Why Lib Dems should not stand aside in favour of Labour Remainers

Last night, Liberal Democrat PPC for Canterbury Tim Walker announced he was stepping aside in favour of Rosie Duffield, the sitting Labour MP. 

There is no doubt that Rosie Duffield is a good person who supports remaining in the EU. She holds values that are compatible with ours and, should she ever choose to join the Liberal Democrats, she would be warmly welcomed. However, she represents a party that is not committed to Remain. To stand aside for her would send the wrong message to the millions of people who are relying on Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats to stop Brexit.

Liberal Democrats have already stood aside in 20 seats, 17 as part of the Unite to Remain initiative and 3 against prominent independent remainers. Our willingness to work with others to achieve a remain objective is not in doubt.

There is one thing in common with the people we have stood down for. They represent parties who wholeheartedly support remain or are running as independents. We are the strongest voice of remain and in no circumstances should we stand aside for a representative of a party which is not committed to Remain.

Let’s go through that Labour policy again. They would go back to the EU, negotiate another deal, put that to their conference to work out whether they support the deal or remain, and then have a People’s Vote. Would they really negotiate a deal and campaign against their own efforts? I doubt it. Labour would deliver Brexit and any Brexit damages the country.

Voters need to have the chance to clearly and explicitly vote for Remain and the Liberal Democrats are the leaders of the remain movement. So we need to fight every seat and fly that remain banner. If we don’t, we let the people down and go against our own values.

We also let down these Liberal Democrat candidates who have been slogging away for months, fighting the Remain cause. We can’t risk their efforts by allowing them to be on the receiving end of a “Vote Lib Dem get Corbyn” effort from the Tories. Remember how much damage the “Chaos with Ed Miliband and Alex Salmond” did us in 2015? We need to promote our own cause and highlight the flaws in the Tories’ arguments, not give them ammunition to fling at us.

That is why I’m glad that we are going to be putting up another candidate in Canterbury.

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

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  • Irshad Yusuf 13th Nov '19 - 11:31am

    I agree that HQ shouldn’t deliberately stand aside, but if a local parties activists and candidates vote to stand aside themselves(as in this case), HQ absolutely should just let them rather than parachuting in a candidate who both has no chance and may actually push local activists forever away from the Lib Dems.

    Not to mention risk a dreaded spoiler effect, I fear that if we don’t let local parties make these decisions, and the anti-referendum Brexiteers(which Rosie is not) win a majority next month, the media narrative will be squarely blaming the Lib Dems, as ridiculous as it is considering if we had our way virtually nobody would need to tactically vote.

  • Jayne Mansfield 13th Nov '19 - 11:38am

    @ Caron,
    I think that the party really needs to decide whether its prime aim is to give the electorate all the facts in an unbiased manner as possible so that when people are in full knowledge of the facts, can decide whether they still agree with the outcome of the last referendum or not.

    A referendum now seems to me to be the only way of testing this. A deal of some sorts needs to be on the ballot paper, I applaud any attempt to make that option one where we have a softer Brexit than under Boris Johnson’s so called deal ( with its border down the Irish sea, which may well translate to no deal next year).

    Do I believe that Labour MPs would vote against a deal negotiated by its leadership, yes I believe some would, just as I believe that some Labour voters would., others would not. A new deal where one remains neutral whilst allowing those MPs who want to remain or leave to argue their case (some, fundamentally remainers but supporting leave as a matter of conscience because the party claimed in an election fight that they would respect the vote, gives the best chance of us remaining within the EU or as close to the EU and its institutions as is possible.

    The Liberal Democrat party seems to be in denial that for some MPs, keeping one’s promise to the electorate or doing what one personally feels is best for the country, is an enormous moral dilemma. I believe that this is overly cynical.

    Whilst this is probably the most unpredictable election I have ever known, whatever the polls say, I would argue that Brexit is not the over-riding concern of the population at large that it is for activists and political ‘nerds’. who are passionate about it. They want to know what a government will do to help their family when it is struggling. Trying to turn it into a Brexit election is not, in my opinion, particularly sensible.

  • Sometimes you have to accept democray and if the local party feel that they want to support the Labour MP because they feel she is a better option than the Hard Right Tory alternative well I really wouldn’t impose a candidate they won’t like or support. Be the bigger person or is that party. We can hardly preach localism and then impose centralism can we.

  • I’m afraid I profoundly disagree about Canterbury, Caron. Tim Walker, who stepped down as the Lib Dem candidat,e has put common sense and decent humanity before tribalism.

    Rosie Duffield has been an excellent M.P., a strong remainer (despite opposition in her constituency party), and, as in the clip below, a passionate campaigner on domestic violence against women. It is likely that a Tory Brexiteer will get elected if Lib Dems split the Remain vote… a Tory candidate who is supported by Suzanne Evans – a former Leadership contender for UKIP.

    It will be an interesting litmus test to see whether this post appears on LDV.

    MPs moved to tears by Rosie Duffield’s domestic abuse story …
    https://www.theguardian.com › politics › video › oct › labour-mp-rosie-duffield-moves-…
    Video for rosie duffield speech full▶ 5:54
    2 Oct 2019 – Uploaded by Guardian News
    The Labour MP Rosie Duffield’s account of her own experience of domestic abuse left colleagues in tears in …

  • I have no idea what happened in Canterbury, or what the local party thinks.
    I do know though that many people have distorted views of the European Union. We have an international organisation which is open and democratic.
    When are we going to hear that?

  • Tough though it can be, because there are decent Remainers in that party, we are right not to stand aside for Labour. I understand Labour rebuffed all approaches re the ‘Unite to Remain initiative, which of course ourselves, the Greens and Plaid were able to sign up to. Had Labour offered to stand aside in. say Richmond, then perhaps something reciprocal could have been agreed. Labour is still a Leave party and despite the efforts of Rosie Duffield – and Keir Starmer and others — she and they have not changed that. So no standing down. Beyond Labour however, I hope there will be further scope. We stood down for Grieve; I hope we will do same for Gauke, also now standing as a pro Remain Independent

  • Duncan Greenland 13th Nov '19 - 12:08pm

    There is an important distinction between seats in which continuing to resource an active Lib Dem campaign has the real potential to elect the Lib Dem candidate and seats (like Canterbury ? ) where to do so will make the election of the Conservative candidate significantly more likely.Surely better to have an independently minded « Remainer » Labour member like Rosie Duffield to work with in 2020 to bring about a second referendum than to be dealing after the election with yet another hard line Brexit Tory ?

  • Roland Powell 13th Nov '19 - 12:21pm

    Caron you write about “flying the remain flag” but neglect to mention splitting a remain vote the effect of which is to support the arch party of leave. A tory majority in parliament will be a disaster for we Remainers so the LD’s in Canterbury are acting in the wider remain interest and our party’s leadership is being unnecessarily tribal. Not positive for our LD image in this campaign.

  • Let us not exaggerate. If the LibDem candidate has no chance of winning, but will effectively put a Tory in the seat, we all lose. The party might not officially endorse this, but disciplinary action is clearly wrong.

  • Michael Cole 13th Nov '19 - 12:27pm

    ” … we are going to be putting up another candidate in Canterbury.” Absolutely right.

  • I wonder why Tim Walker changed his mind in the last few Days, we need to ask questions (after The Election) about how he was chosen in the first place. Was Walker completely honest with The Party ?
    Labour are a Brexit Party & will go on being one as long as their members prefer Corbyn to their own opinions on Europe.

