In what was once a Liberal Democrat-Labour swing seat, Rochdale Lib Dem candidate Andy Kelly has lamented his party’s time in government as the source of a collapsed vote in the constituency.
The Liberal Democrats have seen their popularity plummet since 2010 and the BBC exit poll, published as counts got underway across the country, projected a haul of just ten seats – 47 fewer than the last parliament.
“Absolutely, there’s been a difference from five years ago here. Naturally that’s the response when you have a junior partner in a coalition – there’s no two ways about that,” he said.
“There’s some strange mixed messages with the exit polls. Right now everyone’s just going to say ‘wait and see’.
“For the Lib Dems I think it looks like anywhere between ten and 30 seats this year, which is where we’ve been projected throughout the campaign.”
Kelly countered the claim that his experience on the campaign trail had been hostile, but conceded his party was in re-build mode, not just in Rochdale but across the country.
It was also put to him that Liberal Democrat candidates in certain constituencies received a great deal more support than in others to a greater extent than in other campaigns.
“I’ve found generally on the doorstep people have been really, really welcoming,” he said.
“Over the last five years we’ve had a very bad time on council and we went from being the ruling party to having just one councillor so we’ve got to be realistic about the rebuilding process.
“There were an awful lot of seats that were hotly contested. I think the party has worked very, very hard on the winnable seats, but if we had stretched ourselves evenly across the country we would have lost every seat.”
Image courtesy of Rochdale News, via YouTube, with thanks.