Lib Dem win in North Shropshire puts spring in the step of all Lib Dems

Our latest MP Helen Morgan turns up to her Count in the early hours of this morning to receive news of the 34% swing to her.

As I sat working in the window of my front room this morning, I became aware that loads more people than usual were waving, giving me the thumbs up and smiling. I thought that this was a bit of overkill for my pre-Christmas haircut which, unusually, I have actually had done pre- Christmas this year. Then I realised it probably had more to do with the achievements of Helen Morgan and her Lib Dem team yesterday than my somewhat limited tonsorial achievements.

There is no other way of describing it other than the fact that yesterday was a stunning victory for the Liberal Democrats in North Shropshire. This had been a safe Tory constituency since 1832. Following Lib Dem successes in the local elections this May Helen brushed aside Labour, who had been in second place at the last General Election, to storm through to win.

The people of North Shropshire spoke for the entire Country when they overturned a huge Tory majority to create a strong and easily defendable Lib Dem. As our Leader Ed Davey said, “this was a referendum on Boris Johnson”. I believe that not only in North Shropshire but nationally the people have seen through the bumbling buffoon image and realised that this is more than an image it’s the reality of a hapless and incompetent Prime Minister. Ask anyone the question “how do you know when the Prime Minister is lying”, the reply is quickly given, “his mouth is open!”

This was a victory primarily for Helen Morgan and her local team but also for all the Lib Dem campaigners who flooded into the Constituency to create this stunning break through. But it was more than that. In this Brexit voting constituency, they elected a strong Remainer from a very strong Remain believing Party which shows that Brexit is no longer a key divider in British politics.

I too am a strong Remainer. Lib Dems have set out a road map for re-joining the EU but particularly by signing up to the single market. Only the blindest of bigots like Farage and the ERG Group cannot see that investment in industry has fallen, that exports have fallen, that the supply chain is in crisis and that we have already opened our doors in a whole range of industries to people we showed the door to after the referendum. Some people no doubt voted Lib Dem because they realised that we were right. But far more no longer see Brexit as THE issue as other issues have come to the fore.

A clear issue was that of sleaze and corruption and partying! The people sense that the likes of Rees-Mogg and the higher echelons of the Tory Party think that there really is one rule for them and one rule for the rest of us. They picked the pocket of the British people with their awards of contracts to mates; they lost a fortune on many of those contracts, and they bend and twist the rules to try and bend and twist laws and regulations to their fee-paying chums.

It also showed that we can safely leave local people to decide who is the best party to kick out complacent and corrupt Tories. A formal pact between so-called progressive Parties cannot deliver the votes. Local common-sense feelings and knowledge can be relied on to do just that.

What is a ‘progressive party’? In Liverpool the Labour Party is far from progressive. For all the 39 years that I have been a councillor here they have been a hugely regressive Party. Even today many of them fight the cold wars of the 1960’s British political scene without understanding that time and the British people have moved on.

The Greens are unable to articulate a cohesive message either local or nationally. They present turgid motions to Council which they don’t seem to understand themselves never mind articulate within the Council Chamber.

Of course, there are good people in the Green and Labour Parties. There are even a declining number of good people in the Tory Party. Let the voters decide who the good people are in each area be it for national or council elections. Our Party is prepared to work with anyone and everyone on policies and programmes where there is a joint view based on principle that such a policy or programme is necessary. That’s very different than a formal pact or coalition.

We can also celebrate two other things yesterday. The Lib Dems took two seats from the Tories at council level and the fact that women are shown to be strong in our Party. Of our 13 MPs 9 (70%) of them are women. We don’t have quotas or other artificial mechanisms but just let our selection processes choose the best person to campaign for our beliefs.

In the 54 years I’ve been in the Party I’ve seen many good mornings like today followed by sad days thereafter. Today is significant because it marks the end of the Party’s post- coalition doldrums. I don’t know what the future holds but it’s a future full of hope for the Liberal Democrats.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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