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South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats cover the parliamentary constituencies of South Holland and The Deepings, and Grantham and Stamford.

The constituencies are part of South Holland District Council and South Kesteven District Council areas. There are a number of major towns within the South Lincs Liberal Democrats area including Bourne, Grantham, Holbeach, Market Deeping, Spalding, Stamford, as well as a host of beautiful villages.

If you want to know more about our work here in South Lincolnshire contact our chair on chair@southlincslibdems.org.uk or to be part of the Lib Dem fightback join here - http://www.libdems.org.uk/join


Recent updates

  • Article: Oct 25, 2016
    By Thomas Cole

    The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) has stalled, at least for the time-being. Despite the fact that it would have reduced almost all tariffs between the two sides and taken away customs duties amounting to savings of around €500m, coupled with the projected subsequent increase in trade, for the time being it is dead.

  • Witney Result (Getty)
    Article: Oct 25, 2016
    By Mark Argent in Liberal Democrat Voice

    The result in the Witney by-election was a substantial swing to the LibDems, jumping from fourth place on 6.8% to second place on 30.2%. Liz Leffman and her team did an outstanding job, and the party was clearly ready to rally to the cause.

    Over the next few days there were speculations about what that would mean if replicated at a General Election, with estimates of the number of seats likely to switch from Tory to LibDem put between 26 and 51. The statistician in me is wary of those extrapolations: there are lots of unknowns at by-elections, and British politics is especially turbulent at the moment.

  • Witney Result Graph
    Article: Oct 24, 2016
    By Tim Farron Lib Dem leader and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale in Huffpost Politics
    Matt Cardy via Getty Images

    Bill Clinton famously called himself the "Comeback Kid" in 1992 after his second place in a cold, snowy New Hampshire. Last night the Liberal Democrats achieved the same, but this time in the lovely villages of West Oxfordshire.

    At the General Election, we came a distant fourth with just 6.8% of the vote. In the recent by-election we dominated the campaign with a positive and upbeat message. A lot of praise should go to our brilliant candidate Liz Leffman. I am immensely proud of her and the hundreds of activists who campaigned day after day.

    By-elections are usually stand-alone events, but their effects ripple out throughout the country and you can draw informative conclusions from some of the results. If the huge swing to the Liberal Democrats of 19.3% was repeated across the country, it would wipe out Theresa May's majority and hand 26 seats from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats. The swing rivals those of many that were seen in our famous by-election wins under the leadership of Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy.

  • Witney Result (Getty)
    Article: Oct 24, 2016
    By BAGEHOT in The Economist

    The Witney campaign offers the Lib Dems a road out of the wilderness

    ONE can read too much into the Liberal Democrats' storming performance at yesterday's by-election in Witney, the well-heeled Oxfordshire seat vacated by David Cameron's resignation from the House of Commons. In interviews this morning a visibly ecstatic Tim Farron hailed the result-a rise in his party's vote-share from 6.7% to 30.2%-as proof that his lot are "back in the political big time". "We are the comeback kids!" he gushed.

    Steady on, now. The Conservative vote was always going to fall: Mr Cameron had built up a huge personal vote and the flightier parts of it were unlikely to switch to Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, to a currently leaderless and shambolic UKIP or the still-marginal Green Party, even one fronted locally by Larry Sanders, brother of Bernie. That left the Lib Dems, who had lavished the seat with attention in a fashion impossible for such a small party in a general election: the only other by-election held yesterday was in Batley and Spen in Yorkshire, whose Labour MP, Jo Cox, was murdered in June, and where all the rival mainstream parties declined to stand candidates as a mark of respect (Labour duly won the seat with a landslide). So for weeks the entire Lib Dem machine could focus its attentions on Witney, where lucky voters received five visits from Mr Farron alone. Tellingly, in national polls the party's rating lingers stubbornly around the 7% to which it fell early in the last Parliament.

    Still, the party is right to take some solace from the result. Firstly because the 19-point swing in its favour is the first solid sign that the party's long slump, during and after its unpopular participation in the last coalition government, is bottoming out and perhaps easing off. A "comeback" in itself it is not, but it might herald the tentative beginnings of one.

