The party faithful feel conned by coalition

It was a big fight by the Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd to wrest Eastbourne from the Tories. Now, voters are furious

It's been a lively week at the Liberal Democrat headquarters in the serene south-coast town of Eastbourne. New MP Stephen Lloyd is still full of smiles as he jovially passes around a bowl of sweets. This should, after all, be celebration time in the pokey office on Seaside Road. Yet something is not right. After all their efforts, many of the town's Lib Dem voters feel they have been conned, sold down the river in the deal that saw their leader around David Cameron's cabinet table last week.

For two decades, this Sussex seaside town has been ruled by its former MP, Tory Nigel Waterson, whom Lloyd ousted by 3,435 votes. "I was exhausted, and I am still a bit tired, but very excited," Lloyd insists.

The enthusiasm is not so keenly felt outside these four walls, where an acrimonious yellow-blue poster war reached a confused finale. Volunteers manning the phones at Seaside Road admit that it's not just been congratulation messages that have been coming in since the general election.

"That first day we had a lot of calls," said Beryl Teso, a Lib Dem activist for more than two decades who was part of Mr Lloyd's campaign team. "People were really upset. We stopped recording the calls as there were so many. They were saying: "'We hate you because you've sided with the Tories.'" She said she had got used to the idea as the negotiations had gone on, and that the final agreement was for the good of the country.

It's a particularly hard sell in areas such as this where canvassers gave up hours of their time, intent on hindering David Cameron's path to Downing Street rather than facilitating it.

Other Lib Dem MPs have also found themselves fire-fighting. Lynne Featherstone in Hornsey & Wood Green blogged that she had "lots of emails against coalition with the Tories". Lorely Burt in Solihull similarly said yesterday that two-thirds of 800 emails she has received have been disparaging about the national deal. And although the party says there have been few deserters, activists with clout in local campaigns have made a show of their departures. Alex Kear, chairman of the Lib Dem branch in Worcester, is among the disillusioned who have walked away.

In Eastbourne, people who voted for the Lib Dems for the first time are annoyed. "I wouldn't describe myself as a natural Lib Dem voter," said Mike, a youth worker who plumped for Mr Lloyd after accepting Labour had no chance in what had been a Tory heartland. "I'm very disappointed – it's not what I was hoping for when I voted Lib Dem. I certainly won't be voting for them again and I would say to them: 'You've made a big mistake.' I feel I've been naive – it was stupid to think they wouldn't go into a coalition."

Mark Waterman, deputy manager of a Mind charity shop in the town centre, had also previously voted Labour, but this time around went yellow to get rid of the Tories. "I'm a bit annoyed about it really," the 40-year-old said. "It's good from the point of view that it brings the Lib Dems in, but if they're in coalition with the Tories it lessens the impact of them winning here – it doesn't give them the gravitas of being independent."

Colin Buttle, 56, a former teacher, said he was "appalled at the outcome". Both he and his wife Kathryn say they are natural Labour voters, but threw their weight behind Mr Lloyd to block the Tories. "I can't understand how the Conservatives can suddenly, on a whim, say they're going to do proportional representation and electoral reform. It was this huge gap and now they're best buddies."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments