Liberal Democrats aim to knock down 'blue wall' in the North West

Video report and analysis by ITV Granada Reports political correspondent Andrew Misra.

It is the Liberal Democrats' first autumn conference, in person, since Sir Ed Davey took charge in 2020.

The leader has perhaps become best known for his stunts to celebrate by-election wins, such as in Somerton and Frome.

That victory was one of four seats the Lib Dems have taken from the Conservatives in the past two years.

Westmorland and Lonsdale

Across the north of England, they have a single member of parliament in Tim Farron, who has represented Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005.

Tim Farron has been MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005 Credit: PA

With a general election expected in the next year, the former leader is optimistic about his party's chances.

He said: "It feels like a good time to be a Lib Dem in the north. I see real prospects for the Liberal Democrats making gains at the next election.

"I don't take my own seat for granted, got to work hard and earn the right to serve Westmorland in Westminster."

Farron faces a tough test for two reasons. Firstly, he is defending a majority of less than two thousand votes over the Conservatives.

Secondly, a boundary change at the next election takes in an area of Cumbria that's always been Tory.


Down the M6 - it might not just be the autumn leaves that are about to turn yellow in Cheadle.

The Lib Dems lost the seat to the Conservatives in 2015, but came close to taking it back four years later. They have since become the largest party on Stockport Council.

Tom Morrison is the Lib Dem candidate for Cheadle

Local councillor Tom Morrison is the Lib Dem candidate for Cheadle.

He said: "Cheadle is the northern outpost of the blue wall. In many constituencies, we are the second placed, we are the challengers to the Conservatives and people know that on the door. So they're saying that you are the ones to get rid of the Conservative government so we're getting a lot of support there."

Hazel Grove

In the neighbouring constituency of Hazel Grove, it's a similar story to Cheadle.

The Conservatives were ten points ahead in 2019, but the MP William Wragg is standing down.

Lisa Smart is the Lib Dem candidate for Hazel Grove

Lisa Smart lost to Wragg at the last three general elections, so hopes her luck is about to change.

She said: "We've just seen everything being harder than it should be, ambulances taking longer, people struggling to heat their homes.

People are really really keen for change in a way that is different from last time and I really hope people vote Lib Dem next time."

What about the rest of the North West?

Sir Ed Davey told Granada Reports that the Liberal Democrats have "massive ambition" in the North West and believe they can make progress in the region.

However, the party performed poorly at two recent North West by-elections: in West Lancashire, and Stretford and Urmston.

In both cases the Lib Dems only got 4% of the vote and finished fourth behind the Reform and Green parties respectively.

When asked about that performance, Davey was keen to point to positive local election results in Liverpool, Lancaster and Cumbria - where the Lib Dems took control of the newly formed authority in Westmorland and Furness.

In terms of policy, the Lib Dems' are focussing on health and tackling sewage in rivers.

They are confident of making gains in the North West, but winning over voters won't be easy.

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