When you live in one of the safest Tory seats in the country and you get a phone call out of the blue from a life long Tory voter saying that he is prepared to campaign for the Lib Dems in the General Election you start to think that you’re dreaming!
That’s what happened to me within a couple of hours of the announcement on Tuesday. He not only rang me but had to go to the trouble to find my telephone number in the phone book – that’s a serious amount of trouble to go to.
We’re in the middle of campaigning for our County Council elections and the mood on the doorstep is also matching up to my caller. People are seriously worried about how Brexit is going to affect them. Theresa May’s statement that the ‘country is coming together but Westminster isn’t’ looks to be a serious misjudgement on her part.
We need to build on the distrust and worry that has built up but not revert to ‘Project Fear’. It’s real people telling real stories of what they think will happen – emotion will win this election not facts.
I don’t know how long my surprise caller will stay with us. We need to understand the reasons that the new members are coming to us and ensure that we keep them interested long term. Only then can we grow a sustainable future for our Party.
* Philip Knowles is Chair of Richmondshire Lib Dems