It's been a very successful time for the Liberal Democrats overall, with the local and regional election results being tremendously positive for the Liberal Democrats and showing great dissatisfaction with the Government.
Overall, Liberal Democrats have gained 224 councillors. This is fantastic - and it's important to recognise the different areas where our gains were made. We've gained in places like Kingston-Upon-Thames - but also taking over in Kingston-Upon-Hull. We've gained in Scotland (30% gain in councillors) - but also London. We've not only gained in rural areas but also cities and towns such as Woking and Gosport. We won from both Labour and the Tories - and so it is important to ensure we are not monolithic in our approaches to winning further seats. We have gained 3 more majority councils and taken control of many other areas, including Hull City Council - winning it from Labour.
It reminds us that race equality is not just something we do because it's liberal and the right thing to do, it's also electorally successful.
It reinforces the message that LDCRE has been pushing with different parts of the party - of the need for diversity in our approaches to campaigning, and genuinely reaching out to diverse communities and understanding and involving them in a non-token way into our work. It reminds us that diverse communities are not all the same. We need to reach out and we need better representation where it actually matters. This is acutely important as the cost of living rises and more and more of us are facing increasing challenges under a Government that is indifferent.
We've been working with the Party on improving how we analyse diversity data in our records - and it will be interesting to see how the demographics across the country have changed for how many BAME councillors there are, how many are in places where we are in power, and how many might hold key positions.
In terms of election successes closer to LDCRE itself, congratulations to our Communications Officer, Cllr Anton Georgiou at getting re-elected in Brent (and the team there expanding tripling the number of councillors).
If you are now on a council group that is in control or partial control, get in touch with us and you can talk to our members and supporters about what your plans are for your Council from a race equality perspective. We'd love to hear from you!
Our Vice Chair Roderick Lynch had his feet on the ground during the local elections at grassroots level.
During the lead-up to the local elections he visited numerous places in London to help out, one such place was London Bridge and West Bermondsey Ward. He visited with LDCRE's Chris Annous.
It was clear to see that Cllr William Houngbo and Martina Moh were left alone to fight against the Labour campaign machine that had invested hugely to take the Lib Dem LBWB team out of office.
LBWB were heavily targeted by Labour. Sadiq Khan went twice to support a team that had a former councillor who had been deselected from another ward in the borough.
Southwark Lib Dems were powerless. They have watched all this happening without sending any reinforcements to London Bridge. We suppose it was a case of enough feet on the ground.
LDCRE was sad to learn that the Labour leader in Southwark is saying that Southwark Lib Dem councillors are just a group of '11 white people'. This defeat and the lack of diversity within a constituency that is over 40% BAME is a step no Lib Dem group should be proud of.
Locally Southwark Lib Dem Council Group does not look like the people they wish to represent.
LDCRE will be liaising with new group leader Cllr Victor Chamberlain to see what can be done to increase equality and diversity within the Southwark local party.
Brent, in North West London, was the scene of another Liberal Democrat resurgence last month. Previously Lib Dems ran the council here between 2006 and 2010, but were wiped out completely by the local elections in 2018.
We made a return onto the council in January 2020, following an impressive by-election win by then 25-year-old Anton Georgiou, also an Executive Member of LDCRE. Anton ran a campaign that focused on reaching out to the diverse community in Alperton ward, which is predominantly Gujarati speaking, but has a significant Muslim population too.
Since winning the by-election Anton has been a dedicated councillor for his ward, taking on complex casework, focusing on getting more investment into the area, but also helping on borough-wide campaigns, particularly on securing justice for leaseholders and holding the complacent Labour Council to account. He has often been a sparring partner against the leader of his council who spent considerable time and effort in seeking to boot him out.
In good Lib Dem tradition, the Brent party decided to strictly target in this election. Focusing resource on Alperton ward and neighbouring Sudbury where long-standing former councillor and community champion Paul Lorber was standing. Their small but effective campaigning team was not afraid to take the fight to Labour and in so doing they gained a lot of credibility with residents in their wards who are fed up of being ignored and neglected by Labour councillors.
In Alperton, the team selected was arguably the most diverse slate in London. Anton, a mixed raced, young councillor, alongside Sandria Terrelonge who is of Jamaican heritage and Hannah Matin also mixed race and disabled.
Oh dear, polling day itself was brutal, as it often is in Brent. Labour threw everything at the team, and we were battling against dirty tactics outside polling stations akin to what Rabina Khan and her team faced in Tower Hamlets. I won't go into that here. Reinforcements were surely needed on the day to stop a Labour tide.
In the end, Anton, Hannah and Paul were elected with Sandria missing out by just over 70 votes. More people on the ground could have helped get an extra councillor in Brent. It's a resource thing.
We need to be better at growing our teams early, finding our foot soldiers and training them in areas like Alperton, where Labour have a built-in advantage and where we need to not just do the work of delivering leaflets but work smart to beat Labour at their own game.
We are keenly looking for people with an interest in helping with the fundraising/numbers side, or helping with the membership development or data side. If administration, numbers, members, or data is your thing, please get in touch. No experience needed as we can help with handovers and developing skills if you are interested in a role on the Committee.
We are also continuing to work with HQ on collecting easy exemplar material of campaigns that have gone from zero to success by campaigning successfully in racially inclusive ways, reaching diverse BAME communities. If you want to help us with examples of what has worked in your area, please get in touch with us.
LDCRE have been progressing in our work with HQ. We've been working on how to improve diversity training and fitting in our work with HQ's longer-term work on e-learning and accreditation. In the long run we want to see key party members, local and regional party executives etc being able to easily access training materials and then being able to see the extent of its take-up up and down the country.
Our Chair, Mohsin Khan, sits on the Federal Policy Committee as a directly-elected member. There, he is part of the Equality Monitoring Group and has been working with his other colleagues on the committee and with HQ on how to improve reaching out to diversity SAOs/Party Bodies and other experts and groups so engagement is earlier, more constructive and less of a last-minute rubber stamp. He also sits on the subcommittee to appoint working group members and has been working over the past year with fellow committee members and Policy Unit staff to improve their processes for recruiting members to working groups and improve the diversity. We know that we have much more to do in terms of supporting and building confidence in members so they can get involved and also in ensuring we do not go to the same old faces again and again. We have already seen positive changes in the application process, but work is ongoing. LDCRE will continue to monitor and advise further.
We are also meeting with ALDC in the wake of the local election successes to discuss how we can ensure better representation in the councillor base and better training for councillors and council groups.
We've been asked to highlight that PPC selections are starting for Mole Valley, North Norfolk, City of Chester, Ellesmere Port and Neston, Totnes, and Epsom and Ewell seats. Eastleigh have extended their selection application deadline to 24 June
There's a number of celebratory days and religious festivals in the calendar recently. We've had Eid al-Fitr, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia, on 25 May we had the anniversary of George Floyd's murder. Coming up in June, we have World Refugee Day, Windrush Day, and LGBT Pride Month. We wish you all the best.