What a brilliant night – “the best local elections for the Lib Dems in a generation”

Four years ago, I was utterly heartbroken at this time in the morning. Not only had we lost almost all our MPs, but we’d suffered heavy losses in the council election.

Today, after spending most of yesterday in a darkened room whimpering in pain, I wake to absolutely brilliant results. Already we are up (at the time of writing) 271 councillors and most of the results aren’t in yet.

It’s not surprising that Ed Davey described the results on BBC Breakfast as the best local elections for the Lib Dems in a generation.

Some more of the highlights:

We seem to have surprised the BBC’s political editor:

A result we knew was on the cards a few weeks ago as it was clear that the Tory vote was disappearing like snow off a dyke.

And here are the very happy councillors:

Jacob Rees-Mogg has a Lib Dem councillor now.

Yvette Cooper’s backyard now contains Liberal Democrat Councillor Tom Gordon stormed to victory from a standing start in his home ward after moving down from Newcastle.

Three times the vote of the Labour Party. 9 times the vote of the Conservatives and Greens. And all that in just a few months’ spirited and energetic campaigning.

His former colleagues in Newcastle were delighted.

And here is Councillor Gordon:


Chelmsford’s result was simply outstanding – from 5 councillors to 31 and the Conservatives falling from 52 seats to just 21.

I have never been more glad to be proved wrong as far as Hinckley and Bosworth were concerned. They thought they might pull off overall control, but I thought that was a tiny bit ambitious, even with their ace team which has been honed to perfection over the years by former Lib Dem MP for Chesterfield, Paul Holmes. But they did it. It’s a fantastic result for Michael Mullaney and the team there.

And the local results bode very well for Lib Dem PPCs – for example our own Kirsten Johnson in North Devon and Daisy Cooper in St Albans.

It was fascinating seeing Labour’s Andrew Gwynne trying to excuse their failure. It’s incredible that the official opposition is losing seats along with the worst government in living memory. It goes to show that their deliberately ambiguous position on Brexit is not getting them anywhere. In fact, their shadow trade secretary Barry Gardner gave the game away on the BBC, saying that they had been trying to help the Tories out to deliver Brexit. On the other hand, Gwynne wouldn’t answer whether they were a Brexit or a Remain party.

This makes the next couple of weeks pretty dangerous. Will the two old parties try to stitch up a deal on Brexit to try to resume the positions to which they think they are entitled.

What does all this mean? It shows that the Liberal Democrats are back on their A game. We’ve run stellar campaigns across the country and have the capacity to do very well in the European elections. And we have the best possible message – vote Liberal Democrat to stop Brexit.

The results show a party getting back to its best – and Remain voters will take that into account when they make their choices in 3 weeks time.

And Theresa May’s bad day will continue when she has to speak to the Scottish Conservatives Conference.

The results echo those joyful times in the 1990s when we stormed to victory in Labour fiefdoms where they had simply neglected their areas because they never had to work to stay in power. In Scotland, where the Lib Dems delivered STV for local government, we don’t see so much of that these days, because those fiefdoms have been swept away.

Along with Tom Gordon’s gain, we have THREE new councillors in Barnsley. And ONE in Bolsover, home of Dennis Skinner. 25 years ago we pulled off a County Council by-election gain there. It’s good to see that we are back on form.

There will be many more results to pore over later. I’m off to work now. See you later today.



* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • It wasn’t only Laura who has been blindsided the whole lot of our poltical commentators have been. John Curtice is trying to recover from his original pronouncements of UKIP surge, to the Lib Dems havn’t done that well; err we have, pity it ruins your pet theory, but there you go facts do that to theories. My particular favourite bit from Labourlist
    07.40 #LibDemFightback is now trending on Twitter. Eye roll.

    07.35 Sky News’ Tamara Cohen says “Lib Dem fightback”. Drink (coffee?).

  • The Lib Dem’s now need to build on the momentum ahead of the Euros l. We can strangle Change UK at birth and wrestle Labour to the ground. We may well be back in business today.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd May '19 - 8:48am

    Well done all everyone.
    I remember opening a newspaper to see a picture of
    Neil Kinnock 500 gains and
    Paddy Ashdown 520 gains
    but I do not remember which year that was.

  • Sir John Curtice, the BBC’s lead election analyst, told the Today programme that his analysis suggested the Lib Dem surge was not being drive by support for a second referendum. He explained:
    The Liberal Democrats used to be the traditional party of protest. And then they went into coalition with the Conservatives and they rather lost that mantle.
    It looks as though they are beginning to recover that mantle, particularly in areas where until recently they had quite a lot of strength.
    But when you actually look, is there any evidence that the Liberal Democrats are doing better in remain areas than in leave areas? The truth is that the evidence seems to be lacking.
    So it seems easier to interpret this as evidence of Liberal Democrats recovering from the coalition, being the party of protest, and that’s the basis of their success, rather than necessarily a rush of enthusiasm for the idea of a second EU referendum.

    A great night but remember the party has been here before. The party had built its national standing on the back of great work by local councillors; please try and ensure that the follies of 2010-15 are not repeated

  • Some further quotes (see the last thread for some more 🙂 !:

    Lewis Goodalll, Political Correspondent, Sky News: “Vince Cable – turns out he is the star of the night. The titan of British politics!”

    Lewis Goodall, Sky News: “Labour and the Conservatives are much disliked – well I suppose we didn’t need these elections to tell us that – did we? What is more striking is Labour after 9 years in opposition aren’t making headway against the Conservatives. Tonight is the first time when I think we can say Labour’s Brexit strategy has cost it votes. Tonight it has really started to cost them votes.”

    Brandon Lewis, chair of the Conservative party: “This is a tough night”.

    Adam Boulton, Sky News: “Labour absolutely in the doldrums.”

    and I put in my last comment but I like it :)!!!!!

    “Lewis Goddall on Sky News: “This does pose a bit of a problem for parties like Change UK. They have been set up because they say the Lib Dems aren’t doing very well. If this is anything to go by, the Lib Dems really have some life left in them. You really have to ask yourself what is the point of parties like Change UK.”

  • I’d forgotten what it feels like to have a great election night. It’s a feeling I could get used to again. Some of these breakthrough results are eye-watering but look behind the headlines too – there are very few councils where we haven’t made progress.
    I’m sure the usual LDV suspects will be along shortly to say how this is really a bad night for us. Don’t listen to them. This is the kind of success that comes from hard work and the right strategy. Let’s keep both going!

  • In 2015 Conservatives and Labour dominated the election. In these early signs so far we might be seeing that those days are over.
    When I look at voting figures for Labour and the Conservatives and compare them to last year, I am looking at a lot of minus signs.
    I’m looking at a lot of plus signs for the Greens.
    I’m seeing UKIP clearly stronger than they were in 2016 and 2017.
    And the Lib Dems are not spectacular but they have rather more pluses than minuses.
    The message of the opinion polls has been that both Conservatives and Labour have been losing ground because of the Brexit impasse.
    That may be confirmed by the end of the night.

    On the BBC

    Also on the BBC

    Liberal Democrat 564 +304
    UKIP 17 -54

  • marcstevens 3rd May '19 - 9:44am

    It’s great news for all the Lib Dem councillors elected and I would like to personally congratulate them on this site. it’s even more of a surprise that Labour are losing so many seats when they were predicted to make 100s of gains. It’s also a triumph for social liberalism and the community politics the party now espouses which it used to do so successfully before the coalition. The party should now move forward to the EP elections with renewed vigour and confidence.

