What a night! Hope returns to UK politics

Imagine it’s Bank Holiday Monday in 2027. We’re not going to be out in the sunshine. We nerds will be watching the rerun of the results of the (June) 2017 election. Ten years on, the drama will be just as nail biting as we relive some incredible moments. I can’t imagine the North East Fife or Richmond Park results ever becoming less tense. Maybe we’ll look on it and the events of the past year as a season of a hard-hitting political drama.

We’ll also be asking each other if we were still up for Salmond.

I have spent the last 51 days under the impression that we were going to end up with a massive Tory majority which would be interpreted as a mandate to do whatever they liked on Brexit. I thought we would end up with somewhere between 10 and 20 seats. I was right about one of those things. That movement in the polls was not, as I thought, a cynical manipulation of models to create a climate where the Tories could repeat the effective “Coalition of Chaos” nonsense from 2015. Turns out that the people are over that given the chaos that has ensued.

I have been pretty much neglecting you, dear readers, for the last few weeks because I’ve been putting everything I’ve got into the Edinburgh West campaign. It was thrilling to be part of a winning campaign. Two years ago, we had two councillors in the constituency. That was all. Now we have the MSP and the MP and five councillors.  How did we do it? Well, Alex Cole-Hamilton, Kevin Lang and Tom Utting started as soon as we lost in 2015 and built it back up. And do you know what? It was worth the strained knee that has been really painful these last few days. It was worth getting absolutely soaked for several hours today. To add insult to injury, as I left one polling station in the pouring rain to go to another, a van drove through a puddle and I was soaked from head to foot.

It’s incredible to think that Christine wasn’t even selected until 28 April. In a few short weeks, her name recognition was phenomenal. She will be a fantastic MP.

Who would have thought that we’d have 12 MPs, but only 4 from the previous Parliament?

Here are are new Golden Dozen:

And a third of them are women. It’s good but not good enough. We still have work to do in this area.

Another 150 or so votes and we’d have had 15. 463 and we’d have had 16. For Sarah Olney to lose by just 45, or Elizabeth Riches to lose by 2 is absolutely heartbreaking. That’s not so far from the exit poll which seemed so bizarre when it was first announced.

I am absolutely distraught to lose Nick Clegg. His expertise, wisdom and authority on Brexit is much needed and I hope that a way will quickly be found to enable him to contribute to our national debate.  The return of Vince and Ed is great but they don’t have Nick’s direct knowledge and experience.

While we have had a revival in Scotland, we lost our only MP in Wales. That’s a huge blow.

Daisy Cooper had a cracking result in St Albans – up nearly 14 points and a clear second place behind the Tories. It’s a great springboard for next time.

The Conservatives and the SNP both had their worst nightmares. The public saw through May’s power grabbing ploy and declined to go along with it. The SNP lost not far off half their seats. That has to put a second referendum on independence not just off the back burner but back in the deep freeze.

The Tories in particular won their seats on the basis of opposing indyref2 and not much else. They will have to come up with more for next time or they will lose all their gains.

We had a lot of very positive messaging in Scotland which we will now have to develop further.

How we navigate our way through a new set of political circumstances will be much discussed over the next few days. I see it as a huge opportunity for sensible, progressive individuals in all parties to work together in the national interests when the need arises. As politics polarises, let’s look at how to bring people together, how to listen to and respond to their concerns. That’s why I think that there may be hope.

Over the next few days, we’ll be looking at what went right and what went wrong in the campaign and how we go forward from here.

But, first……SLEEP!


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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • We have survived.

  • I see it as a huge opportunity for sensible, progressive individuals in all parties to work together in the national interests when the need arises.

    So why, oh why, was a coalition ruled out at the beginning of the campaign. Looks silly now.

  • Very well done Caron. The results in Scotland have been very respectable, and the reasons are complex, but one significant factor has been the quality and plain hard-work of the campaigning team who got an awful lot right.

    I hope that it is now clear to those in other parts of the UK that the Scottish Liberal Democrats made the right decision for the party, and not just the country, when confirming that we should be against another Scottish Independence Referendum, so that’s one less thing for us to bicker about for at least the next couple of years.

    I will admit I’d not paid that much attention to Christine Jardine in previous campaigns, but noticed her this time around and was very impressed each time I heard her speak. One occasion was on the BBC Breakfast roadshow from Dunfermline, where she gave a very assured contribution, which must have impressed potential voters watching. Unfortunately for us, that same BBC Breakfast also featured our North East Fife nemesis, Stephen Gethins, who also presented himself very well, which I’m guessing earned him at least a couple of votes.

