Will they all froth off?

The real advantage of having been around a long time (52 years as a member and 36 as a councillor) is that you can usually say, “I’ve seen it all before”. There are two things about the emergence of the “Independent Group” which are different to the huge surge of support for the SDP when it was created. Firstly, there are no big names amongst them. Most people outside their own constituencies probably couldn’t put a name to a face if shown the magnificent 11. Secondly, this time there are splits in both the other Parties not just one.

It’s very tempting for journalists to see things only through the Westminster prism. Numbers matter there in terms of votes and majorities. Big press conferences and breakaways are good news stories but not necessarily real politics. The numbers that really matter are the numbers on the ground and in particular the number of councillors. Political Parties are very like armies. We have Colonels and Generals in Parliament. We have the poor bloody infantry who knock on the doors and stuff the envelopes. The glue that holds them together and makes sure things happen are the NCOs. In our parlance, Councillors.

Surges in membership for political parties are nothing new for a variety of reasons. In addition to the SDP we often get local surges as people support the people locally who they think might win and have influence or who, quite simply, might find them an easy seat. The SDP surge has actually been outperformed by the huge increase in Labour and to a lesser extent in the Lib Dems since 2015. But the real question is, “how many stick to actually make the Party, new or old, work?” Many of the people who will excitedly sign up when the Independent Group becomes a Party will rapidly find that politics is not very exciting at all. Much of it is necessary but boring work interspersed with the stuff they have seen on the telly. They will be like the froth on the top of a cup of coffee that quickly disappears after the fresh bre begins to cool.

In Liverpool I’ve seen three surges and, in some ways, do not want to see another one! In both previous surges (plus the SDP one). Those surges brought in new members many of who got elected. Many of those we wish we’d never heard off very quickly. Group meetings became nasty places full of political infighting between people whose basic ideologies did not reflect the core values of the Party they had joined.

In the SDP surge a number of new councillors were elected but not a huge number. Almost all those elected and stayed the course became quickly indistinguishable from the old-style liberals. Many, however, did not get elected because they had to fight to win a seat and it was too much for them or if elected rapidly give up for the same reason.

Nothing must distract us from the fact that we are currently shaping up to the biggest round of local elections in England and the Independent Group will not be fighting it. It’s simply too late for them to do all the necessary things. This is, of course good news for the Lib Dems. We will have our biggest number of candidates for many years and were already expecting to make good gains before the events of this week. Our grizzled Lib Dem veterans will be added to by some of the new faces that have joined us over the past 3 years.

It is those people and the other councillors that might choose to work with us in communities and council chambers up and down the Country that will be the final deciders on whether what’s happening in Westminster is a permanent realignment of the Centre or a flash in the pan. The more Lib Dems we get elected in May the more influence that we will have in any negotiations with other people at both a national and local level.

Negotiating with the SDP n the early 80s was a boring and protracted procedure which stifled most of he life out of what should have been an excited and enervating time. Tis time I would urge everyone who is involved in such negotiations to concentrate on principles and not personality and total reach and not a spilt of winnable seats.

In the meantime, roll on May 2 because I am sure that in the whole of England, we are doing what we are in Liverpool – assessing every seat in the light of the new circumstances. As a result of this week our boat will float higher than we were predicting a few days ago. The targets that we set must still be sensible not hopelessly optimistic. The new Independent Group is not the panacea for all our problems nor will it sprinkle our election results with a huge positive effect. It does, however, give us a renewed cause for optimism and a renewed determination to get on with the boring but necessary jobs of door knocking and delivering.

* Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

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53 Comments

  • These are very wise words from Richard. The SDP, launched in March 1981, did not field candidates in the May 1981 County Council elections (although a tiny handful of individual SDP members jumped the gun, I recall) and our very positive results (350 gains from memory) gave us good publicity and re-established our electoral credentials. Richard is correct – we must concentrate on the May elections and not allow ourselves to be distracted.

  • Theres another big difference between the Gang of 4 & The TIG 11 : 3 men to one woman as against 7 women to 4 men. Time moves on & while today has echoes of 1981 History never repeats.
    I wonder whether Jenkins & Williams really were such “Big Names” as everyone now assumes, does anyone have any actual, comparable evidence such as recognition polling? My memory of the time is that they seemed vaguely familiar, they certainly weren’t household names in any household I knew.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Feb '19 - 11:48am

    Although she has retired from the Lords Shirley Williams has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4. She was politely positive about the calibre of seven ex-Labour Independent MPs compared with the Gang of Four.
    She had, of course, lost her seat in 1979 as Labour and re-entered the Commons as a bye-election winner from Crosby, elected with the help of Liberals from Liverpool.
    She has written about a Tory-Labour arrangement on boundary changes denying her chances of re-election as an MP in 1983.

  • The enormous coverage of the The Independent Group and the zero attention to the Lib Dems must chill the party…nestling between 6-10% in polls and barely featuring in the Brexit tide ..the oncoming disaster that is a No Deal Brexit surely must give the party pause to think the unthinkable, put party politics aside and join together with TIG but leaving behind the name Liberal Democrat. The party sacrificed itself to save the country once and joined the Coalition and destroyed years of good work and it’s reputation..by disbanding a tainted brand and fighting Brexit as part of TIG the party would be truly putting the country first.

  • Bernard Aris 21st Feb '19 - 12:50pm

    @ Silvio,

    read what our Liverpool veteran Rihard Kemp says: de “Indepedents”
    *) don’t have the time,
    *) let alone the (wo)manpower or
    *)the name recognition (Roy Jenkins had occupied just about any top government job apart from PM) to ever be able to profit this may at the Local elections.

    Vince, Leyla and our other MP’s (and lord Ming Campbell) do have recognition.
    And the well-organised LibDems with their community politics ARE present and active on the ground in every city, county and district, with a very similar message as the now glorified but grassroots-missing Independents.
    The LD canvassers must convince voters on the doorstep that voting LD is NOT a lost deposit, but to signify a wish for the kind of politics the Independents want but cannot deliver. Leyla Moran sayd (rightly so) on Newnight last night that both the LD and Independents are partries for the Floating-Voter-era, not for party tribalism.
    And LD and Independents like Soubry and Umuna JOINTLY launched the People’s Vote campaign.

  • Silvio: If fighting Brexit was literally the only problem that the country had, then yes, I could see why throwing away the only viable vehicle for British Liberalism to sign up to the Shiny New Thing might make sense.

    But it’s not.

    I joined the Liberal Democrats because I believed in their values and wanted to fight for them. At the time I joined, liberal values were under attack from a Blairite Labour government, populated, as it happens, by some of the kind of people who are now rushing to join TIG. So you’ll forgive me if, whilst I’m obviously prepared to work with them to stop Brexit, I’m not charging headlong to subsume this party’s identity with a load of soggy centrists who have yet to demonstrate the slightest commitment to civil liberties, drugs reform, proportional representation, LGBT rights, or any other actually Liberal goals.

  • David Becket 21st Feb '19 - 12:59pm

    The chances of TIG becoming a political party are slim, just look at the diverging views and actions of the current eleven. It is difficult to seeing any agreement an a full manifesto to put before the public. The Gang of Four did not have the problem, and even the Tory MP who joined them ended up in Labour.
    It would therefore be unwise for us to leave behind the name Liberal Democrat (and our many councillors) to join this group.
    It is true that they are taking publicity and votes from us. This is not surprising the electorate see them as wanting to change the face of party politics, at their head are young(ish) smiling females, they look attractive whereas we look tired and boring. We need to take steps to address this and not waste our time discussing constitution changes (tired and boring). In the meantime we need to work with them, and seen to be working with them, on Brexit and changing the political culture. It would help if one of our young(ish) females was to take on the task of being the main contact with them and responsible for press statements on our agreed objectives.

  • I joined the SDP at its launch and I am still here today. One of the SDP council candidates who “jumped the gun” was Roger Williams, who later followed Richard Livsey as MP for Brecon and Radnorshire. He is still a Powys Lib Dem councillor, having stood in the local elections after he lost his parliamentary seat. Interestingly, the current Tory MP in B&R is in court next month on charges of falsifying expenses claims.

  • David Becket 21st Feb '19 - 1:08pm

    I will add to the above. Having mentioned the constitutional changes I now realise how irrelevant this idea has become. TIG are in the process of starting a movement, so there is no room for a second movement, ditch the idea Vince. Replace that item at Spring Conference with a debate on the future of party politics, inviting one of the eleven to join us and address conference. That would produce the headlines, the current proposal will be ignored. If our party rules do not allow changes to Conference Agenda at short notice to respond to events that shows just how tired and boring we have become.

  • clive englisjh 21st Feb '19 - 1:30pm

    Firstly Yes both Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins were top of the bill names, David Owen slightly less but well known. Bill Rogers not so much. Secondly much though I like Anna Soubry and her 2 colleagues I am not so sure of some of the Ex-Labour members, they look a bit Blairite corporatists to me. Neither the former Tories or Labour members appear to be centre-left let alone Liberals, or even Social Democrats.
    So yes we can and should co-operate but it seems vastly premature to say oh well that’s it lets junk our party and join up to project third way. That may be better than racism or pseudo-facism, but its not an answer to any other question than Brexit.
    I say that btw as a former SDP member.

  • Paul Barker 21st Feb '19 - 2:20pm

    Perhaps its worth reminding ourselves where We were before TIG. We were Polling in the range of 7% to 13%, probably averaging between 9.5% & 10%. We have been recovering at the rate of an extra 1% every 5 Months or so. At that rate, if we had carried on in the same way, we might have been in a position to challenge Labour for 2nd place by the mid 2020s. Our situation was neither hopeless nor very exciting, even on the best assumptions.
    Now look at the 2 Polls asking about TIG, they give rather different figures but both see about a quarter of the popular vote split between TIG, LDs & The Greens & another quarter for Labour. That gives us some idea of the potential if we can find a way to work together.
    Right now TIG are in a very early stage, waiting to see who joins them & keeping everything vague. Our response should be open & friendly, looking for where we agree not digging up old disputes.
    This is a potentially the beginning of the end of Britains long political gridlock & we need to rise to the occasion.

  • Mick Taylor 21st Feb '19 - 2:29pm

    Wise words from Richard. Some of us have been here with the SDP. WE need to work with TIG but it’s far too soon to see where any of this leads in terms of realignment or new parties. As Richard says we have the local elections to win and it just may be that we get a boost from all this churn. In any event they are the first elections after we are supposed to leave the EU, so they are mighty important. They may be the first of many polls so we should get our heads down and fight them.

  • Katharine Pindar 21st Feb '19 - 3:19pm

    Radical Liberalism should surely welcome change and new ideas, but that doesn’t mean ditching good old ones. Richard is right to emphasise the solidity of our councillor base, and the importance of the May elections. I see no reason to ditch Vince’s supporter scheme, or to tear up the Spring Conference agenda. Our party still needs old wisdom and ongoing hard work of all kinds, and we should not accept facile descriptions like ‘boring’, nor put up with the insultingly wrong notion of our being in any way toxic. But by all means invite leading lights of TIG to come to Conference – not just to speak, like Gina Miller, but to plan and work with us.

  • Lawrence Fullick 21st Feb '19 - 4:20pm

    This week the Washington Post has called the Lib Dems “a small center left party”; the New York Times has called us “centrist”. Surely our American friends are Bernie Sanders and the New York politician AOC. We should not use the proper desire to work with TIG as an excuse to surrender our role as radical, progressives not as people in some wishy washy centre position.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Feb '19 - 4:35pm

    Paul Barker

    You talk as ever from a point of view of positive engagement, though you regularly and wrongly refer to Green party similarity, they are not in any way keen on us, one mp is, she, no longer the boss.

    David Becket

    As always you are spot on, the agenda needs a tear up, the issue is pressing as this new movement is starting, it is without it would appear, a unifying approach from or with this party, what has Sir Vince been doing, we need to get sorted.

