Our President writes: I’m immensely proud of how we’ve stood up for our values over Brexit

Our Party President, MarkPack, sent this email to members yesterday evening:

For the last four years, the Liberal Democrats have proudly fought to stop Brexit.

I am immensely proud of everything we did. We stood up for our values. We campaigned so hard. But I also accept that at 11pm tonight, we will no longer be members of the European Union.

Our European story is not over. Tomorrow our fight continues, to make sure Britain has the closest possible relationship with our allies in Europe.

Today, I want to take stock of everything we did achieve in our fight to stop Brexit.

When the results of the European referendum were announced on that sad day in June 2016, we knew that something must be done. Our leader at the time, Tim Farron, did not wait to say that we deserved a vote on the final Brexit deal.

We were a lone voice at first. But more and more people joined our cause, to call for a People’s Vote on the final deal.

Our membership surged to the highest numbers in our party’s history.

We backed the cross-party People’s Vote campaign. Its rallies attracted hundreds of thousands of people, making them the biggest marches since the protests against the Iraq war.

Our MPs worked across parties in the Commons and the Lords to inflict more than 30 defeats on the Conservative government’s Brexit bills.

We stopped a catastrophic no deal and we stopped the government charging EU citizens to apply to stay in the UK.

Last year, we went into the European elections with an unapologetic message on Brexit.

I’m so proud of that campaign. We fought unashamedly for our liberal, progressive values, and we made a strong case for why the UK should continue to be members of the EU.

We beat both Labour and the Conservatives – something we had not done since 1910! – , and we went from 1 to 16 Members of the European Parliament.

Our MEPs may have only been in Brussels for six months, but they’ve achieved so much and flown the flag for British European values.

To Catherine, Caroline, Antony, Barbara, Bill, Chris, Dinesh, Irina, Jane, Judith, Louisa, Lucy, Martin, Phil, Shaffaq and Sheila, thank you. You are all superstars.

In the following months, eight courageous MPs left the safety of a large political party to stand with us, and stand up for our place in the EU.

To Chuka, Angela, Luciana, Sam, Heidi, Sarah, Philip and Antoinette – thank you. You will all go down in Liberal Democrat history.

And in between all that, we won by-elections in Brecon and Radnorshire and Shetland, and we also saw our best ever local election results, gaining over 700 seats and taking control of 11 councils around the country last Spring.

Through all those successes one thing was constant: we couldn’t have done it without you.

So the biggest thank you of all must go to you. Our members have been tirelessly fighting to stop Brexit, and you made all of this possible.

And you give me hope for the future.

Brexit was never just about Europe. It was about who we are. Who we aspire to be. What we want our country to become.

So let’s be part of shaping that future together.

There are many more elections coming up. Local and London elections this May, Scottish Parliament, Senedd and local elections next year, and in 2022 another round of local elections. Then a General Election in four years time.

We’re started from the grassroots up, to build fair, progressive, green and liberal society, at every level of government in the UK.

And I want you to stand for office, and help us put our values into practice.

Will you apply to become a candidate for the Liberal Democrats, and be part of our future?

Apply to be a candidate for the Lib Dems here.

(You can find out more about being a candidate for the party here: www.libdems.org.uk/being-a-candidate)

With best wishes,

Mark Pack
President of the Liberal Democrats

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50 Comments

  • I certainly hope that this year we will stop being battered and start dishing out some battering of our own

  • Just one thing I’m not sure about 🤔 excactly how was voting against two different withdrawal agreements on a total of four occasions helping to prevent ” a catastrophic no deal”?

  • marcstevens 1st Feb '20 - 12:16pm

    Tim is right. I am not going to wallow in it though which is just what the leave people want and to rub our noses in it. What I would like to see is a really positive campaign for another referendum/to re-join, it could be 5 or 10 years down the line who knows. But this campaign should start now and build up slowly, be well organised. There will be a group of younger people who did not have the opportunity to vote in 2016 who would join up along with those of us who are older. I read on here the usual rubbish about sovereignty when all the EU countries are sovereign states within the trading block, superstate rubbish which they don’t seem to apply to other trading blocks and using the EU as a scapegoat for all the things these people moan about when it has nothing to do with them like crime, the NHS, transport etc, you just can’t make it up. So now I think why rise to it but if there was really positive campaign involving people from other parties then I’m sure it would gain traction in time.

