Boris Johnson wants to call an early general election.
Since the coalition with the Conservatives following the 2010 election, the Liberal Democrats have been rebuilding. Broken promises by Nick Clegg alienated some loyal voters and it has taken time to rebuild that trust.
But now, the Lib Dems are well-placed to enjoy some success if the Prime Minister calls a snap general election. There has been plenty of talk about a general election – whether that happens before or after the 31 October Brexit deadline.
Here are six reasons why the Lib Dems can be a force under Jo Swinson – if Boris Johnson calls an early general election.
Loss of faith in Tories and Labour
The popularity of the UK’s two main parties has been in decline over the past few years. Traditional Conservative and Labour voters are losing faith with the respective party’s direction.
While the Tories appear to have taken a shift to the right-wing under Boris Johnson and Labour has become more of a left-wing socialist party under Jeremy Corbyn, the Lib Dems offer some sort of centrist ground.
For centre-left or centre-right voters fed up with the leadership of Mr Johnson or Mr Corbyn, the Lib Dems provide an alternative which leans back towards the centre-ground. There are a lot of voters to be had in this part of the political spectrum and the two-party system could be on its way out.
Another major factor behind the decreasing popularity of the two main parties is Brexit. There are lots of dissatisfied voters on both sides of the spectrum. The Tories have failed to deliver Brexit and have still not negotiated a working deal with the EU while Labour’s stance has been ambiguous and their opposition has been weak.
The Liberal Democrats will market themselves as the ‘Pro-Remain’ party. While other parties also support a People’s Vote, the Lib Dems are the strongest. In a similar fashion, pro-Leave Conservative voters could defect to the Brexit Party. This snap general election could almost become a proxy second referendum.
Jo Swinson replaced Vince Cable as Lib Dems leader in July and she represents a new direction for the party. As a 39-year-old woman, Ms Swinson is the embodiment of political change in a generation where people are growing increasingly frustrated with the old guard of Westminster politics.
She is the youngest person ever to become the leader of the Liberal Democrat party. With a new face fronting the project, Ms Swinson could lead the Lib Dems to new heights in a new era.
Since the 2017 election, the Lib Dems have accumulated a number of MPs who have grown dissatisfied with the direction of Labour or the Conservatives. Sarah Wollaston (ex-Tory), Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna (both ex-Labour) have all defected to the Lib Dems via Change UK.
Former Conservative MP Phillip Lee recently crossed the floor in a momentous gesture which meant that the Tories lost their working majority. And Angela Smith has become the latest MP to join the Lib Dems after leaving Labour.
The Tories recently removing 21 ‘rebels’ from the party because they voted against a no-deal Brexit. Some of these MPs might well join the Lib Dems before a new election.
Our membership is surging right this second!
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 11, 2019
The recent surge in people signing up to become members of the Liberal Democrat party highlights the upward trajectory. Many are turning to the Lib Dems ahead of a potential election.
As of September 11, membership soared north of 120,000, according to the party’s official Twitter page. If another general election is called, this figure could potentially climb again.
In the recent local and European elections, the Lib Dems have enjoyed some success. In the 2019 local elections, the Lib Dems gained 10 councils (taking the total tally to 18) while the Tories and Labour suffered losses. The party also gained 706 councillors while the Conservatives lost over 1300.
Then, in the European elections, the Lib Dems returned 16 MEPs (15 more than the previous European elections). This meant the Lib Dems were second only to the Brexit Party and they won more than the Conservatives (four) and Labour (10) combined. Could this be an indicator that success is around the corner in a snap election?