Tim Pickstone: This is a rough time, but we need to get back out on the doorsteps this Summer

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)We’ve been searching for inspiring and helpful post-election emails this week. We covered Willie Rennie’s and Maajid Nawaz’s earlier. Here is what ALDC Chief Executive Tim Pickstone sent to members:

This has been, and remains, a tough few days to be a Liberal Democrat.

Losing elections is always tough. But in the last few days every single one of us has lost an election, and a good number of us have lost two.

Again we have had to lose too many hard working Liberal Democrat councillors. In too many cases now wards which were hard fought and won over many years or decades no longer have Lib Dem representation. There are council groups who have played a huge role in our Lib Dem family that either don’t exist now, or are down to a handful of members. Our MEP team that played such a huge role in our success across Britain are no longer with us bar one.

I know just how hard so many people worked and still didn’t win. I know many people will be feeling rough and we need to support each other.

We should, of course, congratulate the 407 Liberal Democrat Councillors (plus one Mayor and one MEP) who have won seats on Thursday. The vast majority of you are ALDC members. Winning anywhere is an achievement in current circumstances. so very well done.

So what now? We are a democratic Party and will obviously want to talk about what we did right, what we did wrong and what we do next. We should be under no illusion that our enemies will take every opportunity to kick us while we are down.

But, in 11 months time not just 55 MPs but 1078 Liberal Democrat councillors (that’s most of us) face election. What I have just told the ALDC staff team, is that our only priority over the next 11 months is to win as many of those elections as possible.

Being a Liberal Democrat email, it had to have 3 things to focus on for the future: let ALDC know what worked and what didn’t in your area; get together at the Liberal Democrat Local Government Conference on 28 June and get back out on those doorsteps.

Later in the week we will be sending you details of our summer door knocking campaign with artwork options suitable for local parties big or small.

Increasingly local elections seem to be won on work done the summer before – and we only have one summer before 2015 – that starts in a few days!

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  • Me again. Sorry but in many places there aint any organisation, any constituency party, hardly any active members, and if there are they are 75 and over!. We must stop kidding ourselves that this and that will do it, it will not.
    We all know the real problems, lets face them and tackle them, the public know them as well and expect us to do it. Time has all but run out.

  • Good luck with that! It seems that you really haven’t been listening to the Councillors and activists who have been ‘out on the doorsteps’ just a week ago (and were given short shrift by the electorate ). Did you not see their comments on here and on television and the reception they had received?

  • “We should be under no illusion that our enemies will take every opportunity to kick us while we are down.”

    Looking at today’s headlines and comments from senior members of the Lib Dems, I don’t think you need any ouside help with that, frankly.

  • Tony Greaves 29th May '14 - 4:12pm

    Quite so. ALDC has just choked off one of our Councillors by telling him he lost his seat this year when he got the best result we’ve had in the ward for many years.

    The question ALDC refuses to answer is – what should the small remaining number of active Liberals in most areas actually do and say when they get on the doorsteps? Until ALDC decide to go back to being about campaigning, and urge people to go out and campaign, all their exhortations are a load of wind.

    And until ALDC start to stick up again for the interests of Councillors and campaigners in the party, and stop toadying to the latest dispiriting spin from London, they may as well close down for all the use they will be.


  • Tony Greaves 29th May '14 - 4:12pm
  • edna murphy 29th May '14 - 4:18pm

    I think it can seem like leafletting and door knocking has become and end in itself!

  • Richard Dean 29th May '14 - 4:33pm

    This article has been trimmed to almost unreadable.

    Where are the spaces between paragraphs that so ease the eyes?

  • In the meantime roll on to Newark, a humiliation beyond belief awaits us. Perhaps it will be so bad that reality will finally arrive, the leader resign and we CAN move forward.

  • Paul In Twickenham 29th May '14 - 7:49pm

    Bet365 has Greens at 250/1 and LD at 500/1
    Ladbrokes offers Green, LD and the two independents all at 200/1
    But the pick is betfair who will give you 949/1 on LD win

  • theakes 29th May ’14 – 2:55pm
    —- —-in many places there aint any organisation, any constituency party, hardly any active members, and if there are they are 75 and over!. We must stop kidding ourselves that this and that will do it, it will not.

    I would like just one person from the Clegg Bunker to come blinking out into the daylight of the real world and answer theakes’ point.

    It is a week now and we still have no answer from the bunker. It is Berlin 1945. The leader has lost any grip on reality, and the yes-men , they nearly always seem to be men that surround him, pretend that there are still plenty of regiments to defend them as they issue orders to ghost teams of activists. Hollow words issued to a hollowed out party. Membership figures juggled to pretend that there is an ncrease. David Laws still pretending on TV that local election results were “mixed” — presumably a mixture of very bad and disastrous. And the leader himself riding around in his government car protected by his secret service men and maybe hoping to escape to The Bilderberg Conference without anyone here noticing.

  • John Tilley – “in many places there aint any organisation, any constituency party, hardly any active members, and if there are they are 75 and over!. We must stop kidding ourselves that this and that will do it, it will not. ”

    That’s been my experience over the last 25 years, so pretending this is some new Clegg-related phenomenon won’t cut it.

  • “That’s been my experience over the last 25 years, so pretending this is some new Clegg-related phenomenon won’t cut it.”

    Party membership 25 years ago: c. 80,000
    Party membership when Clegg was elected: 64,727
    Party membership 2014: 44,000

  • Tabman
    Will this factual information “cut it” for you — or will you deny the facts ?
    This information is well known but just in case anyone is taken in by your apparent amnesia let me recap.

    Party membership
    The number of members is dramatically reduced since 2007 when Clegg became leader.
    Thiswas discussed at legth in LDV recently . Membership is much less than half of what it was.