  • I disagree particularly since asking the Liberal Democrat candidate to withdraw in my own constituency caused so much controversy.

    Ideally, we should be standing down in dozens of seats where “sensible” Labour candidates are facing a close contest with the Conservatives.

    Are we really serious about preventing the most right-wing government of modern times?

  • Exactly. Rafael Behr gets it right (as usual) in today’s Guardian:
    “At national level Jo Swinson needs support from liberal Tories who abhor Corbynism every bit as much as Brexit nationalism. Swinson cannot afford to give the faintest hint of formal collaboration with Labour under its current leader. Besides, there would be scant reciprocation. When Labour activists call for an alliance, what they tend to mean is that the Lib Dems should admit the folly of their existence, shut up and dock with the big red mothership of all political virtue. It is not as persuasive a pitch as some on the left seem to think.” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/13/tactical-pacts-brexit-election-leave-remain

  • Lawrence Fullick 13th Nov '19 - 12:58pm

    I hope people will take no notice of Britain for Europe branches urging voters in some constituencies to vote Labour

  • Simon Holmes 13th Nov '19 - 1:16pm

    I am a LD supporter and activist, however some things like Brexit are way above party politics.

    May I remind that Labour received 45% of the vote in 2017, Conservatives 44.7% and the LDs way behind on 8%.

    Labour may not be behind a full revoke, but like the LDs if we don’t win a majority, they will go fo a confirmatory referendum.

    I appreciate the frustration with the fact that Labour will never stand down a candidate, but by fighting this hopeless battle we could let the Tories in.

    Please, please, please, National interest before party. Always.

  • phil mclellan 13th Nov '19 - 1:21pm

    If you look at some of the remain facebook groups, Tim Walker is classed as a hero. I have mixed views. I understand his logic about the Labour candidate but her party leader is anaethma to me and many others. I do however, feel discilplining Tim and his supporters in Canterbury is way over the top. I know of Lib Dems who agree with Tim and the danger is that we will have an almighty row when we need to be united. I gather the Canterbury Lib Dems will be helping lib Dem candidates elsewhere so they are not deserting the party and we should not desert them.

  • Sandra Hammett 13th Nov '19 - 1:27pm

    Since I believe that the Revoke policy to be a mistake, it is obvious (to me at least) that we should be standing aside for Remainer candidates in marginal seats, to combat a Tory majority and in anticipation of a hung parliament we need as many Remainers as possible push a People’s Vote forward.
    And then we might try persuading people that EU membership has it’s advantages.

  • Simon, your figures are wrong. In 2017 the Tories got 42.4%, Labour 40.0%.
    On your broader point, it’s worth mentioning that the Labour party declined to join any pacts with any other party. They could have been part of Unite to Remain. Great efforts were made to get them on board, but they refused. We LibDems are putting the national interest first by standing down for Greens and PC and some Independents. It is not easy for us to do that, but we are doing it.
    The best thing we can all do now, as individuals, is to get out there and campaign like hell in our target seats against the Tories. That’s how we can beat Brexit, not all this talk of pacts that ain’t gonna happen. Let’s be bold about our position as the leaders of the anti-Brexit movement and get out and sell it.

  • Barry Lofty 13th Nov '19 - 1:35pm

    Whatever the personal policies of individual Labour candidates you cannot get away from the fact that Jeremy Cornyn and his supporters would be a total disaster for our country if he came to power along with the leader of the Tory party, we have no choice but to soldier on and hope the country comes to its senses, the alternative is frightening. History should tell us what could go wrong but do we ever learn?

  • Jeremy Cunnington 13th Nov '19 - 1:37pm

    Agree with you Caron on this. I would also add that having a Lib Dem candidate might actually benefit Rosie Duffield. There will be liberal remain Tories who are perfectly happy to vote for the Lib Dems but because they fear / loath Corbyn so much will never vote Labour and boost the chance of a Corbyn government. If there is just a toss up between Labour and Tory, they are more likely than not vote Tory as the the Corbyn factor will outweigh anything else. Better to have a Lib Dem candidate as a repository for these votes.

  • It’s a mess. Let’s not make it a worse mess.
    Let Canterbury Lib Dems do what they feel is right.

  • I live in the Canterbury Constituency, have voted Lib etc for 62 years.The comments which have been expressed on both sides of the debate are both right. So what do Lib Dems in Canterbury do. At the 2017 election many Lib Dems supported Rosie to get an unpopular MP out and it may have been that support which made the difference.In a TV programme Sal Brinton and Rosie debated issues and the interviewer said”Why aren’t you in the Lib Dems , you believe in virtually all they stand for”. The answer was I have been bought up in the Labour Party and she laughed. Many of us had hoped she would join Lib Dems .
    Now I and many Lib Dems have to consider where our votes go. Rosie is not just a remainer but clearly is no fan of Corbyn either. Should the local Constituency party be the ones to decide, it is after all their money time and activism which is being sought or do we let a candidate put their name on the ballot paper and sit indoors. Difficult isn’t it

  • I hear some people saying the local party should decide. I totally agree. But do we know that’s what happened in Canterbury? Was it the local party who decided not to put forward a candidate, or was it just a personal decision by the candidate? There is a very big difference.
    If it’s just purely his personal decision then I believe the party is right to discipline him. Of course he is free to make decisions about his own position, BUT it’s not up to him whether the LibDems have a candidate in Canterbury. And by accepting the role one week and then resigning it the next, just 2 days before close of nominations, he very nearly took that decision away from them. That’s not on.

  • chris moore 13th Nov '19 - 1:51pm

    Wouldn’t it be incredible, if LABOUR stood down candidates where the Lib Dems have the best chance of beating a sitting Tory and arch-Leaver?

    There are many such seats. No enthusiasm for that amongst Labour rank-and-file.

    Labour didn’t want to join the Remain Alliance, because
    !. They didn’t want to stand down in a single seat.
    2. They are split on Brexit.

    Lib Dems do not need to apologise for standing candidates. We are a separate political party, not an inconvenient adjunct of the Labour party.

    Let’s wise up a bit.

  • Martin Frost 13th Nov '19 - 2:07pm

    I do not want to see a Tory Government implementing a hard Brexit. That is the most probable outcome of this election.

    The majority of Labour MPs are still from its moderate wing. That will change if the election goes badly for Labour. More defectors to the Lib Dems perhaps? It will not matter any more.

    I hope the Remain voters of Canterbury have the sense to vote for Rose Duffield and that Liberal Democrat and moderate Labour voters in other constituencies lend their support to the Remain candidate who is best placed to defeat the Tories or the Brexit party.

    The Lib Dems helped to bring about this election and have taken a gamble in doing so. It looks as though it may backfire horribly.

    I am a Remainer first. If the Party tactics do not change we will be out of the EU for good.

  • Meher Oliaji 13th Nov '19 - 2:10pm

    My own MP is a Labour Remainer who defies his party whip on Brexit. I am campaigning in a target seat, and since my MP has a huge majority I will probably vote Lib Dem. But if it was close between him and a Tory I would definately betray my party to vote for him. The electorate won’t forgive us for giving the Tories a majority.
    Worth remembering too that many of those new members (our party up from 100 to 700 members since 2014) won’t stay loyal once Johnson has forced his Brexit through because we split the remain vote.

  • Colin Paine 13th Nov '19 - 2:16pm

    Agree with Caron. Labour needs to be opposed, not just for its Brexit non-stance but for its ruinous policies.

