Why you should help our campaign in Batley and Spen

Now that Chesham and Amersham is triumphantly over, attention will turn to the by-election in Batley and Spen on July 1st. There has been plenty of discussion about the Tory vs Labour battle but not much about the excellent candidate standing for the Lib Dems, Tom Gordon.

Tom is a local man, born and raised in West Yorkshire, who is a Councillor in the neighbouring Borough of Wakefield – the first Lib Dem councillor there in a decade. With a background in biochemistry and public health, and a stint working as a health economics research assistant, he is well placed to understand why local residents are so fed up with a Labour Council that doesn’t care and a Tory Government who see Northern Labour voters as people they can bamboozle with empty promises.

Tom spent a considerable amount of time in Chesham and Amersham and, as he says:

I had life long Labour voters in Chesham and Amersham who were voting for us because Sarah and the campaign had a strong message and they knew what we stood for, whereas in Batley and Spen they say they don’t know what Labour locally, or Keir Starmer nationally, stand for.

Batley and Spen is part of Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, which has 9 Lib Dem members. Cleckheaton ward in B&S has 3 Lib Dems Councillors – one of them is Baroness Kath Pinnock (who was leader of Kirklees Council from 2000-2006), who has represented the ward since 1987: she was re-elected this May with 49% of the vote.

There has been some talk of whether it would be better to help Labour get elected in Batley and Spen – leaving aside the question of why we wouldn’t want to back the best candidate standing, it is awfully presumptuous to think if people don’t vote for us they would go Labour. This article looking at second preferences in the recent elections doesn’t support it.

Liberal Democracy has much to offer the people of Batley and Spen and putting up a good fight in this election will help to build our base for the future. You can make donations and find out how to help here.

* Simon McGrath is a councillor in Wimbledon and a member of the board of Liberal Reform.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Parliamentary by-elections.


  • John Marriott 21st Jun '21 - 12:34pm

    Reciprocity versus pragmatism? If I were still a Lib Dem member or, as I am now, a Lib Dem sympathiser, I would stay at home. Surely the last thing that you want now is for the Tories to gain any succour to compensate for losing a safe southern seat by gaining another ‘un winnable’ northern seat.

    If the Lib Dems ease off in Batley and Spen and Labour still loses that makes the argument even stronger for Labour to wake up and smell the coffee. If the Lib Dems do find another (smaller) kitchen sink, it could be that they will be blamed by Labour for letting the Tories in. What chance then for any sort of ‘alliance’, whether ‘progressive’ or not?

  • David Warren 21st Jun '21 - 12:51pm

    We should get fully behind the Liberal Democrat candidate in Batley and Spen because we want Liberal supporting voters to vote for a Liberal.

    Labour have shown no inclination towards forming a ‘progressive alliance’ or supporting electoral reform. If they lose this byelection then their leader will probably be ousted which given Starmer’s reluctance to ditch tribalism can only be a good thing.

  • Steve Comer 21st Jun '21 - 1:09pm

    It seems to me that our best strategy given limited resources would be to campiagn:
    1) In areas where we have Councillors, or where are seriously fighting for future gains.
    2) In Tory leaning areas to help prevent another Tory gain in the north.
    A Tory win would be so depressing after the excellent result on Thursday.

  • Jenny Barnes 21st Jun '21 - 1:17pm

    chesham & Amersham was an LD v Tory contest, and the anti establishment vote kicked the Tories out . Worst result ever for Labour. B&S is a Labour v Tory contest. I think the Tories will win or come close, like Hartlepool. However wonderful our LD candidate is, no voter who is paying attention will vote anything but Labour or Tory.

  • Alex Macfie 21st Jun '21 - 2:15pm

    Jenny Barnes: You are assuming too much. Voters don’t necessarily follow the “two-horse race” narrative, especially in by-elections. For a start, this by-election has a wildcard in the form of “Gorgeous” George Galloway, who has an appeal to the tribal Muslim community that’s as incomprehensible as Johnson’s appeal to Red Walll voters. Galloway is on 6% in the so-far only constituency poll for the by-election. As well as the tribal Muslims, he also appeals to Corbynistas, and both groups probably don’t mind much if the Tories win as a result of their voting for him. Some Galloway supporters (who tend to be natural Labour voters) even say they would vote Tory if he wasn’t standing.

    The Lib Dems in B&S do seem to be following the strategy suggested by Steve Comer above, campaigning in Tory-leaning areas to win over soft Tories who wouldn’t touch Labour. This will have the effect of depressing the Tory column, and perhaps the best hope is that we can depress it enough to counter Galloway’s inroads into the Labour vote.

  • There are long and detailed arguments as to whether a Tory or Labour win is better for the Lib Dems. But it is essentially unknowable and the margins either way are slim.

    I am no expert on Labour internal politics but I think it (very) unlikely that a Labour loss will lead to Starmer’s removal as leader. But if it was the case then generally the further left you go in Labour the less likely that they are to want anything to do with the Lib Dems as many on the harder left view us as, if anything, as worse than the Tories and are more tribal. In general Starmer and a Starmer led Labour party is also least likely to frighten the horses in stockbroker belt Surrey which is to our advantage.

    In the recent Survation poll – taken before the C&A by-election, 8% were people who voted Remain and were voting Tory. These were people who did not want to vote Labour for whatever reason. It is quite likely that after Chesham and Amersham some of these people can be persuaded to vote Lib Dem if we go and talk to them but will never vote Labour. And 8% compares to a 6% lead the Tories had over Labour.

    @Jenny Barnes.

    I think Paddy Ashdown had the right line on tactical voting. People should cast their vote in the way that is most effective for them. For some that may well be a tactical vote. Some Lib Dems may – shock horror – have little preference between Tory and Labour. And for some the most effective vote will be voting for their “first preference” Lib Dem.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Jun '21 - 4:03pm

    The fact is there is no indication that the loss of a potentially terrific parliamentarian, Kim Leadbetter, removes Starmer.

    The loss of either does not help the Liberal Democrats.

    A unity of more than political manouvering would.

    Its nonsense to think that we do not favour the sister of Jo Cox. I do.

  • Peter Chapman 21st Jun '21 - 4:27pm

    David Warren is right .We should put all our limited resources into Tory facing areas of the constituency in areas we hope to gain eventually at local level. This will hopefully depress the Tory vote and leave a legacy from the campaign. In the heavily Labour areas we should do little. This is a far more effective strategy than standing back and doing nothing.

  • YL Williams 21st Jun '21 - 4:35pm

    Would it not be tactical to target soft Tory to erode blue vote. Assuming data good don’t canvass labour. Galloway is doing utmost to kick Starmer as hard in the goolies. Let’s be smart and supportive in helping B&S keep Tory out 🤔.

  • John Marriott 21st Jun '21 - 4:51pm

    I have only ever stood once as a candidate in a General Election. That was back in 1997 when the smart money was clearly on Labour as the Conservatives had clearly run out of steam. I was the Lib Dem candidate in the new constituency of Sleaford and North Hykeham, formed out of the old true blue seat of Grantham and a more affluent part of the bellwether seat of Lincoln, which, from 1979, had been held by the Tories.

    Having been given a month’s leave of absence with pay by my employers to fight the election, I spent a fairly lonely month touring the many villages and small towns that comprised this urban/rural constituency with a history of returning Tories to Westminster. On most doorsteps the only question I was asked was “Who came second last time.” Although it was a new seat, I was honest enough to say it was Labour. When it came to correspondence, the other question I was frequently asked was where I and my party stood on fox hunting (remember, this IS Lincolnshire).

    You could see what was behind that question and, sure enough, come polling day, using the 1992 results in Grantham as a guide, Tory, Douglas Hogg’s vote went from 56% to around 44% while the Labour vote went from 26% in 1992 to around 34%. The Lib Dem vote stayed more or less the same. Had it collapsed, it is just possible that the impossible would have happened and the Tories would have actually lost a seat in rural Lincolnshire.

    What I am trying to say is that, from my own personal experience, despite the best efforts of the parties, most voters know what to do if they want to send a clear message to the politicians. They might not be as fired up with the niceties of politics; but they are not stupid either. In terms of ‘preference’, ‘Michael 1’ would appear (shock horror😀) to be right as is Jenny Barnes in her assessment as well.

  • Well said, Lorenzo Cherin.

    As a native of what is now Batley & Spen (home for the first 30 years of my life,) I will always pay polite attention to advice from a Councillor in Merton, south London. But I’m lucky enough to know Kim to be an outstanding person born, bred and educated in the constituency with the head and heart of a Lion for social justice.

    And…..I’m not sure folk in Spen Valley regard Knottingley (which is on the wrong side of the A1) as particularly local.

  • Peter Martin 21st Jun '21 - 5:16pm

    “I had life long Labour voters in Chesham and Amersham who were voting for us because Sarah and the campaign had a strong message and they knew what we stood for….”

    Did they really? Are they good at understanding Quantum mechanics too? Everything in QM can be considered to be a superposition of completely separate states which led Schrödinger postulate that cats can simultaneously be both dead and alive .

    In the case of the Lib Dems we also have a superposition of contradictory states. They are simultaneously for and against HS2. Simultaneously for more and less housebuilding. Except they aren’t in parallel universes. Just different constituencies which need tailored and often very different messages to bring out the votes.

  • Re Sarah’s approach on HS2 in the campaign, didn’t the previous (Tory) MP also campaign against her party’s policy on HS2?

  • John Marriott 21st Jun '21 - 5:28pm

    No, David; nor did I have anything to do with that pile of manure mysteriously dumped at the front door of his stately home north of Lincoln at the time of the expenses scandal!

  • Peter Martin 21st Jun '21 - 5:39pm

    @ Barry Long,

    I don’t suppose HS2 was an issue when Cheryl Gillam first was elected as an MP. But as an MP she had every right to disagree with the party line once HS2 had become an issue. This is not at all the same as putting up a candidate with views which are totally at odds with party policy to win the seat in the first place.

    I suppose the counter argument will be that the Lib Dems should do whatever resonates with the voters in any particular area. You’d have pro-independence candidates in many Scottish seats for a start. You could have put up an arch Leaver in Hartlepool for example. Or someone who was in favour of more levelling up for the North in Batley and Spen but the next time there is a by-election in the South you’d choose a candidate who was totally against that!

  • @Peter Martin

    This has gone the rounds several times on LDV and the Lib Dem position is the same as the Tories, Labour, and in fact the Greens who seem to favour a lot more rail and a lot more high speed rail at that to take over from flying – except when it comes to any practical implementation of it.

    But all constituency MPs in all parties are allowed to take a different view on a constituency matter to that of the national party – including if I remember correctly the current *leader* of the Conservative party. Plus given *all* the candidates in the by-election had the same position on HS2 – it can’t be that “wot won it”, can it?

    And the Tory planning reforms actually if anything mitigate against building the homes that are actually needed.

    But this rather been done to death on LDV.

    @John Marriott

    I will buy myself a cake tonight to celebrate that you think that for once I am right 🙂 !

    And take heart – your candidacy was not totally in vain you did at least keep the moat cleaners of Lincolnshire in employment! (Sorry – I *had* to work it in somewhere!)

  • John Marriott 21st Jun '21 - 6:51pm

    @Michael 1
    I was replying to a remark about Douglas Hogg’s moat from David Raw, that mysteriously disappeared as soon as I pressed ‘Send’!😀

  • “campaigning in Tory-leaning areas to win over soft Tories who wouldn’t touch Labour”

    Problem is, it is no longer clear what a Tory leaning area is. I suspect that in many traditional Labour leaning areas there are now lots of Tory voters and vice versa. Labour hold seats like Putney and Canterbury and are clearly capable of winning some soft Tory voters. Their problem is with their traditional voters plus Starmer has alienated young voters who were energised by Corbyn.

    We should not be running an active campaign in B&S in my view.

  • Steve Trevethan 21st Jun '21 - 8:19pm

    « Tactical voting is practical voting! »

  • Alex Macfie 21st Jun '21 - 9:46pm

    Marco: We probably helped Labour over the line in seats like Putney and Canterbury by picking up votes from soft Tories who wouldn’t touch Labour. Our campaign in Batley & Spen is sensibly based on the same approach. We are running an active campaign in those areas where we are fighting the Tories locally, and where local election canvassing suggests there are a lot of such soft Tory voters. If Labour holds onto B&S it will be thanks to our activity in areas Labour can’t reach. But we can’t help Labour in preventing voter bleed to the Tories or to Gorgeous George.

    Young voters may have been “energised by Corbyn”, but it was mostly on a false prospectus, and that bubble burst long ago. Young voters mostly don’t share his actual political beliefs, like his foreign policy obsessions and especially his Lexity Euro-hostility. Perhaps the Greens are better placed than we are to do this, but the bursting of the Corbyn bubble certainly leaves the door wide open for someone without his toxic ideological baggage to enthuse young radical voters. Charles Kennedy succeeded in this in the 2000s.

  • @ Alex Macfie

    “We probably helped Labour over the line in seats like Putney and Canterbury by picking up votes from soft Tories”

    An interesting theory but what is the actual evidence, how do you know we didn’t also take votes away from Labour?

    In Canterbury the LD vote share fell by 2.3% yet the Lab share increased by 3.3%, it would seem that our voters voted tactically for Labour. The progressive alliance in action!

  • suzanne fletcher 21st Jun '21 - 10:58pm

    I’ll be helping on the phone in tory leaning area. reduce tory vote, support Lib Dem Cllrs.

  • Andrew Smith 22nd Jun '21 - 6:49am

    There’s a world of difference between voters deciding for themselves to vote tactically and parties presuming on their behalf which way they should or will vote.

    If we want one nation Tories to vote for us we should present any alliance as anti Johnson rather than anti Tory.

  • Robin Grayson FGS 22nd Jun '21 - 9:56am

    It was difficult to enjoy my toast and marmalade this morning, being drowned out by the clamour of chatter from noisy experts who I did not see over the weekend when I was helping out in Batley & Spen. To save time and dodge indigestion, I skipped past posters and posers who were spouting from afar. I went over or through the hills by Trans-Pennine Express, a rapid and smooth ride from Manchester Victoria that calls into question whether upgrading the track we have renders the northern HS2, HS3 legs are even remotely necessary if what we have already gets some upgrading. Soon enough in action in B and S which is east to find by lamp posts littered by George Galloway posters. Truth be told, if he can mobilise the lamp posts he will sweep to victory if the lamp posts are entitled to vote. He was a news reporter for Russian TV so maybe Putin would be pleased. For all the pundits on this thread, you might want to reflect on why the Greens did not stand. From what I saw, Lib Dems have a great candidate who is well-known and respected in several local communities. For me the only challenge was finding the letterboxes; and residents were often pleased to meet and greet. Can’t say quite the same for all the dogs but they don’t have the vote.

  • @Marco: You’re looking at it back-to-front. What you need to ask is what might have happened to the 5.7% Lib Dem vote that didn’t switch if we had not stood. After Tim Walker’s very noisy flounce from the contest, it must have been crystal clear that in Canterbury, the Labour candidate was the one to vote for if keeping the Tories out was the priority. So anyone who was still voting Lib Dem, knowing full well the position in the constituency, was unlikely to vote Labour, and they would have either abstained or voted Tory in our absence.

  • Julian Heather 22nd Jun '21 - 12:36pm

    Like Robin Grayson, I am am also getting fed up with the many armchair “campaigners” pontificating at what went on in Chesham and Amersham, and what we should, or shouldn’t do, in Batley and Spen, but without having had the benefit of having set foot in either constituency, unlike Robin Grayson and the author of this article, Simon McGrath.

    If you had been to Chesham and Amersham, you would have realised that the main issues in the campaign weren’t all about HS2 and planning. And on the issue of HS2, you quickly found out from talking to voters on the doorstep that most of those who raised the issue did so more in sorrow than in anger, recognising that it was a done deal, and too late, but wanting mitigation measures. Likewise with planning issues, the people who raised the issue generally had a planning development in the field at the back of their house, or were concerned at the Government’s planning bill, which will be helpful for developers wanting to build up-market executive housing, but of little help to locals needing somewhere to rent at social rents. Added to which is the fact that the old Chiltern District Council failed to agree a local plan, as has its successor, Buckinghamshire Unitary Council, so that developers invariably win at appeal if the Council turns the application down.

    As for Batley and Spen, several here have said that our plan should be to concentrate on Conservative areas to help Labour. Well, first of all, polling day in B & S is just 9 days away so you have slightly missed the boat if you wanted to influence the direction of the campaign, even if you could. And some of you clearly haven’t been paying attention, as the local party is concentrating on its held Lib Dem seat of Cleckheaton Ward, where the Tories always come a good second. Of the other 5 Wards, three are solidly Labour and two are Tory-held, one of which is the other (2nd) Ward we are targeting.

    Anyway I write this on the London train to Leeds en route for Batley, paid for by my Chesham and Amersham winnings as is my 3 night stay in a local hotel in the constituency, where I will be working hard for Tom Gordon and the local Batley and Spen Lib Dem team, above all for the wonderful Kathy Pinnock, who has done such stirling work on the Cladding scandal in the House of Lords.

  • Elections including by-elections can be seen as individual events or part of a wider scheme. Everyone want to do their best for their own patch. However for the Lib Dems to flourish we need to change our voting system. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a pawn to take the queen.

  • Rebecca Taylor 22nd Jun '21 - 1:17pm

    From what I hear from those on the ground in Batley & Spen, the biggest threat to Labour is George Galloway, not a LibDem candidate seeking to persuade Tory leaning LibDem voters in LibDem held wards to vote LibDem. Galloway can’t win, but he can take enough votes off Labour to help the Tories across the line.

    As someone remarked to me on Twitter, a good part of the LibDem vote in some areas of the North of England (including in West Yorkshire where I hail from) is an ANTI-LABOUR vote.

    Those voters in Batley and Spen who are minded to tactically vote Labour, will do so regardless, as Labour voters did in Chesham and Amersham. Ed Davey himself has said that such voters will make up their own minds.

  • David Evershed 22nd Jun '21 - 1:23pm

    Will the Social Democrat candidate be taking votes away from the Liberal Democrats in Bately and Spen?

    Also why not use Liberal Democrat Party as the official party tag rather than Liberal Democrats?

    Full list of candidates as follows:
    Paul Bickerdike – Christian Peoples Alliance
    Mike Davies – Alliance For Green Socialism
    Jayda Fransen – Independent
    George Galloway – Workers Party
    Tom Gordon – Liberal Democrats
    Thérèse Hirst – English Democrats
    Howling Laud Hope – The Official Monster Raving Loony Party
    Susan Laird – Heritage Party
    Kim Leadbeater – Labour Party
    Oliver Purser – Social Democratic Party
    Corey Robinson – Yorkshire Party
    Andrew Smith – Rejoin EU
    Ryan Stephenson – Conservative Party
    Jack Thomson – UK Independence Party
    Jonathan Tilt – Freedom Alliance
    Anne Marie Waters – The For Britain Movement

  • John Marriott 22nd Jun '21 - 2:02pm

    @Peter Hirst
    You should want to change the voting system NOT “for the Lib Dems to flourish” but because it is RIGHT for democracy! Indeed, you could argue that it is to SAVE democracy.

    Do you really want to be like the Tories who slavishly hang on to FPTP because they have written and rewritten the book on how to exploit it? In any case, it is highly unlikely that the absolute majority achieved by the SNP in Scotland a few years ago under their form of PR will be replicated elsewhere that often, if at all.

    If by “flourish” you mean get the seats commensurate with your share of the votes, then I’m with you in that regard.

  • Ruth Bright 22nd Jun '21 - 2:43pm

    NO-ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition on whether or not they went to the Chesham and Amersham by-election. NO NO! NOT the nomination for the activist comfy chair.

  • In view of the Hartlepool/Chesham and Amersham election results I don’t believe the old Labour/Tory heartland labels apply in England…I’d put the new divisions as between the ‘Johnson/Brexit camp’ and the ‘rest’…
    The problem is that, whilst the Johnson/Brexit camp are united, the ‘rest’ are separate factions as likely to fight amongst themselves as with the JBs..Without sensible co-operation, although there may be individual victories for the ‘rest’, the war will always be won by their opponent.

    Given their histories, if the Rev Ian Paisley could work with Martin McGuinness it can’t be too hard for Davey, Starmer and Jonathan Bartley/Siân Berry to do so..

