One year on: lessons from the Lib Dem triumph last May

A year ago, the Liberal Democrat gains in the local elections were our best ever local election results. Not just our best ever, but better even than the Alliance, SDP or Liberals managed going all the way back to 1945.

All that happened even though the seats up for election were more Leave-leaning than the country overall. No wonder these victories triggered a surge in party members, a rise in the party’s poll ratings and pushed the party firmly to the centre of the national political stage.

The results are also a large part of why there are now 50 Liberal Democrats running councils around the country either as an outright leader or a co-leader on a hung council.

They are also why the party’s membership is still up at historically very high levels, at around treble the low point it reached in mid-2013.

Things didn’t quite go right in the second half of the year… but as well as learning from what went wrong later in the year, we should remember the lessons from what went right in the first part of the year.

Clear messaging. Grassroots campaigning. And being willing to pitch for those who share our liberal values rather than being paralysed by fear of saying something those who don’t share our values might not like.

The work of tens of thousands of members, supporters and helpers around the country put the Liberal Democrats back on the right track at the start of 2019.

That’s what we’ll all need to work together to achieve again when a more normal politics resumes.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy those memories, ponder those lessons and keep that coronavirus campaigning going.

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