Lib Dem rift as local members refuse to help replace candidate who stood down to stop a Tory win

Too close to Johnson: Jo Swinson (left) has made it seem she is supporting Tory Brexit after announcing her determination to stand a candidate in Canterbury, possibly splitting the vote to allow a hard-Brexiteer Tory to take the seat.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson was facing a swingeing attack today – from her own party, as she moved to replace an election candidate who has withdrawn in order to allow a ‘Remain’-supporting Labour representative a stronger chance to beat a Brexiteer Tory.

The decision to replace Tim Walker with another candidate has opened Ms Swinson to accusations that she wants Tory Anna Firth, a former “Vote Leave stalwart” to take the seat from incumbent Rosie Duffield, in a move that would support Boris Johnson’s plan for a ‘hard’ Brexit.

Mr Walker made his feelings clear in a comment piece for The Guardian. He wrote: “In the last election, she [Ms Duffield] won the traditionally Tory seat on the slimmest of margins – fewer than 200 votes – and, while I was confident I could substantially increase the Lib Dem vote on the back of my party’s national resurgence, it was clear there was a danger I’d divide the remainers. That would allow in our common enemy, Anna Firth, the Tory candidate and an avowed hard Brexiter and former Vote Leave stalwart.

“I share with many members of my party locally a visceral dread of the Commons being filled with people like Firth. Trying to stop that happening is now more important than ever given Nigel Farage’s unholy alliance with Johnson.

“I’ve therefore asked that my local party withdraw my nomination papers to stand for Canterbury… The nightmare that kept me awake was posing awkwardly at the count beside a vanquished Duffield as the Tory Brexiter raised her hands in triumph. I wanted no part in that.”

How sad that it seems his party leader does want a part in that.

Almost immediately after Mr Walker made his announcement, the Liberal Democrat leadership announced that Mr Walker would be replaced with another candidate – indicating a willingness to create exactly the situation he wanted to avoid.

Now, local party sources have said all four members approved to stand as MPs have said they will not. And if a candidate is parachuted in by Ms Swinson, they are unlikely to receive any support – and may even be met with negativity.

The decision to replace Mr Walker has created an opportunity for Ms Swinson’s political opponents – and they have seized it:

And this is not the only problem the Liberal Democrats are facing.

Kevin McNamara has withdrawn as candidate for Thurrock after a series of images emerged purporting to show tweets posted by him that included racial and homophobic slurs.

It seems the Liberal Democrat campaign is falling apart, before it has properly got started.

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2 thoughts on “Lib Dem rift as local members refuse to help replace candidate who stood down to stop a Tory win

  1. Thomas

    I applaud Mr Walker’s brave decision, and believe that it should be reciprocated by Labour standing aside in Richmond Park, and maybe a couple of other Tory/ Lib Dem marginals, but Swinson’s follow-up act should be rewarded with a combination of the Labour candidate for East Dunbartonshire standing down and would be Labour vioters there being encouraged to vote SNP instead.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Trouble is that Ms Swinson is a dyed-in-the-wool Tory sympathiser and just wants to get back into Coalition with the Nasty Party. That’s why she was so keen to impose another Lib Dem candidate in Canterbury – to split the Remain vote again and let the Brexiteer in. Crazy, considering her party’s stated position, but what other conclusion can we draw?

Comments are closed.