  • There is no such place as Bately, Mr Evershed.

  • Ben Maitland 22nd Jun '21 - 4:40pm

    And make life exponentially harder for ourselves the next time we want to persuade Labour-minded voters to support our candidate in a seat we have a chance of taking off the Tories. No thanks.

    And that’s before raising the matter of why Batley and Spen is not a normal constituency and means something a bit different to the moderate, remain voting liberal side of the Labour Party – and its supporter base around the whole country – that we should be building bridges with. The anger we will generate if we are seen to have cost Labour this seat will make it much, much harder to convince Labour voters to support us where we can win, or to start to build a genuine progressive alliance that can get rid of this truly awful and utterly illiberal government and instigate the genuine reform this country so badly needs.

    I’m also unsure why you keep sharing an article that undermines your own argument and shows that Labour stand to make a net gain from us were we to step aside (or not campaign) in key Con-Lab marginals. From a purely mathematical perspective that means that if we don’t campaign actively it increases the chances of Labour winning. In B&S that has to be the best result for the country, our party and liberal democracy in general.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jun '21 - 4:57pm

    Thanks David, you and that enthusiasm for the Labour candidate , coupled with mine for her and her sister, the late great Jo Cox, must be spoken of for what that is, cross party support!

    We , as our chum expats shows on N Ireland, ought to be more than keen to work with good people in other parties, in this case , we could be in the party together, as with the big tent Democrats in the US! I reckon this division is because of a few areas where Labour are terrible, but the party could improve with more liberalism added!

  • Alex Macfie 22nd Jun '21 - 5:18pm

    Ben Maitland: How does our standing in a Con~Lab marginal constituency discourage Labour supporters from tactically voting for us in our Tory-facing target seats? Please explain, because it does not reflect what happened in the last GE. We stood everywhere, except where we withdrew under the Unite to Remain alliance. But Labour voters in many of our target seats voted tactically for us. Even the fuss over Canterbury does not seem to have changed their minds. Where tactical voting failed in our taget seats, it was because of Labour campaigning aggressively there, despite knowing perfectly well that they had no chance of winning. Ordinary voters don’t think like oarty activists or apparatchiks, so a Labour supporter thinking of voting tactically for us doesn’t care what we do in some other seat where Labour is the principal challenger to the Tories.

    It’s if we don’t stand in Con~Lab marginals that we jeopardise our chances of winning our target seats, because we put off our soft Tory supporters.

    Note also that no-one is suggesting we run a C&A-style campaign in B&S, only that we stand a candidate and give people the opportunity to vote for us.

  • George Thomas 22nd Jun '21 - 5:35pm

    It’s just the next chapter in the history of UK becoming a one-party, Conservative, nation.

  • Alex Macfie 22nd Jun '21 - 5:53pm

    I’m not sure comparisons with Northern Irish politics are very helpful when talking about our relationships with other political parties. The DUP and Sinn Fein “working together” is mainly about a sectarian stitch-up. The two dominant forces in Northern Irish politics represent the extreme factions in their respective communities, and have a lot in common with each other in terms of their extremism. So they can easily work together, while freezing out moderates. If we were to compare it with GB politics, it would be like Labour and the Tories making a pact to exclude us, or even the BNP forming an alliance with George Galloway’s party.

  • Alex Macfie 22nd Jun '21 - 6:02pm

    David Evershed: The present “Social Democratic Party” bears little resemblance to the party of which it claims to be a continuation, nor to the Liberal Democrats, the party that is the actual legal successor to the Gang of Four SDP. It is pro-Brexit and rather right-wing in many other ways as well. It survives in a few parts of the country on the back of local personalities. The so-called “contiuning” Liberal Party is similar.

  • @ Lorenzo Cherin Thank you, Lorenzo, for having the decency and perception to recognise what a great person (born/bred in the constituency and committed to it) Kim Leadbeater really is. As a native of Spen Valley I happen to know her, who she is, what she has done, and what she could do for the people of my native patch.

    And, a big thank you to Ben Maitland for spelling out the reality and consequences of the situation. It seems to have escaped whoever pulls the Lib Dem strings these days down in the South East corner of England.

    I say nothing about Galloway (other than look what they thought about him eventually in nearby Bradford) . If I did say anything, it’s doubtful if it would be accepted on here Sadly ….. Lib Dems ought to know better.

    There are times when party political stuff (“my gang’s better than your gang”) is so trivial. There was a time when Liberals said people matter and always come first”. It’s getting more than a bit thin these days.

  • Alex Macfie 22nd Jun '21 - 7:15pm

    I’ve said it before and I shall say it again: We are not the Brexit Party. We cannot order our voters about. Some people here seem to have jumped in late to the discussion based on the assumption that we can somehow “instruct” Lib Dem voters to vote Labour if we stand down, without taking any account of the points previously made about how this assmption is wrong.
    The graphs in the article shared by the OP are actually slightly misleading, but they do not actually undermine Simon’s case as some people think. They are based on actual votes cast in supplementary vote elections, in which the 1st preference can be assumed to be the sincere vote, and tactical voting comes into play only in the 2nd preferences. It cannot be assumed that the 1st preferences in the SV elections represents how they would have voted had it been FPTP. Someone who votes Lib Dem 1st and Labour 2nd in an SV election might tactically vote Labour in a FPTP election held on the same day. In Con~Lab marginals under FPTP, it is likely that voters whose priority is to get/keep the Tories out have already switched to Labour, even if they might have considered Lib Dem if they were able to express that preference in AV or SV. The remaining Lib Dem voters are the ones who won’t ever switch to Labour.

  • Rebecca Taylor 22nd Jun '21 - 9:52pm

    In response to someone here (can’t find now, sorry) asking how do we know our vote leans Tory in B&S? We know it in the wards where we have Cllrs (Cleckheaton) as (a) When we win, Tories are 2nd (b) from activists on the ground who talk to voters including Baroness Kath Pinnock who has been a Cllr in Cleckheaton since 1987 (!).

  • David Raw: George Galloway has been mentioned because he is on 6% on the only opinion poll for the by-election. This is double the Lib Dem share. LIke it or not, Galloway will matter. If anyone is splitting the vote with Labour, it’s him and NOT the Lib Dems, who are mainly taking votes that would otherwise go to the Tories. And it’s Lib Dems campaigning on the ground in the constituency saying this, NOT mysterious string-pullers in the southeast. The enthusiasts for the idea that we should stand aside for Labour in places like B&S tend to be the ones based in SE England who haven’t a clue how things are outside their bubble.

    But back to “Gorgeous” George. He is taking votes mainly from Labour, and his supporters really don’t mind very much if he splits the vote and lets the Tories in/ So he is a much bigger threat to Labour than the Lib Dems could ever be. There’s nothing Lib Dems can do about it. Galloway supporters are probably the least likely to support Lib Dem, and vice versa. We’re fishing in a different pool from him, and it’s Labour’s problem if it can’t stem the flow of votes his way.

