Stunning, yes, but it’s not a revival. We have been here before

Congratulations to Sarah Green (right) and everyone who contributed to the stunning Liberal Democrat victory in Chesham and Amersham. But let’s not get to carried away. Much as I would love to believe otherwise, one by-election victory in a Tory heartland seat does not signify the beginnings of a great LD revival.

A similar upset was achieved 59 years ago when we, with then Liberal party candidate Eric Lubbock (below), overturned a Conservative majority of 14,760 to achieve our own one of 7,855.

Sarah received 56.7% of the votes cast with a 25.2% swing. In 1962, Eric received 52.9%, with a 26.3% swing.

What was in 1962? The famous Orpington by-election win. Like C&A, it was a true-blue seat that had never before elected an MP of any other colour.

Our Liberal MP held the seat for two general elections in 1964 and 1966 but the Conservatives regained it in 1970 and have held it ever since.

That is just one example of a notable by-election win, and there have been others, that were greeted as a turning point for us but were really the result of local factors including years of community activity and having a good local candidate.

There is no doubt that Chesham and Amersham, like Orpington, is a tremendous result but it needs to be repeated up ad down the country before we can claim it as the start of our fightback.

Historically, we do better in traditional Conservative seats than in Labour ones – the blue wall has been easier for us to undermine. But we need to do both.

Celebrate the victory, enjoy seeing Sarah Green MP taking her seat in the House of Commons, but please do not get carried away. We need to repeat this, again and again. Only then can we claim it to be a revival.

One LibDem Viewpoint contains the personal thoughts and opinions of Ian Franks and are not necessarily in line with party policy, nor does it represent the UK federal party of the Liberal Democrats or any state, regional, local, or branch party within it.
     Professionally, he is a retired journalist who enjoyed a successful career from reporter to editor in the UK print media being named ‘journalist of the year´ along the way.
     He joined the Young Liberals in Orpington in 1966, in the middle of Liberal MP Eric Lubbock’s tenure at Westminster (by-election 1962 to general election 1970).
     Today, Ian lives in Spain and is Secretary of Liberal Democrats in Europe, which is made up of UK expats.

We oppose police powers Bill

Disgusting and draconian, even dictatorial, are UK government plans to restrict people’s right to take part in peaceful protest.

Its Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would seriously restrict individuals’ right to protest. Protesting is a basic human right and enables people to have their voices heard.

As a veteran of late 1960s protests against apartheid while a Young Liberal and a member of the then National Council for Civil Liberties, now known as Liberty, I am appalled by the proposed new police powers and the audacity of the Johnson government.

But, I am proud to be a member of the Liberal Democrats whose Spring Conference made a bold decision to oppose the Bill and its restrictions. I am also pleased to say that my vote was one the vast majority against the Bill, because I was there. Not that, in the Covid times, anyone was really ‘there’. The conference was held online, enabling me to take a full part without leaving my living room.

Protest clampdown an attack on democracy

This attempt to drive a bulldozer through fundamental rights is, in reality, an attack on the democracy that we hold dear.

police powers
LibDems home affairs spokesman Alastair Carmichael MP.

Proposing the emergency resolution, home affairs spokesman Alastair Carmichael (MP for Orkney and Shetlands) said: “The Home Secretary’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would seriously restrict individuals’ right to protest. Protesting is a basic human right and enables people to have their voices heard.

“The heavy-handed suppression of the peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard last weekend was disturbing and unnecessary. The Conservatives want to usher in a Bill that would lead to more scenes of peaceful protesters being needlessly arrested.

“We saw the importance of the right to protest reaffirmed this last year by the vital Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The protests have rightly focused attention on our society’s widespread racial inequality.

“Yet (Home Secretary) Priti Patel described the non-violent, democratic BLM protests as “utterly disgraceful”, “dreadful” and “illegal”. It has now emerged that the Home Secretary also encouraged Police Chiefs to prevent vigils in Sarah Everard’s name.

Contempt for basic human rights

“The Home Secretary’s contempt for basic human rights is deeply troubling. The Conservatives’ Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is just the latest in a long line of destructive attacks on the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.

“We demand the Government drop the Bill and uphold the right to peaceful protest,” he said.

I am delighted that, in the great Liberal tradition, today the Liberal Democrats are continuing to defend human rights, as the backbone of democracy.

One LibDem Viewpoint contains the personal thoughts and opinions of Ian Franks and are not necessarily in line with party policy, nor does it represent the UK federal party of the Liberal Democrats or any state, regional, local, or branch party within it.
     Professionally, he is a retired journalist who enjoyed a successful career from reporter to editor in the UK print media being named ‘journalist of the year´ along the way.
     He joined the Young Liberals in Orpington in 1966, in the middle of Liberal MP Eric Lubbock’s tenure at Westminster (by-election 1962 to general election 1970).
     Today, Ian lives in Spain and is Secretary of Liberal Democrats in Europe, which is made up of UK expats.