  • Laurence Cox 13th Nov '19 - 2:38pm

    Paul Brand on ITV announces that the Lib Dems have chosen Claire Malcomson (I presume the Mole Valley councillor) to fight Canterbury.


    Once this election is over the Party is going to have to come to an agreement over who makes the decision on candidates standing. So far, Party HQ has overruled local parties in Pontypridd and now in Canterbury (and perhaps High Peak as well). David Gaulke is telling people to vote Lib Dem not Tory, and we still put up a candidate against him, standing as an independent. The Tories and Labour have always dictated to local parties what they can do, why is our Party leadership doing the same? Power should flow from the bottom upwards, not the top downwards, in our Party.

  • @ RossMcL I assume you refer to the Canterbury constituency – the subject of this thread, when you say, “Simon, your figures are wrong. In 2017 the Tories got 42.4%, Labour 40.0%.”

    Ross, It’s always a good idea to double check figures when you claim someone has made a numerical mistake. On your figures The Tories would have held Canterbury.

    General election 2017: Canterbury

    Labour Rosie Duffield 25,572 45.0% +20.5
    Conservative Julian Brazier 25,385 44.7% +1.8
    Liberal Democrat James Flanagan 4,561 8.0% -3.6
    Green Henry Stanton 1,282 2.3% -4.0
    Majority 187 0.3% Turnout 56,800 72.7% +8.7%
    Labour gain from Conservative Swing +9.3%

    Clearly, in 2017, many Canterbury Lib Dems switched to Rosie Duffield, sufficient to gain the seat. I would imagine many will do so again.

  • Mark Blackburn 13th Nov '19 - 2:43pm

    This is going down so badly in my neck of the woods where to get Labour and Greens on board is the only way we are ever going to beat the Tories. Every day we seem to be doing something to make this less likely and reinforce a more and more prevalent view that we are ‘the Remain Tory Party’. There’s also a massive hypocrisy in that I well know that Lee’s constituency above is not the only one where tremendous pressure was put on LD candidates with the best chance of winning to stand down. PLEASE do not put up a candidate in Canterbury, whatever Labour do or don’t do elsewhere. Despite delusional ideas about us winning the election overall, our best hope is stopping an overall Tory majority. Let’s do all we can to achieve this, otherwise any other scenario planning is redundant.

  • Sue Sutherland 13th Nov '19 - 3:03pm

    I think we should remember that we are the party of localism and that traditionally we have been against the party parachuting candidates into seats. Voters will not understand the intricacies of our argument for replacing the candidate but if they are Labour remainers I think they’re more likely to vote for us in other constituencies if we accept the local decision.

  • This row can only run until tomorrow lunchtime. That is the deadline for submitting nominations. While I can understand the reasons for the hard line that the leadership is taking, I cannot criticise the Canterbury candidate and local party for what they have done. A centrally imposed paper candidate would be an absurdity. Who could possibly be dragooned into that role? It would certainly have helped the Canterbury local party’s case if Rosie Duffield had issued a public declaration that she would oppose Brexit in all circumstances (even if whipped by Jeremy Corbyn to support it). Had she done that, I think the case for standing down would be overwhelming.

  • Peter Martin 13th Nov '19 - 3:12pm

    Now it looks that the BXP vote isn’t going to be that significant we can say the most likely scenario on Dec 12 will be:

    1) The Tories won’t do much better, if at all, in overall % terms than they did in 2017.

    2) The opposition vote will be much more evenly split that it was then.

    3) This will translate into a healthy Tory majority and Brexit on the 31st Jan.

    4) The Lib Dem revival will have helped create the very thing they say they are most anxious to avoid.

  • Jo Swinson.explained for the local newspaper why Lib Dems were standing.a candidate in Canterbury a week ago. Even though the candidate has made a personal decision to step aside, I think this reasoning is still valid.


  • Even if Lib Dem HQ is parachuting a new candidate in, it needs to drop disciplinary proceedings against Tim Walker – they are shameful and repellent to voters.
    If you can stand down for Dominic Grieve, then you can stand down for Rosie Duffield. People’s Vote recommends a tactial vote for her, and last time I checked, Lib Dems backed People’s Vote. Without Remain Labour MPs we would be out of the EU already, and will be by February, if splitting the vote hands their marginal seats to Brexit Tories.

  • Some of the comments here suggest, that stepping aside was the decision of the local party, not the candidate himself.

    According to KentOnline, Canterbury constituency chairman Nigel Whitburn said: “There’s a split locally about what should be happening, but the majority of members say we should be putting up a candidate. Obviously at such short notice there was a limited choice.”


  • Jayne Mansfield 13th Nov '19 - 3:57pm

    Sandy Toksvig of the Women’s Equality Party and other WEP activists, supporters and survivors will be out canvassing in Canterbury to support Rosie Duffield.

    Good luck to Rosie. I hope Tim Walker makes it as an MP one day. We need more politicians like him too.

  • DAVID FENTON 13th Nov '19 - 4:09pm

    The Labour Partyy refuse to do deals to stop Brexit but surely we should not be opposing Labour candidates who are Remainers and splitting the vote. We might not like Jeremy Corbyn but many Labour candidates don’t like him either. If stopping Brexit is the most important policy – and it is then let’s shame Labour and who knows we might get some unofficial backing from Labour candidates. I’ve been an active Liberal/Lib Dem for over 65 years and from feeling so optimistic a few weeks ago things are starting to turn sour. Until we get PR we have to be more flexible. By the way the deal with Plaid and the Greens in 60 seats is not that great when you analyse the seats as there were not a lot of votes for them in these seats. Maybe some psycological importance but no more. So let’s shame the Labour party and show that we can be magnanimous.

  • Disagree strongly. A Conservative will now take this seat from a progressive remain supporting women (albeit from the Labour Party). Sad to see how authoritarian the central HQ are being. Disciplinary action against Walker?! Really?!

  • Like Caron, I do not live in Canterbury Constituency, but unlike her I have had close connections with the area for fifty years. I profoundly disagree about the Federal or English Party imposing a candidate. Since Caron wrote her article, it has been reported in the Guardian that James Gurling has written to all candidates to inform them that disciplinary action has been initiated against Tim Walker – with the implied threat that any candidate who withdrew would be treated in the same way.:
    It is clear from press reports that Tim Walker acted through conscience. The preamble to our constitution states: “we acknowledge and respect [individuals] right to freedom of conscience”. The decision to initiate disciplinary action smacks of the intolerance of the Labour Party, and not the culture and ethos of the Lib Dems.
    In publicising a disciplinary action, James Gurling has also acted in contravention of the Federal Complaints Procedure:
    “While a complaints procedure is ongoing, details relating to that Complaint and the
    procedure are confidential. … Where an individual
    breaches confidentiality while a complaints process is still ongoing that, in itself, may be grounds for a further complaint.”

  • There were plenty of warnings that holding a GE before Brexit had been resolved wasn’t a good idea…

    Just to add to the mess, a question not being asked is what about the remain favouring conservative MP’s that are likely to be deselected, shouldn’t they be encouraged to stand as independents as part of the remain alliance.

  • Brian Ellis 13th Nov '19 - 4:49pm

    This issue is never going to easy, I recall the days of the Lib/SDP alliance when large numbers of Lib PPC’s had to stand down, I was one of that number. In the end we have to take a long term view. The sovereignty of Constituency parties must be taken into account it is on the ground that health and future of the party is forged. We can stand aside and strengthen our party. The goal in this case is to ensure that the Tories are not returned with a majority to force through Brexit. We need allies to do that. Any action against the local party is not correct. We will remain united and indeed strengthened if we maintain our focus on the prime objective . Which in this instance must be to see the end of Boris Johnson and his brand of Toryism.

