19% swing from Labour to Lucy Salek in Lewisham East

Nice when your canvass returns are bang on, isn’t it?

We briefed the media this week that we were on 25% – and that is almost exactly what we delivered. Last year we lost our deposit in Lewisham East. This year we got a quarter of the vote.

Our actual number of votes went up by 2.5 times, too, from 2086 votes last year, although the turnout was less than half. Labour’s vote dropped from 32000 to 11000 and the Tory vote dropped from 11000 to 3000. That vote share bar chart is going to look very good.

And, courtesy of the wonderful Jon Ball making this Facebook post public, we have the Sky News one plus a picture of a very happy looking Alistair Carmichael.

That is a strong result. Well done to the team in Lewisham. To turn this around in a few weeks is incredible.

Vince said that this sends a big message to Jeremy Corbyn:

Lucy Salek and the Liberal Democrats have fought a proud, pro-European campaign and have seen former Labour and Conservative voters switching support and rallying behind our campaign. We have also focused on the issues that matter to the community – and that have been neglected by an overly confident Labour Party – and will continue to do so.

This result sends a message to the Labour leadership that it cannot take pro-European voters for granted.This is the largest swing from Labour to the Liberal Democrats in over a decade and the failure of Labour’s leadership to oppose the Conservatives hard Brexit cannot be hidden or forgotten. The collapse in the Conservatives’ vote is also damning.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up to Theresa May on Brexit. She is making a mess out of it, and we will keep fighting to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal.

The result was as follows:

Labour 11,033
Lucy Salek, Liberal Democrat 5,404
Conservative 3,161
Green 788
Womens Equality Party 506
UKIP 380
For Britain 266
Christian People’s Alliance 168
Monster Raving Loony Party 93
Democrats and Veterans Party 67
Libertarian Party 38
No Description 27
Radical Party 20
Young People’s Party 18

The percentages were:

The local government elections, including the deferred election in Southwark, are counting in the morning.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Peter Martin 15th Jun '18 - 7:28am

    The worrying thing for those of us who are more interested in the success of democracy generally, rather than the fortunes of any one political party, is the very low turn out of 33%. For one reason or another, 2 out of 3 voters didn’t vote.

    I always find it depressing to hear the argument “voting doesn’t change anything”. It’s often followed up by “if it did they’d abolish it”.

    I don’t, incidentally, agree with that. But I can understand why people say it.

  • paul barker 15th Jun '18 - 7:44am

    I see that Labour List,( the Labour equivalent of this site) doesnt have an Article on Lewisham East yet, it is a bit early I suppose.

  • Donald Smith 15th Jun '18 - 8:11am

    Such a low turnout, I’m not sure there is anything we can read into this result. We could only persuade 8 out of every 100 electors to come and vote for us.

    % of electorate voting – Lab 16.7, LDm 8.2, Con 4.8, Green 1.2, Other 2.5

    Three cheers for democracy?

  • John Marriott 15th Jun '18 - 9:57am

    Yes, a good result for the Lib Dems; but, given the low turnout, you could indeed argue, a bad result for democracy. Low turnouts have sadly become a way of life in British Elections at all levels. The old argument used to be that people who didn’t bother to vote were either happy with the way things are or just indifferent. What a contrast from the mile long queues at Polling Stations which were the feature of South Africa’s first ‘free’ Elections, for example.

    I personally would like to make voting compulsory, with an additional box on the ballot paper marked ‘None of the above’. Isn’t that what they do in Oz?

  • Sandra Hammett 15th Jun '18 - 10:09am

    The takeaway? Second place in a strong Remain constituency, so we trimmed the pro EU voters from Labour and the Tories, but people are still sick of austerity and are willing to give the Corbyn cult a try, JC’s heart seems to be in the right place; even if his head isn’t.

  • As a former multiple by-election traveller, who has lost his legs to ill health, I think that the team must be congratulated for what they have achieved – and we all must recognise the limitations of that achievement.

    1) The largely ‘remain’ electorate of Lewisham were clearly not angry enough about the forthcoming Brexit shambles to get them to come out and vote, despite great encouragement from ourselves.
    (2) the by-election being so heavily Brexit-focused, it still leaves the Lib Dems (especially outside of London, where it has hardly been mentioned on/in the news which most people see) with a long way to go in creating a comprehensive useful/interesting ‘corporate image’ with which any substantial proportion of the population might identify. I look at the reports coming out about the gross failures of immigration and welfare policy and ask myself how many of those who are suffering as a result of the gross and in some cases spiteful behaviour of the government could or would look to the Liberal Democrats as their champion.

    We have a long way to go with the media. Even today’s Sky News coverage of the ‘upskirting’ issue had a government minister on to talk about the private member’s bill rather than the sponsor of the Bill. 🙁

    But hey, it’s a LOT better than coming fifth! Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Paul Barker, LabourList’s ‘take’ on the election is subdued:

    “Congratulations to Janet Daby, Lewisham East’s new Labour MP. The local councillor and former deputy mayor of Lewisham won yesterday’s by-election with over 50 per cent of the vote. LabourList has no doubt Daby will be a fantastic advocate for her constituents, with a strongly pro-EU stance to reflect theirs and a background of tackling food poverty in the local area.

    Her win comes as no surprise, which is partly why media coverage has predictably focussed on the gains made by the Lib Dems. As Andrew Teale of Britain Elects points out, most journos are seeing the by-election through “the prism of the two great Westminster imponderables of our time: the future of Brexit and the future of Jeremy Corbyn”.

    The Lib Dem candidate Lucy Salek overtook the Tories to come second, and Vince Cable is very pleased. It’s fair to say Brexit made an impact in this heavily Remain-voting constituency. But the raw figures offer some perspective: Daby gained over 11,000 votes while Salek won 5,404 and the Tories’ Ross Archer 3,161. Turnout was remarkably low at just 33 per cent – down from 69 in June last year – and that tends to hit the Labour vote hardest. Labour’s vote share has dropped from the general election’s 68 per cent to 50 per cent now, which is disappointing, but keep in mind that yesterday’s result for Labour was fairly consistent with pre-2017 outcomes.”

  • Peter Martin 15th Jun '18 - 10:26am

    @ John Marriott,

    Compulsory voting is indeed ‘what they do’ in Australia. I’ve got mixed feelings about that myself. The “liberal” in me says the State shouldn’t force anyone do do anything unnecessarily. Providing at least a dozen or so people turn up at the polling booths then we can always have a enough votes to give us a result.

    They do do the “none of the above” box though. At least I don’t think so. But Aussies being Aussies don’t really need that anyway. They are quite capable of expressing themselves by writing on the ballot paper, in quite colourful language, just what politicians can do to themselves!

  • John Marriott 15th Jun '18 - 10:43am

    @Peter Martin
    Thanks for putting me straight. I still like the idea of that extra box, though. I myself have taken your ‘Australian option’ twice now in PCC elections by writing on my ballot paper ‘Bring back Police Authorities’. I shall do the same the next time they come round!

  • Sue Sutherland 15th Jun '18 - 10:44am

    Well done Lucy and the team. This is a great result for us. I think the low turnout is the result of the sort of democracy that’s operating here. I can’t remember a time when both the leading parties were such a shambles and at the same time claiming to be acting for the people while actually acting for powerful interest groups.
    The Australian solution also sees more minority groups popping up at election time and receiving more votes than they do here. This seems quite dangerous to me.

  • John Marriott 15th Jun '18 - 10:54am

    @Sue Sutherland
    Did you REALLY believe what you are saying in your second paragraph? What’s this about “minority groups popping up”? What do you think the Lib Dems are, then? Pluralism in politics, which I thought the Lib Dems supported, means ALL shades of opinion, from all ends of the political spectrum, being given a chance to express themselves, no matter how unpalatable their views may appear to some. “Dangerous”? Since when was freedom of expression dangerous?

  • To turn a constituency from a lost deposit to a respectable 25% 2nd place is no mean achievement. Congratulations to Lucy Salek and her team on a hard fought campaign overtaking the Conservatives and establishing Libdems as the challenger to Labour in South-East London.

  • Ian Patterson 15th Jun '18 - 1:01pm

    Result from delayed election for London Bridge and Bermondsey West, Southwark. 3 Lib Dem Councillors elected.

  • nvelope2003 15th Jun '18 - 1:01pm

    I do not think we need a “None of the above” box. There are plenty of parties and if you cannot find one that suits you then why not stand yourself ? A £500 deposit is not such a huge sum these days and you can have some fun putting forward your wonderful ideas and canvassing the voters. It might open your eyes to reality instead of the fantasy world many people inhabit.

  • John Marriott 15th Jun '18 - 1:40pm

    Why have that box? Because it pulls the rug from under those who claim that “they are all the same” and therefore may use that argument to object to a possible fine on them being imposed. So, the argument might go, there’s your chance to express your view, which is what being in a democracy is all about. So, put your money where your mouth is!

    The argument about “standing yourself” is quite frankly fatuous. I’ve often heard it used particularly in local elections where candidates are challenged by members of the public. Hubris expresses itself in many forms. Just because we happen to get energised by politics that is no reason why we should assume that everybody does. Vive la différence!

  • I think it was an excellent campaign for the Lib Dems and Lucy Salek fought on local issues such as knife crime and Millwall Football Club as well as the disastrous effects of leaving the EU and how ESF monies benefit so many community projects in this area. I live in neighbouring Greenwich West ward where the Lib Dems came a very strong second in the recent local elections. I think the party is in a much better place now at the social liberal end of the spectrum, more in tune with the voters of Lewisham, than the disastrous neo-liberalism of Clegg and his ilk. The press almost orchestrated a labour win by giving this by election so little coverage and the local press was more obsessed with a far right candidate not turning up to a hustings than the issues that matter. I hope the Greenwich and Lewisham parties work more closely together in the future and that the Party nationally takes heart in future by elections.

