Welcome to my day: 2 May 2022 – “take the last train to Honiton, and I’ll meet you at the station…”

I’m old enough to remember the 1992-97 Major administration, which fell apart amidst scandal, misfortune and incompetence. Admittedly, it was incompetence which paled in comparison to that of the current mob, but many are beginning to draw the same conclusion, i.e. that this is a rotten government, simply needing a hard enough push to fall apart.

Unfortunately, I’m also old enough to remember 1992, when it looked like the Conservatives would lose, only for the electorate to conclude that they weren’t quite ready to do the deed.

But April was a sorry month for the more thoughtful Conservatives, with one MP accused on taking sizeable undeclared loans from a Russian businessman, another found guilty of sexually assaulting young men, and now a third confusing agricultural equipment with pornography. With the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer found guilty of breaching COVID regulations, and the expectation of more similar penalties to follow, the notion that these people are fit to lead is a difficult one to defend. In fairness, though, there seems to be very little impropriety that Conservative MPs won’t defend or, at least, condone.

Remember, they could act, but choose not to. That makes them complicit and thus guilty by association.

And now by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton. With the writs delayed until Parliament returns, that gives a little extra time to get the bandwagon rolling in each seat. I’m hoping to get to Devon soon, and I suspect that quite a few Liberal Democrats are studying timetables for the Waterloo to Exeter line (other routes are available) or journey times down the M5. Is Tiverton and Honiton winnable? I don’t know, but it’ll be fun trying to find out…

But all attention this week is on the local elections in England, Scotland and Wales, and the Assembly election in Northern Ireland. I was in South Cambridgeshire on Saturday at and my sense is that people are looking for the candidate best placed to beat the Conservatives. In places like South Cambridgeshire and Somerset, that’s us, but I’m not expecting the Conservative meltdown that they’re suggesting by way of expectations management.

So, three days to go, and for all of you who are candidates or campaigners, the very best of luck. Whether you win or not, I hope that you achieve your goals, and I’ll see you on the other side next week…

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

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16 Comments

  • See Ladbrokes have installed Lib Dems as 1/3 on favourities, Tories 9/4, Labour 25-1. Greens 200-1.
    Can any remember suich opening odds arising before?
    Absolutely vital we do not get complacent.

  • My recollection is that at similar stage in the North Shropshire by-election Andy Boddington was already giving details on LDV of where to gather for the first leaflet delivery. Is complacency creeping in … ?

  • Don’t forget Somerton and Frome. I know the man hasn’t resigned yet, but the Tories have apparently selected their next candidate…….

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd May '22 - 11:49am

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/neil-parish-porn-women-byelection-b2069688.html
    “A government minister has rejected calls for an all-women shortlist to find a replacemet for disgraced Tory MP Neil Parish.”

  • nigel hunter 2nd May '22 - 12:27pm

    Yes ,we must not get complacent. I note that Johnson,s Conservatives are ‘predicting’ heavy losses on Thursday.This is management talk for the areas are good ones for them.So that when the results come in they can say they have had a good run of election results.Tactics of damage limitation.

  • It will be interesting to see the approach taken by the Tories. Their complacency and allowing a long campaign helped us in Chesham & Amersham. They thought they were being smart by forcing a quick election on us in North Shropshire, but a string of bungles, a local party in disarray and party chickens coming home to roost worked in our favour.

    In North Shropshire especially there was a perfect storm of things going wrong for the Tories and things being right for us. A lot of the things that went right for us were a direct result of hard work, or things we could take advantage of because of hard work.

    Reading between the lines, it sounds as if the local Tiverton and Honiton Conservative Association were instrumental in persuading Parish to resign, so it sounds as if they are prepared to fight a by-election. Or they are complacent.

