We all knew it was going to be bad, like real bad. No-one though saw what came as coming. Even the most rabid hater of the Lib Dems didn’t see that. So anyway I have finally slept after my 36 hour marathon and will sum up a few loose points that are bouncing around my brain whilst my hoodies dry in the tumble dryer. Yes folks, that is what I’m doing, waiting for my hoodies to dry so that I can go to Asda without having cold arms.
First things first. The money spent on internal polling. Do we have a fucking receipt? I was not supplied with all that data as I’m a two-bit nobody but some of it did find its way to me via various sources. The party genuinely thought that some seats are sewn up, seats that they lost, dramatically. For example activists in Eastbourne & in Lewes were directed out to Portsmouth South for weeks as those seats were in the bag. We lost both. Internal polling really had Jenny Willott and and Lynne Featherstone in a tight race. Both lost to huge swings. Something either happened late or the polling data was completely fucked up and a gigantic waste of money. Speaking of polling…
How shit was all the polling data from across the spectrum? I mean the Lib Dem internal data was hilarious awful but Lord Ashcroft, Ipsos-Mori, Survation, ICM and the like all need to sit down and think, ‘er…how did we get it so wrong?’ – The thing is that can’t have got it so wrong because most of them made their methodology and their raw numbers public and no-one questioned it and you know what, plenty of fucking smart people look at this shit and they all thought it to be reasonably accurate. So again, what the fuck happened late for people to change their minds?
I do think that people voted with their hearts in this election more than I have ever seen before. For five years people have trashed the Lib Dems for going into a coalition and not being strong enough to stand up to the evil right-wing government that David Cameron wanted to lead, well do you know what? By trashing the Lib Dems to such a degree we now have that right-wing government with no liberal voice to stop the excesses of a Tory government. Jeremy Hunt has said they’ll scrap the Human Rights Act already, Teresa May has said the Snoopers Charter will come into force. They will decimate the welfare system and then people may sit back and think ‘woah…now that is actually what a right-wing government is like because I actually forgot and I shouldn’t have just listened to the media and Labour activists about how right-wing this government was because it actually wasn’t.’
Speaking of Labour. They made gigantic mistakes in this election campaign starting with a weak and ineffective leader. I have never met Ed Miliband and in all likelihood never will but even if I did, I imagine I’d forget the episode rather quickly. When you aren’t the best person applying for a job that had even come out of your own mother’s uterus then you know you probably aren’t the right guy for the gig. David Miliband was by far and away the best candidate for the Labour gig (although had Yvette Cooper been allowed to stand then my view may have changed) but they went for a guy who dragged him left of centre, way left of centre but still wanted to sound tough on immigration because that is what he thought the public wanted to hear. No party can win in the United Kingdom under the FPTP system by being truly left of centre and that is still the case and will continue to be the case. To win you need to be centre-left, centre or centre-right. We don’t go for extremes to enough of a degree to vote them in. Labour must learn from this and move back in from the left otherwise they’ll be facing a 1979-1997 time on the opposition benches.
Also Labour. Spending five years telling everyone that the Lib Dems were evil only served to enable the Tories to win and here’s the thing, you fucking knew that but didn’t give a shit. I heard from counting stations up and down the land of Labour activists cheering Lib Dem defeats to the Tories. It shows that they felt that by going into a coalition, the Lib Dems had muscled in on Labour and the Tories ‘God given right’ to be the only parties of government in the United Kingdom. They would prefer a right-wing Tory government instead of any other government that doesn’t involve them because other parties should know their place. Only speak when spoken to. The reason the Tories are in is in large part because Labour’s sole strategy was to tell everyone how fucking awful the Lib Dems were and they didn’t have the foresight or basic mathematical knowledge to see that there were more Con/LD marginals than Lab/LD so that killing the Lib Dems would only actually mean more new Tory MPs than Labour MPs. Also Labour were so left of centre than many economic liberals moved right instead of left because they had nowhere else to go having been told just how evil the Lib Dems were. That meant in seats that were Con/Lab marginals then the liberal vote wouldn’t automatically move left, much of it moved right. What a horrible strategy by Labour but they got what they worked for – a Tory government.