  • Always interesting to get expert opinion about my native bit of West Yorkshire from our friends in South London (Simon McGrath in Merton) and Alex Macfie (I believe in Richmond ?).

    Fact is in the 2021 Kirklees Council elections, the Wards that make up Batley & Spen produced the following Lib Dem results :

    Batley East 2.6%,
    Batley West, 3.35%,
    Birkenshaw & Birstall (where I was brought up, and sadly where poor Jo perished,) 2.99%,
    Heckmondwike (where Kim and her sister Jo Cox went to school), 4.32%
    Liversedge & Gomersal (site of the Jo Cox Memorial Wood) 4.00%
    Cleckheaton 48.68% for Kath Pinnock (but Lib Dem vote down 7% on last time despite the well respected Kath’s huge personal vote).

    Kath is not standing in the parliamentary by-election. It will be a very close parliamentary by-election and includes a Candidate I know and have a very great personal regard for. Like her late sister, she would make a wonderful M.P.

    Out of politeness I must defer to the expert opinion of our friends in Merton and Richmond who can tell me what will happen to what is left of the tiny residual Lib Dem vote… which is due to be squeezed even further.

    I simply point out 5% is needed to save a deposit. Batley & Spen is nothing like Chesham and Amersham however much some people hope it will be. It will be interesting to see how these experts explain the result and its consequences.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Jun '21 - 7:59am

    David Raw: No-one is suggesting that Batley & Spen is like Chesham & Amersham. In all likelihood there isn’t going to be a massive Lib Dem surge in B&S. I made a packet out of betting on a Lib Dem victory in C&A at odds of 10:1, but am passing on the 300:1 odds offered for a similar result in B&S. Some people suggest that there is no point in Lib Dems even standing if we’re going to struggle to save our deposit. This might be true if we decide that that we are no longer a nationwide party and will only fight where we win. But that would be a prelude to a demise sooner rather than later, as happened with the Mk2 (“Owenite”) SDP. And it still leaves the question of what would happen to the remaining Lib Dem vote, and it’s a grave error to assume that it would automatically go to Labour.

    It’s not me saying that Lib Dem support in B&S is Tory-leaning, it’s locals like Kath Pinnock. But look at it logically. Voters there most likely know the tactical position. So anyone still voting Lib Dem in Parliamentary elections in B&S is probably not interested in tactical voting, as Labour has already hoovered up all the Yellow Labour and Red Lib Dem voters. So they are mostly either hard-core Lib Dems or soft Tories. And this means that if anyone would benefit from our absence in the election, it would be the Tories.

    If you wish to campaign or root for Kim, that’s your business. FWIW I share your admiration for her and her late sister, and would consider Kim’s election a far better outome than the Tory candidate winning. All I’m saying is that as Lib Dems we need to have a visible presence to show that we are relevant in all parts of Great Britain. It is fortuitous that Labour would probably benefit from our campaigning by depressing the Tory vote, but it isn’t the primary reason for us standing there (I hope Julian Heather wasn’t referring to me in his post above). If we don’t stand, then our vote will collapse in the next round of locals.

    And once again, if your concern is getting Kim elected, then it’s not Lib Dems you should be criticising for daring to stand against her, it’s GG.

  • @David Raw

    Two quick points.

    1. IIRC you have not in the past been above pontificating about areas that you live a very long way from yourself. I have no problem with that – but you can’t really criticise others for doing what yourself do!

    2. Virtually every week when there are poor (local) by-election results you completely slam the Lib Dems off for not putting in enough effort. Fair enough. But now you are slamming them for putting in too much effort! Not exactly consistent!

    Kim may be an excellent person and may make a very good MP but she has to go and prove it in this campaign to the people of B&S.

    It was, of course, an absolute tragedy what happened to her sister but that does not give her a free pass. And all the main parties did not stand in the subsequent by-election as a mark of respect and to unite against terror. But democracy now has to go on – indeed not to would be to give into terrorism.

    You are of course more than entitled to your opinion on the best candidate and the best party. And however brilliant Kim would be as a constituency MP, she will be supporting Labour party policies. And it is not surprising if there are few Liberal Democrats on Liberal Democrat Voice that are not wholly of that opinion!

    But where Labour really have to get their finger out is with Galloway. And that is nothing to do with us. And if they don’t and Galloway gets a large vote at their expense then that will be Labour’s fault and no-one else’s!

    8% of voters in the by-election according to the Survation poll are Remain voters who are supporting the Conservatives. Don’t you think it might just be the case that getting some of those (and they are probably never in a million years Labour voters) to vote Lib Dem might just be useful for Labour?

  • John Marriott 23rd Jun '21 - 9:16am

    @Alex Macfie
    Of course the Lib Dems are “a nationwide party”, in at least three of the U.K. nations and there could even be an argument made that the NI Alliance Party is a kindred spirit. However, in many areas, the Lib Dems are a minority “nationwide party”, very minor in areas like mine, at least when it comes to chances of electing an MP.

    The real dilemma for a party that is strong in some areas but not even a bit player in others is the doctrine promulgated by the President and espoused by many activists that people everywhere should have the chance to vote Liberal Democrat – a noble and principled stance but one that often leads towards ritual humiliation in quite a few places, both in parliamentary and local government terms.

    Whether Labour would be prepared to admit it or not, it clearly just went through the motions in C&A, which is what, in my opinion, the Lib Dems and their supporters should be doing in B&S. “What did you do in the war, daddy?” Used to be a common question. If the Lib Dems and Labour ever do try to ‘do a deal’ albeit more of coming to an ‘understanding’ rather than any document written in blood, you can imagine many Labour activists pointing to B&S, if Alex and his friends get their way, as evidence that “you just can’t trust the Lib Dems. They say one thing in Amersham and another in Batley”?

    Just don’t give them any more ammunition than you have already. You might one day need each other if you are going to topple what will probably remain the party of the largest minority, which rules because of a voting system both Labour and Lib Dems ought to be in business to reform. Remember what Churchill famously said about doing a deal with Stalin to beat Hitler.

  • Michael 1 23rd Jun ’21 – 8:40am……. And however brilliant Kim would be as a constituency MP, she will be supporting Labour party policies…..

    You mean just like Sarah in Chesham and Amersham who campaigned against the LibDem policy on HS2? ..

    I don’t know Kim personally but from what I see/read she is certainly as strong an as independently minded as Sarah..

    To try and separate Galloway when you support a stong LibDem campaign for the same reason, i.e. to frustrate Labour’s chances, seems, at least to me, very ‘dog in the manger’..

  • To use the term ‘pontificating’ (whilst hiding behind anonymity) could not only offend the Catholic vote in Birstall but it’s also a bit rich coming from someone who has more ‘opinions’ than I have had hot dinners.