  • @expats

    With respect to the sainted Sir John Curtice who is normally right he isn’t here if you quote him correctly IMHO.

    The point he seems to ignore is that there are a large number of Remain voter in Leave areas – even more:
    1.Because of lower turnout in locals
    2.People have been moving to Remain quicker in Leave areas than Remain (source: Survation)
    3. Leavers (most likely) staying at home more and just not voting.

    And obviously Tories and to a large degree Labour have managed almost the impossible and united both Leavers and Remainers against them!!!

  • @expats

    Having heard Sir John Curtice on BBC News TV I have slightly more sympathy for his point – but see above! But it depends how you view it – a negative for one side is a positive for another and as I say you can either say that they Remainers are voting against Conservatives and Labour or for the Lib Dems.

    This though is a problem for Lib Dems. I was going to write that Brexit won’t be an issue in 4 years time. It will be – but those elected may well have to work their socks off to get re-elected then!

  • Michael 1 3rd May ’19 – 9:50am…expats, With respect to the sainted Sir John Curtice who is normally right he isn’t here if you quote him correctly IMHO….

    May I suggest you listen to a recording of the ‘Today’ interview for yourself.

    AS for…”And obviously Tories and to a large degree Labour have managed almost the impossible and united both Leavers and Remainers against them!!!

    Not impossible; it was always the most likely scenario.

    ‘Leavers’ will not be happy because it doesn’t wholly satisfy their aspirations, ‘Remainers’ for the same reason. Result…. they don’t bother to vote for either of their traditional parties and either stay away or protest through a third party.

  • Barry Lofty 3rd May '19 - 10:24am

    Whatever the reasons whatever the cause I am over the moon with the results so far and look forward to more of the same during the day. I do not care about four years into the future lets prove we are worthy of the support we have gained today.

  • @expats

    As I say I have slightly amended my view on Sir John Curtice’s point but still disagree with him for the reasons outlined.

    AS for…”And obviously Tories and to a large degree Labour have managed almost the impossible and united both Leavers and Remainers against them!!!

    Not impossible; it was always the most likely scenario.

    Actually no. Until the beginning of April the Tories were polling 40% and have now crashed to 25%. If the had got a deal through they would have had most Leavers and may be some Remainers.

    Equally Labour are fast losing Remainers through not promising a confirmatory referendum and indeed Leavers as well. Well it may have served them well for a while, they are neither fish nor fowl for many people.

  • Congratulations to the new councillors!

  • John Probert 3rd May '19 - 10:43am

    At last there’s something big for us to celebrate!

    “For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
    Seem here no painful inch to gain,
    Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

    “And not by eastern windows only,
    When daylight comes, comes in the light;
    In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
    But westward, look, the land is bright!”


  • It was a good night for the LD’s and no doubt there will be much more cause for celebration throughout the day as the rest of the results come in.

    It would be foolish though for remainers to start trumpeting that these results prove that exit from brexit or calls for a 2nd referendum have resonated with the electorate and are proof that the country has changed it’s mind.

    Leave voters in their millions have either decided not to vote or have spoilt their ballot papers in these elections. I suspect that if the Brexit Party had been contesting these local elections, the results would have been very different.

    I only had the choice to vote between 2 parties, Tories or Conservative, I refused to vote at this local election, because i really detest it when elections held in circumstances such as these, parties use the result as vindication for their stance on Brexit.
    Well, I was not prepared to have my vote in a “local election” used as vindication to any party on Brexit, hence the reason for me staying home.

    It will be interesting to see what overall turn out is.

    I suspect we will be seeing a very different set of results in the Euros in a couple of weeks time, with the Brexit Party coming out as the largest party.

    Still a very good night for Liberal Democrats, I hope they use this opportunity to build on local issues and on Central Government. It would be a shame to see them squander this opportunity by making this all about Brexit

  • Michael 1 3rd May ’19 – 10:27am
    @expats….If the had got a deal through they would have had most Leavers and may be some Remainers….

    But it didn’t; so the resulting losses were the most likely outcome…

  • Peter Watson 3rd May '19 - 10:58am

    I’m surprised nobody has commented on the huge rise in the number of independent councillors, which for me is the story of the results so far.
    I’ve no idea if there is any sort of trend there, though I noticed a few disgruntled UKIP types and quite a lot of residents opposed to the building of new homes.

  • Yeovil Yokel 3rd May '19 - 11:00am

    I’m enjoying the risible spectacle of some senior Labour and especially Tory politicians arguing that the message from the night’s results is that Brexit needs to be delivered faster, as if all those voters switching to the LD’s and Greens are desperate to quit the EU.

    John Probert – who is the poet, sounds a bit like John Masefield?

  • Sue Sutherland 3rd May '19 - 11:36am

    Make no mistake, this is a brilliant result for the Lib Dems ! We have done what we wanted to do and used the hard work of many local activists to deliver a strong message that the Lib Dems are back! It looks as if the electorate are very pleased that they have us to vote for again because of the way they have greeted activists on the doorstep in many different areas. This is not a protest vote, this is a springboard for the Euros and the next General Election. The electorate were waiting for us to knock on their doors so let’s keep on knocking.

  • OnceALibDem 3rd May '19 - 11:59am

    “The point he seems to ignore is that there are a large number of Remain voter in Leave areas – even more:”

    Totally agree – the gains in area X which voted for Brexit is a really flawed analysis for all those reasons. You simply can’t compare a 72% turnout election with a likely sub 30% turnout. In the latter differential turnout becomes a huge factor.

    Besides the raw numbers these are impressive results for the party as for the first time you are seeing Lib Dem gains in a significant number of areas where the party’s strength didn’t survive the coalition years

  • Dilettante Eye 3rd May '19 - 12:23pm

    @ expats
    “Result…. they don’t bother to vote for either of their traditional parties and either stay away or protest through a third party.”

    @ matt
    “Leave voters in their millions have either decided not to vote or have spoilt their ballot papers in these elections….”

    This is precisely what happened yesterday.

    For me, with a choice of Con, Lab, Lib and Ukip, I didn’t bother to put my shoes on and go to vote.

    Chelmsford is a prime example of how this skews the analysis. Chelmsford is a leave area, but Lib Dems had a massive win there yesterday. That doesn’t make sense until you look closer.

    Lib Dems (remainers) actually bothered to turn out in Chelmsford, and Chelmsford leave-voters (as expats and matt correctly identify), either stayed home, voted independent or spoiled their ballot paper.

    So the curious Lib Dem Chelmsford win, is a bit like saying we (Team remain) won the match because the other (Team leave) didn’t show up.

    This also explains the massive win of independent councillors, as a temporary protest home for angry leavers who did bother to turn out and voted independent instead of spoiling their ballot paper.

    So congratulations to all those Lib Dem councillors now planning how to fill local pot-holes, but maybe the greater question from yesterday’s ‘leave-no-show’ ought to be :-

    Are ‘Team-leave’ voters ‘keeping their powder dry’ in order to show up in force for the big play-off match in the EU elections?

  • John Marriott 3rd May '19 - 12:33pm

    I know that you Brexit obsessives can’t get the idea out of your minds; but these elections were not a litmus test on Remain v Leave, although undoubtedly it played a rôle in how some people voted. They were really about electing people to run services for their local communities. Setting aside the EU Parliamentary Elections for a moment, which, incidentally, are still not 100% certain to happen on these islands, let the party, after having given itself a pat on the back, concentrate on building on this undoubted triumph against many odds. That means making a real success of those councils it has retained, taken over or in whose running it has become a major player. Winning is never easy for a ‘third party’; but making people want to continue to support it into the future means making tough decisions at times and occasionally getting your hands dirty.