Another thing. In 2010 we saw wild swing from seat to seat. Local issues and local people mattered. This time that didn’t happen at all. This was a true national election and people voted for who they wanted in power and not who they wanted to represent them in the House of Commons. They voted for the Conservative economic plan because they didn’t trust Labour and hated the Lib Dems. This stunned me and I sure as hell didn’t see it coming but when truly loved constituency MPs with large majorities get the boot then it is because people are only voting for one thing and that is who gets to run the show, not about who can help them get their issue sorted. To see Simon Hughes lose was heartbreaking and I don’t know the man, I can only imagine what it was like for those that did. I know just how much he did for his constituents and had given up three decades plus in doing so. When you do something for so long and do something so well only for people to decide for issues beyond your control that they don’t want you doing that job any more then you know it isn’t an election based on who you are actually voting for but more what party you are voting for. Will that stay the same in 2020? Who knows…
On a purely personal level it heartens me to see the amount of people who have joined the Liberal Democrats in the past 36 hours and continue to do so. Nationally the party has cleared 2,500 new members in the past day and a bit and the numbers are ticking along. I won’t say how much have joined locally but lets put it this way, I’ve been a member here for several years and we have more members at the time of writing than we ever have done in my time as a member and I hear reports from elsewhere that the same is true. Even my mother is joining (although not here as she lives elsewhere) because she thinks the Lib Dems have been dumped on to such a degree that she thinks a liberal voice needs not just be voting but actually being a member and being part of the movement. If people want the country (and indeed their council) to have some sort of liberal grounding then it takes work, hard work. It is hard to find a bad or lazy Lib Dem MP or councillor who gets re-elected because it takes so much more to get them elected because in general people are inherently Tory or Labour because that is the way its always been. Yes there are lots of UKIP councillors up and down the country getting in because of the party and not because they’ll be an effective councillor. This is the bottom and the only way is up pretty much from here. It is time to remind people that is they want a liberal voice then they have to vote for it. In many areas yesterday that demographically the Lib Dems should do well in, they did badly at council level because they essentially retreated fearing the worst. In 2016 they’ll be no national or European elections to fudge the results, people will be voting solely in council elections and it is up to a galvanised membership to go out their and promote liberal values, whether that is fighting to save a school from closure, fighting to keep facilities open, fighting to help regenerate areas or less liberal but not as unimportant things as sorting out parking issues, speed issues, traffic issues. In the next year people will see a right-wing government and if people don’t like it then they’ll need an alternative. It is up to us to remind them that we are an alternative, not just a party to kick.
As for my election experience, I was in Guildford where I’ve just learnt that in one the wards I was in, one has gone to a recount on Monday and the other we lost one of our two seats with Julia McShane holding on with the most votes. The Tories took both of the other seats. This is in no doubt due to the utter strength of the national Tory vote where Anne Milton won with 57% of the vote but also they were talking around the committee room about the alphabet and looking up and down the results from Guildford, you can see that the alphabet seems to have played a role in how the results shook out and those at the bottom of the list (certainly when you are voting for two or three councillors per ballot) do seem to get lower than others in the same party who are higher up the list. As for our national candidate, Kelly-Marie Blundell held on to second place (which considering the clutterfuck that everywhere else was) was a good result. Plenty to be learnt (from everyone) but the people (most of whom I’d never met before) were fantastic and I wish them all the best for the future and the fight to restore more liberal voices to Guildford and should the situation arise that I was available to help in that, then I would be glad to do so.
Ok my tumble dryer has now stopped. Time to have a shower and get some food. They were just a few thoughts that led to just over 1,800 words…
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