Friday, 23 May 2014

The Blame Game

Many Liberal Democrats, including Liberator Collective members Tim McNally in Southwark and John Bryant in Camden, will be going through that pit-of-the-stomach sensation where they try and work out exactly who is to blame for their losing their council seat.

Some have already done it - see - and blamed Nick Clegg. To echo the words of a former leader, they say, greater love hath no man than this - to lay down half the Liberal councillor base in England (more than half the base in urban areas) for the goal of perpetuating leaders' backsides in Cabinet Daimlers.  With so little to show for it, and a 'zombie Government' careering into the final session of a Parliament with little direction, dozens of Coalition pledges left incomplete, it is tempting to agree. Not that I am commenting on the website linked to above.

Liberator has tended to argue that the problems affecting the Liberal Democrats are broader and more fundamental.  From a Headquarters operation that treats activists with a combination of bewilderment and contempt (see the crass correspondence at, as well as the eight emails despatched to some activists in the last 24 hours of the campaign) to a dysfunctional Parliamentary organisation of which I'll write more, the strong impression is of a party that has lost its way. A party that has lost a grip of its values, exhibited by the spectacle of Mike Hancock given a clear run to stand in Portsmouth while suspended by the Party, supporting a narrative which predictably damaged the wider Lib Dems and have unnecessary succour to UKIP.  Ambling around in the middle of the road under the bland 'stronger economy...' narrative, the party is more likely to be hit by a truck, as has just happened.

If activists think the loss of all councillors up in Liverpool, Manchester, Lambeth, Islington and other places isn't bad enough, Sunday's European election results promise little respite other than in the material of the Liberator songbook.  The initial signs of activist revolt may give the run-up to that result some added spice.

The Death Of Satire - Again

There will be plenty of time to pore 
over the local and European election results this weekend.

Perhaps Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians should take time to reflect, too.  Because it does seem that some of them appear to have been following an altogether different set of elections, on a parallel universe where a 'successful' strategy deployed by the Liberal Democrat leadership has led to tangible success.

Most of the people receiving the following letter just emailed 'from' Annette Brooke MP to Lib Dem activists, including Sir David Williams who lost the Ham and Petersham ward in Richmond held for 40 years or colleagues in Liverpool and Manchester whose huge effort resulted in losses across the board - not to mention others - may not appreciate its sentiments. Truly beyond satire, it reads as follows:

As the results continue to come in from the local elections a clear pattern is emerging. In our held seats, where we have strong and established campaigns, we're seeing some very good results.

In Sutton, where we have two MPs, we have gained seats. In Birmingham Yardley we won nearly 50% of the vote and beat Labour into a distant second. Here in my own constituency we gained a seat from the Conservatives which pushed Purbeck District Council into no overall control. In Colchester we won 7 of the 8 seats and in Eastleigh we comfortably held the Council and drove the Conservatives' vote share down to 12%. There are too many examples for me to list them all.

All of these results tell the same story - in many of our strongest areas we are winning elections.

Of course many of our fantastic Councillors and candidates worked incredibly hard in these elections and didn't get the result they deserved. I hope each and every one of them will get their names back onto the ballot paper as soon as possible.

We're now less than a year away from the General Election and these results in our held seats show that we have everything to play for. Your efforts made the difference this time, as they will next year.

Best wishes,

Annette Brooke MP
Chair of the Parliamentary Party