In Liberal Democrat Newswire #74, I highlighted Edinburgh Western as a key seat for the Liberal Democrats in May’s Scottish Parliament elections:
Absent a rusty political tidal wave generator being found in the basement of party HQ, the way back for the Liberal Democrats is via well-organised and effective grassroots campaigning, building from the bottom up as during previous revivals. But can the party really rediscover its local campaigning edge and will that be enough? A great test of that is to be found in the Scottish Parliament constituency of Edinburgh Western (previously West).
The Westminster seat of Edinburgh West was a long a focus of party attention, being a targeted marginal seat that was just missed out on in 1983 (by 498 votes), in 1987 (by 1,234 votes) and 1992 (by 879 votes). However, it was then transformed into a Liberal Democrat fortress, gained in 1997 by over 7,000 votes and with a majority reaching 13,600 in 2005. Now, it has an SNP with a majority of 3,210. The Scottish Parliament seat, similarly, was safely Lib Dem from its creation in 1999 through to the SNP breakthrough to 2011, when the SNP took the seat with a majority of 2,689.
Yet a strong Liberal Democrat organisation has survived the May 2015 meltdown, and has continued being active and growing over the summer and autumn. If grassroots organisation then can lead to revival, the evidence will show here in an area where the party was strong and even in defeat did not slip that far behind.
Which makes this rather good news from Alex Cole-Hamilton and of wider significance for the party: