I want to start by thanking everyone who has helped over the last three weeks with the Witney by-election. Your generosity of spirit, endeavour and financial donations has been truly fantastic. Last weekend just under 600 volunteers appeared in Witney itself, with hundreds of others helping by telephoning. Liz Leffman is such a brilliant candidate and she is impressing everyone she meets with her local knowledge and experience.
I have been three times so far, and each time I have seen hundreds of new members and longer term activists out knocking on doors, delivering leaflets, running street stalls, and putting up poster boards. Tim, my husband, was putting up posters on Saturday when someone ran down the road and demanded that they have one on the spot for their front garden!
We’re now in the last few days, and need all hands to the pumps. Anyone who can help both deliver and knock up will be very welcome. If you can’t go, but can help telephone voters, that’s really useful too. The best way to find out more is to go to the Facebook page Witney Lib Dems Virtual HQ to find out how to help.
And we’re not just making great progress in Witney. We’ve now had 20 net gains in council by elections since the elections in May this year since May compared to both the Tory, Labour, and UKIP parties net losses. And last week, we took a seat off Labour in Culloden and Ardersier in the Inverness constituency. In Scotland local government uses proportional representation, and although the SNP had more votes than us on the first round, we won as the next stage of votes were distributed. So well done to Cllr Trish Robertson and team for a close fought and excellent result.
Tim Farron debated Brexit with Iain Duncan-Smith on the Sunday Politics last weekend. Our principled stand on fighting for our place in Europe, and for the UK to be a core part of the Single Market are so important, and Tim speaks well for all of us wanting to hear the sensible reasons for keeping in the Single Market, and for fighting against a xenophobic and nationalist government that even Roger Helmer from UKIP has derided as being too right wing. Thank you Tim.
We also have our own party elections getting under way. Tim Gordon, Chief Executive and Returning Officer, has emailed all members with the list of Federal committee elections, and a description of what they do. If you want to stand, or know someone who should, please talk to them now. Nominations close on 2 November, and all the details are in Tim’s email, as well as on the party website: libdems.org.uk/internal-elections
Finally, I want to thank you for your contributions to the Federal Conference in Brighton last month. If you weren’t able to be with us, here is a link http://www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-conference-16-motions to the decisions that we made.
I am very proud of the way that the party debates and then votes on policy, and once again I had journalists saying to me that they were astonished that we were in such good heart. I’m not surprised. With over 20,000 new members since the Referendum, 20 net gains in council elections as well as your amazing activity in Witney just shows me the party is reviving and winning where it matters.
We know we have a way to go, but we are going in the right direction because of you.