Fringe Box



Opinion: Lib Dems Winning Where Exactly?

Published on: 6 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 25 Apr, 2021

As part of coverage of the May 6 Surrey County Council election and the by-elections to Guildford Borough Council, we have asked the political parties to provide opinion pieces on the issues they see as most important. This is the first in the election opinion series…

By Brian Creese

Chair of the Guildford Labour Party

I have been involved in quite a few elections in Guildford, and while the issues may change, the Prime Minister may change and the mood of the public may change, one thing remains constant; Lib Dem leaflets will post a misleading (often historic) bar chart and claim they are, as they like to say, “Winning here”.

They frequently make the misleading claim that they are the only party that can “beat the Tories” and suggest that voting Lib Dem is just like voting Labour. But it isn’t, it really isn’t. Let’s examine what it really means to vote Lib Dem.

Back in 2010 many Labour supporters voted Lib Dem with younger voters particularly drawn to their promise to scrap tuition fees. What actually happened was that the tuition fees promise lasted barely a few days as the Lib Dems with their new Tory friends ushered in ten years of austerity – a period which has seen inequality mushroom as the poor have got poorer while the rich have got richer.

In the local elections in 2019, the Lib Dem became the largest party on Guildford Borough Council with another eye-catching promise – to build 3,000 new council houses in four years. But after a year of Lib Dem leadership, they stood down in favour of the R4GV group, a decision greeted with incredulity.

Worse still, not only have they only built around 30 new council homes, they oversaw £2.7m from right-to-buy sales being returned to the government, money which could have been used to fund those very houses.

When I talk to voters on their doorsteps – or more recently on the phone – many say they intend to vote Lib Dem, but very few say they are Lib Dem supporters. In fact, in areas such as Westborough, Stoughton and Stoke, once reliable Labour seats, voting Lib Dem is not keeping out the Tories – but keeping Labour out. There is a straight choice here between Lib Dem and Labour.

And in the real world how are the Lib Dems doing? They now number just 11 MPs, their former leader Jo Swinson, far from becoming, as she claimed, the new Prime Minister, lost her seat and the new leader is largely unknown to voters.

Currently they sit at around 6% in the polls and many of their previous heartlands have gone. And after their performance in 2019 they now have no chance of winning in Guildford. By the next election Labour will be the only challengers to the continuing Tory monopoly of Guildford MPs.

The Lib Dems have nothing to offer nationally or locally, no identity or philosophy, no recognisable leadership, no stand-out policies or ideas. All they can do is peddle the myth that they are the only party who can beat the Tories. It is not good enough.

The fact is, the LibDems are not winning anywhere.

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Responses to Opinion: Lib Dems Winning Where Exactly?

  1. Paul Robinson Reply

    April 7, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    I used the vote Lib Dem but never again after their promise to overturn the EU referendum result. How ironic that they have the word ‘democratic’ in their name but they said they to overturn a democratic referendum result.

  2. Lisa Wright Reply

    April 7, 2021 at 9:55 pm

    Isn’t it a shame, Mr Creese had a great opportunity to tell us all the good things the Labour candidate could do for Guildford and Surrey but instead chose to use this space to throw abuse at another party?

    Why would anyone vote for Mr Creese’s party after this derogatory, mudslinging and frankly childish spat.

    That’s exactly why the general population is fed up with politics and has chosen recently to vote in Independents/Residential Groups instead.

  3. David Roberts Reply

    April 8, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Labour voted in favour of adopting the Tory Local Plan in 2019. Now that other parties are falling over themselves to disown it, will Labour now join the Tories again in calling for it to be reviewed?

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