs imagination. This must not include attacks on Trade Unions or people’s ability to attend an employment Tribunal, extensions to the gig economy, privatisations, or putting millions into swinging amounts of debt, all of which were the downsides of coalition, as well as being too ready to do the Tory bidding. Yet it did not stop them targeting LibDem seats.

    People need to remember the downsides of the Tory coalition or risk repeating the sorry saga, which I fear would be terminal a second time.

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