  • @Ambighter – It wasn’t the voting against the various Withdrawal Agreements that was the problem, it was the decision to support a wholly unnecessary General Election at a time when all rational assessment of the tea leaves indicated that the (Pro-Brexit) Tories would win…

  • “We stopped a catastrophic no deal ”

    Err, no we absolutely have not. To the extent we can take any credit for it at all, all we have managed to do is delay that to 31 Dec 2020. Any deal that happens now to ameliorate that particular cliff edge is entirely at the whims of Johnson’s government.

    We have achieved diddly squat to stop a no deal Brexit. If anything, as alluded to above, we have contributed to an outcome (from an EU alignment perspective) that is rather a lot worse than it would have been under May’s deal.

    We rolled the dice on a high stakes gamble and it didn’t pay off.

  • Tony Greaves 1st Feb '20 - 3:38pm

    The People’s Vote and other anti-Brexit campaigns were a shambles. The big marches were so successful and such wonderful occasions in spite of the “organisers” not as a result of them. It’s true that we were kept well away from the central decision-making but a more forceful approach to get a grip might have been helpful. And then when the last throw of the dice came (however stupid it was to throw it) we had the worst General Election campaign I can remember (I’ve been involved in sixteen of them). We are where we are and we a grieving process to work through. Then at one level we have to do what we can to keep the UK as close to Europe as we can. And we have to get on with campaigning to make the best we possibly can of a bad job. And some of that will mean holding the new Government to what they have promised – for instance in the North of England.

  • He forgets to mention that we had the numbers to put staying in the Single Market and Customs Union across the line in the Letwin ‘indicative vote’ process, but chose instead not to participate in expressing any preference between different types of Brexit.

    Had we given SM/CU a majority, it isn’t unrealistic to imagine that it would have been taken forward by Parliament and provided the basis for a cross-party deal to replace Mrs May’s. It’s likely that we would never have had the December election, would still have twenty MPs, and might even not have Boris as PM.

    Coupled with helping to call an unnecessary election at the perfect time for the Tories, and mounting such a risible self-destructive campaign, you’d wonder whether the LibDem MPs have done more than anyone to ensure that a hard exit from the EU remains a strong possibility.

  • p.s. Putting all comments in bold italic font is HORRIBLE

  • David Becket 1st Feb '20 - 4:24pm

    Tony Greaves is right, our campaigns were a shambles. We have not stopped No Deal, only postponed when it might happen. Almost every decision the party took was wrong.

    However as a Liberal I do not have anywhere else to go to. As I have said elsewhere we should now be putting together our Vision for Britain, and hope we elect a leader who can promote it. The current self congratulations coming from the leadership and our appalling Web Site are not good omens.

  • All depends where the UK and EU ends up in 5-10 years time. I wanted to remain but can sort of see Boris pushing towards less state and taxes but concentrated spending in frontline services at the same time and getting growth going at a decent clip (good enough to get him reelected anyway). EU has many fiscal problems (not least no more easy money from the UK) and economies that don’t necessarily do well from German fiscal rules so could tie itself up in knots sorting that out via proper integration whilst Italian banks might implode the whole system. The UK may end up doing surprisingly well in comparison with the EU and even the USA which will eventually suffer from too much debt, and may even tap into Chinese and Indian growth… on the other hand, the next business cycle crash will be interesting with too much debt everywhere, so who knows what will happen… we all need to get behind Boris now and hope for the best.

  • Paul Barker 1st Feb '20 - 6:42pm

    The Core Vote Strategy is about the Long-Term, not the next Election or the Last. Its because of the smallness of our Core Vote that we are so vulnerable to Ill Winds. We are still, very slowly, Recovering from The Coalition, our biggest mistake & one that I backed at the Time. Oddly, in spite of the Special Conference & its “North Korean ” Yes Vote there dont seem to be many other Members who made the same mistake.
    I see a lot of People blaming each other but not many blaming themselves.

  • Paul,

    Kudos for owning up to your mistake. Many of the membership made it with you and as you have pointed out few now admit it (but that alas is human nature and to be fair a lot of those that cheer lead the policy, bugged out when it failed). The problem we have is some seem ready to make it again.

    Firstly congratulating yourself on a disaster doesn’t make it less of a disaster and Mark isn’t helping by claiming it is anything but a disaster. Yes we tried hard to prevent the catastrophe of Brexit but we failed. No disgrace in failing but please don’t try to dress up the failure.
    Secondly the unicorn voters don’t exist, there is no legion of right wing voters waiting to defect from the Tories. There are unattached voters you can pick up and in our ever changing world their number grows but a disciplined legion of socially liberal, conservatively economic voters nope they don’t exist in the number that matter.

