Winning in local elections


Whilst the General Election results were disappointing, we have a set of local elections in May which present our party with an opportunity – to rebuild trust with the electorate ahead of future national elections.

It will most likely be 2024 at the earliest when the next election is, assuming the Government remove the Fixed Term Parliament Act, so that gives us four years to win in local elections across the country and show the electorate that we can be trusted to represent them well at a local level.

Historically, we have done well in parliamentary constituencies where we have done well locally, a point which Paddy drove home time and time again in his speeches and books. Perhaps this is not surprising, given how hard working our councillors are. The same hard-working nature cannot be said for Labour councillors.

In places like Sheffield, we have a real chance to deny Labour a majority. In May last year, we were able to win in the South East of the City, which we have not done for a long time. As well as this, we gained seats in the North of the City too. Hopefully, we can replicate that this year and continue to make gains which will prevent Labour’s control.

By winning seats and then doing the job we have the privilege to do, we can show residents that we will not take them for granted, we will listen to them and we will help to make their lives that little bit better. Whether it be cutting bushes back so that a wheelchair user can access a path, building a partnership between the local residents and police force or pointing residents in the right direction when they have a problem with housing or council tax. We can make a difference and it is this difference which will help to build a new alliance of Lib Dem voters.

This is particularly prevalent in places where Labour has become complacent due to the adage of put a red rosette on and anything/anyone could win, and it presents us with a real opportunity. We have been able to do so many great things in places like Sheffield without running the council. Just think about the improvements we could make to the lives of people if we were in charge.

My appeal to you is this, the local elections give the party a great opportunity to start building ahead of 2024/25. With Corbyn staying in post until April, combined with the complacency of a lot of Labour councillors, it provides us with an opportunity to continue to gain more seats in places like Sheffield. Find your closest set of local elections, get in touch with the campaign team and get yourself knocking on doors, stuffing leaflets, calling voters and help us to take control of wards across the country.


* Tom Purvis is a member of the Sheffield Liberal Democrats and is standing in the next local elections

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  • Labour will not be taking anything for granted come May. The battering they got at the Election won’t be forgotten and unless they are completely deluded won’t be counting any chickens. A campaign based on hoping your opponents are arrogant or don’t care is a little flawed to say the least.

  • Hi Silvio

    Not sure if there has been a misunderstanding. What I am saying is Labours complacency at the local level, combined with the hard work of our councillors and campaigners puts us in a prime spot to win seats all over. Also, Labours local complacency goes back far further than Corbyn. Furthermore, Labour elected Corbyn not once but twice, their membership over the last few years has very much been delusional

  • David Evershed 15th Feb '20 - 5:27pm

    Surely winning local elections should be seen as an end in itself rather than a stepping stone to winning a parliamentary seat.

    Having control of a local council means having power to do stuff. Electing an additional Lib Dem MP in parliament is unlikely to change much.

    So I suggest a strong parliamentary election performance should be seen as necessary to support a good local election performance, not vice versa.

  • Tony Greaves 15th Feb '20 - 5:52pm

    Many of the seats up this year will be against the Conservatives. May not be easy in the initial Government honeymoon period. Don’t plan on the assumption it will be like last year.

  • I think some people should spent a winter evening reading (or re-reading) The Theory and Practice of Comunity Politics by Bernard Greaves & Gordon Lishman. If they did they would realize that indeed “winning local elections are NOT an end in itself,” but not for any reasons to do with Wetmister!

    The election should be part of a process of returning power to the people. I won an inner city ward from Labour at the second attempt in a part of Bristol that had had only one Liberal candidate in 50 odd years (and a paper one at that). The seat was lost for four years in he post-merger period, but re-gained and not completely lost until demographic changes and the coalition collided in 2013.

    In some areas Liberal Democrats have kept up the campaigning and engagement with local citizens, and have either maintained support in hard times, or have been able to revive and return.

    Tony Greaves is right, gains from the Tories may not be easy as some think. Like him I’m old enough to remember 1980, 1992, and 2011, and this round of local elections are being held in similar circumstances. Good campaigns rooted in local communities may well succeed, but a rainforest of content free leaflets in April with bar charts and ‘3 things to remember’ will probably be treated with contempt by voters in Tory shires and suburbs.

  • typo alert – I meant to type ‘Westminster’ of course, but ‘Wetmister’ seems apropriate somehow!

  • Everything we do or say is equivalent to living a dream. Forget about winning, just concentrate on basic survival.

  • Paul Barker 16th Feb '20 - 3:27pm

    We are up on the last time this round of Elections were fought but The Tories are up more & we will mostly be fighting Tories. Unless there are big changes in the next 2 Months we ought to expect to make Net Losses this May, gaining Seats from Labour but losing more Seats to The Tories.
    Obviously the contrast with last Year will encourage those who think we are doomed but I still think they are wrong.

  • David Becket 16th Feb '20 - 7:24pm

    Yes we are likely not to do as well this year. We would do better if we consigned rubbish Bar Charts, “X” can’t win here, and three motherhood and apple pie quotes to the bin and replaced them with real local issues.

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