Three top tier Lib Dem candidates to speak at the Social Liberal Forum pre-conference lunch in York 

By the end of the year and after the next general election and the prospects are that we could have 30 or more Lib Dem MPs. In fact, if Nigel Farage decides to lead the Reform party and split the right wing vote even more we could easily win more seats from the Conservatives and have over 50 MPs.

So what would our new Parliamentary party look like?

Lib Dem conference in York officially starts at 4.30pm on the Friday 15th March. So we in the Social Liberal Forum have decided to organise our “pre-conference lunch” event earlier in the day with 3 top tier candidates; Bobby Dean (Carsharlton and Wallington), Victoria Collins (Harpenden and Berkhamsted) and Josh Babarinde (Eastbourne) as speakers.

They will talk about their personal journey from deciding to join the party to becoming candidates in these very marginal seats. They will discuss the challenges ahead, winning over Leave voters (both Carshalton and Eastbourne voted to leave the EU which explains why we lost those seats in 2019) and how MPs representing the prosperous “Blue Wall” seats may be able to work to benefit people living in the deprived communities in the “Red Wall” seats. They will also share their vision of what it means to be a Lib Dem MP in 2024 and beyond.

Tickets for this event are limited and must be bought in advance. So if you want to come along then book now and take advantage of the early bird rate. Book here: 2024 Pre-conference lunch – Social Liberal Forum

* Geoff Payne is the former events organiser for Hackney Liberal Democrats

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • It’s good of these good folk to come North, but a bit of a pity nobody north of the Trent is being given a platform (though a £ 50 for a buffet they’re bringing southern prices with them).

  • Pleased to see the Social Liberal Forum emerge from the shadows. I thought you guys had ‘ceased trading!’

  • @David Raw – don’t you understand the concept of fundraising?

  • Yes, indeed, Mary Reid, I most certainly do, and after nearly sixty years of doing that I hope you will allow me to reply to that.

    It’s not what’s stated on the packet and I recently attended a fund raising Burns Supper in the Lothians for £ 15. As a former chairman of a Food Bank I know how far £ 50 (or even £ 35) has to go for so many people. I would gently suggest to the SLF that it’s worth pondering on Katharine Pindar’s comments on LDV today and reflect on how the other half live.

    To be fair, I acknowledge it’s not quite in the same bracket as the £ 1,500 per bottle of wine at a Tory Party Conference event mentioned in Chris Mullin’s recently published memoirs.

  • I really don’t care for the pessimism of the first paragraph. Most recent MRP polls have us winning around 50 seats already, and the only reason it’s not higher is because many labour voters don’t currently intend to vote tactically for us according to this analysis:

    If only we were doing a better job at appealing to labour supporters we’d probably be looking at something around 80 seats and knocking the Tories into third to become the official opposition.

    If Farrage enters the race then this raises the serious possibility of a complete wipeout for the Tories, and in that event we’d have no excuse for not winning EVERY seat where we came second to them. We should not be allowing labour to leapfrog us to first place in any of these.

  • @Geoffrey Payne I believe the 50 seats figure was for if Farage enters the race. The MRP polls I mention (two this year so far) will be based on polling data from each seat which should indicate the strength of the relevant local parties, and that’s before the campaign has really gotten underway. What they do to the raw data for these polls partly negates the effect of tactical voting so figures given for both us and labour should if anything be slight underestimates.

    Of course the picture could change if the polls narrow, but so far things have only kept getting worse for the Tories. Farage entering the race, (depending of course on just how many votes this takes from the Tories) could have the potential to blow up the election like something we’ve not previously seen.

  • @ Geoffrey Payne “We had a strong message when led by Jo Grimond, Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy, how can we recapture and improve upon our greatest moments ?”

    All three were strong charismatic Leaders, Geoffrey, so you must deduct your own conclusions from that.

  • @ Geoffrey Payne East Fife has a tradition of producing Liberal Leaders.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Mar '24 - 9:20am

    @David LG: The MRP polls suggest highly unlikely rises in the Labour share in Tory-facing Lib Dem strongholds and targets where Labour has no local organisation that would enable it to achieve such results. For instance, Labour is projected to win 17~18% of the vote, up from 5%, in Richmond Park, and the Lib Dem vote projected to fall by 7 points to ~46% (despite holding steady nationally from 2019). Living in the constituency I can tell you that isn’t going to happen. These polls don’t sample enough voters in every constituency to paint a precise picture of what voters are thinking locally, so make a lot of assumptions about swings by tribes of voters which are then applied across the board. And these assumptions tend to break down when dealing with minor parties that have pockets of local strength, with insufficient due consideration given to the local factors that make us, and not Labour, the main challengers to the Tories in the minds of many voters.

    Tactical voting becomes much more of a consideration during an election campaign, when it becomes much clearer who is actually competitive in a constituency. It’s not that voters “don’t currently intend to vote tactically” for us, rather that many don’t yet know who can win locally, and it isn’t being picked up anyway because of the polling assumptions.

  • Cllr Gordon Lishman 1st Mar '24 - 11:31am

    I suggest that David Raw’s comments might best be directed at the hoteliers and restaurateurs of York. We already know that some food and hotel prices are raised during Party Conference weeks. In this case, it seemed best to go with the hotel next to the station to accommodate people arriving by train.
    It is, incidentally, the hotel where the merger of ALC and ASLDC was negotiated in 1987 to create ALDC – perhaps even the same room!

  • @ Gordon Lishman, “the hoteliers and restaurateurs of York ” –

    Really, Gordon ? I thought Mary Reid implied it was a fund raiser. Which is it ?

    More to the point, the hotel in question – though convenient – is owned by a Florida based investment company controlled and run by a golf playing partner of (and major donor to) Donald Trump. Surprised the SLF is patronising it without researching this.

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