  • richard elliott 13th Nov '19 - 4:51pm

    I can understand the HQ line of there being no deals with Labour but local parties should have some leeway. We have no chance in Canterbury and standing threatens an excellent remainer MP, Rosie Duffield. To stand looks from an external remainer viewpoint as stubborn and party political – not putting the national interest first. Standing aside doesn’t signal compliance with Corbyn or a national policy but an understandable local decision – come on we should be setting an example.

  • John Marriott 13th Nov '19 - 4:51pm

    Yet again, I agree with David Raw. Of course Labour won’t play games. They never do. However, that doesn’t stop parties like the Lib Dems showing magnanimity. Whether Corbyn would be a disaster for the UK has to be weighed for me against what kind of damage Johnson and co might wreak on the country.

    As regards Canterbury, given the result last time, the decision of the Lib Dem candidate to stand aside might gain more votes elsewhere than any number he might have gained if he had stayed put. As for putting up another Lib Dem candidate, it’s clear that the Pack doctrine rules at HQ.

    I know it’s too early to draw conclusions; but I am beginning to get a sinking feeling that, unless common sense prevails, the Tories could be heading for an overall majority. I appreciate that, with our voting system percentages don’t simply translate into parliamentary seats. Common sense would appear to be on short supply, judging by some of the reactions.

  • Michael Berridge 13th Nov '19 - 4:52pm

    Bob Sayer is right, it is difficult, specially when you think of liberal Tories who might vote for us but never for Labour. Caron makes a good case. But is it worth putting up an “emergency” candidate who comes a distant third (as in Brent Central in 2015)? If local LDs have decided to stand aside, should they be overruled by HQ? This is not a top target seat. We last came second in 2010, and that was not close. I sometimes wonder if I should have voted for Emily Thornberry in 2001. She halved sitting MP Julian Brazier’s already slim 1997 majority of 4000.

  • Leekliberal 13th Nov '19 - 5:26pm

    I suggest that those who with the kindest of motives suggest that we stand we stand down for Labour candidates from that entitled and supremely incompetent party, do not hold their breath while waiting for any equivalent gesture from them!

  • Mick Taylor 13th Nov '19 - 5:30pm

    I would be happy to reach an agreement with remain members the Labour Party if they were to reciprocate. But they won’t and Corbyn has categorically ruled it out.
    So we have absolutely nothing to gain from standing aside in favour of Labour. Quite apart from anything else we cannot ensure our would-be voters will in fact switch to Labour anyway. What standing aside does ensure is that our voters cannot vote for the only serious remain party in British politics.
    I am a very tolerant person. Forgive me then if I find the behaviour of our former Canterbury candidate to be totally unacceptable. He should have never put himself forward to fight the seat or worst case should have stood down as soon as the election was called. He should not have waited till 2 days before nominations closed and tried to bounce the party in the way he has. It suggests to me that he has little political experience and no loyalty whatsoever.

  • As I understand it, the majority of the Labour party are remainers, apart from the renegade MPs who voted with the government, but the leadership is out of tune with the membership. All attempts to replace the leadership have failed however, and Corbyn’s cabal have now reasserted control for the indefinite future, while people like Owen Smith and Tom Watson have resigned.

    Passionate pro-Europeans like Rosie Duffield and others (David Lammy comes to mind) are therefore in the wrong party. Should they be punished on this account, or should we support and enable them, even though it may not be reciprocated by their party? In refusing to yield to this temptation, Jo Swinson is putting principle before pragmatism, even though it apparently risks the triumph of Tory Brexiteers. We must trust that she has judged correctly, and that in the long battle that lies ahead, this is the wise policy.

  • chris moore 13th Nov '19 - 5:44pm

    Labour could help stop Brexit by withdrawing candidates in our target seats.

    But they didn’t want to join the Remain Alliance. Let that not be forgotten.

    The Remain Alliance will make scant difference to our prospects in the relevant seats, as the presence of the other RA parties is minimal.

    However, standing down our candidate in Canterbury wouldn’t make a Labour victory there more likely either.

    Whatever our leftward-preferences as activists are, the second preference of Lib Dem voters tends to reflect the balance of other parties in the seat. In this case, Labour and Tory are likely to be very close in Lib Dem second preferences.

    Finally, there is a species of head in the cloud belief amongst some on here that with the spot on strategy and tactics, we can stop Brexit.

    We cannot. This has been clear enough for some time.

    Nor was there a majority for a People’s vote in Parliament. That line of approach wouldn’t have worked.

    We need to get as many LD MPs elected as possible and begin campaigning for a close relationship with the EU.

    My apologies if this seems too grim. But it’s the way it is.

    Playing into Labour’s game of claiming they are the only option is not helping at all.

    Potential candidates and activists should be less naive. And should consult with HQ and other local activists before taking unilaterall decisions.

  • The electorate of Canterbury is perfectly capable of making up its mind whether to vote tactically on the merits or otherwise of the various local candidates. However, many voters won’t vote on local issues – but will vote according to the national campaign for national leaders (whether or not that’s who they are technically voting for). When the PM and the LOTO are both extreme, it’s by no means obvious who someone who would normally vote LibDem would choose.
    We shouldn’t be taking any voters for granted – it’s naive in the extreme to think just because we don’t stand a candidate, voters will follow our preferred option, even when there is a formal pact.
    Also, even though Brexit is the most important issue for many of us, it doesn’t follow that it is the most important issue for the electorate in any particular constituency. After all, it’s not (and never has been) the most important issue for Corbyn!

  • I fully agree with Caron and HQ here.

    Labour are a pro-Brexit party, end of story. If an individual Labour candidate is pro-Remain I question their integrity for flying under the pro-Brexit Labour party banner in this election. Brexit is defining this election, and it is a Brexit election like it or not. If a Labour candidate is pro-Remain, they should not be a Labour candidate.

    Standing aside for Labour with no reciprocity also sends the message that;
    -this election as a whole is a fight between Labour and Conservative
    -Labour can dictate terms whilst Lib Dems just take them
    -this election is not about Brexit

    All the above is to our disadvantage

  • Arnold Kiel 13th Nov '19 - 6:50pm

    It would be good for the LibDems to quietly make peace with a more likely second-best outcome of this election: JC leading a minority government with case-by case LibDem support. This is the most realistic chance to remain and get PR, and it will last a lot less than 5 years.

    It is true that he is unfit to be PM, so much so that he will resign or be removed within 12 months. He has no government experience (or inclination) whatsoever, his intellectual capabilities are fading, and he is psychologically incapable to collaborate with the powerful (e.g. other heads of state) as he has always defined himself as an advocate of the victims and comrade of the rebels. His utter inadequacy in No. 10 will become impossible to overlook for a solid majority of Labour members very soon.

    Not a nice scenario for the UK and its standing in the world, but better than 5 years Johnson. He would finish his term, and the Union, the social state, and industry with it.

  • Paul Barker 13th Nov '19 - 7:05pm

    In what way is a Political Party different from a Charity or Campaign Group ?
    It stands Candidates in Elections. My criticisms of our party have always been that we dont stand enough Candidates.
    Labours position is quite clear, they are a Pro-Brexit Party, the position of individual MPs is irrelevant, however Nice they may be.
    Labours Membership are Anti-Brexit but their views dont matter either because Labour is not a Democratic Party.

