Friday, December 16, 2016

Why the Liberal Democrats are winning in Leave constituencies

George Eaton writes for the New Statesman
In last night's council by-elections, the Lib Dems won two seats off the Tories in Teignbridge (which was 54 per cent Leave) and a seat off them in Taunton (53 per cent Leave), with dramatic swings in both cases.
Such impressive results in Leave constituencies, he suggests, mean that the Liberal Democrat strategy of being the party of Remain may not be as limiting as some have argued.

Eaton notes that only one of our top 30 Tory targets is a Remain seats with a Leave MP - that's Lewes, by they way.

But he gives three reasons why we have started to do well in Leave constituencies like Teignbridge and Taunton.

First, 48 per cent will not win you a referendum but it will win you an awful lot of seats under a first-past-the-post election.

Second, some Leave voters - attracted by other Liberal Democrat policies, such as localism, and wanting a competent opposition Labour is unable to provide - may still choose to turn or return to us.

Third, freed from coalition, we are once more a party that can attract protest votes.

My feeling after the Richmond Park by-election was that it marked a return to the normal order of things - Richmond has been a Liberal/Tory marginal for more than three decades. Today it is the 2015 general election result that looks anomalous and not our narrow victory in the by-election.

Similarly, the Liberal Democrats should be a threat to the Conservatives in West Country by-elections while they are in government.

So last night's triumphs may mark a return to politics-as-usual as much at they represent the fruits of our new strategy.

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