Mon, 15 April 2024

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The House Live All
By Bishop of Leeds
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The Lib Dems are fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united

3 min read

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron reflects on a string of recent council byelection successes for his party which suggest the party "making real progress" and providing "the real voice of opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government".

Every Thursday night small referendums are happening up and down the country. On local issues, on Corbyn, on the Conservative Brexit Government and even things like grammar schools. The Liberal Democrats are winning those elections and making real progress.

A 34% swing in Derbyshire, 18% in Newcastle, 15% in Cardiff, 31% in Sheffield, 28% in Teignmouth. It feels like there is isn’t a week that goes by that the moment when I’m not tweeting Lib Dem gain on a Thursday night.

I said on the night of my election as Liberal Democrat leader: “Our survival, revival, our rebirth, our rebuild will happen in communities in councils in common rooms, away from the stuffy corridors of Westminster.

“Step by step, we will change people's lives for the better and as we do that we will regain their trust.”

This is happening and you can see the results for yourself. I’m not getting ahead of myself but adding to our results in May’s local elections, when we had the best results in a decade, this shows we have started to turn the corner.

Some of the commentators will do what they always do and use up ink talking about our demise; but like we have shown many times in the past, they are wrong and we will show that again.

Just take the case of the byelection in Sheffield. Nearly two weeks ago our team in Sheffield delivered a local and purely liberal message and it worked. They campaigned from dusk till dawn and won. But where was Labour?

Just yards away from where the Lib Dem team were knocking on doors, some of the local Momentum activists were in the pub. They were campaigning. They were telephone canvassing for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election. Meanwhile in the real world outside that rather nice Sheffield pub, real people were voting in a real election. A real election where the unspeakably brilliant Gail Smith was about to take the Liberal Democrats from 4th to first, gaining a seat from Labour with a swing of 38.1%.

Now, in the wake of the Brexit vote those divisions are more exposed than ever before. With our country facing huge challenges – from inequality and injustice, to an NHS in crisis and an economy in jeopardy – we are left with a reckless, divisive and uncaring Conservative Government and Labour fighting among themselves with no plan for the economy or the country.

Only the Liberal Democrats have a plan on Brexit, are talking about proper funding for the NHS and are working to deal with the housing crisis.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are needed more than ever. We are the real voice of opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

Tim Farron is the leader of the Liberal Democrats. He is the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale

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