May elections and beyond

19 Apr 2023
A pen marking an X vote in a box

A great result on candidate numbers

There’s been a big increase in the number of Liberal Democrat candidates for this May’s local elections. We’ve got up to 60% of seats having a Lib Dem candidate (up seven points on last time around). It’s our best showing for this part of the local elections cycle compared with Labour since 2011 and compared with the Conservatives since 2007.

That’s important for our credibility with voters. It means so many more people will see the Liberal Democrat name and logo on their ballot papers. It also matters for our credibility with the media, as the positive coverage in The Guardian demonstrates.

We still have some way to go to match Labour’s 77% or the Conservatives 93%. But it’s a big step forward and follows up progress earlier this Parliament. As well as being important progress in its own right, it’s just the sort of sustained, coordinated push that we need to build us up for a sustained, long-term challenge to the big parties. 

Many thanks to everyone who helped achieve this progress - and very best of luck to everyone who is standing in a seat they hope to win this May.

For a fair deal

You may well have noticed how much more the party is talking about campaigning for a fair deal - such as on the backdrop at our York conference or in the March party political broadcast on TV in England.

It’s the positive part of our message that complements our call to ‘send them a message’, highlighting the failures of the Conservatives in Westminster and Labour in so many other elected bodies - not to mention the spectacularly imploding SNP in Scotland.

That fairness theme goes to the heart of what makes us Liberal Democrats. It’s no coincidence either that it’s worked so well for us previously, such as with Charles Kennedy.

There will be more on what the Liberal Democrat version of fairness means in the ‘pre-manifesto’ policy document coming out over the summer for our autumn conference.

When will the general election be?

All of which prompts the question - when will the next Westminster general election come? The short answer is no-one knows, not even the Prime Minister. 

With the fixed-term Parliament Act repealed, the PM can wake up any day, decide to call the election and it happens. It’s one of our political decisions that is most concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister and for which there are the fewest checks and balances to make them think again. They can choose to consult and listen, but they don’t have to. It’s all up to them.

Which is why it’s always a good idea to ignore stories that appear about clever insider information on when the date might be. In 2007 Labour even got as far as starting to print its election leaflets, which is just the sort of insider information that would sound rock solid. Yet Gordon Brown still decided not to call an election.

There is no special insider source when the Prime Minister can any day look at the polls, read the news headlines, consult their mystic seaweed or think about how lucky they feel and then decide what they want. (Which is also a bad way to run a democracy. But that’s why we need to get more Lib Dem MPs elected and more political reform enacted.)

The thing we do know is that campaigns can get caught out by not being prepared. Campaigns never suffer from having prepared too much. 

So once the May elections are over and people have had a chance for a welcome refresh, we will have to work on the basis that the next general election could come well before the end of the nominal five year term - especially as the Conservative Party’s campaigners are already doing the same, already kicking off big rounds of posted mailings in our target seats.

Revamped policy section on website

I’ve previously highlighted the popular addition of our national press releases to the party website. Now another popular request has also been met: for an expanded policy section. It covers both how to get involved in our policy-making - a crucial part of our internal democracy - and what our latest policies are.

Finding out more

If your local party would  like to discuss any of the issues I cover in these reports, such as our strategy ahead of the general election, then please do drop an email to and I’m happy to fix a Zoom call or in-person meeting.




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