At a time when the country is more deeply divided and unsure than he can remember it ever having been before, Chair of West Cumbria Liberal Democrats Roger Putnam reported that our party has the advantage of broad agreement on major issues, notably Brexit, and has had substantial successes this year.
Roger was speaking at an Interim General Meeting of West Cumbria Lib Dems, held at Hundith Hill hotel on Thursday evening, November 14. He spoke of the hugely encouraging election results nationally, with more than 700 more council seats gained and 600 retained. At the Euro elections we gained 15 new MEPs to add to our one retained member, and are now represented in the North West region again by Chris Davies, for many years formerly our active and effective MEP, and newly also by Jane Brophy. Nationally, our share of the poll in the Euro elections was greater than that of either the Labour or the Conservative parties.
Locally we did not succeed in making extra gains in the local elections, Roger said though two members hold town council seats, and Rebecca Hanson continues as a Cumbria County councillor, doing fine work. West Cumbria Liberal Democrat membership in our twin constituencies of Copeland and Workington has doubled in recent months, to more than 200 now, and several members contacted by committee members have offered help in the future. We hope to reconstitute the committee in the New Year, and begin campaigning with a view to getting more members elected in the local elections of 2021. We have also established a social media working group to improve our internal communications and our outreach.
Treasurer Peter McHarry reported on our current finances, which depend on local contributions, and do not allow us to have many extra printed publications this time to support our two General Election candidates Neil Hughes in Workington and John Studholme in Copeland. However, everyone will receive a freepost leaflet, and Neil and John will put their and the party’s case for advancement at public hustings later this month.
After the dinner which followed the business session on Thursday evening, the gathering was addressed by Baroness Joan Walmsley, an active member of the strong Liberal Democrat presence in the Second Chamber and an excellent speaker. Her most emphatic message in addition to the need to prevent Brexit was that we must stop Boris Johnson as Prime Minister continuing to threaten our country’s future prosperity.
In discussion following Joan’s speech, it was emphasised that people who agree with us should continue to give us their vote, which will emphasise the need for a fairer voting system to be urgently sought.