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Lib Dems hit back at former leader for advising Tories on how to beat the party

20 Mar 2021 4 minutes Read
Lembit Opik and Alison Alexander (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The Liberal Democrats have hit back at the party’s former leader in Wales for advising the Tories on how to defeat them.

Alison Alexander, the party’s Senedd candidate in Montgomeryshire, criticised Lembit Opik, who said the Lib Dems had “become a parody of itself” and suggested that there is “currently no vaccine against stupidity”.

In a response, Alexander, said she does not “recognise the party he criticises” and claimed people who have “fond memories of the good Liberal” would find his comments very sad.

Opik used to be the MP for the same constituency, which was one of the safest seats in the country, before he was defeated by Conservative former Assembly Member Glyn Davies at the 2010 General Election.

He had relationships with weather presenter Siân Lloyd as well as Gabriela Irimia of pop music double-act The Cheeky Girls.

The former MP led the party in Wales between 2001 and 2007 and was once touted as a Lib Dem leadership contender.

Yesterday however he spoke at a ‘How to Stop the Lib Dems with Lembit Öpik’ event organised by the Conservative Party.

He was introduced by former Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, Conservative Member of Parliament for Epsom and Ewell.

Alison Alexander said: “As far as I’m aware Lembit Opik has had nothing to do with the Montgomeryshire or Welsh Liberal Democrats since 2010. The people I campaign with here and across Wales are committed to liberal values of freedom, fairness, inclusiveness.”

“We’re all working hard because we believe in creating a society that works for everyone and protects the least advantaged. I genuinely don’t recognise the party he criticises.

“Many people here have fond memories of the good Liberal and Liberal Democrat MPs and MSs did for the constituency and I think they’ll find his comments very sad.”

‘Worried’ 

She added: “As for the Tories, they should be worried about stopping us. We are rebuilding rapidly, especially in Montgomeryshire and it’s only natural they see their Senedd and council seats under threat.

“Again and again while calling voters I am hearing many wishing for strong liberal voices like Alex Carlisle to be present again, especially as our MP Craig Williams continues to tow his party line without question on issues such as free school meals.”

“With ten years of Tory neglect in Montgomeryshire its more vital now than ever that we have a socially liberal voice standing up for our constituents, willing to fight for jobs and investment, the environment and rural voices who too often feel ignored by both Westminster and Cardiff Bay.”

“Just this week we have seen how vital a liberal voice in Wales is with the Tories draconian attempts to limit the freedom to protest. It is my hope that despite Kirsty Williams standing down we will be able to build on her success and have two Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd members in Powys come May.”

In the promo piece for the event, Lembit Öpik is quoted as being critical of the Liberal Democrats’ path since he lost his seat.

“The party has become a parody of itself,” he says, “and these days the idea of them occupying any position of strategic power should be a source of alarm for those who believe in personal freedom and lament the Lib Dems’ – it must be said ironic – disregard for personal liberty.”

“I gravitate towards common sense and liberty,’ says Lembit Öpik. “Sadly, If the modern day Lib Dem party has its way, there’ll be a deficit of both in Councils, constituencies and the Commons.

“I’m keen to share my thoughts on a cure for this malaise, as there’s currently no vaccine against stupidity.”

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