A SENIOR member of the Lib Dems has told how the ‘spirit and determination’ of members in Portsmouth helped the party’s victory in the Richmond Park by-election.
Lib Dem home affairs chief Alistair Carmichael praised Portsmouth party group leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson and supporters for making the trip to the constituency to drum up support from voters.
It’s not been an easy few years for the party. But Portsmouth came with a determination and inspiration which was quite infectious across the campaign, which had an effect the Tories underestimated.MP Alistair Carmichael
Mr Carmichael, an MP for the Scottish seat of Orkney and Shetland, said their efforts helped ensure Sarah Olney overturned the 23,000 majority commanded by Zac Goldsmith, who quit the Tories in protest over plans to extend Heathrow Airport.
Speaking during a visit to Portsmouth to thank members for their help, Mr Carmichael said the Lib Dems were ‘back in business’.
He added that they were capable of mounting a serious challenge against the Tories in Portsmouth.
Mr Carmichael said: ‘There were some party members here, including Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who were absolutely essential.
‘He made a tremendous impact. We had people from all over the country, but the thing that stood out for me was the spirit Portsmouth members brought to the campaign.
‘It’s not been an easy few years for the party. But Portsmouth came with a determination and inspiration which was quite infectious across the campaign and which had an effect the Tories underestimated.
‘The by-election in Richmond Park has changed the narrative for the party. It’s cemented that the party is now back in business.
‘But does that mean the peopled who voted for us before will automatically come back? Of course it doesn’t.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson, who came second in the 2015 general election to Tory Flick Drummond after getting 9,344 votes, said: ‘In Portsmouth South, Flick was elected with 35 per cent of the vote, the lowest of any MP to win.
‘What Richmond Park showed us is that seat is very vulnerable to us.’