  • It’s fine to chat and speculate about it, but we can all also make a real difference – right now – to whether or not we win. Here:
    https://libdems.secure.force.com/DonationPage/donation/byelection.
    And when you’ve made your own donation, can I suggest you send this link round your local party members, with a really passionate message urging them to do the same?
    And then send it to any non-LD friends, relatives and colleagues who you know would love to see Johnson and the Tories get a kicking. Ask them to make a one-off donation here to help make it happen.
    Obviously don’t take your eye off your own local elections this week. But the T&H campaign organisers will be planning right now to get a really high-profile campaign off the ground in a few days time. I hear what folk are saying about the dangers of complacency…. Well, let’s not be complacent ourselves. :<)

  • I made a modest donation on Sunday. I’ve no idea what our actual chances are, but I want to find out, and the best way to do that is to contribute my small part to getting the campaign off to a flying start.

    And as much as I hope we win this seat, a strong challenge will pay dividends come the next general election. If we can prove, as with North Shropshire, that we’re best placed to beat the Tories, then it will help us make that same argument in this and other similar seats as we approach the next general election. I think of it as an investment in the 2024 election as much as this by-election.

  • Anthony Acton 2nd May '22 - 9:33pm

    We put up a local farmer in the 1960 Tiverton by-election and ran them very close. I remember meeting up with a young Cornish couple called David and Annette in the 1968 Honiton by election when we put up Bridget Trethewey……….that was fun.

  • Rif Winfield 3rd May '22 - 7:45am

    A quick word about Thursday’s local elections. The mechanics of voting have much changed with the widespread adoption of postal voting. It is now estimated that two-thirds of all votes cast are made by postal ballots. As postal votes have to be received by the Returning Officer at least a week ahead of Polling Day, this means that that high proportion have already been cast, and campaigners are only chasing the remaining third who will be voting in person on Thursday. The events of this final week will thus not have any effect on the majority of voters, whose ballots have already been cast, even if some of them might already be regretting their early choice.

  • John Bicknell 3rd May '22 - 8:23am

    The Lib Dems were helped in both the Chesham & Amersham and North Shropshire by elections by having strong, local, female candidates ready to take up the fight, and by the Conservative candidates being a poor choice, by comparison. It would be optimistic to expect them to make the same mistake again, and so the choice of LD candidate will be vital.

  • Maybe it’s different where you are Rif, but around here you can hand your postal vote in on the day to any polling place in the count area, or to the main council offices. Unofficially, the post office check for postal votes posted on the day too.

    I agree John that the choice of candidate is key. We can’t rely on the T&H Conservative party being as complacent or disorganised as their peers in previous by-elections.

    We had great candidates in C&A and North Shropshire. Not just candidates that would become great MPs, but candidates that were a good fit for those constituencies in those particular circumstances. Helen in particular was very visibly different to Owen Patterson. Helen comes across as very sensible, which might sometimes be seen as boring, but it became an asset when contrasted against the continuous stories of partying in Downing Street.

  • Nonconformistradical 3rd May '22 - 9:31am

    @Fiona – thanks for correcting that misinformation.

    From Rif’s posting:
    “As postal votes have to be received by the Returning Officer at least a week ahead of Polling Day….”
    There are deadlines for applying for a postal vote and for changes to an existing one but as Fiona pointed out – certainly in England one can hand a completed and sealed postal vote in at a polling station. Done it myself once.

  • Tristan Ward 3rd May '22 - 9:36am

    What we need to do is pin incompetence and venality on the whole conservative party. They voted for Johnson (to be our Prime Minister no less) knowing he was and is an unprincipled liar- and they have defended him knowing this.

    In the same way, we think of Labour as the people who thought Jeremy Corbyn was suitable to be Prime Minister.

  • Robert Hale 3rd May '22 - 12:03pm

    I would like to send a donation by cheque via the post. Do facilities exist to enable me to do that?

  • Robert Hale – yes, if you go to the donation webpage there is a section that tells you how to donate by cheque.
    https://libdems.secure.force.com/DonationPage/donation/byelection

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