  • Mick Taylor 13th Nov '19 - 7:31pm

    We are totally arrogant if we deny people who want to vote Liberal Democrat the chance to do so and assume that (a) they won’t mind and (b) that they will vote for the anti Tory candidate.
    Voters can make their own minds up about who to vote for and no party should try and prejudge voters intentions.
    I have a sneaking suspicion that standing aside in Canterbury will actually help the Tory.

  • Alex Macfie 13th Nov '19 - 8:23pm

    The Lib Dems standing aside in seats such as Canterbury would be the best present the Tories could hope for in this election. It would allow them legitimately to paint us as being a Trojan Horse to putting Corbyn into No 10, and would therefore damage our support base in our Tory-defending targets. Our support there comes from Remainers who are traditionally Tory, but who will consider voting Lib Dem. They will not vote for Labour under JC, and any suggestion of a pact between us and Corbyn’s Labour Party will drive them back to the Tories.
    Peter Martin’s concern that the opposition vote will be “evenly split” translating into a healthy Tory majority is based on projecting the changes in vote uniformly across all constituencies. That is not what is going to happen. In a seat like Canterbury, which the Lib Dems are not going to be seriously targeting anyway, it is likely that the 2017 Labour vote and the single-issue Remain vote will go to Labour, while the Lib Dems will mainly get Remainer Tories who could never bring themselves to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. If Lib Dems stand aside there, then that vote is most likely to go to the Tories. So the Lib Dems will be hindering the Tories, not helping them, by standing in Canterbury.

  • John Burgess 13th Nov '19 - 10:22pm

    This election is first and foremost about stopping Brexit. The ONLY way that will happen is by a hung parliament with no majority for a Tory deal. So we need every Tory seat we can get by whatever means. Down in Devon we have an Independent Remainer who could well take a Tory seat but could fall just short by Lib Dem and Labour votes. Focus on Brexit not political tribalism.

  • We should stand a candidate against the Labour MP who clearly wants the best of both worlds.

  • This made me think. Would it be a winning tactic for some Lib Dems joining other parties, getting selected as candidates in marginal seats, and then, at last minute, stepping down in favour of the Lib Dem candidate?

    And would it be ethical? If not, is it ethical to do the same, even if you didn’t belong to any other party previously? Surely if a person gets selected as a candidate, they are aware of the situation in the constituency, and commits in standing there despite the situation? The situation of course can change, but probably not in a week or two?

  • If you are seen supporting MP’s of a Corbyn led Labour party in anyway, you run the risk of losing any remain Tories who may have voted for you. Tory remainers may dislike brexit, but they absolutely despise Corbyn and his Shadow Cabinet. You could lose more supporters than you gain. Better to put up your own candidate, if the Canterbury voters want to vote tactically that’s up to them.

  • Richard Underhill. 13th Nov '19 - 11:05pm

    When she spoke in the Commons about her personal life she got widespread sympathy and her speech was repeated on the PM programme.
    Her chances of re-election may depend on the timing of the election, winter?
    Jo Swinson is showing that she had judgement and determination. As Sal Brinton said on BBC2 Newsnight Jeremy Corbyn is a Leaver whom we cannot support. Toxic.

  • I’m so looking forward to 4pm tomorrow when hopefully all this will die away and we can focus again on our election messages. What Tim Walker has achieved in the last 2 days is to make all LibDem coverage in the media – and most of the discussion here on LDV – all about pacts and the Labour party. That’s all he has achieved. Our campaign team is working hard trying to get our message across to the voters, but we’ve basically lost two days to this nonsense. Let it all stop at 4pm on Thursday, pleeeease!

  • Bill le Breton 14th Nov '19 - 7:54am

    In a General Election, no constituency is an Island.

    Last night on the local North West news programme there was a positive for Lib Dems about Stockport (a seat we have previously held and which must be a very good prospect this time) BUT its ten seconds of positivity for us and our other good prospects in the region was wrecked by a feature on the candidate from High Peak (?) resigning over Canterbury.

    What happens during this election in one seat can give ammunition to our opponents. What good is it if one remainer wins in Canterbury if 25 potential remainers in the South West lose lose against hard Brexiteers because of the assault we will come under from the Tories. The “vote Lib Dem get Milliband” trope in 2015 did huge damage to us. It did not end on nomination day.


  • Richard Taylor 14th Nov '19 - 7:58am

    Like many other commentators, I believe Caron is wrong. This is not an ordinary election, it is one which will decide a major issue for a generation. As LibDems we wish to achieve 3 things: stop Brexit, prevent an extreme Tory government and stop Jeremy Corbyn getting into No 10. The only way we could achieve all 3 is by electing a LibDem Government. There”s every reason to work for this but we must recognise the odds on this are perhaps 100-1. If there isn’t a Lib Dem Government then we have to choose between these 3 objectives. I believe stopping Brexit should be number 1, preventing a hard right government number 2. Realistically the only way we can do this is, in tight Con/Lib marginals where the Libdem vote is very small, vote tactically for avowed remain Labour candidates. This can’t be imposed from above but I don’t see why local parties should be forbidden from doing so. Our LibDem candidate in Canterbury talked of the horror of contributing to the horror of electing a brexiteer MP. Writ large think of the horror of electing Boris Johnson with a majority of 10 after 20 brexiteer candidates are elected in places like Canterbury. We would not be forgiven by the mass of progressives in this country who have no party membership.

  • Leekliberal 14th Nov '19 - 8:22am

    We need to learn from this damaging fiasco. The candidate approval process must ensure that applicants are clear and will certify that once selected they will only step back for personal reasons. They should be expected to give their written acceptance of the undertaking at the time of their selection and face discipline when they break their word and let us all down.

  • I don’t think any of these pacts will work . They’re based on the assumption that the appeal of a single issue is such that voters will swap readily from one party to the other, but they could just as easily say there’s no way I’m voting for them and either not vote at all or vote for one of the big two. Also, as far as I can tell, The Greens and Plain Cymru don’t have much electoral clout in the first place.

  • Julian Tisi 14th Nov '19 - 9:40am

    While I have every sympathy with the former Canterbury candidate on a personal level I believe he has made a big mistake that hasn’t helped things. The party is 100% right to replace him and we should be unapologetic about this.

    It’s frankly rather galling listening to Labour supporters call us yellow Tories and the like, then have them plead “oh, please stand aside for us”. Sorry, but no!

  • @Simon Holmes. Can you give me the url please where the BBC state that Labour got 45% and the Tories 44.7% in 2017? Because that is simply wrong. If Labour and the Tories got 90% between them, and we got 8%, that would mean UKIP, the Greens, SNP, PC, the Northern Irish parties and all ‘others’ got only 2% between them. If you are citing BBC and wiki, can you show me the actual links?

  • @ Glenn “They’re based on the assumption that the appeal of a single issue is such that voters will swap readily from one party to the other, ”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Glenn, (and I’ve complained about the one trick pony policy approach for over two years) but isn’t that the whole basis of the Liberal Democrat election campaign in saying, ‘Stop….’ indeed ‘Bollxxxx… to Brexit’.

    Are you suggesting this approach is wrong ? It strikes me there’s more than a bit of the Little Britain .”Yes, but, no but, yes but, no but” flying around.

