Category Archives: By-election

Andrew Phillips: Reflections from the campaign trail in Clacton (via Lib Dem Voice)

Lord Phillips of Sudbury
Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I have a lifelong affinity with Clacton. It was the nearest seaside resort to my hometown of Sudbury, but more relevantly I was parliamentary candidate for the Harwich division, as it was then called, which included Clacton, in the General Election of 1970 (albeit for Labour – I saw the light three years later!)

On the face of it one should want to forget all about the Clacton results as quickly as possible. But there are some bright spots, and some insights which may be worth sharing. For a start, our candidate, Andy Graham, was admirable. He knew he was on to a hiding to nothing, but he persisted with a positive story about the party and the coalition. What is more, although the time and place were basically hostile to Lib Dems, it was often skin deep and susceptible to fact and reason.

Read the full article here

Paul Tyler: Farce in the Lords (via Lib Dem Voice)

Lord Tyler
Lord Tyler

Any interested fellow citizen who was told how the latest recruit to their Parliament was chosen would be first baffled, then outraged.  Is it any wonder that there are more electors who favour the complete abolition of the House of Lords than support retention of the existing arrangements?

The provisions for the replacement of one of our hereditary Peers, when deceased, are confusing, complicated and downright contradictory.

The latest election result, announced by the Lord Speaker on Wednesday afternoon, may seem to be relatively simple:  our new Liberal Democrat colleague will be Raymond Asquith, otherwise known as the Earl of Oxford and Asquith and descendant of the distinguished Liberal Prime Minister.  He was chosen in an AV election, but gained 50%+ on the first count, so no reallocation of the votes of lower scoring candidates was required.

There are, however, two absurdities:  First, by one of the many “charming quirks” of the composition of the Lords, the replacement for Robert attracted 13 Hereditary Peer candidates advertising themselves as Conservatives and Crossbenchers, in addition to the two Liberal Democrats.  Under a special provision of the cross-party carve-up of 1998/9, they were permitted to stand – and all Members of the House were entitled to vote – because Robert Methuen had been a Deputy Chairman.    And yet it was said to be a solid convention that the winner had to be from and for the political group of the Peer to be replaced.  Other groups had to exercise a self-denying ordinance in preferring our candidates!

Second absurdity:  no complaints at all from the arch opponents of the Alternative Vote system during the 2011 referendum that we have the benefit of it here in the House for internal elections.  For them it’s a case of “accept what we say” not “do as we do”.

You can read more about this typical Lords farce on LordsoftheBlog here and here.

Earl of Oxford & Asquith elected to the House of Lords

The Earl of Oxford & Asquith is the newest Lib Dem hereditary peer to join the House of Lords following yesterday’s by-election.

The Earl of Oxford has stated that his focus will be foreign and defence policy, foreign trade and commercial affairs as well as farming and environmental issues.

The by-election, to fill the hereditary seat of the late Lib Dem Lord Methuen, saw 15 candidates from across the main parties, standing for a single seat.

Unwritten rules (the ‘Carter Convention’) mean that Lib Dem, Tory, Labour and Cross-Bench peers were all expected to follow convention and vote for a Liberal Democrat candidate.

The result was announced at the end of Lords questions today.

Jim Wallace, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, says:  

“The system is far from perfect, but on this occasion it has meant the welcome addition to our ranks of the Earl of Oxford & Asquith, whose knowledge and expertise will be of great benefit to our group and to the House as a whole.”

Brian Paddick: Are We Confusing Anti-politics with Anti-Westminster? (via Lib Dem Voice)

Lord Paddick
Lord Paddick

I have just been watching Marr on BBC1 and there appears to me to be a theme developing.

In the paper review, Trevor Phillips said the rise of UKIP was really about voters´ perception that “Westminster politicians” were not listening to their constituents. He also suggested immigration is not the real issue for many British people but fear of change. He claims that rapid change is unsettling for people and a party that represents the past like UKIP is understandably popular. I guess a progressive, forward thinking and radical party like ours might be unpopular for the same reason.

Next up is Douglas Carswell, former Tory, now a UKIP, MP. He talks like a Lib Dem. He is clearly a dedicated constituency MP, just like a Lib Dem, who does not take his constituents for granted, just like a Lib Dem, and he sees representing his constituency as far more important than what happens at Westminster. He appeared to me to be so unlike a Tory MP or a Labour MP in a safe seat and so like a Lib Dem.

It reminded me of campaigning in the 2012 London Mayoral election in Worcester Park where Paul Burstow is the local MP. It was in the midst of the NHS reorganisation debate, when my colleague Shirley Williams was leading the Lib Dem revolt against the Coalition Government proposals which resulted in a withdrawal and a rethink. With tuition fees still hanging around our necks and the unpopularity of the NHS reforms, a couple on the doorstep explained that they would never vote Lib Dem again “… but we´ll be voting for Paul Burstow because he’s a great local MP”. At that time, Paul was a Liberal Democrat Coalition government minister in the Department of Health.

I found it a little puzzling that UKIP, a right-wing party, not only won the Clacton by-election but they also reduced the Labour majority from 6,000 to 600 in Heywood and Middleton. But not so puzzling if the reason is not their policies but a reaction against MPs who take their constituents for granted.

Full article here

Go Eastleigh

The weekend just gone was the first Lib Dems spent out campaigning for the snap by-election in Eastleigh, and a number of the party’s peers were at the thick of the action in Hampshire. Here some of them share their experiences of the battle

“Amused to be followed round by the UKIP deliverer. Managed to get all my leaflets fully through letterboxes so he couldn’t pull any out.”
Lord Razzall

Baroness Jolly
Baroness Jolly

“It was like walking into the by-election HQs of 10 years ago.  The buzz, the commitment and the sheer number of volunteers was huge. There was much to do – Mike German and Paul Strasburger braved the appalling weather to canvass on the doorsteps, I called known supporters by phone to ask for poster sites and was delighted to discover that our support was solid. We had people offering to deliver too.

“The welcome was terrific, the cake was delicious and never ending and there is so much still to do. Time is short; go soon and go often!” Baroness Jolly

Baroness Northover
Baroness Northover

“I arrive in pouring rain, driving from Sussex after being stationery in jams outside Chichester and Portsmouth because of crashes, late in the afternoon.  Wondering whether arriving at this hour and this weather is worthwhile to anyone.  I sat-nav to the place.  Then my spirits lift as I see the familiar sign – Lib Dems Winning Here!

“I pull the door of the warehouse and step into golden warmth, welcome, chocolate cake, tea, coffee, friends, colleagues from the Lords, a former MP, lots of enthusiastic students – even one who is dyslexic managing those blue envelopes – the-79 year-old former mayor who has just travelled along the trans-Siberian railway.  Brave people like Mike German in wet weather gear out in the rain.  Others, including the former press officer for the party and Newsnight regular, a member of the Lords, a former by-election candidate, all on the telephones.

“I am happily assigned to writing names and addresses on blue envelopes, sitting with many others chatting away (it does result in one or two swearwords as we make errors and tear up an envelope – younger people are better able to multi-task),  the curiosity of walks which no doubt make sense to some.  Above all, the excitement I always feel when I walk into major by-election HQs.  The teamwork, the friendliness, the meeting of new people, the vast age range, the range of backgrounds and interests, meeting of old friends and the swapping of taller and taller stories from by-elections past, students coming round plying us all with coffee and tea.  I had to tear myself away, to return through heavy rain which turned to snow by the time I got to London, buoyed by the conviviality, the upbeatness, the fun, of feeling part of a team, even as a minor little cog,  in such a key by-election.  And knowing – we do by-elections well!”
Baroness Northover

“Easily found my way yesterday to the big, light and very busy party HQ in Eastleigh.  I dodged the chocolate éclairs on the welcome counter, took my literature, and headed out onto the very wet streets.  Thankfully I had my full wet gear on, and people seemed to take pity on me – but the reception was good, and people friendly.  I came away feeling I had done a good day’s work and seen my party in excellent upbeat spirit.”
Lord German

“Eastleigh is a Liberal Democrat constituency and I want it to remain as such.The weather forecast on Saturday was horrible. Snow and rain greeted us all the way from Sussex to the constituency office in Eastleigh .Soaked to the skin and with numb fingers, we delivered hundreds of leaflets and envelopes.Who says that we have lost students and young people? There they were united in the common cause to make sure that victory will be ours.”
Lord Dholakia

“I was stumped when I was asked to contribute to a wall of ‘why I’ve come to Eastleigh’ – apart from its obvious importance.  Then I realised: Such a good feeling to be part of success, which is what it must be.”
Baroness Hamwee

“All I can say is that the usual Lib Dem election machine seems to up and running well and the number of volunteers out on the streets in appalling weather was amazing.”
Lord Strasburger

Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

Peer post – Lord Dholakia on the Cardiff South and Penarth by-election

At the weekend Lib Dem deputy leader in the Lords Lord Dholakia travelled to the Welsh capital ahead of Thursday’s Cardiff South and Penarth by-election. Here he describes how voters have taken to our candidate there, Bablin Molik

Indian temple
Lord Dholakia and Bablin Molik at Cardiff’s Indian temple and cultural centre

DRIVING 400 miles for a return journey to Cardiff may seem excessive but it was worth it.

An early start at 5.00am and we were at the Cardiff office by 10am. We have in Bablin Molik an excellent candidate. She is well known in her local area and there she was ready with a list of electors she wanted us to visit.

Despite all the gloom and doom messages we often hear, it was remarkable how ordinary voters have taken to her. Quietly spoken but well briefed we were able to put lots of window posters and get support for her and the party.

In the afternoon I led a team of half a dozen activists and called on a good many voters despite Wales playing Argentina at the Millennium Stadium. The evening was spent in the company of a large gathering of worshipers at a Temple where both Bablin and I addressed them after the religious service.

We were treated to a sumptuous meal and with a promise of help from key members of the community; we left for Sussex reaching home in the early hours of Sunday morning. A day well spent.


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.