Time for some Lib Dem sunshine

It’s been a bloody awful three years. Politics dominated by the psychodrama in the Conservative Party over Europe and the splits in a Labour Party which refuses to declare whether it is for Brexit or Remain. Finally, the sun shows a willingness to break through the storm clouds of British politics. A strong vote for […]

It’s been a bloody awful three years. Politics dominated by the psychodrama in the Conservative Party over Europe and the splits in a Labour Party which refuses to declare whether it is for Brexit or Remain.

Finally, the sun shows a willingness to break through the storm clouds of British politics. A strong vote for us with a high turnout could see us beat the Brexit Party.

This whole campaign has been an absolute joy. We’ve had the clearest message – vote Lib Dems to stop Brexit – with its fruitier alternative, Bollocks to Brexit – and we have been able, for the first time in years, to approach doorsteps with confidence. It’s been such a good feeling. People have spontaneously told us that they are voting for us and you can see in their eyes that they are pleased about it.

All of you who have been involved in the campaign have played an absolute blinder. Our candidates have been energetic and spirited. In Scotland, Sheila Ritchie has travelled thousands of miles and led campaigning in paces where we haven’t been seen for years. She so deserves to win.

It’s been an exhausting campaign, coming for many people on the heels of the local elections.

Today is about turning good polls and good canvassing into MEPs. It’s about getting people out to vote. It’ll be knackering, but at least at 10 we can go to bed and don’t have to pull an all nighter at the count.

We can be very proud of what we’ve done over the past three years. Let’s work hard today to deliver the beginning of the end of Brexit.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Leadsom’s resignation – is history repeating itself?

Ten years ago, as polls closed in the local and  European elections, it looked like a coup against the unpopular Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown was underway. At 10pm, James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary resigned. Peter Mandelson, the Prince of Darkness himself, came back from the sidelines to knock heads together and take […]

Ten years ago, as polls closed in the local and  European elections, it looked like a coup against the unpopular Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown was underway. At 10pm, James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary resigned.

Peter Mandelson, the Prince of Darkness himself, came back from the sidelines to knock heads together and take the temperature of the resentment against Brown down to merely simmering for the remainder of his time in office.

I did wonder if we were about to see history repeating itself when Andrea Leadsom resigned this evening.

We shall see how many of the Cabinet are left in post at the end of Friday. Although if there was a good time for a government to implode on eve of poll, when they are in single digits in some polls and facing a hoofing is probably it.

The political crisis faced by Brown was huge at the time but seems insignificant when you compare it to the clusterbollocks engineered by David Cameron and turbo-charged by Theresa May.

But some of us have stuff to do for polling day tomorrow, so my request to Cabinet ministers considering their permission is to resign early so we can all get to our beds.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Heidi Allen reveals she offered to quit as Change UK Leader over tactical voting row

Heidi Allen gave an extraordinary interview to Channel 4 news tonight.  You normally use your eve of poll interviews to talk up your own party. Instead, she told of a split within the group over recommending tactical voting to maximise Remain support. Allen wanted the party to endorse the Liberal Democrats outside London and the […]

Heidi Allen gave an extraordinary interview to Channel 4 news tonight. 

You normally use your eve of poll interviews to talk up your own party. Instead, she told of a split within the group over recommending tactical voting to maximise Remain support. Allen wanted the party to endorse the Liberal Democrats outside London and the South East.

You have to wonder if the majority who were against it were the same people who blocked a Remain alliance in the European election.

From the New Statesman:

Allen believes the party should encourage Remain voters to back the Liberal Democrats outside of London and South East, where Change UK are polling strongest and thus stand the best chance of picking up MEPs.

Her fear, shared by Sarah Wollaston, is that Change lacks the requisite support to win seats elsewhere and could instead act as a spoiler. She warns: “Putting all the votes in one direction doesn’t always necessarily create the result that you want. If the next party further down in the polls isn’t still big enough to win a seat, you can end up, if you’re not careful, giving more votes to the Brexit parties.”