    I make no secret of the fact that I want to see local government restored to the position of importance in people’s lives that it used to occupy before its emasculation began many decades ago. As far as England is concerned that has got to mean replacing all remaining District and County Councils with Unitary Authorities, which is more or less what I wrote on the ballot paper I spoiled yesterday, when my only choice was between a Conservative and a ‘Con dependant’.

  • Sue Sutherland 3rd May '19 - 1:23pm

    Making residents want to carry on supporting us means making their lives better which is a reward in itself. We have had an amazing result so I’m hoping that our party will have the courage to speak out to all those people who voted Brexit to make their lives better. The traditional Labour voters need us otherwise they will be caught in the Farage Brexit party net. This will not make their lives better. We have to show them what the EU has done for them and how the leading Brexiters are using them to make sure wealth and power remain in the hands of the toffs. We must show them how our policies will give them and their children and grandchildren a better life with a fair chance at the success that is denied them now.

  • Turn out is roughly that which was expected in a normal council election, so the army of voters Dilly thinks will rush out and vote for his Alfie Boe party just are not there. Now those that vote may decide to vote Alfie Boe , rather than Tory, Labour or any other party, but people who vote in local elections tend to vote those that don’t vote don’t tend to change their minds. So if poor Dilly thinks there are a legion of voters enthused to vote in local elections on the sole issue Brexit ( and of cause a love of Alfie) he is rather delusional.

    For info the Brexit Party will always be the Alfie Boe party to me, after Dilly provided the information that those that attended his Brexit rally would look the same as an Alfie Boe concert. I do feel a bit sorry Alfie is forever stuck in my head attached to an image of the Brexit party, but when things stick they stick.

  • Kevin Maher 3rd May '19 - 1:44pm

    Former Chesterfield MP Paul Holmes has been elected to Chesterfield Borough Council, although the ward he now represents is outside of his old constituency.

  • Peter Watson 3rd May '19 - 1:49pm

    @Dilettante Eye “congratulations to all those Lib Dem councillors now planning how to fill local pot-holes”
    Indeed … for a lot of people that’s exactly what we want them to do.
    I don’t care whether my local councillors support Brexit or not, I just want them to be good at managing and improving local services and facilities.
    The European elections are an opportunity to use a vote to make a statement without any significant consequences, but the local elections are more important than that!

  • @Peter Watson

    “The European elections are an opportunity to use a vote to make a statement without any significant consequences, but the local elections are more important than that!”

    I agree, the problem with these local elections though was, parties were and are using peoples votes as an endorsement for their stance on Brexit. As a result, I felt as though I could not vote in this election as I refuse to have my vote used as an endorsement in this way.
    It felt very strange to me not voting this time round, though I take comfort in knowing that I will be able to express my view on Brexit in a couple of weeks time, should the European elections go ahead

  • Paul Barker 3rd May '19 - 2:36pm

    Brexit is obviously a factor in these Elections but not always in obvious ways, a lot of Leave Voters disagree with us but respect our honesty & enthusiasm. Labours policy of pretence has run out of road.
    Perhaps the most striking message from yesterday is that Britain is back to the slow decline of the 2 Party Vote, something that’s been going on in the background for 70 Years. The task now is to unite the Progressive, Centre-Left Vote, we can’t do that all on our own.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd May '19 - 2:59pm

    First of all, congratulations to the new Liberal Democrat Councillors, commiserations to the losing candidates.

    I have of course read stories that some people have been abusive to candidates on the doorstep, but personally, I don’t vote in local elections using the same criteria when placing my vote that I use for voting in national elections. I therefore think it unwise to draw conclusions about support for Brexit or otherwise from local results.

  • @Paul Walter

    “Oh. So the European parliament is a big democratic deal after all?”

    I wouldn’t say that at all, however, that doesn’t mean if these EU elections go ahead, or, if indeed we end up staying in the EU, we shouldn’t get as many Brexit backing MEP’s elected as possible to be a thorn in the side of the democratic deficit EU Commission.
    The worse thing that could ever happen in the UK EU elections , is if it ended up being filled with a bunch of Europhile MEP’s, that certainly would never heal the divides and bring the country back together.

  • Peter Martin 3rd May '19 - 4:25pm

    @Paul Walter @ matt

    “Oh. So the European parliament is a big democratic deal after all?”

    I was just listening to Yanis Varoufakis talking about what is often known as the “democratic deficit” in the EU. He thought that wasn’t a very useful term. He likened it to the oxygen deficit on the Moon! Maybe he was being a little harsh! But not much.

    It’s all very well having elections, but they only create democracy if the elected representives have the power to change anything. According to YV the quote “Elections cannot be allowed to change economic policy” mentioned in this article came directly from the German finance minister. Herr Wolfgang Schauble.


  • Where’s Silvio today, with his customary prophecies of doom for the Lib Dems?

  • Dilettante Eye 3rd May '19 - 5:33pm

    “Oh. So the European parliament is a big democratic deal after all?”

    Yes absolutely, it’s a proxy 2nd referendum, but without the disgraceful attempts by remainers to stitch up the ballot paper with options such as:-

    1. Remain
    2. Stay
    3. Don’t Exit
    4. Keep the Status Quo
    5. Pretend the referendum in June 2016 never happened.
    6. Mays deal even though it’s not even close to Brexit
    7. Oh look, a squirrel.

  • There never was going to be any other solution to the media “Don’t mention the Lib Dems” fetish.

  • Paul Barker 3rd May '19 - 6:31pm

    The BBC have released their version of an Equivalent National Vote :
    Tories. 28%
    Labour 28%
    LDs. 19%
    A lot of commenters misunderstand these estimates, thinking that they are some sort of average of the Seats a Party stands in. In fact they average all the seats, where a Party stands & where they don’t. If we had stood in more than half the Seats we would have got even more Votes. We can’t know how many more.
    If we were to weight those BBC figures in line with how many Seats the 3 Parties stood in, the result would be something like :
    Con. 23%
    Lab. 26%
    LDs. 25%
    Thats not a prediction, its to give an idea of how well we could do if we gave more Voters the chance to Vote for us.

  • OnceALibDem 3rd May '19 - 6:43pm

    I’m not sure that’s correct Paul (unless the BBC have worked out something different)

    See – https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/measures-that-estimate-how-local-election-results-translate-into-general-support-do-not-always-track-opinion-polls-closely/

    “So perhaps the best indicators for what the local elections tell us about how the parties are faring generally are what the BBC calls the Projected National Share of the vote (PNS) and what Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher in The Sunday Times call the National Equivalent share of the Vote (NEV). Both of these essentially aim to be the same thing, an estimate of what the share of the vote would have been if (1) all parts of Great Britain had local elections and (2) the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats fielded candidates in all wards/divisions. The idea of these conditions is to provide statistics that are broadly comparable with the circumstances in general elections.”

  • Peter Watson 3rd May '19 - 7:02pm

    @OnceALibDem “”I’m not sure that’s correct Paul (unless the BBC have worked out something different)”
    I agree, Once(?): a BBC news article about the results (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48142181) states,

    The BBC projects that, if results it analysed were replicated across Britain, both the Conservatives and Labour would get 28% of the total vote.
    The analysis, based on 650 wards in which detailed voting figures were collected, implies the Lib Dems would get 19% and other parties and independents 25%.

  • Peter Watson 3rd May '19 - 7:41pm

    @Sean Hagan “Where’s Silvio today, with his customary prophecies of doom for the Lib Dems?”
    OK, playing Devil’s advocate here (hopefully to prompt some interesting discussion, so please ignore this if it comes across as trolling) but a few points that may or may not be valid …
    Going back over the last three local elections on a four year cycle, the BBC website reports Lib Dem losses of councillors in England of 411 in 2015, 748 in 2011, and 246 in 2007. So on the face of it, less than 1100 gains yesterday still leaves the party with nett losses compared with the situation going into the local elections at the end of the first year of Coalition and a fair way from the giddy heights of 2003.
    Given the parlous state of the Tories and Labour, at 19%, the projected national share of the vote is not a massive leap from last year’s disappointing 16%, and may even reflect success in getting out the vote (especially if turnout is low and Lab/Con voters stayed at home) rather than a gaining of new votes or the return of former voters.
    The huge rise in the number of independent councillors (and councils) suggests that a “plague on all your houses” (plus a bit of NIMBY opposition to new home development) might have been a very significant factor in all of the results.
    The positive publicity is great going into the European elections, but the Greens are also getting a lot of good coverage and Change UK will probably be making strenuous efforts to get back into the headlines, so the Remain vote could still be split and Lib Dems might not reap the rewards of yesterday’s results.
    There’s no escaping the fact that yesterday’s results are a great opportunity for the party to work hard and show what it can do in local government, providing a good platform on which to build. But it seems more like a departure than a destination (where have I heard that before? 🙂 ), definitely a very big step in the right direction but effort is still necessary to ensure that the party does not slip backwards.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd May '19 - 8:17pm

    Well done everyone! I started voting Lib Dem in 2012. Best result I’ve seen the party get since I started following Lib Dem politics. Makes you proud to be a member and now we can laugh at Change UK who thought we were irrelevant and wanted to destroy us rather than co-operate. Hopefully these results can give us an EU election bounce.

  • And with the final result, Waverley BC, come 14 gains from 0 last time… and we reach 700 gains…

  • Yeovil Yokel 3rd May '19 - 8:54pm

    Final result highlights for the 248 English Councils:
    Tories lose control of 44 Councils and lose 1331 Councillors;
    Lib Dems gain 10 Councils and 700 (yes, Seven Hundred) Councillors.
    Not Bad.
    Now for the Euros……….

  • marcstevens 3rd May '19 - 9:08pm

    That’s incredible, 700 who would’ve thunk it. Just goes to show what hard working people on the ground can achieve, the results for the Party have made me so happy today and none of the doomsayers on here can spoil it.

  • @Paul Barker: “If we had stood in more than half the Seats we would have got even more Votes. We can’t know how many more.”
    Absolutely right. The only downside to leafing through the results today has been finding areas where we didn’t stand. Including some places where we’d stood last time and got decent votes. I hope those local parties are reflecting today about whether they made the right decision.

  • Roland Postle 3rd May '19 - 9:31pm

    @ Peter Watson
    “I’m surprised nobody has commented on the huge rise in the number of independent councillors, which for me is the story of the results so far. I’ve no idea if there is any sort of trend there”

    One trend I think is local groups’ increasing use of social media to organise and campaign. Here in Cheshire East independents have made big gains (helping shift council from Tory to NOC for the first time) but they have been gaining support for many years now and they work quite hard to get visibility between elections. No doubt it’s helped them that Tories have looked so incompetent nationally and locally here, but I don’t think it can be characterised as Leavers looking around for a protest vote. It’s more a desire for uncomplicated local politics and a sense that the seats have been taken for granted by Tories for too long.

    They don’t necessarily have staying power. One of the residents groups who’ve done well in the past in Middlewich appear to have been trounced by a determined Labour push, against the trend. So they may represent fertile ground for further LD fightback in future.

    Anyway, well done to all the new Lib Dem councillors and those that helped this happen. Really, really impressive!

  • Well done.

    LDs need to pick their next leader carefully.

    Would be crazy to oppose a C&S deal with Labour which gives: Lords reform; PR for local elections plus other constitutional reform. Preferring to wait for another Cameron to come along and screw the party.

  • Paul Holmes 3rd May '19 - 9:56pm

    Caron, thanks for the praise but I really can’t take credit for ‘honing the ‘Hinckley and Bosworth team’ although I did work with them for a year or two. Stuart Bray and Michael Mullaney are fantastic team who know exactly what they are doing.

    I’ll take credit though for planning and campaign managing yesterday’s 8 gains in Chesterfield (up from 9-17). Seven from Labour and one from UKIP. Frustratingly we missed our final Target by just one vote after a bundle check followed by two long recounts.

  • Bill le Breton 4th May '19 - 7:17am

    Saw one of Ed’s tweets that mentioned your win, Paul, and it gave me huge pleasure. How was the targeting strategy 😉

  • Dilettante Eye 4th May '19 - 12:12pm


    “Turn out is roughly that which was expected in a normal council election, so the army of voters Dilly thinks will rush out and vote for his Alfie Boe party just are not there.”

    Well we only need wait for three weeks to see if you are correct?

  • nvelope2003 4th May '19 - 5:03pm

    Diletttante Eye: Do not be fooled by people who photograph their spoilt ballot paper and put the photo online. Some quite old people seem never to have voted before. A look at the detailed ward by ward counts show about 4 – 5 spoilt papers per ward (about normal) which tallies with the BBC claim of 35,000 spoilt papers divided by about 8,400 councillors. Based on turnout there must have been millions of voters who did their duty.
    I think Chelmsford was a place where Liberal Democrats had often done well in the past so their success was not surprising in a year when the party did very well elsewhere.
    As you say if the European elections do take place it will be the moment of truth for both Remain and Leave.

  • Paul Holmes 4th May '19 - 11:37pm

    Hi Bill,

    The Targeting Strategy worked very well. Last year we identified 7 Wards to Target for 18 Cllrs and on Thursday we won those 7 Wards, missing the 18th Cllr by 1 vote.

    Highest number of gains from Labour of any area in England I believe. Plus 1 from UKIP.

  • Dilettante Eye 5th May '19 - 9:46am


    “Based on turnout there must have been millions of voters who did their duty.”

    If your council elections ballot paper had (in your opinion), no-one who you deem fit for council office, then it is your duty to refuse to endorse someone who is unsuitable.
    So as pointed out earlier by myself and others:

    The ‘Team leave’ vote (as was their duty), either didn’t turn out, to endorse unsuitable candidates, or they voted for an independent, or spoiled their ballot in protest.

    The ‘Team remain’ vote (as was their duty), plonked their vote for Lib Dems or Green, as endorsing a councillor of their choice and an affirmation of their remain stance.

    But to claim this ‘vote count’ as a win for ‘Team remain’, when ‘Team leave’, plainly just didn’t show up for the match, is (IMO), an absurd analysis.

    I suppose the general point is that some here see these council election results as resurgence of Lib Dems and of the increased remain mood? I don’t believe that is the case, but we don’t have long to wait for confirmation either way, in three weeks.

    The EU election will be the real test of the (three years on!), leave/remain mood, and presently the choices (as a proxy 2nd referendum) are:
    Remain in the EU vote: Lib Dems, Green, ChUK.
    Leave the EU vote: Brexit Party, Ukip

  • @Dilettante Eye – So as pointed out earlier by myself and others:
    The ‘Team leave’ vote (as was their duty), either didn’t turn out, to endorse unsuitable candidates, or they voted for an independent, or spoiled their ballot in protest.

