I’m sure everyone’s ready for another hot take after yesterday’s elections (yes I know, I should keep it to myself) but seeing as we have just a month to go till the General Election there isn’t much time to reflect and I thought I’d just post it here. Especially important we pick ourselves up and move on quickly to get back out on the doorsteps and hit the phones again to get as many LD MPs in parliament in a months time!
Now, as you read this you might be feeling a bit miffed that the famed #Libdemfightback is no where to be seen. Where was it? Why didn’t we gain all those seats? Why did we lose seats?
Welcome to First Past The Post. Having said that, the Lib Dems have had some significant achievements and yesterday’s elections paved the groundwork for future gains in years to come. (Politics is a long game.)
The reality is that the Lib Dems had negatives from the overall picture and the perception it gives that the ‘surge’ hasn’t happened. This isn’t quite true – lots of the council seats up for grabs were in remain seats, plus no.council elections in London and a number of key remain areas. There are still plenty of positive signs for the party (especially considering the years of 2010-2015 where we saw continuous losses year after year). We have thousands more members, in fact the highest numbers ever! This means more people to support campaigns – and this will make such a difference if every member and supporter can do their bit! Also, we are getting more voters across the country with our vote share going up over the past year in by-elections and now across the local elections reaching 18%.
However, in a First Past The Post system none of this means anything unless we target our resources effectively (as people in the party such as Mark Pack have been saying). We aren’t going to suddenly become the official opposition (constitutionally at least), although more MPs will mean we have more LDs to hold this government to account which is especially important when the Labour Party have been failing to do this in the past year and it looks like the general election will give the Conservatives a massive majority.
As far as I can tell, this means targeting resources and time in two ways.
Number 1 – Be defensive. If you are in or near a currently held seat – we need you to throw everything at it. We need every single one of those 9 seats and none of them can be considered safe.
Number 2 – Manage your expectations. If you can’t help in a held seat or you want to venture out to support a candidate with a chance of taking a seat (especially some of our awesome women and ethnic minority candidates), then make sure you help someone who is in one of our top target seats. None of them are guaranteed to go our way and each will be a big fight.
Effectively, (and this is just my opinion obviously) – our top 9 target seats are our current seats – none of these majorities are big enough to be taken for granted I’m such turbulent political times (especially with turnouts getting lower and lower!)
I’m sure that if we can consolidate and rebuild with gains of between 10 and 15 MPs that would be an incredible outcome. It would give a real demonstration of how we are on the way back up. To do this we need to target our resources to make sure that happens. The worst outcome for us would be to find that we get a higher vote share but then we actually make no gains or worse lose seats!
So don’t get down hearted, but do target your support in the most effective way possible, supporting the places we need to hold or are most likely and able to win! We can win seats,we can make gains and we can bring a stronger, more diverse and inspirational group of MPs to represent us but let’s not be unrealistic about our chances!
Pretty sure local parties will know the nearest target seats, but I’ve written a speculative list of what I think they should be based on my interpretation of various factors and sources.
Top 9 – Current seats
1. Orkney & Shetland Isles (817 majority)
2. Southport (New candidate + 1322 majority)
3. Carshalton and Wallington (1510 majority)
4. Richmond Park (1872 majority)
5. Sheffield Hallam (2353 majority)
6. Leeds North West (2907 majority)
7. Ceredigion (3067 majority)
8. North Norfolk (4043 majority)
9. Westmorland and Lonsdale (8949 majority)
Then in my opinion we should be looking at the following seats (regional order listed by size of majority to be overcome)
10. East Dunbartonshire (SNP have a 2167 majority)
11. Edinburgh West (Michelle Thompson. who stood as SNP but then Independent had a majority of 3210)
12. Cardiff Central (Lab have a 4981 majority)
England (outside London)
13. Cambridge (Lab have a 599 majority)
14. Eastbourne (Con have 733 majority)
15. Lewes (Con have 1083 majority)
16. Bath (Con have 3833 majority)
17. Yeovil (Con have 5293 majority – local election results were promising)
18. Cheadle (Con have 6453 majority)
19. Cheltenham (Con have 6516 majority)
20. Wells (Con have 7585 majority)
21. Twickenham (Con have 2017 majority)
22. Kingston and Surbiton (Con have 2834 majority)
23. Sutton and Cheam (Con have 3921 majority)
24. Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Lab have 4489 majority)
Eastleigh (Con have 9147 majority and high UKIP vote but promising local election results)
St Albans (LD were 3rd place in 2015 but Brexit, local election results and candidate make this a good wild card)
Vauxhall (Potential.backlash against Kate Hoey in very remain area but LD were 4th in 2015 )