    Katharine Pindar

    Your warnings against and for are as ever heeded, but this is important, this party is looking like a hanger on, Sir Vince, like the relative at the wedding, not the bride as in the rose garden, we do n want this party like the uninvited guest.

  • @Lawrence Fullick

    Bernie Sanders and AOC are committed and unapologetic socialists. Their friend in the UK is Jeremy Corbyn. The values they profess and the company they keep indicate they are not liberal even if they are able to make populist promises that sound superficially appealing to some

  • Denis Mollison 21st Feb '19 - 6:46pm

    @James Pugh – For heavens’ sake! Only in the USA could Sanders be called a `committed and unapologetic socialist’. He call himself a Social Democrat, and his key policies, an NHS-style health system, free college tuition, increasing the minimum wage and increasing taxes on the rich are ones that many in the Lib Dems would support. And Ocasio Cortez’s New Green Deal is very much in line with our aspirations; again, I think she only looks significantly left wing by US standards.

  • Mike Falchikov 21st Feb '19 - 7:03pm

    Have any of the Indie Group said anything about electoral and/or constitutional reform?
    This surely is a vital issue for LibDems and I would be reluctant to support a new grouping
    who still supported FPTP, the current House of Lords and the whole way in which parliament is run.
    At least some of the reason why our politics is said to be broken arises from our daft electoral system
    and the daft way our parliament operates.

  • Jayne Mansfield 21st Feb '19 - 7:20pm

    @ Paul Barker,
    TIG 11 ?

    Is that Chuka Ummuna’s car number plate?

    Am I missing something special about this man who withdrew from the Labour leadership contest and has spent the time since criticising the ‘accidental’ winner.

  • @Denis Mollison

    “[Bernie Sanders] call himself a Social Democrat”

    Am afraid he actually calls himself a “democratic socialist” not a social democrat, and does so without apology.

    AOC is the leading figure within the Democratic Socialists of America (the US’ largest socialist organisations)

    As I said, they may have populist policies that sound appealing, but you have to examine and take into account the entirety of their platform and ideology. I rather like some of the Greens’ policies, but I am not an ecosocialist. I rather liked Labour’s policy of expanding childcare and broadband infrastructure investment, but I am not a socialist. I rather liked the Conservative policy of using equity from the person’s home to pay for their nursing care, but I am not a conservative. I rather liked UKIP’s policy of scrapping the smoking ban, but I am not an English nationalist. I rather liked the BNP’s policy of ensuring our veterans are always cared for with dignity, but I am not a fascist.

    As you can see, all sorts of political movements (rooted in one ideology or another) can say individual things that sound appealing. But you have to look at things in their entirety, and the ideology than underpins the political movement (since the ideology reveals what their long term but unspoken ambitions are). As a liberal I find socialism, even though some socialists may on occasion say things that I agree with. Some conviction in liberalism from liberals would be very welcome

  • Tony Greaves 21st Feb '19 - 8:18pm

    A lot of good sense in many of the comments here. Let’s just decide – if this lot do take off (which I doubt, but who can predict anything at present?) – to learn the lessons of the 1980s. And tell them kindly but firmly – we know about this kind of thing. And no, we are not going to have meetings to negotiate about the next jumble sale. (and all the rest).

  • Ed Shepherd 21st Feb '19 - 8:36pm

    A lot of commentators on politics are overestimating the appeal of individual MPs and underestimating the staying power of long established political parties. These defecting MPs will be quickly replaced by official party candidates at the next general election. Sometimes commentators refer to the long term staying power and adaptability of the Conservative party but the Labour party has also lived through crises that could have killed it. Go through a redundancy process at work and witness complacent workers turning into strident union militants. The appeal of a party centred on workers rights and help for the unlucky is very strong. The appeal of a party centred on tradition or patriotism Is very strong. The appeal of a party centred on Liberalism is strong. The appeal of loosely defined centralism is very weak.

  • John Marriott 21st Feb '19 - 9:01pm

    I’m not really bothered if the Independent Group (TIG?) succeeds or not, nor am I bothered about whether or not they have a political programme. What I am bothered about at the moment is what happens in the House of Commons between now and 29 March (hopefully longer if they finally get to suspend Article 50).

