Liberal Democrats, here’s what you need to do to win the UK election

Remainers are in disarray right now, not sure what strategy to follow. Should they vote tactically for Labour to avert a disastrous brexit? Or vote for the Lib Dems in any case? Unlike what May is saying, or the media propaganda would have us believe, the country is not coming together and uniting over Brexit. Rather, the 48%-ers are starting to think that Brexit is inevitable. If Lib Dem want to win with a Remain message, they need to change this narrative and stop playing the Tories’ game.

This article is reposted from Helen De Cruz


As competitive chess players know, the moment you play the opponent’s game is the moment you start losing. Right now, all political parties in the UK are playing the conservatives’ game. That game is that Brexit is a fait accompli, and that May needs a “stronger mandate” to accomplish the best Brexit deal.

The Liberal Democrats are targeting Remainers, which was a clever move, but their message is too unclear and too nuanced for Remainers to go out and vote. Their biggest risk now is to lose that enthusiasm they had when Sarah Olney won Richmond Park.

Sarah Olney in Richmond Park. LibDem needs to get its mojo back and challenge the Brexit narrative

As a new party member, I see the following conservation on an almost daily basis:

“A second referendum on the deal? Wait, does that mean Lib Dem is not pro Remain?”

“Yes, they are because remain would be an option on that referendum.”

“Oh… right. But how would that work? Would there be three options then?”

“No, the options would be accept the deal, or reject the deal and remain””

“Ah…”

The second referendum still follows the will-of-the-people narrative, and thus plays into the hand of the Conservatives. I am part of several 48% groups, composed of hardcore Remainers. You’d think that of all people who would vote for the Lib Dems now, it would be these people.

Wrong. Remainers are in disarray right now, not sure what strategy to follow. Should they vote tactically for Labour to avert a disastrous brexit? Or vote for the Lib Dems in any case? Unlike what May is saying, or the media propaganda would have us believe, the country is not coming together and uniting over Brexit. Rather, the 48%-ers are starting to think that Brexit is inevitable. If Lib Dem want to win with a Remain message, they need to change this narrative and stop playing the Tories’ game.

Consider the following facts:

  1. Macron’s party En Marche! did not exist 18 months ago. It had no infrastructure, no base of faithful voters. And now, Emmanuel Macron has just been inaugurated as the next French president. Note that even if the French presidential elections worked via a first past the post system, Macron would have won (as he won most votes in the first round). So, you can build up a political movement from zero and win. You need to be prepared to win, and signal to your voters that you can win.
  2. The Conservatives are holding a vigorous campaign that we can’t see, using the Leave.EU/Trump playbook; they’re using targeted Facebook ads — it is massive, and it is expensive. This is what we are up against. The Lib Dems need smarter online campaigning.
  3. Recently, Labour started recovering somewhat in the polls whereas the Lib Dems are sliding. Although the leaked manifesto did not have a huge influence, leaking it was still a clever move of Labour and it also signals that Labour are starting to refuse to play the Conservatives’ game (finally!)
Macron on inauguration day. He made it. Tim Farron, you can too if you aspire to be more than the opposition

So what should Lib Dem do know? They should pledge to stop Brexit. Not a second referendum on the deal (Because to be honest, who wants another referendum? More Arron Banks bankrolling, more battle busses with lies on them, more anti-foreigner rhetoric? Please.). They should argue plain and simple that if they win this election, they will have a mandate of stopping Brexit.

That is being bold and refusing to play your opponent’s game. Of course, the right-wing press and the Tories would scream: Will of the people! But the Lib Dems can just say, so what. The people didn’t vote for hard brexit, and they can change their minds, in any case.

This would not be a plunge in the dark. There is plenty of evidence that a Stop Brexit party would do very well in the polls. See also here:

Or here, from Britain Elects, a poll in the Kensington constituency, which voted nearly 70% to remain. While Kensington is not representative for the whole of the UK, it does show what an unapologetic stop Brexit stance could do in the polls. Especially note how the Stop Brexit party could eat into the Conservative Remain voters’ current voting intention.

As we can see in the graph below, LibDem have lost a lot of their Leave voters (let’s not forget about 1/3 of people who voted Lib Dem in 2015 voted to Leave). In this graph, it is clear that while Lib Dem are making modest gains among Labour remainers, few Conservative Remain voters are going to the Lib Dems. Those considering to move are still undecided. Best to cut their losses now and focus on the Remainers.

