South West Lib Dem strongholds ‘under seige’

The Independent this morning has a feature article on the Conservatives targeting Liberal Democrat seats in the south-west. It makes pretty grim reading but also nonetheless is designed to create a media impression that we are on the run. It is replete with rather assumptive and arrogant commentary from Eric Pickles:

“There comes a time in the electoral cycle when people want a significant change. That change is likely to occur in May next year. The Liberals are a side show.”

I think that would prove significant motivation for anybody to do their utmost to prove Pickles wrong. However, the article does sum-up in some ways the dilemmathat we find ourselves in as a party; battling to hold onto traditional strongholds while fighting to make advances against a weakened Labour Party. If we are honest then it is how this contradiction plays out that will determine just how many seats we end-up with when the votes are counted at the next election. Vote share is important but it really diminishes in significance next to the amount of seats we have in the final shakedown. Whether Nick Clegg thinks his new found ‘aspirations’ will bridge that contradiction in policy terms is debatable but I doubt they will and if he does he is misguided because reducing the priority of things like tuition fees and elderly care hardly demonstrates we are a progressive party committed to protecting the vulnerable.

Jeremy Browne comments on the resources gap:

“They’re pouring money at it,” said Jeremy Browne, a Liberal Democrat MP protecting a minuscule majority of 500 votes in the Somerset seat of Taunton. “They spend more in advertising in the local paper than I spend in campaigning in its entirety over the year. Compared to the Tories our resources are tiny.”

This gap is also going to be a key determinant of our electoral fortunes and will enforce priorities on us and tough choices.


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10 responses to “South West Lib Dem strongholds ‘under seige’”

  1. wit and wisdom says :

    I was reassured by Jeremy Browne’s gung ho response to the challenge and you are right that Pickles is a little too sure of himself. The more I reflect on this article the more confident I am that our effective SW MPs are up to the challenge – though it remains a formidable challenge.


  2. John says :

    Surely if the money is coming from Ashcroft we should be doing all we can to show to soft con voters that this is from a man who is a Lord and doesn’t declare which jurisdiction he pays tax for. I’d first take it right to their target voters telling them this or at least pointing out this outrageous fact.


  3. darrellgoodliffe says :

    Wit I agree that it is a formidable challenge and that Browne’s response was a good one. Although I would have to echo John’s point that maybe we should be making more of the Ashcroft thing. Even places like the Spectator have seen it as a potential weakness…


  4. Chris Lovell says :

    Writing this while sitting in a Lib Dem campaign office in the SW I think that the Independent have massively over exaggerated how strong the Tories are in the South West.

    As we Lib Dems know, local elections do not necessarily refelect national results!


  5. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Agreed that the coverage looked a bit slanted as I mentioned in my first paragraph to be fair. They dont but I think it would be wrong to underestimate equally the possibility of a squeeze….


  6. Thomas Byrne says :

    At least you don’t have the problem of Labour being able to present themselves as the only way to ‘keep the tories out’ in the south west.


  7. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Thanks for the comment :). Could you just clarify what you mean? Thanks 🙂



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