SOME stirring words and fighting talk now, with a rousing email to Liberal Democrat councillors and unsuccessful candidates from Maajid Nawaz, the parliamentary candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn. In the wake of the near-wipeout in Camden, his message saw him pledge to stick around beyond next year’s general election, insisting that he is here for the ‘long haul’ of getting Lib Dems back in the Town Hall. His own election campaign is described as a “mere stepping stone” for this wider mission, “a fight for our very survival and revival”. He reveals a superquick fund-raising drive to get the ball rolling straightaway and that Labour’s victory had simply “made us hungry”.
And it is all titled: ‘We Shall Fight Them On The Beaches’, the historic lines used by Churchill ahead when a Nazi invasion loomed. Some disconsolate Lib Dem members were said to have been “moved” by the passion in his words and his commitment to the cause, at a time when outsiders were speculating that their high profile candidate might lose the will for the fight after seeing the election swings away from the party.
“There will be a fightback,” local Lib Dems insisted last night.
From: Maajid Nawaz
Date: Sat, May 24, 2014
Subject: We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches
To: Camden Councillors
My dear Liberal friends,
When I was first selected as your candidate, I had little clue how our local party machinery works. I had little appreciation for why you took such pride in your achievements and little understanding for what makes you tick. New to Liberalism, new to party-politics, and new to our local branch, I was an outsider in all respects. An outsider to your friendships, your tactics and your messages.
Over the course of this campaign, I have worked closely with most of you, and have gotten to know, love and respect you all. I have watched, learned and grown as a result of your company. You have enriched me, educated me, and most of all you have humbled me. What I have seen, in your tenacity, your dedication and your self-belief is well and truly admirable.
Compared to the above traits, our defeat yesterday seems less devastating. To stand in loss with principled activists such as you carries with it far more honour than to stand in victory with anyone else. Today, I am proud to call myself a member of the Camden-plus Liberal Democrat party. Keith, you are a hugely admired and respected local leader, so local activism is what we shall return to for your sake. Janet you are the party’s backbone, we will need you to stand and rise again, so the rest of us can stand with you. We cannot do this without you. Nicole, we unanimously selected you on that day you first came in to be our party organiser, and time and again you have exceeded our expectations, proving yourself indispensable. And Erland, you seem to bring a hop, skip and a jump to whatever you do, cheerful and enthusiastic, you are a delight to work with.
I would have written this email to you all earlier, if not for waiting to be able to confirm for you what I have done since yesterday’s sobering news. I am now in a position to do just that.
We are fighting for our very survival and revival as a local party. This is our cause. The task ahead of us reaches beyond 2015. Regardless of next May, the real results will be witnessed in the next local elections. Our aim must be to embed ourselves in every ward until we resurge. 2015 is a mere stepping stone in such a direction, and not the end game, and I am here with you for the long haul.
We fight for the causes we believe in, the principles we cherish and the values we hold dear. We fight for an area of London that we love. This constituency was the first place I returned to after my release form Egypt in 2007, and I have lived here ever since. I for one will not, cannot allow the light of Liberalism to be extinguished in my home, and I know that none of you can either. The Camden-plus Liberal Democrat branch is the only vehicle that will keep this light alive for us, and that is why the task ahead of us now is to invest in resurrecting a strong local party, regardless of the general election.
I am late in writing to you, yes. But I am late because I have been calling around, rallying support for you all, to show you that people still believe in us, that people still admire you. I set myself a target that by the end of next month I would raise £10,000 as proof that we remain hungry for a fight.
Today, and despite the shock of yesterday’s results, and within just 3 hours of asking, I have already managed to raise £8250 for the Camden-plus party, with £1000 already deposited into the Camden account.
This is for you Keith, as our Leader. This is for you Janet, as our Chair. It is for Linda, Jack and James. It is for Virginia, Nancy, Gillian and John. It is for Mark, Nick, Mathew and Tom, and it is for you Bradley, for Lawrence, Rahel, Jill, Paul and everyone else who stood and didn’t stand, and who wants to see us stand again.
Within 3 hours of my asking, this money has come in for a target I had set myself a month to achieve. It has come in because your supporters know and still believe in you all. What remains is that you too continue to believe. Labour do not realise that they have made us hungry. They fail to appreciate the fight we still are able to put up, and they would be fools to underestimate us yet. I look forward to seeing you all tonight at Flick’s, so that we may raise a toast to our solitary champion. The symbol of the start of our party in Camden-plus all those years ago, and the symbol of our revival for the future.
This is for you, Flick.