Here is a suggestion from Katharine Pons, who works in communication and marketing, reprinted from FaceBook with her permission:

Our overall message is not clear and direct. We are fighting “against something”, our objective is to be the “opposition”, this doesn’t give people enough desire to vote for us. They want to vote for people who can win. A message can’t be “I don’t want”, I am “anti-“, this is weak. Psychological, we must communicate positively.

Our message on Europe is not clear enough. We should be unapologetically pro-European, enough of this soft/hard Brexit. Brexit is not in any way a fait accompli. It can be stopped. We should be following Macron and flying the EU flag at every opportunity. The Lib Dems should be unequivocally targeting only Remainers at this stage and no worry about Leavers. There are 16 million of us. This is what Boris did when he switched camps. He focus only on the demographic that would elect him. In this instance, by being too liberal we are not progressing as we would like.

So this is what it takes. A bold departure from the will of the people and the people have spoken narrative. That second referendum? It is now, at the ballot box:

Do you want the UK to remain a member of the EU?

  • Remain: vote Liberal Democrats
  • Leave: vote anyone else/don’t vote

A lot more attractive than maybe Remain two years down the line.

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While Labour sinks…

…the Lib Dems are surging ahead.

Things are looking brighter for the Lib Dems. Last year no party campaigned to remain in the European Union so vehemently. And now, none is likely to benefit so much from the vote to Leave.

The party’s noisy opposition to the government’s proposed “hard Brexit” has helped it to notch up some spectacular swings in council and parliamentary elections since the referendum (see chart). Meanwhile, it faces only weak competition for left-leaning voters from Labour, which is under catastrophically bad management.

So the Lib Dems are optimistic about their chances on June 8th. All 48 seats they lost in 2015 will be “in play”, reckons Rob Ford of the University of Manchester. A 10% swing to the Lib Dems would see them pick up 40 seats, 25 of them from the Conservatives. They are unlikely to do quite that well—partly because eight of those seats are held by the Scottish National Party, whose vote is likely to hold up, and partly because the Liberals’ organisation is still relatively weak after successive local electoral drubbings.

But Lib Dem watchers guess the party could pick up more than 20 new seats. Popular former MPs including Vince Cable, a former business secretary, and Simon Hughes, a former justice minister, have said they will seek to win back their old constituencies. Nick Clegg, a former party leader and deputy prime minister, has confirmed he will stand again.

Read full article in the Economist.

The beginnings of an Oxford Alliance?

The Oxfordshire Progressive Alliance” People came from the the Greens, NHA, Labour and LibDems – we have many differences but are united in our urgent need to see the back of this Tory govt. So we all agreed to work together, to encourage tactical voting, voter registration, vote swaps – whatever it takes to elect non-Tories in Oxfordshire
Here’s our press release:

PRESS RELEASE 22 April 2017

SURGE OF TACTICAL VOTING PLANNED FOR OXFORDSHIRE CONSTITUENCIES

A packed and lively pre-election strategy meeting was held on Friday night in St Giles, Oxford.

Around 100 concerned voters (including many activists and members from Labour, Lib Dem and the Green Party) vowed to organise and co-ordinate tactical voting across the Oxfordshire constituencies to oppose the authoritarian shift in British politics. The specific targets agreed upon were a Labour hold in Oxford East and Lib Dem gains in Oxford West and Abingdon and in Witney.

The meeting was convened by Oxford Compass / Progressive Alliance ( http://www.compassonline.org.uk/). A strategy was thrashed out to put party differences to one side. Those present pledged to work in an alliance and avoid splitting the vote of progressive-minded electors in the June 8th General Election.

Participants agreed a raft of measures to increase voter registration and promote tactical voting with media campaigns and publicity supporting Lib Dem and Labour candidates for the constituencies in which they are most likely to win.

Note to editors: In 2010 Oxford West and Abingdon was taken from the Lib Dem Evan Harris by Conservative Nicola Blackwood with a majority of just 176. In 2015 the national Lib Dem vote collapsed and Blackwood held the seat with 9,582 majority. This year it is widely expected that the Lib Dem fortunes will be reversed. On Brexit, the constituency is one of the most pro-Europe in the country and it is expected that the Lib Dems will gain votes at the expense of the Conservatives.

In Oxford East, popular local MP Andrew Smith is retiring. In 2015 Smith defied the national trend, increasing his majority from 4,581 to 15,280.

In the Witney constituency David Cameron won in 2015 with a 25,155 majority. In a by-election a year later this was reduced to 5,702.

Contact details
Helen Salisbury 07799883210
Oxford Compass / PA oxfordprogressivealliance@gmail.com