  • David Becket 15th Jun '18 - 2:08pm

    Well done to Lucy and team, as well as those from a distance who telephoned or made donations. However this is not a result that heralds a return to a respectable number of MPs. We are not even at our 2010 level in Lewisham East, and only 8% of the total electorate voted for us, hardly a Canadian Liberal type recovery.
    Locally we are still doing well, but nationally we are miles behind. Look at any local leaflet, it will address local issues that matter to people and promotes Lib Dem candidates and positive solutions.
    Where is our national campaign along these lines? Even our Brexit campaign is an extension of project fear, this is the damage to the Irish Border, Trade, NHS, Fruit picking and anything else that could be harmed. Where is the positive message, how we can use our position in the EU to tackle Inequality, poor pay, global rip offs, environmental issues and such like.
    As for our PR, or lack of it, our leadership and Party HQ are not worthy of the activists working hard at local level. Yes the SNP walkout was a stunt, yes it will achieve little in parliament, but how it appealed to the general public who are flocking to the SNP.
    Alistair Carmichael’s turgid response will not be appreciated outside the Westminster bubble. As Bill le Breton said in another thread we need to be competitively more creative than the SNP. (Or the two main parties come to that). We are still living in the days of coalition, our next leader must come from a fresh set of MPs. In the mean time our current leadership needs to be more creative, and less inclined to back the establishment.

  • Innocent Bystander 15th Jun '18 - 2:23pm

    My own thoughts.
    It’s a by election in a safe seat. Nothing is at stake. Voters can vote how they like or not turn up at all. It makes no difference. Voting at a general is a horse of a different colour. And the next one will be between two different ideologies not just shades of the same one.
    I speak as a (soft) Remainer but some Leave voters I know have sworn they will never express their opinion at the ballot box again.

  • It is worth noting that 19% is the biggest swing from a Labour opposition to the Lib Dems (or our predecessors) since 1983.
    The 3 wins in the Southwark seat overnight, notionally a split LD/Lab ward is not insignificant either.

  • As well as London Bridge Ward I see we also won the two Town Council seats at Ross on Wye and Ledbury against strong opposition. . Been a good day.

  • OnceALibDem 15th Jun '18 - 3:26pm

    I’m not sure ‘our canvass results were right’ is the most overwhelming spin. In any case you should poll better than your canvass results 5-7 days out if your campaign has momentum.

    But the party needs to think on this. In a week dominated by Brexit news, and with both major parties in complete disarrary, with polling putting near 75% of people saying Brexit is going badly, with a Lib Dem campaign dominated by Brexit, where Brexit was reported as coming up on the door step ‘time and time again’, and in a constituency that voted 65% remain, the Lib Dems polled well under half that. Approx 27,000 people in Lewisham East voted remain in 2016. Less than 1 in 5 voted Lib Dem.

    Anti-Brexit is the right stance for a whole host of reasons. What it isn’t is a simple route back to popularity for the party and party strategy needs to realise that.

  • As well Lewisham E, the 3 x Southwark result, wins in the 2x Herefordshire Town Council seats. A good day

  • nvelope2003 15th Jun '18 - 4:45pm

    John Marriott: Maybe you consider other people’s views fatuous but perhaps you should think about what that person was trying to say before being rude.
    Whenever I hear people saying they are all the same what they really mean is that they do not agree with the main parties and hold more extreme views. They usually have no idea of the complexity of many issues and put forward simplistic notions which would do more harm than good. There are plenty pf people like that on all internet forums and it is usually impossible to reason with them.

  • John Marriott 15th Jun '18 - 5:52pm

    It depends how you define ‘rude’. I might consider it rude not being prepared to reveal who you actually are! To many people all politicians do seem the same in that many, if not all, often refuse to answer a straight question and rarely acknowledge that they may agree with an ‘opponent’. As for the “complexity of issues”, sometimes a simple solution might be the answer. As for reasoning with those whose views you may find abhorrent, why waste your breath?

  • This is a very good result for the Lib Dems and Lucy Salek who fought an energised positive campaign on local issues including the scourge of knife crime, Millwall football club as well as protecting ESF projects funded by the EU now at risk in the Lewisham such as an excellent Employment support project I have used. There was very little national and local coverage of this by election but the Lib Dems should move forward with confidence in their policies and not just on the EU.

    Living in Greenwich West next door, the Lib Dems came a solid second in the recent local elections and I hope the Lewisham and Greenwich parties work together more closely in any future elections. It’s also good to see candidates now standing at the social liberal end of the spectrum, in tune with the values of the people of Lewisham, rejecting the neo-liberalism promoted by Nick Clegg and his ilk.

  • Michael Meadowcroft 16th Jun '18 - 8:39am

    The Lewisham by-election result is a great recovery from the lost deposit at last year’s general election. Congratulations to all involved. I very much hope that the result is consolidated and built on ready for a further advance at the ever imminent next general election. Other LDV correspondents have pointed out some of the downsides of the result. I would add a further telling – and worrying – comparison: we did not even reach the 28% we polled at the 2010 general election. We have a very long way do.

  • Julian Heather 16th Jun '18 - 10:44am

    Aargh ! I just posted a long and detailed comment about the byelecion, went to post it but got an error message, pointing out that I had failed to fill in my name and email. I pressed the “back key” but my comment had vanished. Any chance that you can retrieve it, and post it ? Thanks in anticipation, and hoping you can !

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