    Okay, lets now apply that logic to the referendum result… Remind me again why the government is fixated on implementing a result that only 1-in-3 actually voted for – claiming it is “the will of the people”?

  • Dilettante Eye 5th May '19 - 10:48am


    I really don’t get your point, when the obvious answer to a binary choice of options with a win for the greatest number of votes cast was:-

    17.4 million leave voters turned up ! and won.
    16.1 million remain voters turned up ! but lost.

    Seriously, whatever point you’re trying to make is a little opaque.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th May '19 - 3:55pm

    Is leaving or remaining in the EU the thing most people in this country are most concerned about? I don’t think so. So we should not just be getting vote from those who voted Remain, but also working to get votes from those who voted Leave.

    We need to point out that Leave has not happened not because those MPs who wanted Remain have blocked it, but because those who supported Leave have turned out to have contradictory forms of Leave they wanted. A proportion of those who supported Leave did so on the basis that we would form a trade agreement similar to that of Norway or Switzerland, and refused to support Leave when it would be with no agreement, they would rather stay in the EU than leave with no deal. However, others who wanted “Hard Brexit” would rather stay in the EU than have that sort of agreement, on the grounds that this “Soft Brexit” is like staying in the EU but losing the say in what it does. When Theresa May worked out what was probably the only achievable compromise between these two, both Hard and Soft Brexiteers opposed that.

    So there is no real majority for Leave, because whatever form it takes, a majority oppose it and would rather stay in the EU than have that form. That is why we need to have a second referendum, so the people of this country can finalise what form of Leave they want, or Remain if it turns out there is no form that can get a people’s majority. Of course it requires an AV vote to do that – the three forms of Brexit plus Remain, put them in your order of preference.

    Most ordinary people who voted Leave, however, did so not because of any deep understanding of hat it really meant, but because they were unhappy about the way our country has developed since the 1970s, with power shifting to international billionaires. We need to show sympathy with that, and explain it is actually more to do with the Conservatives pushing us down an extreme free market form than membership of the EU – and the Conservative Hard Brexiteers want it because they want to push us even further down that way. Pointing that out, I think, would win us a significant proportion of those who voted Leave.

    Then just wipe it out by saying what a waste of time it has taken because the Brexiteers were being unrealistic and have just messed everything up by trying to push it without a clear explanation of what it actually means.

  • Dilettante Eye: The voters in certain areas had a good opportunity to express their support for Leave by voting UKIP but UKIP lost most of their seats while overtly Remain Parties such as the Liberal Democrats and the Greens gained record numbers of seats. What conclusion should we draw from that ? Apparently the Conservative and Labour parties and their millionaire supporters in the press claim it shows that the voters want Brexit speeded up ! With that kind of logic I think we can assume that when the 17.4 million voters voted Leave they really meant Remain so maybe we should end this expensive and time wasting farce by remaining. I think most people would breathe a sigh of relief and the rest could go to the Wetherspoon pub to get over it and help reimburse its owner’s generous contributions to his favourite cause.

  • nvelope2003 5th May '19 - 5:11pm

    Matthew Huntbach: Thank you for your analysis. Why did all those expensive pundits and politicians not work that out ?

  • We’ll see what happens in the Euro elections. Despite the triumphant tone on here more people actually voted for the unambiguously Leave Conservatives and the ambiguous Labour. They didn’t vote UKIP, but I suspect that’s because they now field characters like Tommy Robinson. I voted Lib Dem in the local elections.

  • Dilettante Eye 5th May '19 - 5:53pm

    “The voters in certain areas had a good opportunity to express their support for Leave by voting UKIP”

    I also had that ‘opportunity’ to vote Ukip, but frankly I didn’t think it worth the shoe leather, just to choose a Ukip councillor to manage the emptying of bins, when the incumbent is doing perfectly fine.

    There is a whole world of difference between voting for who manages pot-holes and bin emptying, and whether or not you vote to reclaim sovereignty over your country’s future direction?

    If liberals enjoy emptying bins and they’re good at it, I say don’t stand in their way, but candidly I’ll save the shoe leather for the important stuff, like campaigning for Brexit and the return of UK sovereignty.

  • @n
    UKIP have lurched so far to the right and with the unpleasantness of the likes of Tommy Robinson, many “Brexiteers” cannot bring themselves to vote for them.
    Not all us staunch brexiteers are on the right let alone the far right.

    The Independents did extremely well in these elections, which tells me that a lot of people did want to use their vote by sending a message to the Government and other parties (Anyone but you)
    I personally chose to withheld my vote, but then I did not have an independent candidate to chose from.

    If the Brexit party had of been standing candidates in these elections, the voting tactics and outcome would have looked very different.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th May '19 - 12:42am

    nvelope 2003: Thanks. I have tried my best to suggest in Liberal Democrat Voice what the party should do to deal with the difficult situations it has had since the awkward election result of 2010. It has done almost the exact opposite of what I have suggested, and been extremely damaged because of that.

    I’m a small and quiet person from a working class background. You’ve got to be the opposite of that to become a pundit or top politician. Nick Clegg is the classic example of that. I can’t even afford now to be actively involved in politics, given that I have to work hard in my job to make a living.

  • Roland 5th May ’19 – 10:03am……………..Okay, lets now apply that logic to the referendum result… Remind me again why the government is fixated on implementing a result that only 1-in-3 actually voted for – claiming it is “the will of the people”?…

    Or why not apply the same logic to the local elections where only about 1 in 3 actually turned out to vote for anyone.
    Umpteen threads are devoted to the honour the ‘greatest comeback since Lazarus’ when the result suits.

    My problem with the whole Brexit issue is that Tories decry the reasoning of the 48% who voted ‘Remain’ whilst LibDems decry the reasoning of the 52% who voted ‘Leave’.

    At some point this country will have to come together; whether by leaving under the least damaging agreement or, as is my choice, remaining. Using derogatory terms like “Stitch-up” for negotiations when (no matter how you feel), the result of the referendum authorised, is unhelpful, to say the least..

  • Bill le Breton 6th May '19 - 10:17am

    What @MatthewHuntbach writes always bears careful consideration. We are in very uncertain times. It is easy to try and ‘read’ public opinion and to weaponize facts in our arguments.

    There is a big decision for Liberal Democrats to make and it perhaps is not the one you think I am referring to.

    In an election when a couple of political forces were absent, the Brexit Party and Change UK the Tories and Labour scored across the piste 28% each. That said, the election has at least exposed the true extent of Labour and the Conservative Party’s electoral bases. From such a position there is good reason to think that each Party can only go in two directions; up or down. Stasis is most unlikely.

    So, the Lib Dems (and perhaps others) are in the electoral market for large chunks of those bases (if they were to fall further in numbers and we were the agents of that fall).

    It may be tempting but you can’t choose to go for both of those pools of potential voters, you have to choose. You have to position yourself to appeal (broadly) for one of these populations. And it helps if that position does not put-off those who made up the boost in our overall % on Thursday from circa 10% to 19%. So … knowing who and why people came to us on Thursday are and who else will be targeting these people.

    You may groan when you read this, but Clegg and his coterie specifically targeted the Tory voter who they thought would provide a new 25% base for us in the period around 2010-15. That was a huge mistake.

    We are on the threshold of a similar choice. We must NOT make the same mistake.

  • Bill le Breton 6th May '19 - 10:34am

    Matthew is right that the contest to win more votes will not be won by a Brexit or Confirmatory Referendum position alone. People did not vote for Churchill in 1945 because he was right and inspirational in 1940. They voted for a new dispensation.

