Zoe Franklin selected to dislodge the Guildford brick in the Blue Wall

Good news from Guildford:

Zoe is bright, energetic and inspiring. I remember her speaking at a Scottish Lib Dem conference fringe meeting a couple of years ago giving lots of ideas about local campaigning. She closed the gap last time and could regain the seat which was held by Liberal Democrat Sue Doughty between 2001 and 2005. Sue was the only non Conservative to hold the seat since 1906.

From the Huffington Post:

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey believes voters in Guildford feel “ignored” by a Conservative party they feel to be “out of touch with their values and priorities”.

“The Conservatives have taken Guildford for granted,” he told HuffPost UK.

“In Boris Johnson, they see a prime minister who has failed to show any signs of leadership to get this country through a national crisis.

“From his botched handling of the pandemic, to the shame of needing Marcus Rashford to pressure him into providing free school meals for children, it is no wonder voters in the Blue Wall are turning their back on this government…

..Franklin added: “There is no doubt how badly the foreign secretary’s actions have gone down in our area, as well as other Conservative MPs rushing to his defence.

“I am delighted to have been reselected as the parliamentary candidate for Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages. Guildford has been my home for over 20 years and I am determined to be the local champion our local communities need.”

Ed Davey is currently on a tour of “blue wall” seats. From the BBC:

In advance of the Lib Dems’ conference next month, Sir Ed is embarking on a “blue wall tour” of constituencies which the party is eyeing up for a win.

Beginning in Eastbourne, where they finished second to the Conservatives by 4,331 votes in 2019, he will also take in Wimbledon, where the Lib Dems came a very close second.

Also on the list: Westmorland, which former party leader Tim Farron held with a slim margin, and Harrogate and Knaresborough, where a 9,000 vote majority would need to be overcome.

I’m slightly perplexed by the inclusion of Westmorland in this, although the boundary review’s proposed changes are not great for Tim.

When I was phoning in Chesham and Amersham, it was clear that so many people were LIVID with the Tories on Brexit, on international development, on Boris’s attitude generally. Our challenge is to upscale our campaigning to by-election levels in seats like these across the country.

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

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12 Comments

  • If the boundary changes go ahead as they are presented (tweaks will happen, whole scale alterations to them unlikely) Tim will have to pick a notional tory seat and fight for it so it’s perfectly natural for Ed to head there.

  • David Evans 26th Aug '21 - 1:17am

    It’s a sad truth, but someone has to point out that we don’t have the resources to “upscale our campaigning to by-election levels in seats like these across the country.” We simply don’t have anything like enough members, never mind activists, and as for full time staff, that is down by about 80% from 2010 levels.

    Add to that the fact that it takes even more effort to win a seat in a general election because the turnout is higher than in a by-election and the national spend of the big parties is massively higher too (allowable because Nick took his eye off the when he was responsible for it all in the coalition government). Quite simply we can no longer compete with this much money, except in a very targeted manner. We had a short term financial boost in 2019 but the remainder of that will soon be gone.

    The blue wall is there because so many Lib Dems including many of those in charge of LDV, chose to support failure rather than call out for change when all those seats we had won prior to 2010 in blue wall areas were being squandered. At best we are now a quarter the size we were in 2010, and it is a long hard slog to get back to anywhere close to where we need to be.

    We have to knock down that wall, but we won’t do it in one, two or even three or four elections if we continue to pretend that we can hit impossible targets with inadequate resources, just because it sounds good to say it’s our challenge. One seat at a time is the way to eat that elephant.

  • John Marriott 26th Aug '21 - 8:24am

    As usual, David Evans speaks a load of sense. The Lib Dems are getting dangerously close again to resembling Hitler in his Berlin bunker in early 1945 moving his imaginary armies around.

    Talk about the boundary review playing into Tory hands! That’s why, although I’m happy when the occasional by election can be won, I’m wary, like David, that this kind of intensive performance cannot be repeated everywhere in a General Election. To shift opinion, the Lib Dems have got to find a way of getting the public’s attention. As always, for me in England at least, it’s got to be the parlous state of local government..

    Above all, we need people who can connect with ordinary and not so ordinary people. Mentioning Tim Farron, it’s such a pity that his (sincerely held) religious views somewhat derailed him as a national figure. A bit Boy Scout, perhaps, but, with the right exposure, he could have developed into a force to be reckoned with in this touchy freely age. He always came over as a human being, unlike some of the autocue politicians around. Where are the new Ashdowns, Kennedy’s and Grimond’s (I nearly added Lloyd George’s) when you need them? And that’s just the men. Where’s the new Shirley Williams?

  • @David Evans. It is certainly true that we can’t upscale our campaigning in every blue wall seat, but that is no reason why we can’t do it in a carefully selected list of seats, such as Guildford. Are you really suggesting that we all give up?

    See: https://www.libdemvoice.org/its-a-long-game-62960.html

    And I’m not sure about that sideswipe at the LDV team – I headed up the digital campaign to win back Kingston & Surbiton in 2017, and most of my colleagues were equally active behind the scenes.

  • David Warren 26th Aug '21 - 11:20am

    I am really pleased to see that the Guildford selection has been completed and that a locally based candidate has been chosen.

