Why you should go to Lewisham this weekend

Helen and I spent Tuesday evening canvassing in Lewisham. We met the friendliest reception we have had on doorsteps for a long time, from people who remarked that everyone assumes that Lewisham is a safe Labour seat and no party then seems to care about the voters. We were the first canvassers they had seen so far, in this hurried by-election, rushed ahead by Labour to do its best to prevent any other party from mounting an effective campaign, with polling day on June 14th. So, if you can carve out an afternoon or evening, better still a whole day, and are within travelling distance, do your best to go to Lewisham!

Since Parliament is treading water at present while the government struggles to come up with some coherent policies on Brexit, groups of LibDem peers have been travelling down to help with the campaign. You travel to Lee station, 15 minutes from London Bridge towards Dartford; our campaign headquarters is a 5-minute walk from there: 19 Leegate Centre, London SE12 8SS, just off Burnt Ash Road. They turned us round fast and efficiently when we arrived, and sent us out with a good briefing to use on the doorstep. If needed, contact [email protected] or phone 07384 525159. If you bring a large party I’m sure they would appreciate warning of your arrival.

We met one former member of the Labour Party who promised to vote for us (‘I understand why Heidi Alexander has left the Commons; I’ve left the Labour Party for much the same reasons’), and others who were wavering over moving to us this time. We had some positive conversations, in a patch on the fringes of Lewisham and Blackheath, about the Liberal Democrat stance on Brexit and the arguments for sending a message to the government through this by-election. My colleagues report similarly positive experiences in other parts of the constituency. Lucy Salek, our candidate, is well-known and well-liked. There has been little sign of any Conservative activity, and the Labour candidate has just upset local opinion by declaring that she won’t come to a hustings meeting next week. We also heard grumblings of local discontent with Lewisham’s Labour Council, taking local residents for granted.

I’m not going to kid you that we can overturn an entrenched Labour majority in such a desperately short campaign. But we could push the Conservatives back into third place, shake Labour’s complacency, and force the media to pay us more attention than they have been willing to do in recent months. The Liberal Democrat campaign is the only thing between another safe Labour majority in a seat they think they own, and a jolt for Westminster from voters trapped in our broken two-party system. And the weather is good. So why not pack some sandwiches and make it a day out?

* William Wallace has fought five parliamentary elections in Manchester and West Yorkshire. He is a former president of the Yorkshire regional Liberal Democrats.

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  • Sandy Walkington 8th Jun '18 - 11:11am

    I have been twice and fully endorse William’s comments. Actually if you have a car bring it – there is a free two-deck car park behind the HQ and it’s useful for getting deliveries and canvassers in some of the far-flung parts. We are certainly getting Conservatives voting for us ‘just this once’ and Labour voters recognising the argument that the mathematics of the House of Commons won’t change but the Jeremy Corbyn/Keir Starmer position on Brexit could be stiffened by a good LibDem result. And Lucy is a good candidate.

  • Nigel Quinton 8th Jun '18 - 12:02pm

    I was with Sandy yesterday and would add that the journey by car from Hertfordshire was surprisingly easy – not least because he was driving! – but provided one avoids the rush hour(s) quicker than one might expect.

    It doesn’t matter that we might not win (tongue in cheek!), it is vital that we get a good second place, and anything that gives Chukka et al more ammunition to pressure Corbyn into action on Brexit has got to be worthwhile. I first cut my teeth campaigning not too far from here in the eighties and much of this area should be natural LibDem territory. The natives are most definitely friendly – get down there and help!

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