A message for every voter. No-no go areas. Local parties that are ready for every eventuality. These are the ideas that need to inform a ‘650 Seat Strategy’ for the Liberal Democrats. This is what we at Liberal Democrat Expand will be fighting for.
When we launched we were riding high on the Liberal Democrat successes of the local elections. In areas like Watford, Southport and Portsmouth we showed that we were one again a force to be reckoned with. We were fighting back. We also saw many parts of the country where that fightback just didn’t materialise. The recovery from 2015 wasn’t underway. There were no candidates and no campaigns.
The shocking distribution of votes in the European Union referendum compounds this view. Metropolitan areas like London, Cambridge and Manchester – as well as Scotland and Northern Ireland – overwhelmingly voted remain, while places like Boston, Thurrock and Great Yarmouth voted Leave. The referendum divided the country into the Cambridges vs the Peterboroughs, the St. Albans vs the Watfords. Such divisions are the antipathy of a ‘650 Seat Strategy’ with a message for every voter. As Britain enters this turbulent period, an organised and effective Liberal Democrat party is needed more than ever.
Being a truly national party is not the same as having representation in national parliaments, although it is a part. It is about campaigning in every part of the country to elect Liberal Democrats, building our membership and getting our message for the country out.
We are not eschewing targeting, and we are not saying that we expect to elect 632 Liberal Democrat MPs in any upcoming election. What we are saying is that every local party should be ambitious for its own future, and for the future of the party as a whole. Whether that is snatching the Parliamentary seat, taking control of the council, or indeed, having a council group for the first time.
Liberal Democrat Expand will be working to advance the end goal of a 650 Seat Strategy within the party – namely, that every constituency should be ambitious for its future.