  • Can I just change the topic. With respect we have to move on. Our big opportunity are the TV Leaders debates not who stands in Canterbury or not, and it is very welcome that the SNP have intervened and are too seeking an injunction on Monday. Together we, albeit with seperate type approaches, will present a more powerful case in court. Pleased to see latest Comms res poll on the subject shows ITV only having 12% public our sides 53%. We may win this one in one form or another. Fingers crossed. Personally I do not understand the intransigence of ITV, it is as if they know best despite all the evidence they are not publicly supported. Best of luck to our legal team.

  • David Raw
    I think focusing on a single issue is shorted sighted because in general elections other priorities and factors come to the fore. So, yes, I think the current campaign is a mistake. The point being that voters are not neatly split between Remainers and Leavers. They will vote for all kinds of reasons on all kinds of issues, mostly prioritising personal circumstances . There is a tendency amongst those who think about politics in terms of ideologies to forget that most people are much less consistent in their political beliefs and much less committed to the big vision.

  • Peter Martin 14th Nov '19 - 12:00pm

    @ Katerina,

    “poverty was a political choice…..Cutting tax for the rich was given priority and the aim was to attack the post war welfare system …….and its culture which had been so admired world wide. For the 5th largest economy in the world to have fourteen million in poverty, of whom one and a half million are destitute”

    The problem for Remainers is that this has all happened whilst we’ve been members of firstly the EEC and now the EU. It may well be true that the decisions have come more from the UK government than the EU, but membership of the EU hasn’t helped stop it. We still, at least on paper, have higher standards than are required by the EU on such issues as minimum wages and number of holidays. The EU doesn’t have a good track record. When the ECJ has been asked to rule on workers’ rights. It tends to favour the side of the employer.

    Many of us on the Lexit side of the argument feel that the Labour movement has “gone soft”. There’s too been far too much reliance on the EU to protect workers’ rights. IMO there shouldn’t be any at all – even if we do end up staying in.

  • Paul Barker 14th Nov '19 - 1:24pm

    The time to discuss the relative succsess of our focus on Remain will be when we know the results, sometime on Friday the 13th, we still have nearly a Month to go. The whole point is to get us into the fight but the fight itself has hardly begun.

  • Peter Hirst 14th Nov '19 - 3:20pm

    Perhaps we should be thinking that we might be having yet another General Election early next year if that is what it takes for the centre to reassert itself and prevent a hard Brexit.
    It has happened before and depending on the result next month, it might be the only way for the silent majority to win. It might be the only way to prevent Brexit and we should be ready for that eventuality.

  • chris moore 14th Nov '19 - 3:21pm

    In Today’s Guardian, Owen Jones is claiming that the Lib Dems are not an anti-Brexit party, but the Brexiteers’ best friends, because they will not stand down against Remain supporting Labour MPs.

    It never occurs to him that Labour candidates could stand down in Lib Dem/Con marginals.

    Hence on his own reasoning, Labour too are an anti-Brexit party.

    What Labour reeks is a sense of entitlement.

  • @Peter Martin – “The problem for Remainers is that this has all happened whilst we’ve been members of firstly the EEC and now the EU. It may well be true that the decisions have come more from the UK government than the EU, but membership of the EU hasn’t helped stop it.”

    Fundamentally I think we are in agreement about the problem: namely … Westminster.
    The question is how to tame Executives that act more out of ideology and the interests of their financiers.

    Because the EU has acted on workers rights, more to harmonise them across the EU28 than to enhance them – in the interests of creating a level playing field for workers. In countries having governments with poor reputations on workers rights, the efforts of the EU could be seen as protecting workers rights, as it has set some minimum standards, which member governments have been expected to equal or exceed.

    I can see how some can misread this as the EU taking positive action and thus expect the EU to take the lead – a state-of-affairs I take from your “gone soft” reference.

    The problem and challenge for L/Brexiteers is without the EU being there to uphold such standards there is nothing that prevents a Westminster Executive, doing whatever it wants… which given the propensity to look backwards through rose tinted glasses, means doing away with “red tape” of workers rights…

  • The position of the Lib Dem leadership is astonishing. You are not going to form the next government, it is that simple. All that matters is stopping brexit and if that means a few Lib Dem candidates need to step aside at one election, they should do it.

  • Peter Martin 14th Nov '19 - 7:23pm

    @ Roland,

    “…..without the EU being there to uphold such standards there is nothing that prevents a Westminster Executive, doing whatever it wants…”

    Yes there is. It is called the Labour movement. If we do leave, we’ll just have to do what we’ve always done and that is to fight our own battles instead to wanting to hang on to nanny EU’s petticoats!

    The “gone soft” comment probably applies even more to the European socialist and labour movements. At one time, the French, German and Italian left, amongst others, were a real force to be reckoned with. No longer. They seem totally incapable of doing what they were set up to do in the first place. Naturally, the working classes aren’t at all impressed that there is little or no fight left in them. The fascist right can scarcely believe their luck that they’ve been given such free rein!

  • Peter Martin 14th Nov '19 - 7:43pm

    @ Chris Moore,

    “It never occurs to him that Labour candidates could stand down in Lib Dem/Con marginals.”

    It probably does.

    In 2010 I set a tactical voting website. The motivation was to maximise and unify the anti Tory vote. That’s a mistake I won’t ever repeat. I was wrong to think that the Lib Dems were essentially on the same anti-Tory side as Labour. I’m still learning. I am starting to appreciate that many Lib Dems so dislike the modern Labour Party that they are prepared to risk a Tory government including Brexit as a lesser evil.

    If I were in Canterbury, I would be putting my Lexit sympathies aside to vote for Rosie Duffield. On the other hand, the official Lib Dem line is that they’d rather Lib Dems saved their £500 deposit. Every vote to save your deposit is one less than could be helping RD retain her seat.

  • Jayne Mansfield 14th Nov '19 - 8:27pm

    @ Mick Taylor, 13th November,7,31pm

    Whilst pacts are understandable given our FPTP system, maybe I am being obtuse , but don’t they also reduce voter choice when a member of the electorate wishes to vote for a particular party and not help a party that has aims that one fundamentally disagrees with? Isn’t it the case that the same arrogance and assumptions apply with this tactic too?

  • Jo Swinson says that the party “must give voters a genuine remain option” in the election. Quite right. The problem is that the party is not doing that. It has failed to press for a referendum, it has failed to put forward a policy with any realistic chance of delivering Remain, and it has failed to seek any means of collaboration with the only other party which could seriously help increase the chances of Remaining. As a result, the desperation tactic of pulling out Lib Dem candidates in favour of Labour Remainers is the least worst option for those who want a genuine campaign to Stop Brexit.

    Our Brexit policy is not credible. We will never Revoke, because it is both wrong in principle and unachievable in practice. If we want to recover from a bad start, we need to change approach radically and turn the campaign around.

    If we think it essential to treat Corbyn with disdain and act rough and tough with Labour, then let’s also make it a constructive challenge. Let’s challenge Labour to drop the “Labour Brexit” and go straight to a Johnson Deal v Remain referendum. Let’s be very withering in condemning all the ambiguities and unresolved issues in Labour’s Brexit policy. Let’s tell Labour that they will get nowhere unless they help us Stop Brexit.

    At worst, we will expose Labour’s problems, and make ourselves look a bit less unconstructive. At best, we might actually get some action to Stop Brexit.

