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Chairman's Election 2017 Report

June 11, 2017 9:41 PM
By Martyn Pennington

Martyn Pennington 2017When we saw the exit poll results at the Winter Gardens on Thursday evening, our first thought was "it could have been a lot worse!".

From a purely Lib Dem point of view, we gained a significant increase in the number of MPs, which was a key objective, and the results have shown how close we came to winning several more (we lost Fife North-East by just two votes, and Richmond Park by 45 votes).

However, in other respects, the results were disappointing - overall the main beneficiaries of the 'Remain' vote were Labour candidates, despite us having a much clearer position, and Labour managed to capture the imagination of younger voters much better than we did. In the end we were squeezed out, as many constituencies became a two-horse race - last time in this area it was Conservatives against UKIP, this time against Labour.

The election also came as a surprise to everyone, but for us it meant recovering quickly from the County Council elections which were very demanding in terms of finance and effort. We didn't really have time to plan the campaign, to seek donations and to set out our stall. We can therefore look back with some pride at the willingness to go the second mile, notably the effort put into getting the 'freepost' leaflets batched, boxed and sent off to Royal Mail before the deadline. We also made it a priority to help our neighbours in Canterbury and Whitstable, where our candidate did well to reach 8% in such a tightly-fought contest.

I would like to express my thanks to all who have helped in this campaign, not least to John Finnegan and Adrian Briggs, who not only were the agents for the three candidates in particularly difficult circumstances, but also encouraged us every step of the way.

What next? This unexpected snap election adds urgency to the task we had set ourselves before the general election was called, namely to mobilise and train party members to help in any way in future, be it as canvasser, agent, social media partner, events planner, fundraiser, treasurer, Connect specialist, membership developer or candidate. We know now that there is no time to lose!

Finally, the fight for an open, tolerant and united country is still being fought. Let's use every opportunity at work, at home, in the pub or at the school gates, to put forward our vision and to insist on a forward-looking message of hope.