Lewes Constituency Labour Party agrees with former Lewes MP, Norman Baker, in his letter of May 12th, that another Tory government would be a disaster for the people of this country.
Whilst pushing the idea of a ‘Democratic Alliance’, Baker is disingenuous when he states that the Lib Dems have been setting aside “narrow party positions in face of this desperate situation”. He is strangely quiet on the idea of Liberal Democrats standing aside in our neighbouring constituency, Brighton Kemptown, where only the Labour candidate, Lloyd Russell-Moyle has a realistic chance of unseating the Tory. In fact, in the top 34 marginals between Labour and the Conservatives, the Lib Dems are fielding… 34 candidates. As a party we believe in standing a candidate in every constituency nationwide. Denying our millions of supporters the opportunity to vote Labour would be an abrogation of democracy. We will not advise our supporters and members, who constitute the largest party in the constituency, to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrat candidate.
Labour is the only party in the country that stands any chance of unseating the Conservative government. For some to suggest that the Liberal Democrats could become the official opposition is laughable. The only way the Liberal Democrats will gain any power would be to join a coalition, again. Yet whilst their Lewes candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell has publicly stated that she would not go into a coalition with the Tories, voters have no guarantees that this would not be overruled by the Lib Dem membership or leadership.
Politicians have to be trusted and we all know what happened in 2010. The Liberal Democrats forgot their principles and got into bed with the Tories. What has happened since – austerity, massively inflated university tuition fees, the assault on our public services and privatisation of the NHS, the increased national debt – are a direct result of their flirtation with power and shows very strongly why they should not be trusted. They did not stem the Conservative decimation of the living standards of ordinary people whilst in power – they enabled it. Many Labour party supporters cannot forgive the betrayal of their tactical vote, which Baker took for granted for many years. For Baker to blame his defeat in 2015 on Labour and Green voters who were not prepared to vote tactically shows a lack of willingness to take responsibility, both for his actions as an MP and the decisions made by the Lib Dems as a whole in coalition.
Labour voters in Lewes constituency will make their own minds up about lending their vote to Blundell. If they do decide in the privacy of the polling booth to vote tactically, this can never be taken for granted and it should not be forgotten that it is a ‘loaned’ vote. If the Liberal Democrats cannot muster the support they need based on their policies and actions, they cannot blame others.
If they win the seat with a tactical vote, Kelly-Marie Blundell must be prepared to recognise this and be held strongly to account.
Labour do not take any votes for granted. We are campaigning ‘For the Many, Not the Few’, which has struck a chord with many, many voters across the UK. If we are returned to power it will be because of the honesty and integrity of our hugely popular policy proposals that will make the lives of millions of people in this country better.
Judith Colquhoun, Lewes branch Secretary, Lin Heyworth, CLP Secretary, on behalf of the Lewes Constituency Labour Party