    That is not the Clegg/Blair/ Cameron dispensation. ChangeUK will go for that ‘population’ and I am not sure there will be so many people wanting that in (say) 2022 or after a (let us assume) successful exit to Brexit. Which is why we must NOT line up with ChangeUK in (say) 2022 with some kind of electoral pact/joint leadership. Our fertile ground is very different, our appeal must be different, our appeal is naturally different. That way lies austerity, benefit caps, bedroom taxes, the minimal state and all that stuff that we got associated with between between 2007 and 2015.

    The Brexit Party or its post ‘successful’ Exit from Brexit form will consume the rest or almost all the rest of the Tory vote. The drawbridge up vote.

    Once again, we face the chance or reversing the shift from Liberal to Labour in the C20th … in short of replacing Labour as the Party that represents, organises and leads those who stand for Liberty, Equality and Community a la our Consitution.

    Liberty does not come for individualism. No one finds Liberty on their own. Nobody has Liberty unless everyone has Liberty and an equal pool of opportunities and life chances to choose from.

  • Peter Martin 6th May '19 - 11:03am

    “Most ordinary people who voted Leave, however, did so not because of any deep understanding of what it really meant, but because they were unhappy about the way our country has developed since the 1970s, with power shifting to international billionaires. We need to show sympathy with that, and explain………….”

    More patronising of the uneducated masses?

    I’d like to be there when you actually tried out this approach on the proverbial doorstep. What is going to be your comeback when you’re told where to stick your “sympathy”?

  • Nonconformistradical 6th May '19 - 11:11am

    “The other three issues – apart from Brexit – that are bubbling away and on which the Lib Dems need to be clearer on are,

    1. increasing inequality,

    2. the growing problem of elderly social care and, of course,

    3. climate change.

    Low tax right wing austerity based policies will not address these issues….. but they need addressing.”

    Seconded although I’m not sure about the priority – that is, if the numbering is intended to serve as a prioritisation

  • @ Nonconformist No obvious priority intended – how long an essay do you want ? Fact is the party has said not a lot of any real thought about any of them.

    All are important, all need effort and radical thought. I want an orchestral performance not a one trick pony dancing to a one man band……. and much more convincing that this party is capable of doing it.

    It’s much more profound than taking a firm stand on a few potholes and dog mess. (Think that one through).

  • Peter Watson 6th May '19 - 11:34am

    Peter Martin “’Most ordinary people who voted Leave, however, did so not because of any deep understanding of what it really meant …‘ More patronising of the uneducated masses?”
    If it’s any consolation, I suspect that most ordinary people who voted Remain also did so without any deep understanding of what it really meant!
    Gut-feeling combined with either unhappiness with the status quo or a fear of rocking the boat probably played a greater part on each side of the debate than any rational analysis, and I think that is what motivated the “Project Fear” / “take back control” strategies of both campaigns.

  • Paul Holmes 6th May '19 - 11:36am

    @Peter Martin. Speaking as a History Graduate I seem to recall an awful lot of research that highlighted links between, variously, poor harvests, job losses and civil unrest/revolution.

    Two or three years of bad harvests preceded the 1789 Revolution in France -remember Marie Antoinette’s infamous “Let them eat Cake “? She was referring to Cattle Cake (animal fodder) rather than confectionery.

    Our 1832 Reform Act was eventually passed after the end of a violent 18 months (burning down of Nottingham Castle, riots in Bristol, stoning of Aspley House -Wellington’s residence in London. Wellington travelled armed at the time due to threats to his life) which in turn followed a decade and more of Food Riots and Machine breaking. One of the famous early Mills in Belper, Derbyshire, is built like a fortress and had musket loopholes for protection for precisely that reason.

    The NAZI rise to power owed a lot to underlying hyper inflation and mass unemployment. The current widespread unrest in Venezuala ditto.

  • Jayne Mansfield 6th May '19 - 11:52am

    @ Matt,

    I really am struggling to find to much difference between the current UKIP and the Brexit Party, other than the fact that one has a politically shrewd leader and one does not. One recognises that overt racism will not get the support of the mass of the UK population whereas one seems not to.

    As more and more of the attitudes of some of the Brexit party members becomes clear, for example those of individuals reported to be still registered as directors of the party etc., forgive me if I feel that whilst more moderate individuals like yourself might be attracted to the Brexit Party, believing it to have shed some of the more unfortunate aspects of some long standing UKIP attitudes, others like myself are not convinced.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th May '19 - 1:05pm

    Peter Martin

    More patronising of the uneducated masses?

    So, according to you, all those who voted Leave are keen supporters of right-wing Conservative economics as pushed by Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg? I myself listened carefully to what ordinary people who voted Leave said was their concerns and why they were doing it. And you just dismiss me and insult me for doing that?

    I’d like to be there when you actually tried out this approach on the proverbial doorstep.

    I wasn’t myself too bothered about Leave until I saw articles in places like Spectator from the likes of Johnson and Rees-Mogg about how they wanted it in order to push us down an ever more extreme form of Thatcherism. This alarmed me greatly, as it seemed so different from what most people who said they wanted Leave thought it would lead to.

    What is going to be your comeback when you’re told where to stick your “sympathy”?

    Well, fine, if they confirm they really do want faster pushing down extreme right-wing economics policy, it’s not what I want, but I would then have to accept it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th May '19 - 2:13pm

    Peter Watson

    Gut-feeling combined with either unhappiness with the status quo or a fear of rocking the boat probably played a greater part on each side of the debate than any rational analysis.

    Indeed. I remember going to the Liberal Democrat London Region conference just before the AV referendum, and asking the elite types who were in control of the “Yes” campaign, who were speaking at that meeting why it was that they weren’t actually properly explaining how AV worked. They dismissed me, saying that people found that sort of thing boring, so instead the sort of vague salesman campaign they were running was what was needed. So people voted “No” to AV, more to punish the LibDems for forming a coalition than anything else. Thus we have an electoral system now which means most people will still think they have to vote Labour to stop splitting the vote and letting the Conservatives win, or vote Conservative to stop splitting the vote to let Labour win. Ha-ha to those now in Change who took a leading role in the “No” campaign – it is thanks to you that your new party stands no chance.

    With the EU campaign, similar. What was needed was a proper explanation of how the EU works, what actual controls it has, what exactly would happen if we left the EU. But we got none of that, just vague emotional lines from both sides. The most effective line for Leave was given by Nick Clegg when he said it would “turn the clock back” in his argument with Nigel Farage. Well many, perhaps most, who voted Leave did so because that’s what they wanted, turning the clock back to reverse how our economy has changed since the Thatcher government started pushing it the way it has gone ever since.

    I felt from the start that there would be a need for a second referendum because there was no clear explanation of how Leave would work, and in reality contradictory ways in which it could work. Rather than just insulting me, could those like Peter Martin actually explain how a left-wing version of Leave could work? I’ve continually asked, not once has any of that sort ever given an answer.

  • Peter Martin 6th May '19 - 2:19pm

    @ Peter Watson,

    Agreed. Except I don’t think anyone needs a ‘consolation’.

    @ Paul Holmes,

    Speaking as someone who has O levels in English etc, I’d just point out that I did include the word ‘usually’. So, yes, if things get really bad we can have a revolution. But the point I was making was that it takes much less to have a civil war. For example, there was no immediate widespread starvation in Ireland which led to the civil war of the 20s. That was between the pro and anti Treaty forces in what is now the Republic.

