Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey plans to keep up the pressure on the Conservatives in the “blue wall” across the south of England by selecting candidates three years in advance of the next general election.
Eastbourne will undoubtedly be one of these areas where Josh Babarinde is likely to stand against Caroline.
The party’s shock by-election win in Chesham & Amersham has given it renewed momentum – but it is not clear how they will be able to keep it up, with no more high-profile clashes on the horizon in the coming months.
Sir Ed is adamant that by building from the bottom up, putting grassroots teams in place and starting the process of knocking on doors in traditionally safe Tory seats, the Lib Dems can convince centre-right voters to abandon Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“We’re selecting our candidate, do it early and get them on the doorstep.
“If we get through these selections, which are now going well apace, we’ll have campaigns, we’ll have people who are going out there and knocking on doors, week in week out, listening to people, and the Tory MPs are going to find them getting worried. They’ll start feeling that at the local level but it will feed through to the national level.
“In Chesham & Amersham, people hadn’t had their door knocked. I went there 16 times, and the first few sessions canvassers came back saying, ‘These people have never had their door knocked and they’ve lived here 30, 40 years.’
“Although we’ve listened to people liking Johnson in the red wall, celebrity status and all that, I don’t think it goes down well in these seats. Their values – they’re quite outward looking, quite liberal, patriotic but not nationalist, they’re not convinced by populism, and I honestly had quite a number of doors where people said, ‘I’m not voting Tory again while he’s the leader.’” He concluded: “The blue wall is really game on.”