    A core vote is gained by attracting voters and doing such a good job they stay. we had a core up until 2010 but jumping into bed with the Tories devastated that and the unicorns they thought they would attract did not exist and do not exists. So make your core vote strategy about getting back the voters you lost and not about chasing voters who will never vote for you because they don’t exist.

  • I did attend the special conference at the time of the start of the coalition. I did vote for the coalition. This was because I really believe that there would be a focus upon the financial problems which were afflicting the world at that time. I had the impression that this is what would happen. I do not believe that it did happen.
    The attack on local government was disgraceful, and my opinion is that this destroyed many council groups. I was a councillor at the time, and vividly remember the change in people’s attitude to us as they realised the reality of what was happening.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Feb '20 - 9:18am

    Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad and that includes Liberal Democrat leaders.
    Listening to the Leavers, especially those interviewed on radio and TV it is clear that none of them understood the issues. When asked which EU law they disliked none of them could name a single one or had any idea what sovereignty meant or why it is necessary to have laws governing the working of a free trade area and courts to decide disputes and enforce the law but there you go.
    People seem to be fed up with the system which has improved most of our lives since 1945 and want a system where individuals have real choice . We are a nation of obsessive gamblers and many people would prefer to risk everything than live what they perceive to be a dull life. The problem is who is going to pick up the pieces when it all falls apart. Not sure the Liberal Democrats are what many people want at this moment. Time will tell.

  • Looking at the comments here – both above and below the line -I have to say that to me, the party looks to be completely in denial about what has, and is happening. It also comes across as completely obsessed with Europe – we’ve only just left and people are going on about a referendum to rejoin – the to detriment of everything else.

    This kind of obsession really isn’t healthy. The phrase “fruitcakes and loonies” springs to mind.

    I also have to say that this impression is added to by the bold italic… though at least you didn’t go for comic sans.

  • I voted reman, but have several time raised my view on Europe. I think fundamentally our problem is that the Country is not ardently pro European, we took the hard figure of 48/51 and thought we could work with it, but as the general election proved those figures are soft. We will not get anywhere in this country unless we acknowledge that fact. So as well as stating we are a pro europe perhaps we should shout out about our pro International country’s, also we must acknowledge people misgivings on Europe. A federalist European state is not appealing to me. It makes me fearful, this is what we as a party forgot. We assumed as a party what we liked everyone liked. We need to talk to people who vote against us and find out why. If it means we lose Scotland then so be it. But we have to accept that England and Wales will probably be out of Europe for a while

  • Innocent Bystander 2nd Feb '20 - 10:04am

    Could we have less talk of “losing Scotland”? It is, rather, Scotland losing England and how they will manage when they are excluded from all England has to offer is a problem they will face. Their choice.
    The reignition of a rivalry that has remained dormant since 1707 is not something I would welcome but nationalism is infectious.

  • ……………We’re started from the grassroots up, to build fair, progressive, green and liberal society, at every level of government in the UK……….

    William Blake said it better, over 200 years ago.

    In choosing to support Boris Johnson’s desperate demand to call a december election (allowing him to avoid another ‘die in a ditch’ fiasco} and mounting a ‘shambles of an election campaign, this party’s leadership have done more than anyone to ensure the return of those ‘Dark Satanic Mills’ and the associated destruction of nature and human relationships.

    As for “We stopped a catastrophic no deal ”??? Mr. Johnson’s opening salvos, regarding the EU trade talks, are all about ‘making no concessions to the EU’…

    It looks as if ‘No-Deal’ is very much on the agenda.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Feb '20 - 10:18am

    @Ian “p.s. Putting all comments in bold italic font is HORRIBLE”
    I think there’s an HTML error in the article.
    It looks like there are opening em and strong starting tags after the “Apply to be a candidate for the Lib Dems here.” link with no matching closing tags.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Feb '20 - 10:19am

    Oops. Gone now!

  • Putting the site into 30 point bold would be a feature or system enhancement, you should know that after a careeer in computing. We don’t make mistakes, we merely make features or unexpected enhancements.

  • The prospect of a hard exit from the EU is entirely down to our own MPs.

    They didn’t have to vote down every soft Brexit option during the Letwin votes in the House of Commons. LibDem votes could have put staying in the Single Market/Customs Union across the line, and now we’d be living in a very different political world.