    The key to winning there as elsewhere in much of the South is turning Labour voters into tactical ones for the Lib Dems. We lost scores of those in 2015 as I discovered as a phone canvasser in the constituency during that election campaign.

    Results in 2019 show they are coming back but there is still a bit more to squeeze. Good luck to Zoe in her campaign to be Guildford’s next MP.

  • John Marriott 26th Aug '21 - 11:23am

    @Mary Reid
    By all means be selective; but recognise the fact that, whether you or I like it or not, large sections of the British public like to hang their principles/prejudices onto a personality. Why else is a rogue like Johnson so much more preferable than a strait laced character like Starmer. You may recall, I hope I am correct, that Paddy Ashdown’s ratings actually went up after his affair was revealed.

    Clearly, Paddy was no rogue, in the sense that Thorpe and Lloyd George clearly turned out to be. However, they certainly had something that many politicians have lacked over the years. Now I’m not suggesting for one minute that Sir Ed applies to join the cast of ‘Love Island’. “I agree with Nick” came just at the right time to save the Lib Dems’ plunging ratings in the run up to the 2010 GE.

    I am sure that the conference junkies and supporters of earnestly debated motions and Policy Papers will be appalled; but it is occasionally worth improvising rather than sticking slavishly to the prepared script, especially if you are going to inject a bit of humanity into your sales pitch.

  • If the Lib Dem’s are to be taken seriously beyond the line between the Wash and the Bristol Channel. It ought to give whatever support is needed to Tim Farron in a seat that could be won on the redrawn boundaries if proper support is forthcoming.

    There should not be a repeat of what the Clegg group failed to do in the Scottish Borders.

  • Graham Jeffs 26th Aug '21 - 3:33pm

    There is little substitute for hard work at the coal-face. It needs to be sensibly prioritised across the country.

    I have an uncomfortable feeling that the ‘blue wall’ references reveal a similar naivety to the ‘de-capitation’ policy……..

  • @David Warren
    @David Raw
    Fully agree with both of you. The party has a massive mountain to climb and in as much as some members would like to ignore it the stink of the Coalition still hangs over us. Almost 6 years after the event I still keep wondering why it was allowed to happen. Clegg, Alexander, Laws et al abandoned ship and left everyone to clean up their mess. I genuinely hope that eventually, the party will recover but in all honesty, I fear that we are heading towards terminal decline.

  • Mary Reid – It is good to hear someone who is close to the LDV leadership prepared to say we cant do what is implied in an article, even though you then caveat it with, “but that is no reason why we can’t do it in a carefully selected list of seats, such as Guildford”.

    What is most disappointing is that you then add the relatively cheap barb, “Are you really suggesting that we all give up?”

    I am rather disappointed in you don’t seem to have read the rest of my post, as otherwise you would have realised that it ended “We have to knock down that wall, but we won’t do it in one, two or even three or four elections if we continue to pretend that we can hit impossible targets with inadequate resources, just because it sounds good to say it’s our challenge. One seat at a time is the way to eat that elephant.” That provided the answer to your question before it was asked.

    If you want people to believe “that is no reason why we can’t do it in a carefully selected list of seats, such as Guildford” I suggest you do the sums and look at how many resources are needed to shift a single constituency in a single by-election then factor in the other points I made about General Elections. Then look at what happened in our last three general elections 2015 when with huge resources and a “57 by-election strategy” we won just 8 seats, 2017 when we won 12 seats and 2019, when with massive resources behind us we still only won 12.

    Finally you comment, “And I’m not sure about that sideswipe at the LDV team – I headed up the digital campaign to win back Kingston & Surbiton in 2017, and most of my colleagues were equally active behind the scenes.” I’m sure they were and also were in 2019 as well as were all Lib Dems, but we still only won 12 seats each time. Indeed, it wasn’t enough to keep Jo’s seat, nor those in the North other than Tim’s. And you have to remember that LDV was totally supportive of Nick Clegg throughout the coalition catastrophe (bar a few minor wobbles), which sadly indicates an unwillingness to face up to hard truths.

    Working hard on its own has never, ever enough to ensure Lib Dem success, and believing in six impossible things before breakfast by serial failed optimists is no substitute for hard headed analysis and political progress.

  • It seems that the Lib Dems are determined to keep dragging up the ” Coalition ” as a reason for the continuing bad polling figures, but as it seems likely that the only way of having any influence in the country will be by coming to an agreement with another party or party’s given our present electoral system, I feel that I for one will have to accept a Tory dominance of our country for the foreseeable future, hopefully I will have the choice of voting for” not one of the above” at the next election. At least the party managed to overturn a lifetime of Tory dominance in my original home constituency in [email protected] and I really hope they can hang onto the seat as that would give me some hope for future generations???
    By the way the handling of the last General Election by the party left a lot to be desired!

  • Peter Martin 30th Aug '21 - 9:22am

    “When I was phoning in Chesham and Amersham, it was clear that so many people were LIVID with the Tories on Brexit, on international development, on Boris’s attitude generally.”

    So why didn’t Sarah Green make use of these issues in her election campaign? There were several campaign issues. Some major and well known: Like HS2, Housing Development: Some more minor and less well known: Like flooding in underpasses.

    These didn’t even make the minor list.

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