    What are we to make of the fact there’s as yet no sign of Sir Edward, the Leader, turning up in front of the statue of that great liberal Joseph Priestley in Birstall Market Place ? I gather Sir Edward went to Chesham and Amersham over fourteen times but it looks like he’s not yet had his instructions from our Councillor friend in nearby Merton.

    Meanwhile, young Michael 1 and Alex could do a lot worse than getting their heads round Joe Priestley’s ‘Essay on the First Principles of Government’.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Jun '21 - 1:45pm

    John Marriott, expats, David Raw: STILL you are ploughing on based on the assumption that Lib Dems take votes from Labour by standing in Batley & Spen, despite it being explained multiple times, including by Lib Dem activists local to the area, that the assumption is just plain wrong. Lib Dems are not “frustrating” anyone’s chances, only to promote our own candidate. And in practice if we frustrate anyone’s chances, it’s the Tory candidate’s; if anyone is frustrating Labour’s chances, it’s George Galloway. Could you please explain why you think otherwise, rather than just assuming?

    Regarding whether we’re likely to see any Lib Dem VIPs in B&S, we’re fighting the sort of campaign that’s appropriate for a seat where we are not a front runner but need to consolidate our existing strength.

    And finally, this is about electoral politics, NOT “Government”. This by-election isn’t going to change the government, any more than C&A would have. Doesn’t make it not worth fighting.

  • There’s a good old Yorkshire word that describes the attitude of Messrs Macfie and the anonymous Mr 1, and that’s Brussen. Ask Mr Marriott if you don’t know what it means.

    As indeed is Councillor McGrath from Merton with his comment, “leaving aside the question of why we wouldn’t want to back the best candidate standing”, his claims that Knottingley is ‘local’, and his overhyping and cheerleading of the strength of modern Liberal Democracy in Batley & Spen.

    Where I do agree is about the awful Galloway who paddles in waters any decent liberal (or Liberal) wouldn’t go anywhere near with a barge poll.

    Whether Kim will win I don’t know, but she is the outstanding candidate, end of.

  • Barry Lofty 23rd Jun '21 - 4:00pm

    I do not know the in,s and outs of the Batley and Spen constituency but it seems to me, given the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of Jo Cox, that a win for her sister would be a victory that any decent human being would and should applaud. A victory for this present administration should be the last thing any of us on this site would welcome.

  • @David Raw

    🙂 Lol!

    We love you really!

    Can I suggest that there’s the just mildest hint of you being somewhat “brussen” yourself.

    I readily plead guilty to most of the faults that you ascribe to me & many more!

    If Lab are blaming FPTP then they’ve only themselves to blame as they could have changed it if Blair had implemented the Jenkins proposals.

    If Kim is as you say as near to a God as one can get on this planet then all she has to go and out demonstrate and there are some signs that she – or perhaps her handlers – are a little “frit” as it seems that she is shirking at least some hustings – may be justifiably – but if she is god’s gift to politics then she surely has nothing to hide!

    I have to say I do have a problem with areas that are “one party states” & too often Lab take their heartlands massively for granted & the quality of their representation overall becomes v. poor.

    You seem (still) to be ignoring two points:

    1. Galloway – that he has been able to get anywhere in Bradford and now in B&S is somewhat indicative of Labour neglect – but they will have to deal with him and if they don’t then that will be their fault not ours.

    2. It *may* well be Lab’s best hope is that post C&A we attract some Tory voters that would “never in a million years” vote Lab.

    But democracy is about people putting themselves forward as candidates – and the electorate in their wisdom choosing who they think is best – on whatever basis they chose.

    Thanks for the reference to Priestley whose work hadn’t crossed my path before. I do note – albeit via Wikipedia that “Priestley’s fundamental maxim of politics was the need to limit state interference on individual liberty.” Not I’d suggest a guiding principle often of Labour – even if they have done great work – often in conjunction with Liberals in getting us the welfare state. Personally I think that the liberal political tradition needs to be maintained – and that is different from the socialist one. And *some* will see that as their most effective vote for them.

    Of course 99.999% of “pontificating” here (& that’s all any of us does on LDV) is from afar. I’m aware of the dangers! But it has to be said sometimes those close to an area can fail to see the wood from the trees.

    Thanks for the comment – genuinely – education & new vocab – should always be everyone’s aim every day of their life!

  • Priestley was dealing with a tyrannous oppressive state (from which he had to flee). It used slavery for profit in its colonies, it was based on the hereditary principle and favouritism, and it persecuted dissenters who challenged it. To suggest this is what Labour advocates is, shall we say, somewhat shallow.

    It would do you no end of good to find out a bit more about Kim Leadbeater and what she stands for in order to widen your horizons. Contemplate what Barry Lofty has to say. There wasn’t much to LOL for Kim and her Mum and Dad.

  • @David Raw

    I clearly said that I admire much that the Labour party and the Labour movement has done over the past 150-200 years. I am I believe on the left of politics and I was somewhat “politicised” when I read as a child about the Tolpuddle martyrs, the dockers, the miners, the matchstick women being poisoned etc. etc. And clearly vastly improving that was down to the Labour movement – sometimes with Liberals, sometimes with Liberals not being helpful.

    But… I am also not one to say boo hiss “nasty capitalists” – some if a minority such as Rowntree and Cadbury have been enlightened. And the harnessing of technology by industry has given us the wealth and income to afford the welfare state. But at its worst Labour and Socialism veers towards dictatorship – sometimes for the best of motives – but look for example what Trade Unionism became in the 1970s. And I am sorry I don’t therefore consider myself a Socialist but a Liberal – and I am sorry if that makes me a terrible person in your eyes.

    My heart goes out to anyone who suffers hardship or difficult times in their lives. That does not of itself make them the right people to be MPs and it does not absolve them of the “inconvenient” little matter of putting themselves forward as candidates before the electorate in competition with others – if Kim is so great as you say then she will surely win out.

    As I say for me neither Socialism nor Capitalism is the way forward but Liberalism. And in every vote – I balance with that in what is an effective vote for me. And I suspect the good people of B&S do the same. And as has been said voters – may be sadly – are not armies that political parties can order around.

    As I say you seem to be a little blind to the three points –


    The Lib Dems may actually help Kim by taking Tory votes that wouldn’t go to Labour in a “month of Sundays”.

    And if Labour wanted something different to FPTP for UK parliamentary elections – they have had ample opportunity to introduce it themselves from Jenkins to being more supportive in the AV referendum. If they are now saddled with FPTP then that is of their own choosing.

    Thanks for your further points and contributions to LDV. It is always interesting.

    All the best.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Jun ’21 – 1:45pm
    John Marriott, expats, David Raw: STILL you are ploughing on based on the assumption that Lib Dems take votes from Labour by standing in Batley & Spen, despite it being explained multiple times, including by Lib Dem activists local to the area, that the assumption is just plain wrong. Lib Dems are not “frustrating” anyone’s chances, only to promote our own candidate. And in practice if we frustrate anyone’s chances, it’s the Tory candidate’s; if anyone is frustrating Labour’s chances, it’s George Galloway. Could you please explain why you think otherwise, rather than just assuming?…………….