    What I am hoping is that, if the current Tory and Labour Parliamentary Parties do start to shed more members, we might stand a better chance of Parliament getting together a deal on Brexit.

    In any case, until we actually scrap FPTP there is practically no chance of achieving the kind of pluralism in political parties that would better reflect the more sophisticated way that many more people now approach many issues in life.

    On the other hand, until we can find a modus vivendi with the EU and within our badly divided nation, things like Spring Conferences, Local Elections and who should be #46, to give just three examples, will need to stay firmly on the ‘Things to do’ list.

  • @John Marriott: “ … What I am bothered about at the moment is what happens in the House of Commons between now and 29 March (hopefully longer if they finally get to suspend Article 50).” Absolutely right, John – but I trust that you mean “extend”? In any case, helping to resolve the impending Brexit crisis must remain our party’s (and, presumably, TIG’s) top priority – working together, but also with other responsible MPs in all parties across parliament, to secure a negotiated agreement which can then be put back to the people in a “final say” referendum.

    As for a wider political agenda, I currently find TIG’s appeal somewhat “nebulous” – but it would obviously make sense for us to explore any common ground with them, on an issue-by-issue basis, in due course. However, in view of some of their recent statements, it seems far from clear whether they actually want anything to do with us! I therefore assume that, during all his many hours of (no doubt highly productive) discussions with TIG MPs, Vince did manage to reach some understanding about the nature and form of any future relationship which we may share with them?

  • Christopher Haigh 21st Feb '19 - 10:07pm

    The saddest thing about this breakaway group is the defection of the three Tories. They are most needed within Tory party itself to give it some balance. The blue labour people are really an irrelevence.

  • John Marriott 21st Feb '19 - 10:32pm

    @Sean Hagan
    You know, when it comes to Article 50, I’m never sure what verb to use. Suspend, postpone, how about ‘suspone ‘? Extend would work as well. Certainly not revoke, at least not yet.

    What the current defections show is how hard it is now to hold those two ‘broad churches’ together. Obviously the chances of avoiding Coalition government if we ever do get proper PR will be slim and it will not be easy to explain to people that they may not get the government that they want. However if it were possible to deliver some of the policies that attracted their vote at election time they might then see the advantages a new voting system might deliver for them.

  • Christopher Haigh: If you had lived through those long-ago forgotten days of the Coalition, you would have remembered that a powerless minority in a government whose aims are directly counter to its own ethos, in no way “give it some balance” but at most serve as a fig leaf that distracts from the designs of the majority.

  • I’ve come to the conclusion we should sit back and watch where this goes. Like many I have a concern around this groups ability to develop coherent policies when there are so many diverse people in this group. I think our best course of action is to agree a non agression pack with this group and to make party resources available to them where we agree not to fight each other. We should then simply sit back and aim to ride on their coat tails. If they do well we can hopefully secure more MPs. If it fizzles out we don’t lost much.

    If they get their act together and develop into something we like then who knows, maybe we should merge but right now cooperation but not a merger seems the way forward.

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd Feb '19 - 8:01am

    Does this independent group of MPs change the parliamentary arithmetic when it comes to votes on Brexit, extension , then hopefully suspension of Article 50?

    If not , any discussion of them is just froth as far as I am concerned.

  • Neil Sandison 22nd Feb '19 - 8:35am

    What we must avoid is the media trying to drag us into mergers and alliances until we see what sort of programme any new or emerging party is standing on .We may want some form of co-operation pact on key issues like the public spending statement which is progressive in outlook but i don not see that being a problem with people like Heidi Allen . There appears to be some common ground on economics around the social market and affordable housing which is not unusual amongst social liberal/democrat parties but of course the devil is in the detail.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Feb '19 - 8:46am

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Davies_(Conservative_politician) may cause a bye-election, depending on a court case.

