Welcome to my day: 17 June 2024 – and we have liftoff?…

It’s been an unexpected campaign in many ways. And whilst, as a member of the Party’s Federal Council, I’ve been fortunate to be in receipt of briefings from the centre about campaign strategy for some time, my expectations were not high. It was feeling like a bit of a grim slog to pry loose a bunch of limpet Tory MPs for, the most part, somewhere far from my corner of East Anglia. Certainly worthwhile, and certainly necessary, but not necessarily designed to make spirits soar. Discipline was, and still is, the watchword.

But, there was the consolation that we were going to be on the front foot this time. There was a sense that, even if we weren’t going to reach the heights of the turn of the century, we were going to improve our position significantly in terms of seats at least.

So, colour me surprised to find that this campaign has been far more fun than I could have dreamed of. Yes, a degree of grim determination is still in order – leaflets and canvassing don’t do themselves – but there is a certain joie de vivre that I don’t think many of us could have anticipated. Ed is seemingly living his best life which, compared to the crabbed, cautious approach of Keir and Rishi, our modern day political Chuckle Brothers, does at the very least give the impression of self-confidence and a sense of fun. And campaigns should be enjoyed. Did you have Jason Donovan describing Ed as sexy on your “bingo card” for the campaign.

Much kudos must go to the Campaigns Team who, with our social media team, have entertained and engaged us, the media and, somewhat unexpectedly, the public.

I was in Chelmsford on Saturday and, despite getting a bit wet, I got the sense of a local campaign team who are at the top of their game and quietly confident that they’ll be leaving nothing to chance. And whilst I was only delivering leaflets, I got the sense that we’ve earned a hearing that we might not have got in the past three General Elections. That does make the work feel a little less like duty and more like something you’d want to do more of.

And who would have guessed that the Conservatives would have run, so far, a hapless campaign such as to make Theresa May’s 2017 effort look like a triumph? Evidence that donations have dried up, of disunity and of a leadership team desperately defending their own seats rather than making the case across the country, makes you wonder if there’s any coming back, especially with Nigel Farage tempting their core vote with the red meat that they truly crave.

So, to now see the opinion polls showing signs of an improvement in our position – not huge, but seemingly consistent – the prospects seem promising. As long as we trust the strategy that has brought us this far.

I remember 2010, and Cleggmania. I remember targeting discipline falter and, in some places, collapse entirely. And that those extra seats that would have given us more sway in the subsequent Coalition were lost. In that sense, there’s still a place for grim determination.

And so, my best wishes and those of my colleagues, to all of you out there taking the battle to our opponents, wherever you are.

Finally, because Euro 2024 is on, I thought that a display of joyous mass participation might be in order so, courtesy of the travelling fans of the Netherlands…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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2 Comments

  • Peter Martin 17th Jun '24 - 11:06am

    Have Lib Dems noticed that Keir ”My dad was a toolmaker and worked in a factory” Starmer might be somewhat vulnerable to the right line of attack?

    He told us yet again what he father did on a Sky programme. Some in the audience laughed. Others groaned.

    Starmer actually said to them, ‘Its true!’. Then, on a following GB news interview, he said his dad would have ‘turned in his grave at this laughter’.

    And, he was obviously angry about it. But, of course the laughter wasn’t due to his dad’s job. It was entirely due to his need to say it and keep saying it. It has become the most predictable thing that KS says in longer interviews. We could make up a bingo card of things Starmer would mention in advance and tick them off as we hear them.

    The ‘toolmaker’ comment would have to be number one. How can’t he see that? It’s no disrespect to his dad. It sounds like he has some sort of inferiority complex because he didn’t attend Eton or Winchester school.

    Someone ought to tell him, “Keir, the ‘toolmaker’ comment has been flogged to death. Enough! Everyone knows what your dad did, we don’t care about that.
    It’s what you plan to do, or not to do, that bothers us.”

  • Simon Banks 18th Jun '24 - 9:29am

    Like Mark, I remember 2010. What struck me about that, was that once Cleggmania had given us a big boost, we seemed to have no strategy to exploit it. If there was a plan – Plan A, Plan B, Plan C for different situations – it didn’t show. Any well-run campaign for a local council seat moves on: we may be plugging the same three messages, but we’re doing so in slightly different ways. There has to be something new every week. In 2010 nationally, we didn’t seem to have that sort of plan, were going on as before and were getting skewered on “Who will you support in a hung parliament?”. I’m not an admirer of what passes for strategy in the party right now, but the way we’re hitting the media does seem well-planned.

    Oh, and on the video: I didn’t know an Orange march could be quite that fun.
    ver

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