    Secondly-and more significantly-the result represents the first fruits of the party's new strategy. When Labour was in Downing Street, the Lib Dems found a role as a pacifist, civil libertarian and slightly more left-wing alternative to the government. Under Nick Clegg, in power with the Tories, they often seemed like a split-the-difference party; offering merely to curb the excesses of the Conservatives to their right and Labour to their left (as he acknowledges in his recent memoirs). But the election of Mr Corbyn as Labour leader, the Brexit vote and Theresa May's statist, sometimes authoritarian tone in her first months as prime minister have delivered the Lib Dems a three-fold opportunity to sharpen their liberal, centrist identity.

    The thinking behind this is set out in a paper published last year by Mark Pack and David Howarth, two party strategists. They argue that the Lib Dems did so badly in last year's general election, tumbling to eight parliamentary seats, partly because they lack an irreducible core of voters who identify with the party, whose allegiance is such that it can be mobilised even in tough electoral times. Labour, they point out, has the remains of the industrial working class to fall back on; the Tories have their own deep institutional network: churches, golf clubs and the like. The Lib Dems did not, so plunged through their previous electoral floor and kept on falling.

    The task before the party, argue the two, is to build that sort of base: a core of perhaps 20% of voters-socially liberal, internationalist, pro-European, tech-savvy and well-educated-who identify with the party's pro-openness reformism. Accordingly the Lib Dems should focus their research, campaigning and recruitment efforts more rigorously than in the past and in particular search out issues that appeal to and interest this group of voters (however little they rouse other parts of the electorate). Under Britain's first-past-the-post electoral system, this approach provides opportunities for the Lib Dems, in their reduced state, to concentrate resources on certain metropolitan constituencies where they could conceivably come first: prosperous enclaves of southern England, university towns and the more comfortable corners of the big cities. Mr Farron's speech at his party's main annual gathering last month, pledging to stand up for Britain's role in Europe, was a sort of love letter to these places.

    Hence the relevance of Witney, a rolling, well-to-do archipelago of smart villages and hi-tech business parks just outside Oxford; a place where most people voted to Remain in the EU on June 23rd. While the Lib Dems have been doing well in council by-elections in such places in recent months, this was the first parliamentary test. Their campaign focused heavily on Brexit. Residents were urged to reject Mrs May's nativist overtures at her party's conference and to send the government a message about the need to keep Britain in the single market and avoid a "hard" break with the European club. And while these messages did not propel Liz Leffman (pictured above, center), the local candidate, across the winning line yesterday, she obtained a larger-than-expected vote share (the Tories had warned it could reach 30%, which discounting the usual expectations management suggested they anticipated something nearer 20%). A similar swing in a general election would see the Lib Dems take 26 seats from the Conservatives.

    So treat Witney as a proof-of-concept. A more starkly liberal personality, deftly conveyed through relevant issues and particularly the ongoing battles over Brexit, offers the Lib Dems a way-albeit a long and treacherous one-out of the political wilderness. One by-election does not a trend make and an early general election next year (publicly dismissed by Mrs May but not surely not impossible, given her vast poll leads over Labour) may come much too soon for a widespread revival. But they have made a start.

  • Article: Oct 24, 2016
    By Mark Pack

    Welcome to the latest in my series of tips and advice for Liberal Democrat members, which appear first in the email bulletin run by London Region for party members.

    Chris Radley Canvassing Cartoon

    Often people who have never gone door-to-door canvassing worry, understandably, that they might get asked all sorts of different policy questions which they are not sure about.

    Does canvassing work?

    Data from field experiments in Southampton by Florian Foos shows what the impact of canvassing on voters is. more

    The rather more mundane reality is that although overall the public is pretty polite to canvassers and willing to to answer questions, detailed policy issues only come up fairly infrequently. When they do, and if it is something you don't know about, a polite request to take their contact details so that a colleague can reply in more detail works just fine.

    In other words: if you've not been canvassing before, do give it a try with a local team - almost everyone comes away from their first canvassing experience saying it was easier and more straight-forward than they thought it would be. (And don't worry, you don't often encounter parrots.)

    You can read the full set of tips for Lib Dem party members here.