  • David-1 22nd Feb ’19 – 1:26am……………..Christopher Haigh: If you had lived through those long-ago forgotten days of the Coalition, you would have remembered that a powerless minority in a government whose aims are directly counter to its own ethos, in no way “give it some balance” but at most serve as a fig leaf that distracts from the designs of the majority……………

    57 MPs are not a powerless minority in a hung parliament. The problem was that “If we keep doing this we won’t find anything to bloody disagree on…….” remark, far from being a joke, turned out (on everything from the NHS, secret courts, bedroom tax, etc) to be a LibDem policy decision..

  • John Bicknell 22nd Feb '19 - 9:32am

    Interesting that the focus on QT last night seemed to be whether or not these MPs should stand down, and trigger by-elections (and Chris Leslie seemed to get quite a pasting on the issue). Personally, I do think that there is a moral case for an MP that switches mid-term to do this, though it was hypocritical of the Labour MP on last night’s panel to be so self righteous. When the Cons MP in my home town defected to Lab, he didn’t stand down to put his decision to the electorate, nor was there any pressure on him to do so from his new party.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Feb '19 - 9:36am
  • Richard Underhill 22nd Feb '19 - 9:59am

    Sean Hagan 21st Feb ’19 – 10:02pm
    The Independent Group have said that they will meet soon (exactly when?) and decide whether they will have a leader. If so how? Not at the moment by one member one vote. Perhaps by one MP one vote? Would there be two candidates? or might there, in theory, be three or more? (STV anyone?) As soon as there is a leader the media will expect him or her to be a spokesperson on all issues, so would the leader command? or lead? Will they also have a chief whip? Would the first leader be subject to a referendum of the members at some stage? (as with William Hague). In the SDP The Economist magazine proclaimed “Send for the Doctor!” but the members chose Roy Jenkins (who was blessed by Jo Grimond as an Asquithian Liberal) and Dr. Owen became deputy leader.

  • Well, of course, there were two cases of former Labour MPs standing down and causing by-elections after leaving the Labour Party. One was Dick Taverne, now an LD Peer, and he won, only to lose the seat at the subsequent General Election. The other was Bruce Douglas-Mann, who joined the SDP, insisted on fighting the seat at a by-election and lost. There have been numerous cases over the years of MPs switching sides and NOT fighting by-elections. Few of them actually survived the subsequent General Election.
    There is a danger amidst all the froth of press speculation of taking these events far too seriously and talking of Armageddon for the Lib Dems. Our party has been here is different guises since the 18th century, declining, reviving and changing several times and we’re still here. There has been talk of the realignment of the left for most of my political lifetime (55 years and counting) and I can see no blindingly obvious reason why this particular shakeout is more likely to lead to it than all the others.
    Two things are important. One is defending Liberal values and the other is defeating Brexit. To the extent that these defections further those aims, they are useful. Otherwise, I’d just wait and see.

  • Peter Martin 22nd Feb '19 - 11:17am

    I’d just make the point that, at least for me personally, the high point for the Lib Dems was their opposition to the Iraq war. Most of the defectors probably weren’t in Parliament at the time, but the ones that were at least tacitly supported that war. They mainly come from the Blairite wing of the Labour party and we all know who was most personally responsible for the UK’s involvement.

    Yet, most Lib Dem criticism is reserved for Jeremy Corbyn who was unreservedly in agreement with Lib Dems at the time.

    So it’s more important for Lib Dems that their political allies in other parties should be in agreement with them on such things as railway nationalisation and EU membership, than on matters of military conflict and the consequent hundreds of thousands of deaths?

  • The priority is Stopping Brexit. The best chance for that as of now seems to be the Kyle amendment, ie Mays Deal + A Referendum. TIG have offered May to replace The DUP as a prop in return for The Government accepting The Kyle amendment. That would solve a lot of problems with the mechanics of actually organising a Referendum which could take up to a Year.
    After that we have The Local Elections in May where we should do very well. There may be a few TIG backing candidates but they don’t have time to organise anything big.
    At some point TIG will conclude that the defections have run out & will become a Party & will want to talk to us about some sort of Umbrella arrangement or Alliance. While they are still hoping for more defections it makes sense for them to keep their distance from us, their “Newness” is their USP for now.