    They didn’t have to fall for the SNP trap and call an election at the perfect moment for the Conservatives.

    They didn’t have to let the party run the most risible self-destructive election campaigns in the history of British politics. Or allow the Federal Board to appoint the same numpty to run it who had failed so badly in 2017.

    The sad truth is that our own MPs own our country’s current predicament, through their failure to engage with any process that might have led to anything other than their own desired perfect outcome. Any LibDem who has ever served on a local authority can see based on their own experience just how badly our MPs have let us down.

  • David Becket 2nd Feb '20 - 3:39pm

    The MPs let us down starting at the Rose Garden. I have worked in coalitions, they are a business arrangement not a love in. They have continually let us down. Unless there is a leader in the new intake we will achieve little. The leader has two jobs, create a vision and clear out the dead wood at the top of the party. Mark’s congratulations on standing up to our values is not a good start. Enabling an unnecessary election, getting ourselves branded as undemocratic and running a terrible campaign is not standing up for values.
    I just hope there is a Grimond/Ashdown/Kennedy in the new intake.

  • @David Pack is a back room boy who has never himself stood for any public election yet presumes to tell the rest of us how it should be done, from behind the safety of his keyboard. He’s going to have to work hard to establish some credibility in his new role.

  • Steve Comer 2nd Feb '20 - 5:23pm

    I agree with most of what Ian and Tony Greaves have already said.
    The Party in Parliament fell into the trap of letting the perfect be the the enemy of the acceptable. In rejecting any compromise (such as EEA or Customs Union) once it became clear that another referendum would not have a majority in the Commons we’ve ended up with the risk of a hard Tory Brexit at the end of the year.

  • @ Tony Greaves, “And we have to get on with campaigning to make the best we possibly can of a bad job”.

    It would be easier to campaign if there were some relevant (and popular with the general public) policies to campaign on now that the all the eggs in one basket policy has gone down the Swanee River. Somebody has shot the one trick pony.

    It would be easier still if there was some competent and charismatic leadership lurking round the corner and about to emerge.

  • David Evans 2nd Feb '20 - 7:05pm

    Paul Barker The core vote strategy is (according to Mark Pack) based on two key questions which according to him “have a very strong predictive power for identifying whether or not people fall without our target group and, being restricted to just two questions, are practical to work into our campaigning:
    Do you think the UK should stay within the European Union, or should it leave?
    At what age did you leave full-time education?”

    We just had a General election on whether people wanted to stay in the EU and our vote collapsed during the campaign.

    Mark may want to believe these people can become a Core Vote. You may want to believe that this Core Vote is about the Long-Term, not the next Election or the Last and We are still, very slowly, Recovering from The Coalition.

    After four years of campaigning on one of Mark’s two key questions and a Do or die election on EU membership, the vast majority of Remainers didn’t want to vote for us, and now EU membership is gone, most of those few who came to us this time, will go back to where they came from.

    The Core Vote strategy was a figment of fond imaginings when it came out and is as dead as a Norwegian Blue now.

    The only question is whether we want the Lib Dems to be interred alongside it in that ditch.

  • David Becket 2nd Feb '20 - 8:15pm

    @ David Raw

    “It would be easier to campaign if there were some relevant (and popular with the general public) policies to campaign on now that the all the eggs in one basket policy has gone down the Swanee River. Somebody has shot the one trick pony”

    Not quite dead, there is a lame one trick pony to be found on our web site

    “It would be easier still if there was some competent and charismatic leadership lurking round the corner and about to emerge.”

    Well said

  • nvelope2003 2nd Feb '20 - 8:27pm

    David Evans: To be fair the Liberal Democrat vote did not collapse at the last election. It rose from 7.2% to over 11% and recent Opinion Polls give the party about 10% with a lead of between 11% and 20% for the Conservatives over Labour whose support varies from 29% to 33% compared with 44% to 49% for the Conservatives. The Greens and Brexit Party each have an average of about 4%.

    I do not think the leadership of the party and Conference attenders have much if anything in common with the membership. Even the MPs seem to live in a world of their own but that also applies to the other parties including the SNP. Maybe we should concentrate on Local Government for the moment and try to find more realistic leaders from there ?

  • @ David Beckett “Not quite dead, there is a lame one trick pony to be found on our web site”..

    Are you sure it’s not a donkey, David ?

  • John Barrett 2nd Feb '20 - 10:20pm

    As David Evans pointed out, there is at least one obvious flaw with the Core Vote Strategy using the two key questions, “Do you think the UK should stay within the European Union, or should it leave? and At what age did you leave full-time education?” as a basis for identifying potential Lib-Dem voters.

    That is that the vast majority of people who have a Higher Education do not vote Liberal Democrat and the vast majority of those who wished to remain in the EU did not vote Liberal Democrat at the last election.

    Treating all voters with equal respect; not because of the level of their education or their views on the EU or even the value of their houses is more sensible.

    Contacting every household in the area, not writing off the less affluent or working class/council house estates. Working with them and building a campaign team to improve their local areas, sustaining a track record of campaigning over many years, showing that at local government level we can be trusted to deliver what we promise and building up a strong local team, will provide a much more sustainable core of voters and activists and candidates that can then build on the success at council ward level so that a challenge at parliamentary level can have a real chance of success.

    This will build a core vote that will last.

  • “This will build a core vote that will last.”

    The evidence of 2010-15 is that it doesn’t

    Marks point (AIUI at least) is that both the other parties have a core vote which has protected them in their worst elections (83 Labour, 97 Tory). The Lib Dems don’t have such a thing.

    The problem has been defining what this is when the party is on such low levels. The two indicators are a strong feature in the partys current vote make up. But it is a fallacy to go from ‘most Lib Dem voters are pro-EU graduates’ to ‘Pro-EU graduates are likely to vote Lib Dem’.

    As the last election demonstrated – there is an argument that politics is shifting so that core voting identies are either (a) disappearing or (b) in a high state of flux. In very general (and this is very very general) terms is tribe identity now becoming the core feature of party support rather than class. If that is so the whole idea of core votes for parties may be up in the air.

  • John Barrett 2nd Feb ’20 – 10:20pm…………………Treating all voters with equal respect; not because of the level of their education or their views on the EU or even the value of their houses is more sensible………..Contacting every household in the area, not writing off the less affluent or working class/council house estates. ……

    This party might consider asking, and following, the advice/example of those like Ruth Bright in such matters.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Feb '20 - 9:30am

    @David Evans “The core vote strategy is … Do you think the UK should stay within the European Union, or should it leave? At what age did you leave full-time education?”
    I was going to say that from the outside I’d not seen any evidence of a “core vote strategy” until I saw this and thought:
    (a) oh, so that was on purpose
    (b) it doesn’t look like enough of a shared set of values/experiences/beliefs to be considered a “core vote”

  • John Barrett 3rd Feb '20 - 10:50am

    Hywel – “This will build a core vote that will last.” The evidence of 2010-15 is that it doesn’t.

    It did last for decades in many places, until then. Unfortunately even a core vote is not immune to some things, such as the disaster that unfolded during those years.

    We should never think of our core vote as permanent, regardless of how those voters are treated or how the party behaves either at national or local level. Voters are all individuals and no matter how solid their vote, if the party lets them down badly, even the core can disappear.

    The Labour party recently lost what they believed were solid Labour “core” voting areas for nearly 100 years.

    I have to admit that as someone who would be considered part of our core vote since 1980, the 2010-2015 experience made me think twice too.

  • Martin Land 3rd Feb '20 - 11:46am

    For most of my political life I’ve listened to Lib Dems complaining about people voting tribally. Now we are complaining about the loss of our core vote. Votes are earned, we are not somehow entitled to them. We must develop and put forward the policies that will ensure support and stop navel gazing. The topic of conversation in the George and Dragon is not transgender rights but affordable housing and NHS funding.

  • David Becket 3rd Feb '20 - 11:48am

    I am not convinced by the core vote strategy. Labour and Tory core votes have been partly based on years of habit, and as we have seen with Labour even years of habit can be wiped out. If the Tories make a mess of Brexit their core vote will start to vanish.
    Our core vote is made up of people with “liberal” views, which covers a wide range. We will starting to build up a reasonable solid vote until 2010, when we were “clegged”. Our MPs and leaders did not stand up for liberal views. That is not to say coalition is bad, it how you manage it that matters. The only way to rebuild our core vote is to promote policies that will appeal to those of a liberal view. The idea of basing a core vote on those who reached higher education makes no sense at all. It gives no indication of peoples views.

  • David Evans 3rd Feb '20 - 12:56pm

    nvelope 2003, I think you have misread my post – I very specifically said “We just had a General election on whether people wanted to stay in the EU and our vote collapsed *during the campaign.*” Sure we were up compared to May 2017, but the campaign started in late October 2019″ and our vote collapsed from nearly 20% to 11% in the following month and a half.

    To be fair, that is a catastrophic fall and a monumental error of judgement.

  • Peter Hirst 3rd Feb '20 - 5:16pm

    Having lost this campaign, we must now take a step back and campaign on the causes of having it in the first place. Electoral and constitutional reform will ensure we no longer have to endure the abrogation of parliament. In addition, it will help in our campaign to combat climate change and increase our quality of life.

  • @Paul, that our in-house website geek could become the most credible candidate for party President is in itself a marked comment on how far our stock has fallen, and how devoid of genuine inspirational leadership are our ranks of current and past parliamentarians.

  • Paul Barker 3rd Feb '20 - 6:12pm

    @David Evans
    there is an alternative explanation that fits the timings just as well, We got a temporarary boost after our good results in May, that boost peaked after 5 Months & then quickly faded. During the Alliance Years we saw many such boosts & they were always temporary with a return to the underlying trend.
    @ almost everyone
    we could have a thoughtful debate about the merits & drawbacks of a Core Vote Strategy, I am not sure this is it though.
    On the numbers, we have to look at the low points : in July 2017 we averaged 6%, currently we seem to be around 10%, that would suggest that the underlying trend is up, very, very slowly but still up.

  • David Evans 3rd Feb '20 - 8:32pm

    Paul,
    Of course, there has never, ever been a poll boost from May elections that carried on increasing until the start of October. That rise wasn’t down to May elections, it was down to a great People’s Vote campaign. The People Vote surge started to fade after it became widely publicised that we were going strong on Revoke, rather than the PV.

    However, our leader and her advisors did not notice this downwards drift and instead of realizing their mistake, they doubled down and gave Boris his quick election, which resulted in PV supporters going to Labour and our vote collapsing.

    As I said, a catastrophic fall and a monumental error of judgement.

  • JOHNSON The first and inevitable cracks have occurred : Political journalists boycotted a Downing Street briefing on Monday after one of Boris Johnson’s aides banned selected reporters from attending.

    “The confrontation took place inside No 10 after Lee Cain, Johnson’s most senior communications adviser, tried to exclude reporters from the Mirror, the i, HuffPost, PoliticsHome, the Independent and others from an official government briefing.

    At a time of escalating tensions between Downing Street and the media, Labour accused Johnson of deploying Donald Trump-like tactics to avoid scrutiny.

    The incident happened in the foyer of No 10 when journalists on the invited list were asked to stand on one side of a rug, while those not allowed in were asked by security to stand on the other side.

    When Cain told the banned journalists to leave, the rest of the journalists decided to walk out collectively rather than allow Downing Street to choose who scrutinises and reports on the government. Among those who refused the briefing on the UK’s trade negotiations with the EU were the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, ITV’s Robert Peston, and political journalists from Sky News, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Sun, the Financial Times and the Guardian”.

  • Paul Barker 3rd Feb '20 - 9:42pm

    @ David Evans
    There had never previously been a May with 2 lots of National Elections, The Locals then The Euros.

  • @John Barrett

    “Hywel – “This will build a core vote that will last.” The evidence of 2010-15 is that it doesn’t.

    It did last for decades in many places, until then. Unfortunately even a core vote is not immune to some things, such as the disaster that unfolded during those years. ”

    I’ll come back to that last sentence but on the first point I’m not so sure that it did. There are plenty of examples of that locally generated success disappearing when the tide turned or certain key figures moved away. I remember writing an election analysis of 2004 when I pointed out that the 5 ‘headline gains’ from 4 years before had all had heavy losses. That effect was masked somewhat by seats which had an MP after 1997 – which not just helped cover over any organisational cracks but also made some areas effective one party states so being able to get a purchase to ‘attack’ the incumbents became harder. 2006 was also indicative as the party went backwards in London in councils it held, and gained others that it didn’t hold before those elections.

    With regards to the last sentence it’s worth considering how the Tories looked after their core vote (elderly voters) in government. What did the Lib Dems do with theirs? Students of course are well known but we also systematically carpet-bombed the teachers vote (very pro-Lib Dem in 2010) with some swinging changes to pensions etc.

  • David Evans 4th Feb '20 - 10:05am

    Paul Barker – and your point is?

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