  • Nick Clegg
    Article: Oct 24, 2016
    By Toby Helm in The Observer

    Former deputy PM urges Theresa May not to bow to pressure to quit Europol agency

    Theresa May will be seen as "soft on terrorism and organised crime" unless she signs the UK up to continued membership of Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency, warns the former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

    A key decision over whether the UK remains inside Europol, which pools criminal intelligence and allows this to be shared between police and security forces across the EU, is seen by MPs as the crucial "first test" for the prime minister in Brexit negotiations.

  • Vince Cable gives Keyword Speech at South Central Regional Conference, Oct 2016
    Article: Oct 23, 2016

    ALTER actively fosters awareness of LVT among the Liberal Democrat grass roots and as part of this we ran an ALTER stand at the South Central Regional Conference on 22 October, held near Chandler's Ford. Activists were cheered by the positive Witney by-election result. The key message: there are new members in our party, but very low awarness of LVT, and we have a mountain to climb even in making activists aware of our economic ideas. But we can get new members if we put our case across well!

  • Mark Pack
    Article: Oct 22, 2016
    By Mark Pack

    Unfinished business from Governance Review

    There are three significant pieces of unfinished business from the Governance Review which was voted through at the federal autumn conference in Brighton.

    One is simply that changing rules does not in itself change that much. People need to follow them. They need to be implemented with enthusiasm, competence and a clear purpose. Cultural change does not automatically follow.

    So whilst there is much good in the Governance Review, including the improvements to the way the party makes strategy, as I wrote in the last Liberal Democrat Newswire, it is crucial we get the right people elected to the Federal Board and other committees to properly implement the changes. (That's also why this time round rather than running for the Federal Policy Committee again, I'll be running for the Federal Board. Here's a flavour of what I'd be pushing for on the body.)

    English Party reform

    The second is the problem that is currently the English Party. Tactically it made absolute sense for Party President Sal Brinton and others to pursue a package of reform which could be voted through by federal conference alone. But that meant no changes to the relative powers of the state parties, as that would have also required votes of agreement in their own bodies too.

    Hence that meant very little to address the multiple issues around the English Party such as its hugely indirect version of democracy, the deeply ingrained culture of barely communicating with members and the way it can in effect unilaterally force decisions on Scotland and Wales.

    It's significant, therefore, than in her Facebook posting setting out priorities for re-election as Party President, Sal Brinton put reform of the English Party down as one of her three priorities. Meanwhile, the English Party itself recently put off its latest reform package pending further thought, with a plan to come back with new reform plans of its own next year.

    Ken Macdonald to review disciplinary process

    Then thirdly there is the problem with the party's disciplinary processes. These are numerous in form, but really boil down to two, one widely acknowledged and one which is usually overlooked.

    The widely acknowledged one is that when put to the test in a controversial case, the processes have often resulted in rulings being made and then overturned on grounds of flawed procedure. That ends up with long-drawn out sagas without closure. They serve all sides badly, and the party itself too.

    Therefore the news that the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald, is to head up a review is very good.

    Two traditions Lib Dems need to abandon

    It will be important that the review includes the area which is usually overlooked. It is that the party's disciplinary processes have their roots in two basic approaches, both of which have become frayed and neither of which are appropriate now, even if they ever were.

    One is that the decision for Liberal Democrat groups about who can have the party's whip are decisions for that group alone. That is deeply problematic because who holds the Liberal Democrat whip is about who has the right to use the party's name in public - and that is a matter for the whole party, not just the particular group of councillors, Parliamentarians or others to whom that specific whip applies.

    As I wrote previously:

    Traditionally the Liberal Democrats have left the decision about who gets to call themselves a Liberal Democrat after election to the rest of the group to which they've been elected or, in the case of the House of Lords, appointed. Someone can stand as a Liberal Democrat with the party's backing, but it's up to the colleagues in their group as to whether they can continue to act as a Liberal Democrat once there.

    Given the experience of the Labour Party in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it is understandable how many of those involved in forming the merged party were happy to stick with tradition - a tradition that the Liberal Party too had followed.

    But politics has moved on from the battles of the early 1980s, and we face new problems now.

    As an embarrassingly large number of cases have demonstrated in the last few years, leaving decisions over who gets the whip to a smaller group has served the party, its elected/appointed representatives and people with a complaint against them all badly.

    One problem is one of power. The smaller the group, the easier it is for someone to exercise disproportionate and undue influence over their colleagues. The smaller the group, the bigger the risk that decisions about who should or should not have the whip are not decisions made well or in line with our values.