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd Feb '19 - 11:47am

    @ Martin,
    And by referring to Sheffield Hallam you will raise questions about the wisdom of appointing someone struggling with autism and/ or mental health issues to a position of responsibility.

  • Both main parties did badly in yesterdays council byelections. The appetite for neither Tweedledee or Tweedledum should not be underestimated.

  • @David Raw

    Ely has never been a good ward for us. We only got 9% in 2008 at a time when we held the Cardiff Central parliamentary constituency.

    In contrast this is a very bad result for Labour. In May 1983 when they were just about to go down to there worst ever General Election result they got 66% in this ward (although the boundaries were probably different then, it is likely to be comparable). They have NEVER (certainly since 1983 and I suspect long before that if ever) lost this ward.

    There is a technical reason why our vote is reported higher last time than it “actually” was in Ely ward and why the drop will be higher than a fair comparison. When it was last up, it was an “all up” election for 3 vacancies. The Tories though only put up 2 candidates. Our top candidate got 150 more votes than our other two. It is likely that 150 Tories voted for the two Tories and used their third vote for us. A suspicion increased by the fact that it was the Lib Dem candidate that got 150 votes more was first alphabetically. The comparison is against the top candidates last time. Effectively we were probably about 1% down.

    Also, as it was a close contest between Labour and PC there is likely to have been some squeeze on us.

    As it happens we have had some stonking results this year. The ElectionMapsUK twitter account up until last week (they haven’t compiled it yet for this week) had us getting the most votes this year in local by-elections – although that is dependent on where they happen to fall. More tellingly our vote is up 9% on last time they were fought. Labour and the Tories were both down 2%.

    PS – Thanks for the link to the youtube Tigger song – very appropriate lyrics!

  • Ian Patterson 22nd Feb '19 - 1:50pm

    Apologies if mentioned in the forgoing, Vince has grandly announced we wouldn’t contest the by election if one of the TIG ers resigned. Which is generous of him. How far did he consult on this? Please correct if wrong on this, as they are not a constituted party, would not calling a by election default back to their original party?

  • I should point out people who don’t want to vote for either of the tweedle parties, tend to vote for the party they feel can kick them hardest, that can be the Nationalists, Greens, Independents or Lib Dems, it depends on who is strongest in the area. This trend has been fairly consistant for the last couple if years.

  • @David Raw lists 2 by election results, focuses on the 6% fall in Ely and says nothing at all about the 25% increase in Oundle. Nor about the fact we are +9% overall this year – despite most of the contests being in traditionally weak areas.
    Relentlessly focusing only on the negative results is not a reliable way of assessing where we are. Of course we need to examine every result and learn lessons (best done by those on the ground, who actually know what happened). But we equally need to mark our successes and the places where we make progress – of which there are many. So, well done to the campaign team in Oundle. Better luck next time Cardiff – and thanks to both for flying the flag, and for hitting the pavements on these freezing cold nights.

  • David – that’s three posts now in this thread and you STILL haven’t said a single positive word about the 25% increase in Oundle. Despite the fact it was you who introduced the subject! That’s my point. Now, as it happens I completely agree with you that there should be post-mortems after poor results. No argument at all there, and I trust the Cardiff party will do that. But we should also learn positive lessons from the good results, and celebrate them.

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  • User AvatarJonathan Maltz 15th Nov - 12:48am
    John B: my comment was tongue-in-cheek. All Labour can offer given their well-known intransigence is to guarantee that the Tories will be the largest party...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 14th Nov - 11:42pm
    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...
  • User Avatarcrewegwyn 14th Nov - 11:30pm
    Thanks Mark.
  • User AvatarGaryE 14th Nov - 11:04pm
    David makes a valid point for seats with few resources and low membership. If central funds can pay deposits then £500 pays for 15,000 A4...
  • User AvatarDavid Sheppard 14th Nov - 9:20pm
    Thanks Mark for thinking of those not so well packed full of Liberals places like mine. We have had to fund from our own meagre...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 14th Nov - 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...