    I would not presume to be so arrogant as to claim to ‘explain’ to those of a different viewpoint whilst accusing them of merely ‘assuming’..

    That aside…
    Q.1 Does our candidate have a realistic chance of winning?
    Q.2 Does George Galloway have a realistic chance of winning?
    Q.3 Does the Labour candidate have a realistic chance of winning?
    Q.4 Does the Tory candidate have a realistic chance of winning?

    If the answer to 1. and 2. are ‘No’ then voting for either will take votes from 3 or 4..

    There is a strong Brexit vote here which will favour the Tory, Galloway has targeted the Muslim vote and will take votes mostly from Labour but, as James Moore (21st Jun ’21 – 9:24am) pointed out, on another thread, Labour are LibDem second choice by around 2 to 1 over Tory…
    Jo Cox was a good MP, as was Tracy Brabin..The latter went on to become West Yorkshire mayor with twice the vote of the Tory candidate and ten times that of the LibDem; it seems that there is still a strong Labour presence within S. Yorkshire,,

    Further, why any self respecting LibDem would, considering it’s history, vote for this government is quite beyond me; personally, I’d rather stick pins under my toenails or extract my own teeth.

  • expats:

    “James Moore (21st Jun ’21 – 9:24am) pointed out, on another thread, Labour are LibDem second choice by around 2 to 1 over Tory…”

    This was citing the results of PCC elections held under the Supplementary Vote system, and is based on a flawed superficial analysis. Parliamentary elections do not use SV, they use FPTP. This means the tactical considerations are different. In the SV elections it’s likely that voters were using their 1st preference vote as a sincere choice, and then voted 2nd preference for the candidate they preferred out of those who seemed to have the most realistic chance of winning. In a FPTP election, if tactical considerations are important to them, they would vote for the candidate whom they had put 2nd in the SV election.

    Thus, people voting (1) Lib Dem, (2) Labour under SV are likely to vote Labour under FPTP in a Con~Lab battleground seat, because they know their sincere choice has no chance of winning and they are most interested in defeating the Tory. Lib Dems whose 2nd preference is the Tory are less likely to be interested in tactical voting, because although they would never vote Labour they don’t really like the Tories either, and the Tories are in government.

    Thus in a seat like B&S where the Lib Dems are trailing in 3rd, most people who might give Lib Dems the 1st preference in an SV election are already tactically voting Labour to defeat the Tories. The only people still voting LIb Dem are the soft Tories and the hardcore Lib Dems. It would be a waste of time for the LIb Dems to target the soft Labour vote, as they are going to vote tactically. So the LIb Dems will mainly be getting votes that would otherwise go to the Tories.

    Further, why any self respecting LibDem would, considering it’s history, vote for this government is quite beyond me; personally,

    You’re confusing members with voters. You don’t go around making value judgements on the attitudes of your potential voters if you want to win their support. The reality is that, for good or bad, most current Lib Dem voters in places like B&S, voting under FPTP, would vote Tory or abstain in the absence of a Lib Dem candidate, as confirmed by Rebecca Taylor. This means that the presence of the Lib Dem on the ballot paper will help Labour by taking votes from the Tories.

  • @ Alex Macfie “Thus in a seat like B&S where the Lib Dems are trailing in 3rd”.

    I’m sorry to correct Mr Macfie, but the Liberal Democrats finished fourth in Batley & Spen behind an Independent candidate in the 2019 General Election .

    To be fair, they did nearly double their vote of 2.4% in 2017, but this was still insufficient to save their Deposit which is set at 5%.

    The latest Opinion Poll I’ve seen still sets them in fourth place – but down again to 3% – despite the fact that the previously third placed Independent candidate in 2019 has decided not to contest the byelection.

  • To throw something slightly different into this debate… isn’t Batley and Spen the constituency in which a teacher is still in hiding, fearing for his life, after using images of the Prophet Muhammed in a lesson? Is that an issue at all in the by-election? Are the LibDems locally saying anything about it? I don’t live in the constituency and I don’t know much about the area, but I would have thought that defending peoples’ right to free speech and not to have to be pushed into hiding because of something they’ve said would as a matter of principle, be something that a supposedly liberal party ought to be pushing?

  • What I still don’t quite get about Alex’s argument is how is it the case that voters in places like Batley and Spen who prefer the Labour candidate to win realise that they need to vote tactically for the Labour candidate but at the same time all these “soft Tory” voters who prefer the Conservative candidate to win somehow don’t realise they need to vote Conservative so helpfully vote Lib Dem instead?

  • nvelope2003 24th Jun '21 - 8:45pm

    Sadly the only chance of any Liberal Democrat revival is the collapse of the Labour Party especially in seats like Batley and Spen. Every time it happens there will be a band wagon effect?

  • Alex Macfie 24th Jun '21 - 9:05pm

    David Raw: As far as I’m aware there has only been one opinion poll so far (by Survation) for the 2021 Batley & Spen by-election. It does indeed put the Lib Dems on 3%, but the fieldwork for it was done before the C&A by-election result was announced. This may be significant; we shall see. The figures are:
    Lab 41%
    Con 47%
    Lib Dem 3%
    WRP (Galloway’s party) 6%

    One thing we can say for certain about those figures is that if they are reflected on polling day, then you cannot possibly blame the Lib Dems for letting the Tory in, as our vote is less than the Tory lead over Labour. Galloway, on the other hand, might well be the one responsible for letting the Tory in.

    Happy to be corrected about the placement of the Lib Dem candidate in the 2019 election, but it doesn’t affect my point that Lib Dems took votes that would otherwise have gone to the Tories. That is, the voters who still vote Lib Dem despite it being a Con~Lab battleground probably aren’t interested in tactical voting, and would go Tory or abstain if there were no Lib Dem candidate. The idea that just because Labour has squeezed much of the Lib Dem vote it could mop up the rest if we don’t stand is seriously flawed, because it does not consider the question of why the remaining Lib Dem vote could not be squeezed.

    Simon R: I don’t know how much of an issue that is on the doorstep, but one thing for certain is that we are not seeking the votes of potential George Galloway supporters (in the Venn Diagram that could be drawn of potential supporters of each party, ours and WRP is probably the smallest overlap), so it would be quite safe for us to argue the case for the teacher’s freedom to teach.

  • Alex Macfie 25th Jun '21 - 8:39am

    Marco: The soft Tories are liberal (small L) minded traditionally Tory voters who don’t like the direction of Johnson’s Tory Party, and therefore can be persuaded to vote Lib Dem/, but would never consider voting for Labour. Because they don’t like the Johnsonite Conservative party, they are not interested in tactical voting to keep Labour out, especially when the Labour candidate is not a Corbynite.They are happy to register a protest and might even stick with Lib Dems in future. They just can’t bring themselves to vote Labour because of how they were brought up to think about the party.