    It probably won’t come to actual shooting, but it could! A UK civil war over the EU is not impossible. Polly Toynbee and I agree on something!


    @ Matthew Huntbach,

    Is someone else posting under my name? I haven’t said anything about the kind of right wing economics as espoused by the Tory right in the way you understand. I have said that German/EU ordoliberalism is actually much worse, and more right wing, than even our own Tory neoliberalism. This is responsible for the dysfunctionality of the EU and is leading to its break up. Yes, our Tories can be bad, but EU ‘Tories’ can be even worse. They don’t have elections to worry about!

    During WW2 the ultra left refused to support the war effort on the grounds that they didn’t like Churchill’s, and other’s, of the British ruling class, concept of the way the country should go afterwards. We know now that they didn’t get it their own way – largely because they were voted out in the ’45 election. Similarly, Rees-Mogg, Johnson and co can’t expect that being on the winning side over Brexit is going to give them a free hand afterwards. Should we actually exit the EU, there is the not-so-little matter of the 2022 (at the latest) elections.

  • Paul Holmes
    I was always taught that the “let them eat cake ” story was an apocryphal tale told to show an aristocracy out of step with the French people. Sort of like Nero fiddling as Rome burns, I’ve heard no conclusive evidence it refers to “cattle cake”. This strikes me as one of those speculative interpretations with no more convincing authority than the idea that Marie Antoinette was simply so naïve that she thought cake was a good substitute for bread.

  • Yeovil Yokel 6th May '19 - 3:12pm

    Peter Martin – The EU is like an old wooden ship: slow, ungainly, creaking and groaning in protest when subject to stresses and strains, but about to break-up? Dream on.

  • @ Peter Martin

    “During WW2 the ultra left refused to support the war effort on the grounds that they didn’t like Churchill’s, and other’s, of the British ruling class, concept of the way the country should go afterwards.”

    Oh, no they didn’t. They supported an early invasion of Europe (“Second Front Now !!”) to assist Stalin’s Russia………… something they regretted over ten year’s later during the Hungarian uprising.

    Opposition to the war came from the far right (including some cases of actual collaboration and treachery). Try looking up Captain Ramsay,Tory MP for Peebles, and the Right Club.

  • Bill le Breton 6th May '19 - 3:29pm

    Paul – v small point, the rise of the Nazis happened in a time of deflation. The period of hyperinflation took place between 1921 and 23. Prior to the Great Depression (and the period of deflation) the Nazi party grew very slowly, reaching only about 100,000.

    Deflation and disinflation have been a constant threat since the Great Financial Crisis compounded across Europe particularly by the incompetence of Jean-Claude Trichet at the European Central Bank.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th May '19 - 4:02pm

    Peter Martin

    Similarly, Rees-Mogg, Johnson and co can’t expect that being on the winning side over Brexit is going to give them a free hand afterwards.

    That is exactly what they are expecting. They have given a clear picture in their own discussions between themselves on Brexit enabling them to push our economy in an extreme right form, with Britain becoming home for international shady billionaires. Sure, they don’t come out with that when selling it to non-elites, but it’s clear that’s that they want.

    My own feeling is that the way the world economy is going with more and more control going to international billionaires means that co-operation between countries is essential, otherwise they work by playing one country against another. The EU may not be perfect, but it is international co-operation, and I think is needed to keep some sort of control over the power of billionaires.

    Perhaps back in the 1980s, the line put by left-wingers, that Britain is naturally a more socialist country than the rest of Europe, so should stay out of the EU to be able to remain socialist, could still just about be believed. The country has changed so much since then, thanks to all the governments we’ve had, that no-one says that anymore. Instead, Rees-Mogg, Johnson and co are saying the exact opposite, that Britain is a more free market economy country than the rest of Europe and that’s why we need to leave the EU.

    If there is an alternative way that Brexit can work other than the way the leading figures of Brexit are planning to make it work, it needs to be explained urgently just how it will work. The fact that no-one has been able to do it, suggests to me that there is no way in which Brexit can now work except as the extreme right-wingers want it to.

    If I am wrong, why is that you have not been able to answer my question about how an alternative form of Brexit would work? You may not believe me, but I myself am very symathetic with the concerns that most people who voted Leave had, the unhappiness they have expressed about how our country has gone, and the way we have lost control of it. It’s privatisation and massive cuts in funding to local government that has caused that, not membership of the EU. It seems to me that Rees-Mogg, Johnson and co are hiding the truth by pushing the blame onto the EU. And by insulting me instead of showing any understanding of my concern about this, you are giving them 100% support.

  • Agreed, Bill…… ” Prior to the Great Depression (and the period of deflation) the Nazi party grew very slowly, reaching only about 100,000.”

    …….and the other interesting parallel is that the 1929 root cause came from a financial speculative bubble originating in the USA. For the 1929 Wall Street crash read Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (all alleged to have been members of the Brown Cabinet in 2010 by you know who).

  • Peter Martin 6th May '19 - 6:40pm

    @ David Raw,

    Most of the left opposition to WW2 fell away with the German invasion of Russia. Even the Trotskyist groupings, after 1942 managed to find support for Soviet union on the grounds that it was a ‘degenerate workers’ state’. Nevertheless it was highly conditional with some on the ultra left refusing to go along with the general line.

    The Communists, then, were considered to be relatively mainstream rather than ultra left. They even won a couple of Parliamentary seats in the ’45 election.

    @ Bill le Breton,

    You are right about the rise of the Nazis and the period of deflation. It’s not a small point IMO. It is deflation that creates the monsters of the far right as we are seeing again now in the EU.

    @ Matthew Huntbach,

    The idea that we need to abandon the power of the nation state is exactly what the multinational corporations want us to think. Rees Mogg and co may well be expecting to have their own way. But have they read this book by Mitchell and Fazi?


  • Paul Holmes 6th May '19 - 10:39pm

    Bill/David -depends on how you interpret the words ‘Rise of the Nazi Party’. In all the exam courses I taught for over 20 years the topic began with Versailles/Freikorps/Munich Putsch etc in the period 1919-1923, which includes Hyperinflation.

  • David Evans 6th May '19 - 11:22pm

    Going back on topic, the result was incredible and is one giant leap towards recovering all those seats we lost in the wilderness years. It doesn’t put us back to anything like where we were, but it shows a new generation of activists what we can do and where we can go. We now need to build on it, massively, and in two weeks time put an end to Theresa May’s and Jeremy Corbyn’s nightmare that is on the verge of destroying our country, both internally by setting Briton against Briton, and externally setting Britain against our friends.

    Paradoxically, the opportunity we gave the Tories to nearly destroy us, may turn out to be the one opportunity they needed to destroy themselves, and so long as we stop them destroying our country as well, it will be a job well done. We all have to work harder than we have ever done to make it so.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th May '19 - 4:58am

    Peter Martin

    What is what you have written above under “@ Matthew Huntbach” to do with what I have written myself?

    I have not at all said we should abandon the power of the nation state. Rather, my concern is that if nation states don’t have co-operation agreements, multinational corporations will play one against another, threatening to pull out of countries that try to control them, and put their investment in countries that let them do what they want. It is to make nation states weak by stopping that sort of co-operation that led to the likes of Rees-Mogg and Johnson to oppose the EU.

    As I have said, again and again and again and again and again and again, if you who support Leave could tell me what you think the EU is doing to us that is wrong, and how we could re-arrange things to make it better if we were out of the EU, I’d take you seriously. But I keep asking and you give me no answer.