In private, she has always been clear that her strong preference is for cooperation with the Lib Dems. Earlier this week she even admitted that there was every chance that Change might not exist in its current form by the time of the next election. On the basis of current polling it is difficult to disagree. The party will be lucky to return a single MEP to Brussels and, faced with a Liberal Democrat revival none of its leading lights had anticipated, has failed to make serious electoral headway. As Allen herself says, it is a “really, really difficult time”.

Allen’s mother grew up in Germany as Hitler rose to power. She had stories about how people revered him because he promised all sorts and she clearly sees parallels with populist parties and people today. She clearly feels a sense of duty to stand up to the populists with what she called calm and moderate politics.

Allen is right to be concerned. The only thing she has wrong in her approach to tactical voting is that, actually, people in London and the South East should back the Lib Dems to stop Brexit because we are polling way ahead of other Remain parties.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Former top civil servant Gus O’Donnell explains why he’s voting Lib Dem in the European elections

It’s been really lovely to have all the celebrity endorsements we’ve had in recent days – Katy Brand, Emma Kennedy, Susan Penhaligon, Bamber Gascoigne, Greg Dyke and Simon Callow. However, when people who know exactly how government works urge a Liberal Democrat vote, then it’s really getting serious. For six years, Gus O’Donnell served as […]

It’s been really lovely to have all the celebrity endorsements we’ve had in recent days – Katy Brand, Emma Kennedy, Susan Penhaligon, Bamber Gascoigne, Greg Dyke and Simon Callow.

However, when people who know exactly how government works urge a Liberal Democrat vote, then it’s really getting serious.

For six years, Gus O’Donnell served as Cabinet Secretary, the highest ranked civil servant in the country, under three Prime Ministers, Blair, Brown and Cameron.

He now sits in the House of Lords.

In an unprecedented article for Times Red Box (£), he explains why he feels it is his “civil duty” to vote Liberal Democrat on Thursday:

I have made clear that since the executive and parliament have so far failed to find an acceptable form of Brexit, I reluctantly believe the only way to bring the country together is to give the people the chance to approve any final deal in a referendum. My view remains that leaving the EU is on balance bad for the country for economic reasons and because of its impact on our global influence.

So I would be supporting Remain in such a vote, which brings us to the European elections. I am extremely disappointed that while the Brexit party is an obvious choice for dedicated Leavers the Remain vote is potentially spread across many parties.

This is deeply disappointing and very annoying, particularly given that the Liberal Democrats seemed to be prepared to cooperate with other parties. Under the voting system used for European elections it means that the Brexit Party will do extremely well compared with the Remain parties unless supporters of the latter view vote tactically.

This means voting Liberal Democrat in England, so that’s what I will do. I would urge all those who support Remain to do the same.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Susan Penhaligon backing the Lib Dems this Thursday

Embed from Getty Images More than four decades on, I can still remember Susan Penhaligon’s performance as Prue Sorenson in Bouquet of Barbed Wire. I watched it far too young and didn’t get most of it as the themes were way too adult but she is up there with Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane […]

Embed from Getty Images

More than four decades on, I can still remember Susan Penhaligon’s performance as Prue Sorenson in Bouquet of Barbed Wire. I watched it far too young and didn’t get most of it as the themes were way too adult but she is up there with Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who as far as I am concerned.

Susan is the cousin of Liberal MP David Penhaligon who was killed in a car crash in 1986. The shock of that day is another strong memory in my life.

She stopped supporting the party during the coalition years, but, in a tweet tonight, Vince announced that she is voting Lib Dem on Thursday.

Vince had also noticed our earlier post about Simon Callow:

So that’s Susan, Simon, Katy Brand, Emma Kennedy and Bamber Gascoigne as well as former Tories Matthew Parris and Michael Heseltine, who has paid for his public statement with his place on the Tory benches in the Lords.

Who will be next?

