Mark Gitsham says leaderless Lib Dems will leap on Labour’s mistakes

By Rachel Steinberg
December 13 2019, 08:58

The Liberal Democrats will linger like lions in the grass waiting to pounce on Labour.

That was the message Mark Gitsham, the party’s Battersea candidate, emphasised after his third-place finish was announced in Wandsworth Civic Centre.

Marsha De Cordova held the seat she narrowly took from Tory Jane Ellison in 2017.

Mr Gitsham’s 9,150 votes accounted for 15.3% of the constituency’s vote share, a 7.3% gain on the party’s 2017 result.

He said: “We’re in the running for the next time round.

“Marsha is a Remain MP and we will be watching her to make sure she sticks to that for the next. However many years it will be until the next election.”

Whenever that is, both Mr Gitsham and Ms de Cordova will be running under new management.

Jo Swinson quit as the Liberal Democrats’ leader after a major upset saw the Glaswegian losing her Dunbartonshire East constituency to the SNP by 149 votes.

Liberal Democrats 2019 General Election chair James Gurling responded to the news in a statement.

He said: “We wake this morning to a double blow. A Conservative majority government, hell-bent on pushing Brexit through, and the loss of our leader from Parliament.

“There is much we can build on from here and we will be careful to learn the lessons to build the future.

“Britain still needs the Liberal Democrats more than ever.”

Sir Ed Davey, who decisively held his Kingston and Surbiton seat, will become interim party co-leader with party president Baroness Sal Brinton.

The Liberal Democrats plan to elect Ms Swinson’s successor sometime in the new year.

But Mr Gitsham pointed the finger at Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, not Ms Swinson, for causing the landslide Conservative majority.

He said: “Some of that blame falls squarely with Mr Corbyn.

“The far left became un-electable in a lot of places.”

Mr Corbyn announced he would not lead Labour into another election.

Battersea was not one of the seats selected to be part of the Remain Alliance pact in which Liberal Democrat, Greens and Plaid Cymru candidates stood down to prevent splitting the Remain vote.

But it did not matter in the end.

While Green Party candidate Lois Davis finished with 1529 votes—663 more than in 2017—the Greens’ vote share ultimately fell by 1.7% in Battersea.

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