Thursday was bad, but could have been worse

Like my Yes to AV balloon, the Lib Dems are in a sorry state. Thursday’s results were extremely poor for the party across the UK, but they could have been worse.

For a start, Dave Hodgson won his re-election as mayor of Bedford for the Lib Dems, and our vote in the Leicester South by-election held up reasonably well.

Nationally, although our 15% vote share was a disappointment, our opinion poll ratings have been a fair bit lower in the last six months.

Locally, although we lost Luddendenfoot ward to the Tories and Calder ward to Labour, we have the same number of Town Councillors as were elected four years ago (8 out of 18).

As various Lib Dems, notably Simon Hughes, have popped up in the media over the last couple of days bemoaning the lack of recognition for our policy successes within the coalition, I am reminded of a speech that Tavish Scott gave to conference a couple of years ago. He thoroughly berated the SNP for being a triumph of spin over substance – I can’t help thinking that our party’s communication skills have been so poor recently that some decent PR people wouldn’t go amiss. After all, look where the SNP have got.

The elections are coming – and here we have 5 votes

A busy day campaigning today, after two days away camping with the Scouts. We have 5 votes here on 5 May (5/5!) – one for Calderdale MBC, three for Hebden Royd TC, and of course the AV referendum.

I was out at 8am delivering the main election address for my local colleague Hywel Morgan, standing for the first time (I think) as a serious candidate after many years experience as a campaigner, most recently in Oldham and Burnley. He also writes regularly for Lib Dem Voice. I was delivering mostly Labour-leaning areas so had a few negative reactions but plenty of people happy to take the leaflets. One chap told me he would never vote for a pro-European party which was a bit of a blast from the past – most people have other reasons for not supporting us these days.

This afternoon I was helping James Baker and Rory Laing run a Yes to AV stall in the centre of Hebden Bridge. Town was full for the duck race so we fielded plenty of queries about the system, and heard from a few people who had already (postally) voted yes. But the novel idea that James had was to get people to have a go by voting for their favourite food using AV. We collected the votes in a mock ballot box and counted them afterwards in the pub. The results were quite interesting – head over to his blog for the breakdown. Political geeks that we are, I think we enjoyed doing the count almost as much as drinking the beer. Oh, and we completely debunked yet another of the No campaign’s myths – that AV is complicated. Several children took part very enthusiastically, and none of them had any difficulties at all in numbering their foods in order of preference.

Late afternoon I did a bit more leafleting in the area which I currently represent on Hebden Royd Town Council. I am stepping down at the election for various reasons (more in a future blog post when I am no longer a councillor) but want to get some colleagues elected to continue the good work that we’ve done in control of the council for the last few years.

Walking home afterwards I was cheered up by some handwritten stickers that someone had stuck on every parking machine that I could see, pointing out that you don’t have to pay on bank holidays, which I thought was rather sweet.