  • Mick Taylor 15th Nov '19 - 8:28am

    The main topic of this thread is now a dead duck, since the chance to withdraw candidates ended at 4pm yesterday.
    We now need to use the remaining 4 weeks of the campaign to ram home our message. Contrary to assertions by David Allen and others we are not just campaigning on Stopping Brexit, but are offering a whole raft of policies to Build a brighter future.
    I know that our Brexit Policy is not fully understood by some, but saying we’re not offering a referendum is not accurate. We are saying that our preference is to revoke, which we would implement if we won a majority. We are also saying that in the absence of such a majority we would continue to support a referendum. Nuanced perhaps, but pretty clear.

  • Peter Martin 15th Nov '19 - 8:43am

    @ David Allen,

    “Let’s challenge Labour to drop the “Labour Brexit” and go straight to a Johnson Deal v Remain referendum.”

    That would be a good idea! It is also the only option which would be generally acceptable. This way the leavers are choosing their option, and the remainers are choosing theirs. The Labour plan is for remainers to choose both options.

    Also you need to be wary of labelling Labour as a Leave party. If the election result comes out as something like 40% Tory, 35% Labour, 5% Brexit, that will add up, on your argument, for 80% of the votes being being for Leave parties. Whereas if you count the Labour vote on the Remain side…….

  • Alex Macfie 15th Nov '19 - 9:05am

    @David Allen, @Peter Martin, @bartelbe et al.: You aren’t listening are you? The whole point is that Lib Dems standing aside in places like Canterbury would benefit the Tories not Labour. It would result in Lib Dem votes going to the Tories. And it would enable the Tories to legitimately portray the Lib Dems as enablers of a Corbyn government. In the tight Tory-LD marginal where I live, the Tories are already putting out the “Vote Lib Dem, get Corbyn” line, which has worked for them in the past.

  • Alex Macfie 15th Nov '19 - 9:36am

    To those who say that we “are not going to form the next government,” implying that we shouldn’t advocate what we would do if we did, I say, “What would be the point in us campaigning?” Last time we ran a campaign based on “Vote for us as Kingmaker, and we’ll make either a Tory or Labour government slightly more liberal”, in 2015, we failed miserably. People don’t have a reason to vote for us if we don’t say what we WOULD do if we formed the next government, it’s that simple.

    As for unilaterally standing aside for one of the two big parties, well the last time we did that was in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election of 2008, for David Davis of all people. What was worse about it was that at the time it was a target seat for us. I don’t think that gesture achieved anything at all, except shore up Davis’ position in his constituency. It certainly didn’t achieve anything for the principle/cause that Davis was supposedly fighting the by-election on, as that authoritarian right-winger is not at all credible as a champion of civil liberties.

  • Jayne. I think we’re in angels on the head of a pin territory with your comment. Isn’t that what I said?
    It is arrogant, in most circumstances, to make assumptions about the views of the electorate and to deny them the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice.
    The Party, along with other parties, but not Labour, has taken the view that electing Remain MPs is so important that for this one election a Remain pact in a relatively small number of constituencies overrides the usual considerations about always standing a candidate.
    May I gently suggest that you go talk to the utterly intransigent party you now support about why they expect others to stand down, when they refuse to do so under any circumstances?

  • Michael Berridge 15th Nov '19 - 1:28pm

    @ Peter Martin “If I were in Canterbury, I would be putting my Lexit sympathies aside to vote for Rosie Duffield.”
    If I were still living in Canterbury… would I be voting for Rosie Duffield?
    My speed-read of comments to date tells me I would still be in two minds as I went into the polling station.

  • Peter Hirst 15th Nov '19 - 4:55pm

    It all depends on the probability of electing a remain candidate. If this was certain, there would be no need and if it was a no chance again no need. If it seems close, it would be a close thing, balancing our long term electoral fortunes against possibly putting an extra less hard Brexit candidate in parliament. It could work if it was well explained and received plenty of local support so as to actually increase our poll rating in that constituency.

  • Johnson Must Be Stopped

    Tim Walker’s unilateral decision to stand aside as the Lib Dem candidate for Canterbury in order to increase the chances of the Conservative candidate being defeated should not only be applauded, but should also act as a blueprint for the Lib Dem’s approach to this election.

    Johnson has to be stopped. Jo Swinson may be right to say that neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Corbin are fit to be Prime Minister but there are the only three realistic outcomes to this election, none of which includes a Lib Dem majority, and the one that needs to be avoided at all costs in a Boris Johnson Government.

    It’s damage limitation. When confronted with two undesirable outcomes, the only sensible way forward is to choose the one that will do the least harm.

    Corbin may not inspire much confidence but he has promised a second referendum with the options of remain and ‘his softer Brexit deal’ on the ballot paper. Johnson, in contrast, has made it abundantly clear that he will drag the UK out of Europe at the end of the implementation period ‘deal or no deal’ – no deal being an almost certainty – with all the accumulated negative impact on the NHS, welfare provision, environmental protection, security cooperation and employment rights, as well the underlying threat to the political integrity of the United Kingdom.

    This isn’t a normal election and normal rules don’t apply. The simple truth is that any Conservative defeat is a victory for the Lib Dems because the only outcome that really matters is denying Boris Johnson an overall majority. No matter how bad a Labour Government may be, a Conservative Government led by Boris Johnson will be infinitely worse.

    Jo Swinson has a golden opportunity to show real leadership and demonstrate that she cares more about our children’s future than short-term Party success or personal advancement by embracing this reality and making a conscious decision to either encourage tactical voting or unilaterally withdraw candidates from seats where Labour is the only realistic alternative to a Conservative victory. She has nothing to loose and everything to gain because the continuation of a policy of encouraging Lib Dems to fight for ‘remain’ votes in seats where there is no chance of winning serves no purpose other than to increase the likelihood of the disastrous hard Brexit that she pledged to avoid.

    Lee Allane

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Nov '19 - 7:00pm

    @ Mick Taylor,
    I don’t think I can talk to the Labour Party intransigent or otherwise, is still a broad church , not all members share the same view on the value of pacts in achieving a particular aim, in this case, to get rid of Johnson and all that he and his crew stand for.

    I can tell you that whatever the political divisions and disagreement on strategy and tactics, Labour members that I am able to speak to, unequivocally share this imperative. This in not just about Brexit , but the damage that they will do if they remain in power after the election. Even Peter Martin and I can agree on that.

    Whether one likes it or not, Jeremy Corbyn has twice been elected leader of the Labour Party. Chukka Ummuna might have been elected leader had he not withdrawn from the contest. One thing is for sure, even some committed members of the Labour party will choose to vote for the candidate in their constituency who has the greatest chance of removing Johnson.

    I am afraid your leader’ s parroting of tory rhetoric about Corbyn and the right wing media’s wish to make this election all about Corbyn, demonstrates a failure to understand that even those who would have favoured a pact, believe that your party has bolstered Johnson and made his return to government probable. It has not been a great success as far as winning friends and influencing people is concerned.

    My forlorn hope as a northerner, is that Farage refusing to form a pact in some of the northern ‘leave’ areas, means that the right wing vote will be split to the detriment of both.

  • David Allen 15th Nov '19 - 7:58pm

    Alex Macfie: “Lib Dems standing aside in places like Canterbury would …result in Lib Dem votes going to the Tories. And it would enable the Tories to legitimately portray the Lib Dems as enablers of a Corbyn government.”

    So let’s get this straight. You think that when the Lib Dems stand down, the Tories pick up most of the Lib Dem vote. So you think that standing a Lib Dem candidate in Canterbury will have the effect of helping Labour to win. You are desperate that the Lib Dems should not be seen as helping Labour to win. So, you are a passionate advocate of a course of action (LDs contesting the seat) which, in your view, will help Labour to win.

    Er, what?

