WATCH: The fightback continues in 2017 and READ how it’s happening in the South West

A short video released by the party over the holiday period summing up the last two years. Enjoy and share.

The Guardian has been speaking to Lib Dems across the South West and report on this strong fightback in action, quoting Western Counties chair Gavin Grant:

Even in places where leave was strongest, such as Yeovil and rural south Somerset, Grant says the party believes there are enough angry remain voters to take back parliamentary seats. “Our research shows around half of the remain vote see this issue as the single most important issue,” he said.

He believes the party now also has a good chance of winning Wiltshire county council in 2017, which would mean taking more than 20 Conservative seats. “It’s a tall order but we are motivated and people are out doing the work in a way I have not seen for years.”

Ross Henley, who won last month’s Blackdown by-election with an amazing 70% of the vote was also featured:

“To be honest I thought we would run the Tories close, I never ever dreamt we would get this vote,” Henley laughed, sitting in the tiny village shop cafe. “But now morale is really high. People helped in this byelection from all over the country.”

Lib Dem strategists are pinning their hopes for rebuilding after the dire results in 2015 on a resurgence in the south-west, their former heartland, where the party lost all 10 of its seats in the last election. Since then, the party has been quietly notching up its best council byelection results in 20 years, with a net gain of 28 seats compared with net losses for Labour of four seats, Ukip of three and the Conservatives of 33 seats.

And Yeovil’s Daisy Benson talked about why this all matters:

Daisy Benson, the party’s candidate in Ashdown’s former seat in Yeovil, said the party was right to throw everything it could at even the smallest byelections. “I care about social justice and inequality but I also think that if you don’t win elections, you can’t do much about it,” she said. “When I was lead councillor for housing in Reading, I could actually change things.”

The party welcomed Amanda Broom, who worked for the local Conservative MP, last year. She talked about why she had joined and her hopes for the future:

“I thought it would be the job of my dreams,” she said. “But within two months I started to realise there was a very big difference between myself and the Conservatives and feel very uncomfortable. [Former party leader] Paddy Ashdown warned me to pull on my tin hat and said that I would get a lot of criticism. But I had over 200 letters and emails saying they understood.”

Her next target is a Ukip-held seat in the county council elections where the Lib Dems had previously come third. “Yes, we can win,” she said. “Half the time it is about the people who can get things done, and that’s definitely something I’ll be playing on.”

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  • Can we please drop this “fight back” label – we aren’t in a fight with voters, we are cage fighters, our record in coalition was patchy at best. If we don’t start moving on and accepting that some at least of the voters were right to reject our 2010-15 performance, we won’t get anywhere.

    Yes we won 45 council sets in May 2015 but we lost 336 Councillors in May 2012, the last time those seats were fought. Even on its own terms that isn’t a ‘fightback’ its a flop back on the canvass.

  • Michael Cole 5th Jan '17 - 10:26am

    “…… perhaps it is the end of the beginning.”

  • My feeling is that having discovered which part of the coalition was really to blame for our woes many voters will return to the LibDems and realise that the Tories were a bad choice.

  • Caracatus – Surely most of those 2015 elections fought in 2011, not 2012?

  • Rich Wilsher 6th Jan '17 - 10:51am

    ‘Fightback’ is utterly apt. Portrays the genuine revival underway and spirit amongst new members, moves away from our historical perception in some quarters as comfortable; nice; dulcet even AND represents the very real fight for Liberalism in general.

  • nvelope2003 6th Jan '17 - 9:21pm

    The problem for the party is that it appears to be wedded to the status quo. If Brexit turns out to be a success then its appeal will be even more reduced but that might be a long way ahead. There seems to be so much anger out there and people are desperate for something new but we have nothing new to offer. Stale remedies like nationalisation which has been tried in so many places and just lead to disaster in places like Venezuela and Cuba are no solution. The EU is squandering billions on subsidising wealthy farmers to plough up land just to keep it empty as there is no market for the food. In 40 years of membership Britain was unable or unwilling to change the system – maybe because they liked all those wealthy foreigners coming here to buy the land and kill off all the wildlife.

  • nvelope2003 6th Jan '17 - 9:33pm

    Caracatus/Caractacus?: The 45 seats were won in 2016 not 2015 – maybe not brilliant but a small step in the right direction and a great deal better than losing 336 in 2012. With the right policies we could see a dramatic increase in support similar to the rise of the SNP in 2007 as there seems to be a mood for change across the country. But there must be no talk or attempt to go into any coalition and this should be specifically ruled out even though it will upset some people. The Labour party quickly achieved office in the 1920s because the majority refused to join coalitions. When some joined the National Government in 1931 the party was reduced from 287 seats in 1929 to 52 in 1931. Sounds familiar ?

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