    The only people who have given a clear expression of what they want after we leave the EU is the likes of Rees-Mogg and Johnson, and and it is turn democratic power off even more to give power to the super-rich. That is why I oppose Leave, and you have said NOTHING WHATSOEVER to persuade me to change my mind, despite my keep asking you.

    I myself do NOT use the word “neo-liberalism” to mean what the likes of Rees-Mogg and Johnson want. I think it is a deep insult to us who were proud to call ourselves Liberals to use that word. What we stand for as Liberals is “None shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”, nothing whatsoever to do with reducing the power of the nations state to increase the power of billionaires. Indeed, a central aspect of Liberalism is accepting we need an active nation state to ensure none are enslaved by poverty, ignorance and conformity. That has become more so as growth in technology and so large scale companies has meant “free market” is not at all true freedom in terms of freedom for everyone rather than power for the rich.

    So proper neo-liberalism, in terms of meaning how true Liberalism has developed over time, is the exact opposite of what it has now become fashionable to call “neo-liberalism”. And I think pushing that false use of the word “neo-liberalism” has been done deliberately in order to destroy us true Liberals, though sadly supported by the likes of Nick Clegg and his cronies who tried to push our party that way against what its democracy was saying it should do.

  • Peter Martin 7th May '19 - 8:14am


    Firstly, you can’t pick and choose what the word ‘liberal’ means to suit yourself. It means different things in different parts of the world. The Australian Liberal Party is not the soulmate of most Lib Dems. The supposedly German ‘liberal’ FDP is very right wing which is not untypical of many supposedly European ‘liberal’ parties. ALDE supports the notion of mandatory fines for fiscal transgressions, for example.

    You’re up against the power of the English language which is an international language and we can’t control it any longer in the way the French try to control their language. Look up what neoliberal means in the Oxford Dictionary and take it up with them if you have a complaint. Look it up in Wiki too. I think you’ll find the etymology of the word isn’t anything to do with the British Liberal Democrats.

    The point you make about the Nation State and the EU is dependent on whether we think the EU is about strengthening the power of the State or weakening it. It would be possible to have a Confederation of Nation States which operates very much according to the principles you advocate. The old EEC was more like that and I didn’t have too much of a problem then. But on the other hand we could be, and I’d say we are, moving towards a similar arrangement to the USA where the power of the State is concentrated at Federal level. The original ‘states’ have ceded a large part of their sovereignty to the Federal Government. There’s nothing wrong with that providing everyone understands and is happy with the transfer. Americans obviously are, but are we in Europe? I don’t think so. It’s not just a UK thing.

    There is a general myth that a small Nation State doesn’t have the power to stand up to the multinationals. I think the example of Iceland (pop ~300k) shows otherwise. Iceland has the power to create laws, impose capital controls, and issue its own currency. Even the big multinationals have to obey those laws if they wish to stay and do business.


  • Peter,

    are you really using Iceland as an example

    The Icelandic financial crisis was a major economic and political event in Iceland that involved the default of all three of the country’s major privately owned commercial banks in late 2008, following their difficulties in refinancing their short-term debt and a run on deposits in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Relative to the size of its economy, Iceland’s systemic banking collapse was the largest experienced by any country in economic history.[1] The crisis led to a severe economic depression in 2008–2010 and significant political unrest.[2]

    In the years preceding the crisis, three Icelandic banks, Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir, multiplied in size. This expansion was driven by ready access to credit in international financial markets, in particular short-term financing. As the international financial crisis unfolded in 2007–2008, investors perceived the Icelandic banks to be increasingly risky. Trust in the banks gradually faded, leading to a sharp depreciation of the Icelandic króna in 2008 and increased difficulties for the banks in rolling over their short-term debt. At the end of the second quarter of 2008, Iceland’s external debt was 9.553 trillion Icelandic krónur (€50 billion), more than 7 times the GDP of Iceland in 2007.[3][4] The assets of the three banks totaled 14.437 trillion krónur at the end of the second quarter 2008,[5] equal to more than 11 times the national GDP. Due to the huge size of the Icelandic financial system in comparison with the Icelandic economy, the Central Bank of Iceland found itself unable to act as a lender of last resort during the crisis, further aggravating the mistrust in the banking system.


    being able to issue their own currency helped them not a wit. I’m afraid your becoming more barking by the day and even less able to answer questions put to you.

  • Bill le Breton 7th May '19 - 9:00am

    Paul – agreed … the Political Consequences of the Peace, to borrow from Keynes.

    But the real energy comes from deflation, which is why we live in such dangerous times now.

    David, the fine detail on the causes of the Depression, triggered by the crash, was Gold hording especially by the French Central Bank/Government. When you are on a Gold Standard, if the price of gold rises, ceteris paribus, the price of everything else falls.

    Immediately after the 1929 crash many central banks bought gold – especially the US and France. When prices start to fall everyone holds off expenditure knowing that ‘tomorrow’ prices will be lower. And then of course Governments tend to react by cutting back their own expenditure.

    Roosevelt’s genius on his election in ’32 and assumption of office in ’33 was to lower the price of gold by Executive Order in April, “forbidding the Hoarding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States” Basically he nationalised gold and set its price.

  • Peter Martin 7th May '19 - 9:01am

    @ frankie,

    It’s a good thing I’m more thick skinned than Matthew! Otherwise I’d be really upset at your attempted insult 🙂

    It’s water off a duck’s back I’m afraid. You obviously haven’t kept up to date with what’s going on there. Yes Iceland had a financial crisis, and if they’d managed their economy better beforehand it probably wouldn’t have been so serious. But nevertherless they’ve recovered very well since and in a way that would not have been possible without a variable exchange rate.

    Having said that, I’m sure you can dig up something that the Icelandic Govt has done which I would disapprove of! I know that I wouldn’t give them 10 out of 10. But an 8 or a 9 is pretty good nevertheless.


  • Nonconformistradical 7th May '19 - 9:50am

    @Peter Martin

    I question the use of Iceland as an example when you are talking about a nation largely self-sufficient in energy due to its geological situation and with a population less than that of any one of many English counties.

    Perhaps you could demonstrate the validity of making such an extrapolation….

  • Peter Martin 7th May '19 - 10:19am

    @ Nonconformist Radical,

    Many Lib Dems have a penchant for a small-is-beautiful approach so I would have thought that you’d welcome an example of a smaller country doing relatively well. Iceland still has trading links with the ROW so isn’t an Autarky. I’m not arguing for that.

    I suppose I could cite Singapore. But then you’d say it was on a favourable world trading route. Or New Zealand. or New Zealand. Or Canada. Then you’d say they had a small population with a relatively favourable availability of natural resources. The point is that the UK doesn’t have to be a part of a pan European entity to trade with the ROW and have a successful economy.

  • Richard Underhill 7th May '19 - 10:38am

    David Evans 6th May ’19 – 11:22pm
    Theresa May will meet the chairman of the 1922 committee. They had asked for “clarity” on her plans. After the local election results in England former Tory Leader Ian Duncan Smith had called for her to resign.
    She was also heckled at a Tory conference in Wales, although Wales did not have local elections this year. Some politicians go to meetings prepared for hecklers with well planned “spontaneous” and often witty replies.
    Finding out what the heckler dislikes might be useful. Did he disapprove of the PM’s talks with Jeremy Corbyn? Or of local election results in England? Or about economic prospects in Wales? There are plenty of issues to choose from.
    The Tory 1922 committee commemorates the ending of the Tory-Liberal coalition from 1916 and ended wartime PM David Lloyd Georges role as PM.

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