  • Michael Sammon 15th Nov '19 - 11:05pm

    We shouldn’t step aside for anyone. Once we accept this is a good idea then it is inevitable people willing to throw the lib dems under the bus for even the slightest chance of remaining or ousting the tories, will keep asking us to stand down based off some logical fallacy that we now should vote a certain way based on small polls rather than actually have an election. Why ask 45 million if the tactical voting sites say we only need to follow their advice and ask 45,000? It’s nonsense. We would be swallowed up by Labour and back to family and friends levels in the polls.

  • @David Allen: You are twisting my comments. Your assumption that Lib Dem votes are totally transferable to Labour (a common fallacy among “progressive alliance” advocates) leads you to advocate a course of action that *appears* to benefit Labour (standing aside for their candidates), but would actually helps the Tories much more. Whereas my point is that the opposite action is what will actually hinder the Tories (and therefore, in certain seats, help Labour), even though it looks superficially like it helps them. But you don’t get it because you are wedded to false assumptions.

    The whole point is that what could damage us is the *perception* among soft Tories that we are “helping” Labour by standing aside for their candidate, and cements the image of us as enablers of a Corbyn government. If people see us fighting every seat, they see us as being different from Labour, and therefore as an alternative to the Tories that those who can’t bring themselves to vote Labour *can* support. And this benefits the opponents of the Tories.

  • Well this is what happens when we let Boris have his Brexit election over a referendum issue.

    Better to build an alliance to reform the voting system than get tied up in knots over what Canterbury want to do.

  • Any sort of pact between political parties has two major pitfalls. (1) Votes might not transfer as the architects of the pact intend. (2) The impact of the pact on a party’s public image is often not considered.

    Taking (1), the idea that Lib Dems should stand aside in tight Labour/Conservative marginals to help a pro-Remain Labour candidate ignores the fact that a lot of potential Lib Dem voters are pro-Remain LD/Tory waverers who would never consider voting Labour under someone like Corbyn. In the absence of a LIb Dem candidate, they would most likely hold their noses and vote Tory.

    Similarly, the one-sided Tory/Brexit Party pact is predicated on the assumption that Brexit Party voters will transfer to the Tories. And, to be fair, most probably will, but not all. Many Brexit Party supporters will be Lexiters who are natural Labour voters who cannot bring themselves to vote Tory, so might go back to their natural political home.

    And for (2), I and others have pointed out that any perception that the Lib Dems are “helping” Labour by standing aside would validate the Tory “Vote Lib Dem get Corbyn” line that the Tories are using in the seats that Lib Dems are seeking to win from the Tories. The paradox is that the tactic that would seem to be designed to keep the Tories out would actually help them. Yet standing a candidate in Canterbury would actually help the anti-Tory vote, not just in Canterbury, but also in Lib Dem targets. Of course, Tories are hardly going to be able to use the fact that Lib Dems are putting up candidates in Con-Lab marginals to suggest that we are helping Labour. It’s not an argument that’s easy to explain in a leaflet, or on the doorstep. And it confuses some of the commentators here as well!

    Likewise, the Tory-Brexit Party pact has a danger in that it will drive moderate Tories to the Lib Dems, and could also hurt the Brexit Party in winning over Lexiter voters if BXP seems to be a proxy to the Tories.

  • Jonathan Coulter 16th Nov '19 - 7:01pm

    I feel the leadership has been over-bullish about this election. It is certainly very difficult negotiating a deal with Labour, but if both sides refuse to cede any ground, I think we shall be opening up a big chasm through which Boris Johnson will gallop to victory. At a minimum, I would like local parties to have discretion to decide whether they contest the election or pull out.

  • David Allen 16th Nov '19 - 7:44pm

    Alex Macfie

    “@David Allen: You are twisting my comments. Your assumption that Lib Dem votes are totally transferable to Labour (a common fallacy among “progressive alliance” advocates)….”

    Let’s just stop there. I am not “twisting” your comments, I am showing that they are illogical and self -contradictory. You on the other hand are not “twisting” my comments, you are just inventing them.

    I have never said that “Lib Dem votes are totally transferable to Labour”. You have simply put those words into my mouth, as anyone who reads back up the thread can easily verify. Pure obfuscation. Why should anyone bother to read what you write?

  • @David Allen: No, my comments are not “illogical and self -contradictory”, you only think they are because they go against your assumptions. I was NOT saying I don’t want the Lib Dems to help Labour, I said that I don’t want the Lib Dems to give the APPEARANCE of helping Labour by standing aside for Labour candidates, because to do so would actually help the Tories by allowing them to portray us as a proxy for a Corbyn-led government. This is not “self-contradictory”, it is a statement of reality. You are *just assuming* that Lib Dems standing aside for Labour candidates in Lab-Con marginals can only help Labour and hinder the Tories, and that standing there helps the Tories. But in fact the opposite is true. I’m not contradicting myself, I am contradicting your assumptions, which are wrong.

  • @David Allen: The fundamental point that you miss is that image and reality are different things. There is a difference between giving the impression of helping Labour, and doing something that happens to help Labour but superficially appears to do something else. Standing aside for Labour in seats like Canterbury may be an outward gesture intended to help the Labour candidate, but the reality is that it may do the opposite, and furthermore helps the Tories by giving them ammunition against us in our target seats (nearly all of which are against the Tories). Standing a candidate in Canterbury will in reality probably hurt the Tories more in that seat, because that’s where most of our potential vote would go in our absence there. However, it also covers our back, because the Tories can’t claim that we are supporting Labour candidates, so their “Vote Lib Dem get Corbyn” message is less likely to succeed. Just to show that that is the Tory message, the latest Tory leaflet in the tight Con-LD marginal where I live has only one person pictured on it: Jeremy Corbyn. It is an anti-Labour leaflet in a seat Labour has no chance whatsoever of winning.

  • In case Alex Macfie or anyone else is remotely interested in facts – The evidence from pollsters is that, when the Lib Dems do not stand, their vote generally splits fairly evenly between Labour and Tory. So, simply messing up the nomination process and failing to get on to the ballot paper probably does little to help either Labour or the Tories.

    It’s quite different if a candidate stands down and recommends a vote for another party, as, for example, the Lib Dems are doing to help the Greens in some constituencies as part of the Remain Alliance. The Greens in such constituencies will undoubtedly benefit. Plenty of Lib Dem supporters will follow their party’s recommendations and vote Green. It could have been like that in Canterbury.

  • If Lib Dems stand aside and recommend a vote for Labour in Canterbury or anywhere else, then Tories will immediately seize on it and attack us in our target seats as enablers of a Corbyn government. There is also no guarantee that voters will follow the party’s recommendation in the seats where we are standing aside. It’s more likely where we are standing aside for a Green candidate, because Greens are more reiably pro-Remain, and they also don’t have the toxic baggage that Corbyn’s Labour has.

  • Alex Macfie 17th Nov '19 - 1:00pm

    “when the Lib Dems do not stand, their vote generally splits fairly evenly between Labour and Tory”

    This may well be true nationwide, but the split will not be uniform, and will depend on the specific factors in each constituency. In Canterbury, Labour will get the anti-Tory vote and the single-issue Remain vote. As the Lib Dems will be running a token campaign, they will get only the hard-core “always vote Lib Dem” people and Tory remainers. Neither group are going to vote Labour, they would rather vote for Lord Buckethead. The second group in particular would most likely vote Tory in the absence of a Lib Dem or other credible ‘centrist’ Remain candidate.

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