Liberal Democrat membership in Hackney has increased by more than 400 percent, thanks in part to their strong anti-Brexit stance, following a record low of 138 members in 2015.
“Hackney divisively rejected Brexit at the referendum is 2016, with 78 percent of people voting to stay in the EU,” Hackney Lib Dem vice-chair Darren Martin told East London Lines about the party’s surge to over 700 members,
“Unfortunately Labour’s position has been anything but decisive, as they have consistently voted with the Tories to make a hard Brexit happen.
“We are the ‘Remain’ party and our position is very clear. That has led many people in Hackney to leave Labour and join us.”
The membership rise comes at the end of a difficult period for the Liberal Democrats, both in and out of Hackney. In the most recent council elections in 2014, Hackney Lib Dems won just three of 57 seats, while 50 went to Labour and four to the Conservatives.
This was followed by a tragic national performance in the 2015 general election. A night then leader Nick Clegg called “cruel and punishing”, saw 47 of 55 Lib Dems lose their seats in the House of Commons, leaving the party with just one representative in London.
Following their membership surge, Hackney Lib Dems have higher hopes for the 2018 council elections. Martin told ELL: “We are looking forward to the local elections in May”. The vice-chairman has said he hopes the party will manage to “break the Labour majority that is bad for the borough.”
In December, the party unanimously selected Pauline Pearce as their mayoral candidate ahead of the 2018 race, which will be held on May 3.
Pearce is locally known as the ‘Hackney Heroine’, since she was filmed facing off with rioters in 2011, “giving them a piece of her mind” while walking home to her Pembury Estate flat.
Pearce hopes the Lib Dem’s recent success will help her to “end Labour’s monopoly in Hackney, and give everyone the voice they deserve”.