By Chris Osbourne


With Voting in the General Election due to take place in Grimsby in a few days we take a look at the candidates and their chances of success.

Ian Barfield is the candidate for the Liberal Democrats. Barfield is a local councillor and head of the Lib Dems group. He was first elected in 2016 to represent the constituents of Park ward. A local man Ian has been at the heart of a changing party. While only a few years ago the Lib Dems held the majority in the council, they have seen a reduction in their numbers.. As the DUP have done nationally, the Lib Dems have found themselves many times a necessary ally to any party who didn’t quite have a majority, While this has been one of their greatest strengths it has also proved to be a weakness for the changing party. The turning point in their popularity was when led by Nick Clegg, they threw their lot in with David Cameron’s Conservatives in 2010. The alliance saw the party supporting issues that were in direct opposition to many of their own deeply held principles. After campaigning vigorously for no tuition fees it was Clegg who was cruelly trotted out to announce them.


It cost the Lib Dems a lot of their support, and as austerity began to bite they were almost universally vilified for their alleged treachery. The party have worked hard to reinvent themselves and have an exceptional set of local councillors. While attention has been firmly fixed on the national scene Barfield and his team have worked tirelessly on the local scene. This has seen the Lib Dems enjoy a small resurgence locally. As they have traditionally occupied the middle ground between the Tory’s and Labour they have traditionally been viewed as an acceptable alternative.


Under party leader Jo Swinson the Lib Dems have chosen to eschew that middle ground ,and take up a position of advocating that we remain in the EU. With the febrile atmosphere surrounding Brexit, this is viewed by some as a brave move and represents a sea change in Lib Dem philosophy. although this may prove a popular move in some areas it is likely to be less successful in staunch remain areas like Grimsby, With the Tory’s and the Brexit Party advocating the leave option and the Lib Dems fighting in the Remain corner, it is Labour with their somewhat ambiguous position on Brexit who hold the middle ground. Taking up a polarised position may attract Remain voters, but they are in short supply in Grimsby. The Lib Dems are also campaigning heavily on Climate change, a massive issue but one that is already covered extensively by the Green Party. None of this bodes well for Ian’s chances in the election. The hard work they have put in locally may be rewarded with votes, particularly in the East Marsh and Park areas, but it may not be enough to figure significantly in the Election.


The Lib Dems are a party in change and their best hopes of election success lie in local elections where Barfield and his team have proven ability and popularity. No one knows what the next few years will bring and with the country in a state of flux, the Lib Dems may prove to be popular choice next time round.




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