The Bird of Liberty is still flying and still fighting
I don’t like to say, “I told you so” but…….! In an earlier blog I said that a number of things would happen in the General Election:
- Tories will win it. They did well yesterday with more than 500 gains and their best performance for years
- Labour will do relatively badly. They lost more than 350 seats and their worst performance for years.
- Lib Dems will do relatively well. We lost about 30 seats natioanlly but the BBC have projected our vote share up by about 5% since 2015.
- UKIP would virtually disappear. Lost everything and gained one is not a recipe for success. The obly seat they seem to be able to hold is on BBC TRV ad radio panel shows!
- The Greens will do very little. Their lost deposits all over the place and electing about 20 councillors out of more than 4,000 damages what little credibility they had as a national party.
Nationally there were some surprises. I didn’t expect UKIP to lose every single seat they were defending and gain one. I thought that we would do better in the South West than we have done. Overall the Lib Dem vote went up in the 3 nations where there were elections but we lost a small number of seats. The BBC are projecting our share of the vote up 5% on 2015 but that did not result in more seats. This is a worse position than the pundits suggested but the pundits made their mind up before May called an election. I was also surprised that Labour have already started blaming the media for their losses. “If only you’d report us fairly then we would do well” cries John McDonnell. Not if you have car crashes like the regular Diane Abbott interviews you won’t! I don’t like the Murdoch press but if a Party is as disunited, fractious and lacking in leadership as Labour is today then any journalist will exploit those positions because they are ‘real news’.
Crucially in the areas where we want to start the rebirth of our Parliamentary Party the results look great. In places like Wells where Tessa Munt defeated the Tory Council Leader, Chippenham, Cheltenham, N E Fife and other areas the local elections appear to be putting down a clear local recovery which should lead to success. The best of all, to my mind, was Eastleigh. In that constituency UKIP did well in the aftermath of the Eastleigh by-election which saw them come second. Yesterday Keith Houses’ team knocked them out of existence recording a full Lib Dem County Council slate in the constituency.
We know from our Liverpool canvassing that as soon as the General election was called there was a change in the type of discussion on the doorstep. The discussion moved in a number of cases from the local, city and city region positions to a national discussion. That meant we could not focus properly on the merits of our local and regional arguments as they were subsumed into wider discussions. Not only we had this problem. The Green Party here lost their £5,000 deposit and did so in most if not all the other mayoral contests.
I am very proud of the quality of the two young men who stood for us in the Wavertree by-election and City Region elections. Both Joe Harmer and Carl Cashman are quality candidates of the future. They are capable, knowledgeable, committed and presentable. They are future leaders of our Party in the region and nationally. I hope that they take the decision that I did when I was their age and plug away at their politics for the good of the Party and those that they seek and do represent.
In in both the Liverpool City Region Wavertree the result disappointed us. We had hoped to win Wavertree but it was the weakest of our target seats. However given that Joe has settled into the seat and knows the issues and that the next election will not be held under General Election conditions we will still keep it as a target seats following on 7%+ increase in votes.
Regionally I am very pleased with the way that we worked together across the region for the first time for many years. We all got behind Carl’s campaign and I have no doubt that many people will have been impressed with Carl but felt that they could not support him in the current circumstances. That swill change. As the Tories make a mess of Brexit – and they will. As this Country gets poorer because of that Brexit – and it will. As the Labour Party continue to feud and squabble – and it will the opportunities for young energetic Lib Dems will grow at a council, regional and parliamentary level.
Not only they but many of our many new members have also grown tremendously inexperience and knowledge as a result of this campaign. So many newbies have joined the team and committed to action in Liverpool that our reach goes further than it has done for the past decade.
So we turn to the General Election and Andrew Makinson and I have spent 3 hours this afternoon cleaning up our HQ and starting to fold and bundle for deliverers our first 50,000 leaflets of the campaign. The first of our Royal Mail Freepost leaflets have been approved by them and sent to the printers. Tomorrow we will get a few nice photos done of me (this takes time as I don’t have a best side!) and then we might just saunter around Church Ward and start our delivering.
We will never give up because we believe in our cause. As even Theresa May acknowledge before she had quite realised the impact of her words the UK needs to be a liberal democracy. The only way that will ever be achieved is by the Liberal Democrats and some fellow travellers from other parties coming together to promote that cause. In the meantime we are on the case