The Liberal Democrats are to adopt a unified borough organisation, according to proposals agreed by the executives of Battersea and Tooting Liberal Democrats and Putney Liberal Democrats in October. These proposals will be put to members at a joint AGM on 24 November 2016.
When the Liberal Democrats were formed from the merger of the Liberal Party and the SDP in 1988, each of Wandsworth's three parliamentary constituencies had its own local party. The Battersea and Tooting parties merged shortly after, as membership at the time was weak, especially in Battersea. Membership now is at record levels, with over 750 across the borough. This follows dramatic growth locally after the general election of 2015 and the EU referendum earlier this year. However, changes to the way constituency boundaries are determined mean that it is more appropriate to organise on a borough basis.
"We want to work on success in local government elections first, as a basis for building support in parliamentary elections," says Putney Chair Godfrey Shocket, "so focusing on the borough makes sense, as well as being a better use of volunteer time."
"It was first proposed to merge the parties in the 1990s, but it was never considered a priority. However most local parties in London now work on a borough basis, including neighbouring Richmond and Merton, so now is a good moment to make the change," says Matthew Green, Chair of Battersea and Tooting Liberal Democrats.
"Our recent membership surge shows that there are many party supporters here in Wandsworth who are badly served by the Conservative and Labour parties. This is a good base from which the merged party can build," adds Matthew.
More details on the merger for members are here.