    Another is that the Liberal Democrats are one organisation in the eyes of the public. Although the public does not hold the behaviour of every individual against the party as whole, it does do so to some degree an awful lot. The decision that one group makes has an impact on the rest of us too.

    The other problematic tradition is the idea that outside of giving/withholding the whip, the only level of sanction in the party is to expel someone from membership. That also really doesn't work because it is far from unknown for party members to do something wrong that fall short of explusion level of offence but also should not be left completely unpunished:

    Partly at my instigation the English Party a few years ago introduced a wider range of more modest sanctions, such as banning people from holding office in the party, which could be applied in some cases. For example, if a local party treasurer regularly failed to file regulatory reports on time, expelling them from the party might be too harsh but banning them from being a local party officer appropriate. (Indeed, my involvement in instigating this change came from frustration at seeing several people who had behaved wrongly not facing sanction because the only sanction available was too severe.)

    A sensible … review of the party's expected standards of its members and disciplinary rules should include expanding that range of 'not serious enough for expulsion but serious enough for other sanction' offences.

    It would need to be clearly defined, so it isn't used as an excuse to, for example, exclude out of favour troublemakers from a party committee, but it would also be the right thing to do.

    Only if the Macdonald review also tackles these two long-standing traditions will it have a fighting chance of producing the sort of new processes which are fair to all sides and which protect the party's own reputation - a key part of its electoral appeal.

  • Liz Leffman and Lib Dem Campaigners
    Article: Oct 22, 2016

    Alongside the Witney and Batley & Spen Parliamentary by-elections, twelve council by-elections have also taken place this week.

    Witney by-election result

    • Liberal Democrats move up from 4th to 2nd

    • 19.3% swing from Tories to Lib Dems

    • Lib Dem vote up 23.4% to 30.2%

    • Conservative majority cut by over 20,000

    • Biggest Lib Dem vote increase in a Parliamentary by-election for twelve years (since Hartlepool in 2004)

    • Highest Lib Dem vote in the constituency this century

    • Labour falls back to 3rd

    • Greens and Ukip lose their deposits

    The key test for Liz Leffman and the Liberal Democrats in Witney was whether the party could move back into second, the sort of result which would suggest the Lib Dems can return large parts of southern England to being Lib Dem versus Conservative contests… and that's a test the Liberal Democrats passed. For more on how to judge the Lib Dem Witney result see here.

    Elsewhere some promising signs for the Liberal Democrats too with a win and a hold.

    Denis Healy has been a Liberal Democrat Parliamentary and Police and Crime Commissioner candidate. Now he's won a council by-election in a three-member ward that was split and returned some Lib Dems in 2003 and 2007, before the party slipped to third in 2011 and then fourth in 2015.

    Congratulations to Ellie Hudspith and the local team for a solid defence in St Albans in a ward that stayed with the party all through coalition:

    The loss of a Ukip council seat to the Tories will be rare case of a Conservative victory that many Liberal Democrats will be quite happy with, I suspect:

    Worth noting here that it's a ward where Labour used to sometimes split the ward, but is the Conservatives rather than Labour who gained the seat at Ukip's expense.

    Elsewhere, Labour both lost and gained a seat

    Bodmin Town Council, 20th October

    LD Leigh Frost 362 [69.1%]

    Labour 162 [30.8%]

    LD Gain

    Turnout 15.3%

    St Albans BC, Clarence - 20th October 2016

    LD Ellie Hudspith 916 [56.9%; +6.0%]

    Conservative 388 [24.0%; +2.8%]

    Labour 193 [12.0%; -5.2%]

    Green 98 [6.1%; -3.7%]

    UKIP 16 [1.0; +1.0%]

    [TUSC [0.0%; -1.0%]

    Majority: 528

    LD hold

    Percentage change since 2016

    East Riding of Yorkshire UA, St Mary's - 20th October 2016

    LD Denis Healy 1497 [40.5%; +29.2%]

    Conservative 947 [25.6%; -3.0%]

    Labour 689 [21.3%; +3.6%]

    UKIP 101 [2.7%; -10.8%]

    The Beverley Party 364 [9.8% -1.1%]

