#WolmarforRichmond: Liberal Democrats are no champions of the anti-Tory vote

The LibDems are a very confused bunch. They bombard my Twitter feed with demands that I should stand down, something that is completely ridiculous since I couldn’t legally even if I wanted to, which I certainly do not.

If anything, watching their complete inability to put together a coherent campaign, given the inexperience of their candidate and her unfortunate blogs, has strengthened my view that it would have been crazy for Labour to leave the anti-Tory, anti-Brexit cause in her hands.

Now, just to add to their incoherence, I have been told from two sources that the LibDems are delighted that I am standing. Sarah Olney told Dave Hill of the Guardian that if we had not stood, the LibDems would be tainted by the association with Jeremy Corbyn and that would have damaged their cause.

I was rather incredulous that this was being put forward as a serious argument until the next day I bumped into the former leader of the local LibDems who proceeded to set out the same notion. ‘We are really pleased that you are standing’, he said to me in all seriousness. ‘So am I’, I replied.

The implication of this is that the LibDems are not interested in our votes. One could ask why they were so delighted that other parties withdrew from the election, including the Greens who are also in disarray as many of their members are furious that they are being asked to support the LibDems rather than Labour.

All in all, this shows the confusion over the idea of a Progressive Alliance. Encompassing views that would stretch from the Greens, taking in Labour and the Lib Dems, would undoubtedly result in splits and divisions. The memory of the Lib Dems in coalition with the Tories, pushing through policies such as the Bedroom Tax and cuts in welfare payments to people with disabilities, is still far too recent to consider such a plan.

All this and more will be debated in the hustings on Tuesday, 19.30 at Duke Street Church in Richmond to hear the candidates set out their stall and answer questions. It should be a good old fashioned Question Time style debate.

Christian Wolmar

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