    The number of MPs went down by 5 at Clegg’s general election because Clegg and his personally appointed team were clueless about how to reap the benefits of Cleggmania.  They threw it away. He had promised in the leadership election to “double” the number of MPs in 2010, so he achieved less than half of that’stated Clegg target.

    Thanks to Eduardo Goncalves (https://www.libdemvoice.org/local-elections-2014-friday-afternoon-roundup-40265.html#comment-294007)
    I have slightly revised the losses for 2014 to reflect the results which have come in since.

    Nick Clegg became leader in December 2007.

    Since then the number of MEPs has gone down to 1.

    In local election results (note the decline begins before coalition, 2011 being the first coalition result)
    2008: +33 councillors
    2009: -2 councillors
    2010: -132 councillors
    2011: -748 councillors
    2012: -190 councillors
    2013: -124 councillors
    2014: -319 councillors
    (the above does not include by-election results)

    Westminster results as follows:(note the decline begins before coalition)

    a) 2010 General election: -5 seats

    b) By-elections:
    Crewe & Nantwich -4.0%
    Henley +1.8%
    Glasgow E -8.3%
    Glenrothes -10.1%
    Norwich N -2.2%
    Oldham E & Saddleworth +0.3%
    Barnsley C -13.1%
    Leicester S -4.4%
    Inverclyde -11.1%
    Feltham & Heston -7.8%
    Bradford W -7.1%
    Manchester C -17.2%
    Corby -9.5%
    Cardiff S & Penarth -11.5%
    Rotherham -13.9%
    Middlesbrough -10.0%
    Croydon N -10.5%
    Eastleigh -14.4%
    S Shields -12.8%
    Wythenshawe & Sale E -11.0%

  • John Tilley. Clegg has been swimming against the tide that turned after the Iraq war. The failure to set things up against Labour at the 2005 General election is the real problem. We should have taken 40-50 seats from then over those two elections but the work wasn’t done at 2005.

  • Tabman
    As I thought you sidestep the facts. You make bogus claims about everything being the same for 25 years and nothing to do with Clegg.
    Then when the evidence is put before you,mprovingnyounwrong, you rummage around for some new goalposts.

    Like all the Clegg clones you just cannot cope with facts can you?

  • Tony Greaves 29th May '14 - 10:47pm

    I suppose there will be a big sigh of relief if we come in fifth at Newark. I wonder what the spin issued by the PR team will tell us all to say – “No worse than the Euros, we have stopped going down and can now start to go up again”? Or some such.

    Or we could come behind Elvis, of the Loonies, or an Indy or two… Perhaps the Captains in the Wheelhouse are working again on all the possible outcomes.

    I am confident we will beat the Patriotic Socialist Party.


  • John Tilley, Tabman
    Nick Clegg made the claim about doubling the number of then MPs for the GE “after next” which will be (as the prediction was made around the time he was elected leader) the 2015 GE. I remember pressing Chris Bones hard in a small group discussion session at the Conference (it was at the time the Bones Report was being discussed) as to what the target was for the intermediate GE. Neither he nor anyone else would attempt an answer. It was already pretty obvious that what became the 2010 GE wasn’t going to be good for the Lib Dems.

    As for the claim that 2005 should have produced more gains from Labour, I remember that being the sotto voce claim by various MPs at the time for the defenestration of Kennedy (beyond the clear public accusation of out of control drinking.) Frankly, if MPs were concerned about gains of 6, or whatever being too small, how should they assess the huge losses being sustained from 2011 – 2014, and the likely losses next year? Talk about logic!

  • “I am confident we will beat the Patriotic Socialist Party.”

    A bit of a bold gamble, surely? Maybe if we got them to call themselves the Unpatriotic Socialist Party we might shore up our chances….

  • John Roffey 30th May '14 - 8:38am

    Perceptive article from Daniel Hannan in Telegraph today:

    The Lib Dems are finished – a squalid end for the heirs of the greatest party in history


  • Tim13 29th May ’14 – 11:33pm

    Fair enough Tim13. I guess it is like “Tomorrow” —– the “GE after next” never comes.

  • I am hoping Paul in Twickenham can give us the latest betting news on the Patriotic Socialist Party.

  • Paul In Twickenham 30th May '14 - 9:51am

    @JohnTilley – the PSP website news section shows that their constitution was recently approved by 93.4% to 6.6%. I could be wildly off the mark but that sounds like”15 people voted yes and 1 person voted no”. Tony Greaves is right. In a straight fight we’ll easily hold off the PSP challenge.

  • I can only speak about the group I know – Stockport. We had a gain and we had two losses. This follows the pattern we have seen since the formation of the coalition. We remain the largest group in minority control despite facing Labour and Conservatives in different wards (and both, in some).

    The Group isn’t perfect and performed no super-human feats of campaigning, but they have worked hard to get the message across and the reception on the doors is much better than most expect. That said, over the past few years people have lost despite campaigning hard. We struggle on.

    Reading some of the comments here saddens me. If all we do is fight among ourselves then we give our opponents an easy ride. There are coalition decisions I find very difficult to accept. But we need to remember why we are here (because the economy was wrecked by the banking crisis and imprudent spending by Labour) and why we are in coalition (because Labour would not negotiate and did not have enough seats).

    We need to unite behind a truly Liberal Democrat manifesto (which acknowledges and balances both centre and centre-left wings of the party) and fight those out there in the other parties. If you can’t do that, consider whether or not you are actually helping the cause of liberalism.

    Attacking Tim, someone who fights hard to represent Councillors within and beyond the party, is massively counter-productive. IMO.

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