Lessons from Local Elections: Lib Dems Outgunned but not Outflanked

They may remain the underdog, but the Liberal Democrats are still the real opposition to the Conservatives…

Last night 4,851 Council Seats were contested and 6 New Mayoral Contests took place. As I write, the results were still coming in but the trends are there – we are indeed on the path towards a heavy Conservative majority come the General Election in June.

But what of the Liberal Democrat revival? There is no doubt that last night was disappointing for us Lib Dems compared to the aspirations – 33 by-election gains on councils compared to net losses by all the other parties played into that. But, overly high expectations aside, there are some important lessons for us to take into the 8th June…

The Liberal Democrats really are the only opposition to the Tories…

It is fair to say that Lib Dem losses have been to the Conservative swing, and where seats have been won they were from Labour. With Labour haemorrhaging seats to the Tories, what is more important is how steady the Liberal Democrat vote held. We forget just how far we have come from the dark days of 2015 – the #LibDemFightback has worked, holding while others fall is not something to be sniffed at.

The Conservatives really are UKIP now…

The good news: UKIP Vote has collapsed. They failed to hold on to a single council seat, and they have been wiped off of Essex Council (where I am standing in the General Election in June1). There is a reason for this – in the words of Nigel Farage himself:

The realignment of British politics between ‘closed’ and ‘open’ rather than ‘left’ and ‘right’ is truly here.

It will be hard, but we can do this

The local elections are a wake-up call for many Liberal Democrats on how hard the task ahead of us is. We all know that it has to be done – now is the time to step up for Liberal values in the UK – but we must be aware that it is a tough climb in front of us. Our electoral system is not in our favour.

Added to this, we cannot match the larger parties on spending or media attention (yet!) which is why we do so well in by-elections: our strength is our volunteers, and that we spend time communicating directly with people.

So this is what we have to keep doing.

When our message is heard, we win. Onwards!

  1. Hosted and promoted by Chris Bailey on behalf of Lucy V. Salek (Liberal Democrat) all at 77 Vernon Rd, Leigh on Sea, Essex SS9 2PS

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