Sunday 9 May 2021

Congratulations to the London Liberal Democrats on a great GLA Campaign

 In my blog yesterday I discussed my result in the Edgware by election for Barnet Council. I stated " The Lib Dems locally also had other priorities, as they had to campaign for the GLA and Mayor in areas with a more solid support base."  As part of a team (The Barnet Lib Dems), I bought into our strategy for the Mayoral and GLA elections. At the start of the campaign, we agreed our priorities. Much as we'd love to sweep the board, in the real world, you need to set realistic targets. Sadly the results in unwinnable council by elections were not deemed a high priority. In Edgware, where the Lib Dems had scored less than 300 votes in the 2018 council elections, it was felt that there wasn't a strong case for deploying campaign resources. A 20% increase in votes would bring in 40 more people. In other wards, it could be ten or twenty times as many for the same effort. 

What was the absolute no 1 priority was securing a second Lib Dem member in the London Assembly. This was a realistic target. It would double the representation and mean that Caroline Pidgeon, who has done a marvellous job would have someone to share the load with. Assembly members are full time paid politicians with office resources. This gives a party the opportunity to do far more work for the people of London and an opportunity to demonstrate what voting for a party can achieve. In a campaign, many people have to work together. Perhaps the person with the most thankless task of all was Marisha Ray, the candidate for Barnet and Camden. Marisha's job was to make the best case for the Lib Dems across the area, with little chance of actually being elected. Her efforts were vital to the success of the list campaign.

For my part, as you know I am active on social media and write a blog, which has a large following across Barnet and the rest of London. Ever since the Grenfell Tower, I've been campaigning for justice for the victims of the fire and the resulting cladding scandal. I identified this as my no 1 priority for my blog/tweeting during the campaign. The London Lib Dems lead by Caroline Pidgeon and the Lib Dems in the Lords under Baroness Pinnock have been leading the fight for justice for the victims of the scandal. For me this is an issue that should transcend politics, but sadly it seems that only the Lib Dems have made it a priority. As thousands of people are at risk and affected in London, I was heartened to see the recognition that our efforts got. Whilst I recognised that in Edgware, there were (sadly) few votes in raising this matter, across Barnet and Camden and the wider London vote, there was a real enthusiasm for the Lib Dems support of the campaign. 

So how did we do. As you can see from the figures there was a huge improvement between the 2016 result and the 2021 results

This great result shows that Barnet and Camden outperformed the London average and was a key part of the Lib Dems success. The net result of this is that the Lib Dems now have elected two GLA members for the first time since 2012 and Hina Bokhari is one of the first female Muslims on the assembly. It is a matter of pride that I played a small part in her success

The assembly should be able to represent all Londoners and reflect the people of the city. I am sure Hina will be an excellent addition to the assembly. Many people ask "Why do we need a third party such as the Lib Dems?" The answer is simple. Whilst Labour and the Tories are huge machines, focussed on block votes and entrenched support bases, the Lib Dems can only get their priorities achieved through sensible work with other parties. There is no place for tribalism in Lib Dem politics. We don't have large vested interests such as big business, rich donors or Union block votes to keep onside. We are party run by our membership. 

Before I finish, I have two key things to say. 

Firstly I want to say a few words about The Green Party. They deserve congratulations for a great campaign and a good result. Lib Dem and Green voters share many ideas and many concerns. I have long believed that The Lib Dems and Greens should work together in a progressive alliance. I cast my first preference for Mayor for Lib Dem Luisa Porritt and my second preference for Sian Berry. I wanted to send a signal that the parties need to collaborate more. In the Borough of Barnet I will be campaigning for a 'non aggression pact' between the Lib Dems and Greens. I would like to see an agreement that for Council elections, the two parties agree to stand two and one candidates rather than cannibalise each others vote and step aside in key priority wards. Both Parties really need to develop a strategy that delivers councillors, not posturing and valliant defeats.

The second thing I want to say is a personal congratulations to Labours Anne Clarke in Barnet and Camden. I consider Anne to be a friend and she has worked extremely hard for success. In my humble opinion, Anne is the best of the bunch when it comes to local Labour politicians. I have seen her amazing work with the community in Childs Hill and with the Cricklewood community group. I am sure she will do well. 

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