    Independent 141 [3.7%; +3.7%]

    [Green [0.0%; -8.5%]

    [Independent [0.0%; -6.1%]

    [Independent [0.0%; -3.7%]

    Majority: 550

    LD gain from Conservatives

    Percentage change since 2015

    Kings Lynn & West Norfolk BC, Heacham - 20th October 2016

    Independent 400 [37.7%; +37.7%]

    Conservative 342 [32.2%; +23.6%]

    LD Rob Colwell 83 [7.8%; +7.8%]

    UKIP 83 [7.8%; -37.9%]

    Independent 79 [7.4%; +7.4%]

    Labour 74 [7.0%; -38.6%]

    Majority: 58

    Turnout: 26.3%

    Independent gain from Conservative

    Percentage change since 2016

    Braintree DC, Bumpstead - 20th October 2016

    Conservative 350 [64.6%; +2.7%]

    UKIP 84 [15.5%; -4.1%]

    Labour 45 [8.3%; -10.3%]

    LD Steve Bolter 40 [7.4%; +7.4%]

    Green 23 [4.2%; +4.2%]

    Majority 266

    Conservative hold

    Percentage change since 2015

    Conservative seat.

    Cause: resignation

    Middlesbrough UA, Central - 20th October 2016

    Labour 732 [72.9%; +17.3%]

    Independent 149 [14.8%; +14.8%]

    Conservative 70 [7.0%; +7.0%]

    LD Elliott Sabin-Motson 53 [5.3%; +5.3%]

    [Independent [0.0%; -17.6%]

    [Independent [0.0%; -17.6%]

    [UKIP [0.0%; -15.8%]

    Majority: 583

    Turnout: 18.6%

    Labour hold

    Percentage change since 2015

    Kettering BC, Rothwell - 20th October 2016

    Conservative 700 [48.3%; +11.1%]

    Labour 498 [34.4%; -7.1%]

    UKIP 108 [7.5%; -8.7%]

    Green 75 [5.2%; 0.0%]

    LD Malcolm Paul Adcock 67 [4.6%; +4.6%]

    Turnout: 22.8%

    Majority: 202

    Conservative gain from Labour

    Percentage change since 2015

    Braintree DC, Witham North - 20th October 2016

    Labour 339 [37.5%; +6.1%]

    Conservative 308 [34.0%; -4.8%]

    Green 227 [25.1%; +4.7%]

    LD Mark Thomas Scott 31[3.4%; -5.9%]

    Majority: 31

    Labour gain from Conservative

    Percentage change since 2015

    Medway UA, Strood South - 20th October 2016

    Conservative 724 [38.4%; +3.4%]

    Labour 521 [27.7%; 3.4%]

    UKIP 480 [25.5%; -13.2%]

    Green 74 [3.9%; +3.9%]

    LD Isabelle Cherry 62 [3.3%; +3.3%]

    English Democrats 23 [1.2%; +1.2%]

    [TUSC [0.0%; -2.2%]

    Majority: 203

    Turnout: 16.7%

    Conservative gain from UKIP

    Percentage change since 2015

    Bracknell UA, Central Sandhurst - 20th October 2016

    Conservative 476 [69.3%; +6.3%]

    Labour 211 [30.7%; 10.5%]

    [Liberal Democrat [0.0%; -16.7%]

    Majority: 265

    Conservative hold

    Percentage change since 2015

    Conwy UA, Abergele Pensarn - 20th October 2016

    Independent 170 [31.5%; +31.5%]

    Independent 146 [27.1%; +27.1%]

    Labour 136 [25.2%; -29.9%]

    Conservative 87 [16.1%; -3.5%]

    Majority: 24

    Independent gain from Labour

    Percentage change since 2012

    Neath Port Talbot UA, Blaengwrach - 20th October 2016

    Plaid Cymru gain from Labour

  • Article: Oct 21, 2016

    Last night saw the results of the Witney by-election - we started the campaign in 4th place as 50/1 outsiders and thanks to the relentless, positive campaign we ran, dented the Conservative majority and secured one of our best by-election results in decades. This is what you need to know:

    1: If this result was repeated across the UK, the Tories would lose their majority

  • What a Liberal Britain means
    Article: Oct 21, 2016
    By Mark Pack

    I've mentioned a few times the excellent grassroots initiative, Your Liberal Britain, which aims to better explain what the Liberal Democrats stand for by drawing together the best ideas from across the party's membership.