    We mustn’t rush into formulating too many firm views, but I’m with Caron in hoping that we can use this time to explore more collaborative politics where we focus on what we agree on, and not where we differ so that we can make the system work for the majority. On that note, I’d be keen to see us pushing Norman Lamb’s work on cross-party working for the NHS, and I’m personally interested to review how groups like More United impacted the election, and how that will develop in the future.

  • Now Clegg has lost, perhaps the party can move on from the coalition. Who looking at the polls wouldn’t have thought all our held seats could have been lost ?

    The Lib Dem position is still dire – 4 seats in Scotland 3 in London and 3 in the South, 2 elsewhere. All united only by how exceptional they are.

    Sure there were a few near misses – yes the party got squeezed, but there has been very little thought about how to sell a political message and win elections within the party since 2005. The second referendum was a mistake, focused on process, not policy, no traction, and no coherence from a party opposing indyref 2.

    The people who were telling us that the Lib Dems couldn’t stand down for the Greens in the Isle of Wight and Bristol West have once again shown their illiberal nature and poor political judgement. the belief the Lib Dems had the best chance of winning, won’t die, even after the results show the party fourth. Hard work is no substitute for smart thinking.

    The party has a lifeline, a hung parliament means the Lib Dem votes will matter, we could use that opportunity to show a different way of doing cross party co-operation, not modelled on the disaster of the coalition but on how successful coalitions are run in local government. We can start working with Labour people who might notice the Tories got a few more votes but 50 more seats than Labour.

    We can take up Nick Cleggs belated realisation that politicians need to admit where they have things in common and where they agree on objectives if not process/policy.
    We would do better against the SNP if we realised it is not rabid nationalism but despair at Tory policies that drives their support.

    The situation in Northern Ireland is awful, divided, moderates sidelined, the political process breaking down, more MPs pledged not to show up than ever, and as usual, as long as the Unionists back the Tories, anything else is tolerated.

  • Jane Ann Liston 9th Jun '17 - 10:56am

    I fear that the Electoral Calculus ‘prediction’ for North East Fife, eagerly circulated by the SNP, which claimed that the Tories were right behind the SNP and we were a distant 3rd, fooled too many anti-Independence voters and enabled Mr Geithins to hold on.

  • No government based on the composition of the incoming Parliament can be stable. We will be looking at another election, possibly in six months (as the Tories will be very frustrated at trying to govern without a majority and will have had a leadership election, and Labour will be hoping to win outright). There will then be a chance for a Lib Dem breakthrough, particularly in these seats which were so narrowly lost.

  • If I were Nick Clegg I wouldn’t bin any unused leaflets he may need them again come October….

  • Peter Martin 9th Jun '17 - 1:18pm


    It is good that the Lib Dems have increased their seat tally to 12. The vote share probably justifies more, but it wouldn’t mean that much if the Labour Party hadn’t taken seats from the Tories too and removed their overall majority.

    I can’t quite believe the result we’ve just had! If we all consider the Tories to be the real enemy then all on the left and centre/left need to work on what we have in common rather than what divides us.

  • Well done, Caron. I too can claim my part in a Lib Dem victory, along with an excuse for not doing as much as I should on LDV. I spent the last 6 weeks managing Ed Davey’s digital campaigning in Kingston & Surbiton – the biggest online campaign we have ever done.

  • Richard Fagence 9th Jun '17 - 3:14pm

    Here in Windsor (where I was the agent) we had repeated requests to go and help in Twickenham, the rational being that it was marginal. Indeed one caller used the “too close to call” technique. As a result, my candidate was not in his constituency until late afternoon/early evening.

    Back in November/December, spent three Saturdays and Sundays with a number of constituency colleagues working in Richmond Park for Sarah Olney and were thrilled with the result. Within the last month, three of us spent two successive Sundays working in Oxford West and Abingdon to help Layla Moran and her team.

    And the results? Layla’s in with a majority of 816, a just reward for repeated effort since 2015 and before. Twickenham? Vince is back with a majority of 9,762, the highest of all twelve MPs and 4,068 votes ahead of the second placed seat. Marginal? “Too close to call”? I think not.

    I am heartbroken for Sarah in Richmond Park with Zac Goldsmith back in Parliament. Less than a year ago, he was an ‘Independent’. Now he’s back to being a Tory.

