I’ve been out this morning with a team door knocking in my own Church Ward in Liverpool. Obviously, it’s a ward I know well having been re-elected here earlier this month with 60% of the vote. I have lived in the area since 1994, represented it since 2004 and campaigned in it in one way or another since 1974.
Admittedly, the canvassing was not as good as for local elections but it was far, far better than for any one national election that I can remember since our heyday when David Alton was the local MP. It wasn’t just that our vote is doing well but that voters are all over the place. Labour and Tory national voters have fled to the Brexit Party. There may be some Lib Dem voters who have done likewise but we haven’t found any yet but clearly some of our local government voters will be voting for the Brexit Party.
As I look at how the Remain vote is going two things are striking. Not one person has mentioned Change UK although the local MP, Luciana Berger, is one of the 11 Change UK MPs. Local Green voters at both local and national levels are acutely aware that the Lib Dems are the Remain Party most likely to gain one or more MEP seats in the North West and are clearly considering a switch. This very much replicated our findings in the Woolton canvassing that we did last weekend.
Strikingly, this has all been reinforced by the fact that the only Party that has communicated with them so far is us. In the whole of Church Ward every house has had or is about to get a hand delivered 8 page newspaper. 25% of the ward including the section we canvassed today has had another leaflet. Postal voters, and there are about 1,600 postal voters in Church Ward, have already had a Freepost delivery. It is as if all the other Parties have actually given up. They cannot be bothered with local activity – they are just relying on the media campaign. Or perhaps they just cannot get their members enthused. That won’t work. People want to see you and talk to you and our door step approach is massively reinforcing our position as THE Remain Party.
Of course, what is happening in Liverpool is being replicated nationally. Former MEPs from both major Parties are recommending a Lib Dem vote as the best way of getting at least one Remain candidate in every region of England. The stupendous local election results gained by the Lib Dems earlier this month have convinced people that we are once again a credible challenger. We gained seats in good numbers from all parties and there was a further break down in the national standing of Labour and Tory Parties with a large number of none Party political candidates elected.
There is a clear movement from Labour voters who want to stay in the EU to the Lib Dems. They believe that for too long the Labour Party has shilly-shallied around with a flip one day for a meaningful People’s Vote and the next day a flip the other way with an announcement against it. It depended on which Labour Spokesperson Radio 4 could get hold of! People are under no illusion that Labour, whilst still trying to sit on the fence, is a Brexit Party trying to deliver what they call a sensible Brexit. More and more people – 61% in the last opinion poll before the election started, know that there is no sensible Brexit.
As further evidence more than 3,000 people have joined the Lib Dems in the last week. I have welcomed 20 new members and 8 new registered supporters in Liverpool alone. Many of these people, locally and nationally, are former Labour voters and some have cut up their Labour membership cards and come straight over to us.
In my mind local and national data come together to tell me that in the North West, as in England as a whole, the only way to ensure a Remain candidate can get elected is to vote for the Lib Dem team led by Chris Davies. In fact, in the North West we might get two elected. Green and Change UK teams are below the levels needed to get anyone elected in this region. Because the D’Hondt system used to count the votes is a very poor representational system the votes for those Parties will effectively be put on the scrap heap after the first count.
Party loyalties are strained more than ever before in this election. It’s time to break free of traditional tribal loyalties. Its time to rally behind the one Party that, throughout Great Britain, has stood firm and proudly behind the European ideal. Lend us your vote and change the debate on the EU. Join us and say clearly and fervently, “Bollocks to Brexit”.