Oldham East & Saddleworth

It’s been a very long few weeks but I’m finally home from the by-election in Oldham East and Saddleworth where Debbie Abrahams held the seat for Labour with a majority of 2,878 votes.

It’s been over 20 years since a governing party took a seat in a by-election from the opposition. It’s very easy to be the opposition (in fact, I frequently miss it!) because you can promise anything, you can point to the flaws of the current system without offering an alternative (Hi, Ed) and you can skip over your own track record.

Add to that the current difficulties we’re facing as a party on the whole. After tackling some very difficult and controversial issues in Government, the media haven’t exactly painted the Liberal Democrats in the best light; and with all those factors considered, it is a real testament to Elwyn and his team that they managed to come as close as they did. It’s a difficult time to be in Government right now and it’s a deep shame that so few see that it was Labour who put us into that position in the first place.

I cannot stress enough how impressed and proud I am of every activist that took part in the campaign. We had such a cold winter in a high area with lots of hills and people still consistently came to help out from all over the country and the core team leading from the HQ could not have worked harder than they did. We fought a perfect campaign and could have done nothing more to get our message out to the people of OE&S.

The biggest loss of all of this is to the people of the constituency who, thanks to a horrific smear campaign from Woolas, have missed out on such an excellent MP. The people of OE&S have been such a friendly bunch to deal with and I sincerely hope that their new MP will work as hard for them as we know Elwyn would have.

It’s not all loss though. Our candidate took a huge risk and put everything he had into getting justice for the people of the area and for our political system as a whole – the example made of Phil Woolas by Elwyn Watkins will never be forgotten and will prove to be a great point in our country’s political history – politicians now know that they will NOT get away with lies and libel, they will NOT win seats with dirty campaigns and they will NOT get away with with using unfair tactics to trick their constituents. For that, we have all to thank Elwyn as he’s secured a better politics for all of us.

On a lighter note, everyone can go home now and get back to warm beds and lie-ins and rest their aching legs. I’ll miss everyone who I’ve worked with on this and wish them the very best. It’s been long and difficult but we can all relax now!

So, Thank You Focus delivery, anyone?


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