    As I couldn’t go to Richmond Park in the last two weeks, as somebody has to try and organise Windsor – no matter how hopeless a case we are (now third behind a resurgent Labour and the laziest and most invisible Tory in the Commons. I would like to hear that we put as much effort into holding Richmond Park as we did to regaining Twickenham. The evidence from the results rather suggests that this was not the case. Would anyone care to enlighten me?

  • I made this comment earlier, but it was not displayed.

    Normally, I would not bother trying again, but there is now an article in the Independent, written by Lucas Cumiskey which is exactly what I have been saying to my friends for the since Tim announced there would no coalitions deals made.

    Quote from the article. “I see it as a huge opporptunity for sensible, progressive individuals in all parties to work together in the national interests when the need arises”
    So, why did LibDems rule out any coalition. We now seem rather silly and petty. We should never have ruled out a coalition possibility. Overall government is but a pipe dream for us at the moment, and we will never have the opportunity to take part in any government if we do not try to form a coalition agreement with any party.

    I live in the Netherlands and coalition is not a dirty word here. It is the act of sensible politicians governing in the national interest.

    We need to grow up if we are to govern in some way in the future. Or, are our aspirations merely to form ineffective opposition, a talking shop for protest without the responsibility of government.

  • Keith Browning 9th Jun '17 - 6:12pm

    The look of total despair on the face of Tory spokesperson Laura Kuenssberg, in the seconds BEFORE the Exit poll was announced on BBC, (when she already knew the prediction) made me think we were about to be in for an interesting evening.

  • It’s so obvious that it hardly needs saying, but as RussKent keeps raising the issue: if Tim Farron had left open the question of whether or not we would go into coalition we would now have zero MPs, not 12. And even if that had not been the result, going into coalition now with Labour still wouldn’t give them anything like a majority, and as far as the Tories are concerned, how on earth could we be in coalition with a party whose position on the most important issue facing our country since the English Civil War is diametrically opposed to ours?

  • @ RussKent
    “why did LibDems rule out any coalition.”

    “if Tim Farron had left open the question of whether or not we would go into coalition we would now have zero MPs,”

    When we stated we could go into coalition in 2010 we didn’t end up with zero MPs, we ended up with 57. There is a belief that we should try to avoid talking about coalitions because it adversely affects our performance. Therefore coalition talk is problematic for us.

    I can’t see any reason why we can’t always have the same position we had in 2010 regarding a coalition. This time we could have stated that a referendum on the EU deal and STV for local elections were our minimum conditions for a coalition. I would also have liked to have seen more money for schools, NHS and social care and reversing the welfare cuts as having to be included in our red lines. Emphasising these priorities might have helped, by making a second referendum deliverable and getting our spending commitments into the public domain better than we managed too.

    (Tonyhill I hope you can answer a question, are you the one based in Winchester or were you our candidate in Maidenhead who I saw on TV yesterday?)

  • The vote share was horrendous.

  • nvelope2003 10th Jun '17 - 4:22pm

    It was going into a coalition which killed the party in 2015. Labour never goes into coalitions. It has 262 MPs against our 12. Need I say more ? Well maybe I should.

  • Simon Banks 10th Jun '17 - 6:16pm

    The election was fought in difficult circumstances. It could have been a lot worse. However, there are two quite depressing facts. One is that our percentage vote hardly moved from 2015. We have yet to translate that huge surge in members, many of whom have become activists, into increasing support among the not-very-politically-aware majority. The most impressive results were the seats gained not by previous returning MPs, and given that it would have been very surprising not to win Edinburgh West after the Scottish Parliament and local elections, that means particularly Oxford West & Abingdon; Bath; and Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross. I hope we’ll look closely at what they got right and also the best of the rest like St Albans.

    The other depressing thing is that in many seats which we held until recently, we now no longer look like serious contenders judging by the figures. That includes such places as Berwick upon Tweed, Truro and Falmouth, Colchester, Manchester Withington and Montgomery. Despite the near misses, and other seats like North Devon where we remain in striking distance, the number of seats where on the basis of the figures we look like we could win next time is pretty small. At regional and higher levels, we need to think hard about how to increase the number.

  • caracatus 9th Jun ’17 – 10:34am

    The coalition actually wasn’t a disaster. If one puts aside political self interest the coalition provided stable government for 5 years at a time when the country was in real eonomic danger. As they contemplate life with their new DUP bedfellows how the Tories must look back at that period with a degree of longing.

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