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Speaker stands down. We are finally able to contest the Buckingham Constituency

September 20, 2019 9:28 AM

Lib Dems to stand candidate for first time since 2005

As I'm sure you will know by now, our long fight to stand a candidate in the Speaker's seat, which began in 2009, finally came to an end last week when Mr Bercow said he was standing down on October 31st.

We tried and failed to contest the seat in three general elections, 2010 2015 and 2017. That's over, and there's no point in dwelling on the past. Now we look forward to a likely general election sometime in the next few months . At the time of writing, Thursday September 19th, we still do not know who our candidate will be, or whether we will have a choice in his or her selection. We will update you on this site, and on our Facebook pages as soon as we know. If we are given a choice of candidates by the regional party, we will give you, the members, the opportunity to take part, to listen to the candidates, ask questions and make your choice.

Since the election of Jo Swinson as Party leader in the summer, even more people have joined Lib Dems. We now have a record membership in this constituency association. The next big event, which any member is entitled to attend, is the local party's annual general meeting, which must take place before the end of November. Because of the possibility of a general election in that month, we propose to hold it in late October, probably on a Saturday morning to make it convenient for more people. However we promise will do our best to see it doesn't clash with the Rugby World Cup!

I spent last weekend, through until Tuesday, at the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference in Bournemouth . For future reference you might like to know that any member is entitled to attend, and does not need our approval or mandate to speak or vote in any of the debates.

It was the busiest conference for years, and I was encouraged to see so many new members attending and speaking.

I missed the EU debate, so I did not hear all the arguments, for and against, preceding the vote in favour of rescinding Article 50 if the Lib Dems win the next election. I know some commentators have called us anti-democratic, for rejecting the vote to leave in the referendum in 2016. My view is that we leave voters in no confusion in the general election; and by endorsing us they agree to this policy.

Other debates probably did not get as much coverage on national media. Chief among these, in my opinion, was the vote in favour of the party's well-thought-out plan to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2045. Some members were disappointed that this target is not more ambitious - the government's itself is only five years longer. Yet the proposers insisted that this date was the earliest practically possible, and that we were the first party to back our aspirations with a detailed plan.

There were many more thoughtful and intelligent debates, which I believe you can find through the party's website and YouTube channel. And it's important that the party established some serious policies to take forward if and when the Brexit question is resolved. The environment, education and social services are all areas where we have strong and radical ideas, backed up with well thought-out policy papers.

We do face a dilemma. On the one hand the next general election, unless Boris Johnson does meet his date of October the 31st, is certain to be dominated by Brexit, and treated as an unofficial referendum. In this case it would be quite hard to advance many of the the other things we stand for, and it could be some years, before we have the chance to put them to the electorate again.

On the other hand, if the election is held in November, and in the deeply regrettable event of us having already left the EU, it could well be an election about policies, and the competence of a Johnson government. But the opportunity to argue for these things would be small compensation for the tragedy of leaving, in my opinion.

We are, by the way, still looking for candidates for the inaugural unitary Buckinghamshire Council elections in 2020. We are a bit behind in our candidate selection after the excitement of recent weeks. But please get in touch if you want to put yourself forward as a possible candidate, or helper.

And, once again, I'd like to welcome new members to our party. We are in for some exciting times.

Gareth Davies, constituency party chairman