    It's latest consultation has just finished, and the full results have now been published.

    Here is the full consultation report from Your Liberal Britain:

    Download this document

  • Liz for Remain vs Brexit
    Article: Oct 21, 2016
    By Margaret Leyton

    The huge swing to an anti Brexit ticket prompts me to say that it is time to go further.

    It is clear that Mrs May and her cohorts have done all in their power to forward and design Brexit, with absolutely lamentable results. This is hardly surprising, since it is an impossible exercise. They have made it worse by upsetting the other 27 more than necessary and ensuring that a "soft" Brexit cannot happen. I can't imagine why.

    The trouble with the referendum which is not often mentioned is that it offered the electorate a choice which does not really exist. A little research before offering the referendum would have shown that departure from the EU would be unavoidably very damaging on any terms. The EU is far from perfect but any sort of departure is far worse. One only has to look at each day's news.

    Mrs May should now tell the electorate that despite her best efforts the task is impossible. That would be honest and statesmanlike. If she will not, the situation is so dire that MPs from all parties should combine to pass a vote of no confidence. Sane Tories most of all, if they don't want to go down with her.

    That doesn't have to precipitate a general election if a new Prime Minister gets a vote of confidence in 14 days. But if there were a GE it would at least mean Mrs May wouldn't be Prime Minister. She must be the most obdurate ignorer of facts ever to be in office, and is certainly not governing in the country's best interests as she should.

  • Mark Pack
    Article: Oct 21, 2016
    By Mark Pack

    Roger Gabb and Sue Inkin have been fined £1,000 each for illegal newspaper advertisements during the 2016 European referendum promoting a Leave vote.

    The newspaper adverts were missing the legally required 'imprint' which reveals who is behind an advert. As the Electoral Commission explains:

    In both cases the campaigners placed advertisements in local newspapers arguing support of a vote to leave the EU. Neither campaigner included their name and address in their advert, meaning that voters could not identify its promoter.

    Following investigations into each campaigner, the Commission has concluded that both campaigners committed an offence by failing to include an imprint in their adverts. Mr Gabb paid the fine on 11 October 2016. Lady Inkin has until 2 November to pay the fine.

    The case is also a reminder to all political campaigners about the importance of including imprints on electoral material - and also a reminder of why it is rather unfortunate that the government has still not acted on the Electoral Commission's recommendations to update imprint rules to better deal with the internet (note that linked post is from 2009!).

  • Witney Result (Getty)
    Article: Oct 21, 2016
    By Frances Perraudin and Jessica Elgot in The Guardian

    At the Witney byelection, the Liberal Democrats saw their biggest swing in two decades, leapfrogging Labour and Ukip to take second place.

    The result in Cameron's former seat was still a comfortable win for Robert Courts, a barrister and local councillor, but his tally was more than 17,000 votes behind those cast for the former prime minister in 2015.

  • Article: Oct 20, 2016

    Liberal Democrat peer, John Sharkey, whose Private Member's Bill was instrumental in securing a pardon for Alan Turing, has reached an agreement with the Government which will grant a posthumous pardon to thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under long abolished sexual offence laws.

    Those similarly convicted but still alive will also receive pardons if they have successfully applied for a disregard or in future successfully apply for a disregard under the Protection of Freedoms Act.

  • Liz Leffman
    Article: Oct 20, 2016
    By Arjun Neil in The Independent

    The Liberal Democrats remain confident hopes of pushing the Conservatives close in the by-election for David Cameron's former constituency of Witney, despite the incumbent party's seemingly unassailable position.

    Liz Leffman, a councillor in West Oxfordshire, is the Lib Dem candidate. She won her council seat with 65 per cent of the vote in 2016, when the Tories came in second place with 22 points.

    She contested the parliamentary seat of Witney in 2005, coming second to David Cameron with the highest ever share of the vote for both the Lib Dems and any opposition party.

    The Oxfordshire constituency has been a safe Conservative seat since its creation in 1983. It was fleetingly a Labour seat, when former MP Shaun Woodward defected from the Tories to the Labour Party in 1999, until it was retaken in 2001 by David Cameron.

    Now, the Conservatives have fielded councillor and barrister Robert Courts to replace the former prime minister, but with lesser name recognition and lower turnout he is unlikely to do as well as Mr Cameron.

    In normal circumstances, the Conservatives would be expected to easily hold the seat, given their 25,000-vote majority at the last election. However, the Tory government's determination to take Britain out of the European Union is a direction emphatically opposed by many residents of relatively affluent and well-educated West Oxfordshire.

    A total of 57 per cent of voters - likely higher in the town of Witney - voted to remain part of the bloc, making Oxfordshire the most pro-EU county in England.

    It is considered unlikely Theresa May's commitment to a 'hard Brexit' will resonate among many here, with industry based in the area, including motorsports, dependent on close European cooperation.

    The Liberal Democrats under Europhile leader Tim Farron have positioned themselves in the pro-EU centre-ground since the Brexit result.

    While their recovery in national polls has been patchy, a spate of council by-election wins since May has given the party hopes of a more substantial recovery.

    Given the divisions within the party, Labour candidate Duncan Enright is not expected to improve on the 17 per cent of the vote he achieved in 2015.

    Hoping for a good showing for his party, Mr Farron himself promised to spend much of month running up to the election in Witney.

    He believes the Lib Dem ground operation is efficient and well-staffed - and is confident of picking up votes from disaffected Europhiles, social liberals and former Conservatives wary of the new direction of the Government.

    Witney resident Matilda Pillonel, a law student and former Conservative voter, explained why she would be supporting the Lib Dems.

    "I feel let down by the Conservative Government's poor management of Brexit and their regressive grammar school policy," she told The Independent.

    "I admired the liberal wing of the party, but I'm disillusioned with this sudden lurch to the right under Theresa May."

    The betting markets have responded positively, with the Liberal Democrats odds-on to retake at least second place - from fourth in the General Election.

    Lord Ashdown, a former Lib Dem leader, has called for the by-election to be treated as a referendum on the Government's Brexit course.

  • Ipsos MORI On Impact Of Brexit On Personal Standard Of Livi
    Article: Oct 20, 2016
    By Mark Pack

    The latest polling figures from Ipsos-MORI shows a major move in public opinion towards people thinking Brexit will make them worse off.

    Back in May 2016, a net 11% thought Brexit would make their own standard of living worse. By July 2016 this had become a net 15% and now in October it is up to net 25%.

  • John Leech MP
    Article: Oct 20, 2016

    Excellent news that the government is set to accept an amendment put down by the Liberal Democrats to the Police and Crime Bill:

    Big story breaking later - 75,000 gay men to be pardoned for long-abolished sex offences, 59,000 posthumous. A @LibDems victory, congrats.

    Tim Farron has commented,

    The Liberal Democrats continue to be the strongest voice on equality in and out of Parliament.

    This was a manifesto commitment which even in opposition, thanks to the tireless work of John Leech alongside our MPs and peers, we have been able to deliver on.

    The reference to John Leech is to his work as an MP on the campaign to get Alan Turing pardoned and then followed up by turning to the wider pardon campaign. John Sharkey also played a key role in the Turing campaign in the Lords with his Private Member's Bill. He says of the news:

    This is a momentous day for thousands of families up and down the UK who have been campaigning on this issue for decades. I am very grateful for the Government's support and the support of many of my colleagues in Parliament.

    It is a wonderful thing that we have been able to build on the pardon granted to Alan Turing during Coalition by extending it to the thousands of men convicted of sexual offences that existed before homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967 and which would not be crimes today.

  • Nick Clegg
    Article: Oct 19, 2016
    In Liberal Democrat Voice

    Nick Clegg has given a speech at the National Liberal Club today to launch his third report in the Brexit Challenge series. In this one he looks at the impact of hard Brexit on food prices. Here is his speech in full:

    Nearly 4 months on from the vote to leave the European Union, we are finally starting to understand the early consequences of Brexit.

  • New Chair of South Central Liberal Democrats - Liz Leffman
    Article: Oct 18, 2016

    Come to Witney, we have lots of accommodation now!

    Email me on Conor.McKenzie@libdems.org.uk with the nights you want it for and whether you are driving.

    Look forward to seeing you soon!

    Listen to the Video here

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