When I was selected for Bristol West, I knew we had a big task ahead. It was daunting stepping into the shoes of Bristol West’s first Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams, but it was a challenge I was excited to take on. This election was to be a key part of our comeback. The team was ready, the literature designed and the message – Stop Brexit. Build a Brighter Future – could not have been more Bristol West if it tried. I anticipate that we would have done very well, perhaps even surprised a few pundits on the way.
However, sometimes there are fights bigger than the ones in which we are personally invested. For a long time, there have been discussions about a ‘Unite to Remain’ alliance; an electoral pact between Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, the Independent Group for Change and other independent Remain MPs. In 2017, a pact helped us to elect Layla Moran and Vince Cable in Oxford West & Abingdon and Twickenham respectively. Just this year, Plaid and the Green Party stood down for Jane Dodds in the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election. Jane defeated the Tory incumbent, but only by 1,400 votes. Because of the Remain Alliance, we had one more crucial vote in our efforts to stop Brexit.
With all negotiations, deals, and pacts, there is give and take. Sometimes that can be personally painful. I first got into politics because I wanted to change it. I believed and continue to believe passionately in a proportional voting system which encourages collaboration and coalitions. After the EU Referendum, I was a founding member of Paddy Ashdown’s More United because I believe in a realignment of progressive politics in our country to defeat the Tories and other illiberal forces. We as a party have vowed to do what we can to fix our broken politics.
As part of our arrangement, we will be standing aside for the Green Party in Bristol West. Whilst I am personally disappointed, I understand that many of our activists and members who have either spent decades and thousands of hours campaigning for us in Bristol West or were excited to get involved here for the first time will be hugely disappointed too. Once again, on behalf of the party, I am sorry.
Our fight does not end here though. Bristol North West, led by Chris Coleman, is a winnable target seat for our party and needs your help over the next few weeks. We are also fighting in key Tory marginals like Thornbury & Yate, North East Somerset, Wells, and Bath. This election will be definitive in choosing the direction of our country. We must fight with everything we have to stop Brexit and build a brighter future.