How we won South Cambs

On May 4th, South Cambs Lib Dems stormed to victory in all up elections on new boundaries, winning 30 of the 45 seats. Previously we’d held just 14 out of 57 seats. Cllr Bridget Smith became the leader of South Cambridge District Council, and won the chance to put liberal politics into practice and make people’s lives better where she lives.

It was a shock victory – though not to those of us who had spent the last couple of years working towards it. For me it had all started at my first party conference nearly 3 years ago. I was sitting in a room in Bournemouth, listening to Tim Pickstone (now Chief Executive of ALDC) explain how to pick a ward and win it. I realised that winning elections wasn’t about being a great politician, it was about working hard and being organised – and I could do that.

But victories on this scale need a great team of people. Preferably people you really like, so that the hard work doesn’t feel like hard work but like spending time with friends. We already had some key people in place, but we needed more. So on returning from conference our first job was to speak to as many of our members as possible.

Email is a great tool – but even the best written emails can’t replace personal contact.

That’s why, over the next year we had hundreds of conversations with new members. I have to say that after June 2016 they did get a bit repetitive “Hi, I’m Mary. I’m calling to welcome you to the Liberal Democrats and ask why you joined? Oh Brexit, really, yes, it’s terrible, and yes we really must do something about it.” There were plenty of conversations that went nowhere – many of our members just want to pay us their annual membership fee. But there were also people who wanted to actually do something – which made it worthwhile. We used a Connect script to keep track of what people said they wanted to do and then made sure to follow them up within a few weeks. Some of our members came along to campaign meetings or delivered some leaflets. Some helped set up our social media and website. And some then became the local organisers in their wards, standing as candidates in the County elections and building their own teams of deliverers and canvassers.

We still used email. We sent out a fortnightly email informing members of canvassing sessions, #LibDemPints and policy talks. So once people were engaged, they had a clear path for getting more involved – even if sometimes that meant just six of us drinking coke and chatting in a rural pub.

In 2017 we had County Elections. And we delivered more leaflets and spoke to more voters than ever before. But our campaign was derailed by the General Election. It polarised voters and meant we didn’t make the gains we’d hoped for. But we had our team. We may have been gutted at the count – but we there together, and we were determined to fight on together.

This article is the first of four pieces. future articles will talk about how we targeted our canvassing, communicated our messages via leaflets and email and got out our voters. All essential parts of our victory. But we couldn’t have done any of that without having a brilliant team of people – and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without them.

Are you a local party officer who wants to build your team? Join the membership development facebook group at see details of the roleof membership secretary and links to the technical solutions we have to make e job easier.

Are you inspired to pick a ward and win where you live? Get in touch with your local party, join the Lib Dem Campaigners group on facebook or join ALDC for resources and best practice.

Liberal Democrats are famous for spectacular by-election results

By-elections might not be able to change the Government, but shock results can change politics and change Britain.

And now we have a chance to do just that in Lewisham East.

Since the referendum, every time Jeremy Corbyn could have stood up to the Tories on Brexit, he’s sat on his hands.

We can only stop Brexit with the Labour party’s votes. And the only way we get those votes is if they’re scared of a pro-European tide sweeping them away.

With your help in Lewisham East, we can make them fearful of us. Will you come and volunteer in the final few days?

Yes, I will

This by-election is your opportunity to make a difference – and help stop Brexit.

We are running rings around Labour in our activity. No other party is anywhere to be seen. Our stake boards are turning Lewisham East orange, we have canvassers on every doorstep and our leaflets can be found in every letterbox.

Lewisham Labour voters are not happy with Jeremy Corbyn. They were promised that he would stand up to the Tories on Brexit, but he has caved at every single opportunity.

Lewisham voters are willing to lend us their vote in this by-election to make it clear to Jeremy Corbyn that this isn’t good enough.

And it couldn’t come at a better time.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

The EU withdrawal bill is rumoured to hit the House of Commons any day now. A great result in Lewisham East for an unashamedly pro-European party would be a hammer blow to a hard Brexit.

But unless he’s scared that remainers will stop voting Labour, he’ll continue to take Remain support for granted.

Help us make sure he stands up to the Tories on Brexit. Help us send Jeremy Corbyn a message in Lewisham:

Yes, I will

This could be your chance to change the direction of British politics.

When the dust has settled and the results are in, you will want to say you were in Lewisham East, part of the team making it happen.

Paddy Ashdown

Former leader of the Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable speech: Capitalism in Crisis

He explores some of the serious problems facing capitalism today, and how these issues have provoked reactions from the extremes of the political spectrum. Common sense reform is necessary to curb the worst excesses of capitalism.

“Scarcely a day goes by without a scandal erupting around greedy or bullying bosses, pilfered pension funds, business tax dodging, chaotic private train operators, rewards for failure, bankers’ bonuses, price gouging or exploitation of gig workers, zero hours contract employees or modern slaves.

The public appears to want more nationalisation, more regulation and higher taxes on business.

Populist politicians on the left, like Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders in the USA, get a respectful hearing at business conferences. Leading business spokespeople and gurus preach contrition, restraint and self-flagellation.

There is a palpable sense of capitalism being in crisis or, at least, facing a crisis of confidence.

Although it does not explain everything, the financial crisis of a decade ago played an important part in puncturing the confidence generated by the collapse of Communism two decades earlier confidence that the capitalist model, the liberalisation of markets and the ‘animal spirits’ of entrepreneurs, could be relied upon to generate an ongoing, inexorable rise in living standards.

This view was epitomised by Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” thesis now the subject of universal mockery but taken very seriously at the time that liberal democracy and the market economy had conclusively and for all time settled the ideological debate.

Instead, financial markets proved to be highly unstable and prone to excess.”

Download the full speech here.

Lib Dems secure final say amendment on Brexit bill

Liberal Democrat Peers have been leading the fight against the Conservatives in the House of Lords and have inflicted a whopping 15 Government defeats on the EU Withdrawal Bill. This bill is key to reversing Brexit and is expected to return to the House of Commons in late June.

The Liberal Democrats will now spearhead the resistance against Brexit in the Commons.

Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has secured an amendment that could give us an Exit from Brexit. The final say amendment will require MPs to vote on whether they believe the public should be given the final say on the Brexit deal, including the opportunity to remain in the E.U.

Jeremy Corbyn is hoping that no one has noticed that he is helping Theresa May deliver her disastrous Brexit, but the final say amendment puts the spotlight squarely on Corbyn and Labour leadership. Is he going to join the Lib Dems in putting an end to this botched Brexit? Or will he stare at his shoes while Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove bungle our nation’s future?

Labour need to get behind the Lib Dems on this vote and stand up to the Tories. If they do, we have a real chance to give the British people a final say on Brexit, and the chance to stay in the European Union.

This is a huge moment. We need you to join our cause, lobby Labour to get behind the Lib Dem amendment, and reverse this chaotic hard Brexit.

Help us ban upskirting

I’ve been blown away by the thousands of people who have joined the campaign to ban upskirting so far.

Together, I know we can achieve a change in the law.

Two weeks ago at Prime Minister’s, Questions the Prime Minister said the Government were considering supporting my bill ban upskirting. We need to make sure her warm words are backed up with action

That’s why we need you to contact the two Ministers with responsibility for making this change – we must keep pressuring the government to support my bill.

Here’s who we need you to contact – and what we need you to emphasise:

Victoria Atkins MP

Minister for Women and Parliamentary Undersecretary for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability

I have a meeting organised with Victoria ahead of my bill’s second reading in June – could you get in touch and let her know why it is so important as Minister for women she supports my bill?

Email Victoria
Message Victoria

Lucy Frazer MP

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice

Our discussions with the MoJ have been really encouraging so far – can you thank Lucy for her support and stress how important it is we change the law ASAP?

Email Lucy
Tweet Lucy
Message Lucy

Thank you {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}; with your help, I know we can ensure that this vile crime becomes what it deserves to be: banned.

With best wishes,


PS: If you’re stuck for what to say, here’s a message you can send to each of the Ministers:

Victoria Atkins:

Dear Ms Atkins,

Upskirting is a vile crime that violates and degrades victims. Thousands of women are subjected to it every single year and it has a lasting impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

As you know, with the law as it currently stands the Police find it hard to prosecute this – and that’s why campaigners, including Wera Hobhouse MP and Gina Martin have been calling for upskirting to become a specific offence.

Two weeks ago at Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May said she was willing to consider this change. But it will be down you to make sure this happens – the law must fully protect women and girls from this despicable act.

I know Wera and Gina are meeting with you to discuss the campaign, will you commit to supporting Wera’s bill ahead of it’s second reading in June?

Thank you,

[Your Name here]

Lucy Frazer:

Dear Ms Frazer,

Thank you for your support so far. We appreciate your work with those campaigning to make upskirting a specific, sexual offence.

As you know, this is a despicable act that affects thousands of women and girls every year – and it’s currently very hard for the Police to prosecute with the law as it currently stands.

Making upskirting a specific, sexual offence would ensure that the law recognises that this is a crime with a victim and also ensure that the perpetrators are punished.

We hope you continue to work with Wera and Gina to ensure that you and your Parliamentary and Ministerial colleagues support Wera’s bill in June.

Thank you,

[Your name]

New policy working groups looking for members

We’re looking for members for two new policy working groups: one on health and social care and one on climate change.

Do you have expert knowledge of the healthcare system? Of social care? Or climate change and energy policy?

If so there is an opportunity to help set the direction of party policy on these issues by joining a policy working groups. The party’s Federal Policy Committee is launching two new working groups: a Health and Social Care working group and a Climate Change and the Low Carbon Environment working group.

As a member of a working group, you would attend regular evening meetings (either in person or remotely) over a period of 12-18 months, input your ideas for policy, and play a role in drafting the final policy paper. The positions are voluntary and you must be a member of the party.

Both working groups will take evidence in the second half of 2018. The Health group will produce a consultation paper and run a consultation session at Spring Conference 2019; the climate change group will run its consultation session at Autumn Conference 2018. After the consultation sessions, the groups will prepare their final drafts over March-June 2019, and these will be presented to FPC for amendments and approval. Subject to this approval, the final papers will be published in July 2019, and debated at the Autumn 2019 conference.

The Climate Change group will flesh out the party’s commitment to a zero-carbon Britain by 2050. The group will need to show in detail how we believe this target can be met and outline the policy instruments (currently often set by EU legislation) which will need to be deployed for energy, transport, housing, industry and agriculture and land use.

The Health and Social Care group will look at what we can do to help the UK’s health and social care services meet the challenges that they face. As part of this group you will tackle some big questions: How do we help people stay healthier for longer? How can we ensure health and social care are integrated and accountable? How can we make access to health and social care more equal? How do we achieve our goal of parity between physical and mental health care? How do we secure long-term sustainability of the NHS and care services?

Both groups promise to be interesting. We are looking for who have one or more of the following:

  • Interest or experience of relevant policy areas
  • Experience in campaigns, media or communications
  • Experience of using policy as a campaigning tool

If this is you and you want to help us make policy, apply using the links below.

Apply for climate change group

Apply for health and social care group

The deadline is 13.00 on 1 June 2018.

A fantastic month for the Liberal Democrats

Congratulations to all the very many Liberal Democrats who stood for local council seats this month.

Local democracy relies on those who put themselves forward to represent residents, so whether you won or not, I hope you will be proud of having stood.

As a party, we saw results greatly exceeding expectations, with a big net gain of 75 councillors and four new councils under Liberal Democrat majority control.

This is a better performance than Labour and a much better performance than the Tories.

We succeeded in Conservative facing areas like Kingston, Richmond and South Cambridgeshire, and made significant strides in Labour-facing Hull, Haringey and Liverpool.

All over the country our message that Liberal Democrats listen, work hard and get things done made a major impact.

Meanwhile, Labour voters are beginning to recognise how much their party is letting them down over Brexit. The Conservatives’ cuts to schools and policing are a growing source of discontent.

Now we have a new opportunity to add momentum to our campaigning, with the by-election in Lewisham East.

The departing MP, Heidi Alexander, vehemently opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s complicity in Brexit, and voted against his whip.

But a new Labour MP in Lewisham will almost certainly toe the Labour leadership line.

By contrast, our candidate, Lucy Salek will stand up for a constituency which overwhelmingly voted to remain. A Liberal Democrat win can help secure a final say for the public on the final deal, with the option of remaining in the EU.

Lewisham is Lucy’s hometown, and I know she will represent it very ably on the issues people are already raising on doorsteps – secondary schools and knife crime.

She is an exceptional candidate.

To win, we will need a huge Liberal Democrat effort from members all over the country: we have just four short weeks to get our message to voters in Lewisham. Please do come and help, offer to make calls, or donate to the campaign if you can’t make it in person

Our electoral success from local by-elections to the recent council elections to the Lewisham by-election gives us the credibility we need to be heard on the big national issues of the day.

We are, of course, central to the national debate on Brexit. And at our Spring Conference, we endorsed proposals for ring-fenced funding of the NHS, for restoring respect for teachers and for a broad school curriculum. In April, I kickstarted a debate about the future of big data, and the power of big tech companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google. In the coming months, I intend to set out Liberal Democrat ideas on a number of big questions facing the country like the housing supply crisis, our prospectus for responsible business and for lifelong learning.

I want our party to be a workshop for big ideas to change the country.

Ideas to win votes, and ideas we can put into action when we win elections.

There is a big opportunity for members to contribute at our autumn conference in Brighton. Look out for registration information in the next couple of weeks, and if you can’t join for the whole time consider coming just for a day, for a weekend, or following the key debates online.

Thanks to you our party has grown dramatically in membership; now it is growing in support and we are making the political weather.

There are still big challenges for us to return to our previous strength in Parliament and in devolved and local government: there’s a lot of hard work to do, but we can see this month’s results as the foundation stone for our renewal.

Thank you to everyone for helping to make it happen.

Sal Speaks: May 2018

Thank you! Thank you for everything that gave us the best election night in some years.

We took control of four councils: Richmond & Kingston in London, Three Rivers District in Hertfordshire, and South Cambridgeshire District.

We also had a great increase in the net councillors across England, +75, just behind Labour on +79. The Tories had -33, with UKIP -123.

Labour were predicted to gain a number of councils but didn’t, and the Tories lost a net four. Despite the lack of attention from the press, there is no doubt that we had the most significant result of the night.

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Vacancy – Registered Treasurer and Chair of FFRC

The Liberal Democrats are seeking a highly qualified volunteer with significant experience of financial and compliance matters at a high level to become their Registered Treasurer and Chair of the Federal Finance and Resources Committee.

The FFRC Chair and Registered Treasurer of the Party is a senior role within the party that requires a substantial commitment beyond the Chairing of the FFRC, including attending and contributing to both the Federal Board and the Operations Committee (a sub-committee of the Board comprising the Vice Chairs, English and Welsh Chairs, the Scottish Convenor and all the Federal Committee Chairs), as well as being an ex-officio member of the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee.

The Registered Treasurer has specific responsibilities in signing off the quarterly Electoral Commission donation returns as well as annual accounts and generally being the first point of contact for the Electoral Commission in relation to Party administration.

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Lib Dem Lords inflict more defeats on Tory government

Last night Theresa May suffered yet another series of damning defeats in the Lords, exposing the ever-increasing anger at her administration’s undemocratic, destructive approach to Brexit.

So far the government has been defeated a total of 14 times, with the Lords rejecting the Brexit deadline and exit date, securing a meaningful vote in the Commons, and quashing attempts to hand ministers ‘blank cheque’ powers.

Both Tory and Labour Peers have voted with their conscience, defying their parties’ whips.

24 Tory peers voted against their own government, forcing them to report back on UK-EU Customs Union negotiations: there have been a staggering 168 Tory votes against the government.

Just yesterday more than 80 Labour peers ignored party policy and voted with the Lib Dems to maintain membership of the European Economic Area.

There have been a total of 4,092 votes against the government during the report stage, showing definitive support for the Lib Dem campaign against Brexit.

The Lib Dem Lords are leading the charge and will continue to hold the government to account, fighting for the ultimate form of accountability: handing the final say on Brexit back to the people.