  • @ Alex Macfie

    Of course I accept that soft Tory voters exist but surely there are also soft Labour voters who might vote for us if we stand.

    They might think for example that Labour have moved too far to the left but would never vote Tory or alternatively that Labour have lost their radical spirit.

    If we campaign we will take some of these voters away from Labour.

  • One other issue to consider is that most of the discussion here seems to be whether the LibDems should have stood aside in order to help specifically *Labour*. I’d suggest that if they had done that, it would not put the LibDems in a good light as far as LibDem/Tory waverers are concerned.

    Taking myself as an example: Personally, if I lived in Batley and Spen (I don’t), I’m pretty certain I would vote LibDem, and indeed would be very happy to do so. At the moment, I don’t care much for either Labour or the Tories, but if you didn’t stand, and I was forced to vote tactically, I would most likely hold my nose and vote Tory, specifically in order to keep Labour out. As you might imagine, I would probably not take kindly to any suggestion that the LibDems are not standing in order to let in precisely the party that I most dislike (of the major parties)!

    Obviously I’m just one person – every potential LibDem voter is going to be different. But I think that illustrates what a minefield is involved in any attempt to stand aside or to officially sanction tactical voting.

  • Alex Macfie 25th Jun '21 - 9:50pm

    @Marco: If you have read Julian’s post in this thread (22nd Jun ’21 – 12:36pm) you will know that our campaign in B&S is focusing on 3 wards in the constituency, of which 2 are Tory held, and the other is Lib Dem held and Tory-facing. So in the course of our campaign we are naturally going to come across more soft Tories than soft Labourites. And besides, the campaign messages that work with those two groups are different. And if we tried our usual tactical squeeze message for soft Labour voters in B&S as if we were the principal challanger to the Tories (“only Lib Dems can defeat the Tories here”) we’d be laughed off the doorstep, because everyone knows it isn’t true.

    There is no danger of our presence in the campaign making people think Labour is too extreme, Honestly voters for other parties don’t care tuppence what we think. And with George Galloway around courting the hard left vote, there is little danger of anyone thinking that’s what Labour is. If anything, his presence in the campaign will mobilise soft Labour voters to rally round their candidate to stop him letting the Tory in.

  • Simon R 24th Jun ’21 – 7:47pm:
    … isn’t Batley and Spen the constituency in which a teacher is still in hiding, fearing for his life, after using images of the Prophet Muhammed in a lesson?


    Is that an issue at all in the by-election?

    It doesn’t seem to be.

    Are the LibDems locally saying anything about it?

    Nothing that I’ve seen reported.

    Nor does there appear to be any condemnation of the leaflets which denigrate the Labour candidate for being “openly lesbian” and for having “shamelessly been brought to the Masjids for votes”.

  • One other issue to consider is that most of the discussion here seems to be whether the LibDems should have stood aside in order to help specifically *Labour*. I’d suggest that if they had done that, it would not put the LibDems in a good light as far as LibDem/Tory waverers are concerned.

    Taking myself as an example: Personally, if I lived in Batley and Spen (I don’t), I’m pretty certain I would vote LibDem, and indeed would be very happy to do so. At the moment, I don’t care much for either Labour or the Tories, but if you didn’t stand, and I was forced to vote tactically, I would most likely hold my nose and vote Tory, specifically in order to keep Labour out. As you might imagine, I would probably not take kindly to any suggestion that the LibDems are not standing in order to let in precisely the party that I most dislike (of the major parties)!

    Obviously I’m just one person – every potential LibDem voter is going to be different. But I think that illustrates what a minefield is involved in any attempt to stand aside or to officially sanction tactical voting.

  • @Jeff: To be fair there hasn’t been much reporting about the Lib Dem campaign in B&S at all, unless it’s people asking whether we should be campaigning there at all in this by-election.

    Are these leaflets from the Galloway campaign or are they “unofficial” (in which case, they are almost certainly unlawful and should be reported)? You say the Lib Dems don’t appear to have condemned them, but have the Tories either? Frankly there’s no point for Lib Dems in engaging with this. We’re not focusing our campaign in the parts of the constituency where this sort of thing is happening, and we’re certainly not seeking the votes of people who might be swayed by such garbage, which will only be amplified if we give them publicity by engaging with it.

  • Alex Macfie 26th Jun ’21 – 10:13am:
    Are these leaflets from the Galloway campaign or are they “unofficial” (in which case, they are almost certainly unlawful and should be reported)?

    Galloway has reportedly said that these messages are nothing to do with his campaign and to have pointed out that his own campaign manager is herself lesbian. They are unofficial.

    You say the Lib Dems don’t appear to have condemned them, but have the Tories either?

    That was my point: none of the candidates or political parties appear to have condemned them.

    Frankly there’s no point for Lib Dems in engaging with this. We’re not focusing our campaign in the parts of the constituency where this sort of thing is happening,…

    I would have thought that the views expressed would be of most concern in the parts of the constituency where they are not being circulated. If the Liberal Democrats won’t be a voice for liberalism, who will?

  • Alex Macfie 26th Jun '21 - 1:51pm

    @Jeff: Engaging with extremists often lends them legitimacy. Muscular liberalism is all very well, but picking a fight with illiberal extremists often just draws attention to them, and makes them an option to those more likely to support them. If as you say they were not in support of any candidate, then they were illegal anyway. They appear to have come from someone from Birmingham, and Birmingham Labour MP Jess Phillips among others have spoken out against them. Kim Leadbeater has had her own trouble with Islamists heckling her. She certainly isn’t having any truck with them.
    As for whether George Galloway’s campaign had anything to do with the leaflets, there’s always just enough degrees of separation to enable a plausible denial, and one should always be suspicious of the “some of my best friends are «insert protected characteristic» defence. But unless he clearly among the front runners, it would be counter-productive to give him any more publicity.

  • Martin 24th Jun ’21 – 12:31pm…Expats:….Well, I doubt that you would understand why any “self-respecting” person would vote for this Conservative government. Whether you or I can comprehend it is not the point, lots do…….

    At least quote me correctly; I didn’t say ‘any self respecting person’ I said ‘any self respecting LibDem’…
    However, I’ll admit I was wrong: Simon R (26th Jun ’21 – 9:51am) says he would..

  • Alex Macfie 28th Jun '21 - 6:37pm

    I would have thought that the views expressed would be of most concern in the parts of the constituency where they are not being circulated.

    [emphasis in original]
    Actually no. People who live where those leaflets you mention were not being circulated won’t be giving them very much ocnsideration at all. They will not have seen the content of the leaflets, and will only have heard about the leaflets and the contents from reports. They almost certainly wouldn’t be swayed by the views expressed, and would find them abhorrent, but they are also not going to think that the leaflets were part of any officlal major party campaign. Obviously we should condemn them if pressed on the matter, but going out of our way to draw attention to them would be counter-productive as it would just spread their message further.

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