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

WATCH: Lib Dem Stop Brexit rally with Tim, former Labour MP backing Lib Dems, Layla and Vince

Well that came round quickly. Although not a minute too soon for my feet and my back and my knees. I am knackered physically and emotionally but there’s just two days left in what should be the most important election of our lifetimes. As Tim Farron says, it’s our chance to change the Brexit story […]

Well that came round quickly. Although not a minute too soon for my feet and my back and my knees. I am knackered physically and emotionally but there’s just two days left in what should be the most important election of our lifetimes. As Tim Farron says, it’s our chance to change the Brexit story from how we deliver Brexit to how we stop it and bring the nightmare to a close.

So it was (allegedly) the last big Lib Dem rally of the campaign, although my spies tell me that something pretty good is planned for tomorrow.

Watch here – and fast forward through the first few minutes of silence and intermittent chatter.

It’s been a wee while since we were treated to a good old fashioned Farron barnstormer. He talked about his son studying for his history exam, about the cold war. Tim said to him that thanks to the EU, six countries which once had nukes pointing at us are now sitting round the table arguing about fishing quotas. If there were no other reason to stay in the EU, that would be enough, he said.

Yesterday, former Thurrock Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay announced he would be voting for the Lib Dems because of the inability of the Labour Party to prevent a damaging Brexit. Tonight he took the floor at the rally. He likened it to making an offer about a house and then discovering it had dry rot or asbestos and then deciding against it. Despite his great affection for Labour in his half a century of membership, he slammed the lack of clarity about whether it backs a People’s Vote.

Next up was Layla talking very personally about her childhood travelling around the world with her father seeing the good that the EU was doing in trade and aid.

Finally, Vince looked back on the campaign. How the narrative has changed from the early days when commentators confidently predicted that we were going to be humiliated by Change UK. Then we rose in the polls and overtook both Conservative and Labour in some. And now he’s being mobbed by hen parties in Malaga and commuters on Birmingham New Street station, which, he said, was an unlikely scene for a Lib Dem revival.

He highlighted how nurses are heading back to the EU because they feel unwelcome here and how that is becoming disastrous for our NHS.

The news about British Steel today, he said, was just the beginning of the jobs that will go in our industries if we Brexit.

He urged us to do all we can to deliver a strong result on Thursday so that we can work in the EU to tackle the climate emergency and join a strong group of Liberal MEPs to stand against the rising tide of populism, racism and fascism that is spreading across Europe and here.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Two thirds of Tory members want a no deal Brexit so voting Lib Dem to stop Brexit on Thursday is more important than ever

There are many reasons to vote Lib Dem on Thursday, but sending an indisputable “Stop Brexit” message, showing that the country has changed its mind, is even more important when you consider the recent YouGov poll of Tory members.  These people, and these people alone, get to choose the next Prime Minister. And two thirds […]

There are many reasons to vote Lib Dem on Thursday, but sending an indisputable “Stop Brexit” message, showing that the country has changed its mind, is even more important when you consider the recent YouGov poll of Tory members. 

These people, and these people alone, get to choose the next Prime Minister.

And two thirds of them want to visit on us the catastrophe of a no deal Brexit.

84% of them want to deny us our say on the final Brexit deal.

These mostly affluent, older people are quite happy to play Russian Roulette with all of our lives and there are plenty leadership candidates prepared to promise them what they want.

We’ve been saying all along that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to stop Brexit. It sends an indisputable message to the Government. It can’t be confused with Scottish independence. And if you want to Remain, why would you even vote for the Brexit Labour Party?

It is worth dropping everything and doing whatever you can to secure a huge Lib Dem vote in your area.

This election is not just about getting lots of MEPs for us, it is about the future direction of our country. It’s about showing that the public is absolutely and irrevocably opposed to the course Tory members want to take.

