The Rebirth Of Liberal England?

It’s less than four days since the Liberal Democrats came a stunning second in the Witney by-election, slashing the Tory majority in one of the Government’s safest seats. Yet pundits and commentators have been all too willing to pour cold water on any rumblings of a Lib Dem revival.

To claim that the hard times are over and we are out of the electoral doghouse for good would be to overstate our achievements, but whichever way you slice it, the Lib Dems really are back.

Doubtful? Who could blame you. With a dearth of national coverage and the needle refusing to move from 7/8% in national polls, it’s easy to believe reports of the death of the Lib Dems. Yet dig a little deeper and there is strong evidence to suggest our revival is indeed underway. Take, for instance, recent Council by-elections. From places as far apart as Cornwall and Redcar the Liberal Democrats have increased their vote share and won seats. All other parties have had net decreases. In fact, in 2016 so far we have gained 21 seats, whilst the Tories have lost 13, Labour 7 and UKIP 2. We are winning again in places we have traditionally done well and we are building in places we have rarely targeted before. Across the country, Lib Dem membership is soaring. We are now at our highest membership in over a decade. That’s more members than joined during our protest of the Iraq War and more than during the heights of Cleggmania.

Some of this support can be attributed to general protest vote, especially in the face of a UKIP decline. Many choose to support a ‘third’ party to register a form of protest with what the government and main opposition are doing. And in this political climate, who could blame them? A Labour party veering rapidly to the left and more interested with fighting themselves than the government, and a Tory party helmed by an unmandated leader happy to swallow up the UKIP playbook to appease internal nationalist extremists? Hardly an inspiring dichotomy to the average, centrist, reasonably-minded British voter. It is little wonder that people are increasingly turning to the Liberal Democrats.

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