Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Liberal-SDP Alliance’

The Buzz at Eastleigh

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 24th February, 2013

Eastleigh bye;ectionMike ThorntonA coachload of London Liberal Democrats went down to Eastleigh yesterday, where we found the by-election headquarters a hive of activity; apparently nearly 500 volunteers from all over the country went through the doors during the day. I don’t remember such a positive buzz about a by-election since the early days of the Liberal-SDP Alliance, but the difference in the level of professionalism between now and 30 years ago was striking. Arriving helpers were immediately divided and labelled into canvassers, deliverers and clerical, and people were genuinely asked what they preferred to do, rather than just being told, as if so often the case at such times. The warehouse space being used was large enough to have a number of different activities going on at the same time, while printers continued to churn out new literature. That literature itself was of a far higher quality than has sometimes been the case and presented the LibDem candidate Mike Thornton — a respected local councillor — as a man of the community who will do all he can to represent the areas interests at Westminster. So it was a pleasure to deliver it, even in the freezing cold and flurries of snow. Unusually, every single councillor in the constituency, at local and county level,  is LibDem, but that almost embarrassing dominance does not mean the by-election is going to be a walkover. The Party is still languishing at between 10 and 12 per cent in the national opinion polls and has been the subject of negative publicity recently, including over former MP Chris Huhne’s resignation and trial. Nonetheless there are a good number of dayglo poster boards up around the constituency and local opinion polls suggest the LibDems and Tories are neck and neck. UKIP is also going to poll well (though not well enough), with Labour trailing badly in fourth place. Of course we won’t know the actual result until after the count, but Mike Thornton deserves to win and both the number and enthusiasm of party helpers out and about in the constituency bode well for the Party’s health.



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Tom McNally on the Near Perfect Storm of 2010

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 16th February, 2010

The Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Tom McNally, was the guest speaker at the Kettner’s Lunch in the National Liberal Club today, giving an overview of where the party stands in the run-up to the General Election. He asked for Chatham House rules to be respected regarding some of the fine detail (probably very wisely, given all the media-driven speculation about hung parliaments), but the broad, publishable message he had was that the 2010 General Election presents a ‘near perfect storm’ for the LibDems, given the the public’s weariness with this Labour government and its distrust of David Cameron and his crew. Indeed, this could be the best opportunity Britain’s third party has had since 1983, when the Liberal-SDP Alliance scuppered its chances by spreading itself too thinly, so that it only emerged with 23 seats despite getting over 25 per cent of the vote. Much has been learnt about targeting since then. Were the party to poll over 25 percent this time, it should reap anything up to 100 MPs. If such an eventuality happens (quite possible given the party’s usual increase in voter appeal during an election campaign), then the impetus towards a fairer voting system would be considerable.

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