And these older, right wing affluent people go and vote. They will turn out in vast numbers on Thursday if they haven’t already voted by post. This is all the more reason to make sure that we have a huge turnout amongst young people and get them voting for us. So if you haven’t taken polling day off, see if you can change your plans and go and get out the vote.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Bamber Gascoigne: This is the essential moment to support the Lib Dems

Last week, Katy Brand and Emma Kennedy backed the Lib Dems in the European elections. . Last night, award winning star of stage and screen Simon Callow said he was backing us as the only party to have offered leadership and clarity on remaining in the EU. And today, University Challenge legend Bamber Gascoigne adds […]

Last week, Katy Brand and Emma Kennedy backed the Lib Dems in the European elections. .

Last night, award winning star of stage and screen Simon Callow said he was backing us as the only party to have offered leadership and clarity on remaining in the EU.

And today, University Challenge legend Bamber Gascoigne adds his voice to the growing list of people saying that they are voting Lib Dem this time – a list that also includes former Tory Cabinet Minister Michael Heseltine and Times columnist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris.

Bamber said:

This is the essential moment to support the Lib Dems at the ballot box and confirm our commanding lead. We shall prevail!

Photo of Bamber Gascoigne above is by York Membery

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Simon Callow backs Lib Dems in European elections as “only party to have offered leadership and clarity on remaining in EU”

One of Britain’s finest actors has backed the Lib Dems in the European election. Simon Callow, whose performances include Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA, Sir Edward Tilney in Shakespeare in Love and a role which will appeal to many Lib Dems – Charles Dickens in […]

One of Britain’s finest actors has backed the Lib Dems in the European election.

Simon Callow, whose performances include Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA, Sir Edward Tilney in Shakespeare in Love and a role which will appeal to many Lib Dems – Charles Dickens in two episodes of Doctor Who – said:

The Liberal Democrats are the only party which has consistently and unequivocally supported remaining in the EU, and opposed leaving it. They are the only party to have offered leadership and clarity on this question. The positions of both Labour and Conservatives are uncertain, self-serving, procrastinatory and lacking in any kind of urgency; both have allowed themselves to be bullied by reactionary elements in their own parties. I have already voted postally for the Lib Dem candidates in the forthcoming election and I urge you to do so too, if you believe in a European future.

Simon’s welcome endorsement comes hot on the heels of Katy Brand and Emma Kennedy saying that they are voting for us last week.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Labour panic as Lib Dems advance into second nationally and first in London

The Lib Dems have overtaken Labour in another poll, this time another massive one, in the Observer: Lib Dems were on 17% ahead of Labour on 16% and the same poll put us in first place in London and ahead of Labour as the choice for Remain voters. The data seems to be matching up […]

The Lib Dems have overtaken Labour in another poll, this time another massive one, in the Observer:

Lib Dems were on 17% ahead of Labour on 16% and the same poll put us in first place in London and ahead of Labour as the choice for Remain voters.

The data seems to be matching up with the many anecdotes from across the country, this one from Alistair Campbell on Channel 4 News last night:

Labour voters will be reading the Observer’s leader this morning which has harsh words for the party and uncomfortable truths for Labour remainers.

There are those in the Labour party who maintain it is a Remain party. As much as they may wish this to be true, they are deluding themselves. Labour is a Brexit party, under a Eurosceptic leader who has unequivocally committed the party to trying to deliver Brexit.

The party clearly realises that winning over Labour remainers is keen:

You can tell Labour have the wind up them because they are going for us on the Sunday morning programmes.

But when asked if they are a Brexit party or a Remain party they disappear in a cloud of waffle.

No amount of Labour politicians saying they support Remain and a People’s Vote can make their leader deliver that where it matters, in the Westminster Parliament. The Labour leadership has done nothing to deserve the votes of remainers and should not get them.

All the signs point to a good result for us.

What we need to do in the last few days is emphasise how we can beat the Brexit party if the Remain votes come to us.

We also need to get as many Remain voters out to vote as possible. The European elections traditionally have a low turnout, but from what I’ve seen on the doorsteps these past few weeks, people are very motivated to turn out and support us to stop Brexit.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings