Political

“They’re definitely doing better than we’ve seen for a while”: senior Conservatives fear Lib Dem progress in May elections

Over in BuzzFeed the Liberal Democrat prospects for the May local elections get a study:

Senior Tories in Westminster are nervous about the Lib Dems’ chances. “They’re definitely doing better than we’ve seen for a while,” one cabinet minister told BuzzFeed News recently. They put this down not only to their stance on Brexit but to their new position as the “none-of-the-above party”.

The local elections will be the first big test for the party’s leader, Vince Cable, the 74-year-old who took over in July last year after his predecessor Tim Farron failed to turn anti-Brexit sentiment into a vote surge in the snap general election.

The party is in particular making a big play to win the votes of EU citizens (helped by the comments of Gina Miller), who are able to vote in these elections:

The campaign involves an ambitious series of social media adverts in 21 European languages, targeted to the feeds of European citizens living in England. In one of them, Cecilia Wikström, a member of the European parliament for the Liberalerna party in Sweden, appeals to Swedish nationals living in England: “Vote for a stronger Europe, vote for the Liberal Democrats!”

“I think it must be true that it’s the largest central online advertising campaign of any sort that the party’s ever run for a set of local elections,” said Mark Pack, editor of the Lib Dem Newswire and author of 101 Ways to Win an Election

Pack explained why he believes these local elections are so important to the party. “In the battle over Brexit, the more successful the Lib Dems are seen as being, the easier it will be for the Lib Dems to coalesce anti-Brexit forces around the party – and the more public opinion is likely to shift to ‘maybe there’s a chance this isn’t going to happen’.”

Read the full BuzzFeed story here, complete with Jo Swinson’s take on the elections and the legacy of coalition.

For evidence that Brexit will be an important issue for voters, see Lord Ashcroft’s recent polling for the London council elections.

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