2021 – the year in review: June

The Chilterns were once covered in forest, if my geography lessons are remembered correctly, which meant that the recycled paper going through doors across Chesham and Amersham was now coming from elsewhere.

And, despite a huge lead in the polls, Conservative MPs were becoming a bit fractious, with a rebellion in the Commons over cuts to the overseas aid budget. The tensions between the new ‘Red Wall Tories’ and the traditionalists were beginning to emerge, and this theme became more and more a talking point as the year went on. William Wallace highlighted some of those tensions.

A week out from polling day, with hundreds of volunteers turning up, it seemed as though the Conservatives were getting worried about Chesham and Amersham. Hell, even the Economist was suggesting that we were at least competitive.

By close of poll, the suggestion was that we might take it. We did, with a huge 25% swing and a majority of 8,028, sending Sarah Green to Westminster to raise the size of the Parliamentary Party in the Commons to twelve. It was, in the face of a supposedly hugely popular governing party, polling in the low forties, a stunning upset but, perhaps, demonstrating that Conservative support was broad yet shallow.

The first impact of the result was the mothballing of proposed reforms to the planning system. They had been unpopular in the Conservative heartlands anyway, and the dramatic axing of consultation didn’t win it much friends, even with those who understood and accepted the need for more new housing. It made the Government look as though they weren’t entirely in control either.

In another sign of “imperial overreach”, One Britain Day, as proposed by the Department of Education, drew fire, not least from Daisy Cooper. Simon Foster explained just what was so wrong with it and, thankfully, the event collapsed under a hail of sarcastic fire before too many people got hurt. It seems that we have no desire to become a banana republic yet.

Matt Hancock bit the dust. The hypocrisy, not the canoodling, should have done for him. That, and the evident conflict of interest involved in giving your lover a job. And, of course, he’ll make an excellent scapegoat at some point if the VIP channel for Conservative donors and supporters is found to have diverted large sums of money towards unqualified chums of senior Conservatives.

And we were edging up in the polls. Yes, from a hideously low base but, by the end of the month, YouGov had us at 10% although the average for the month was little changed.

Conservatives 44%, Labour 31%, Liberal Democrats 8%, Greens 8%

We were winning local government by-elections again, with an excellent win in Chichester, albeit from Labour. The world felt a little more promising…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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One Comment

  • Tristan Ward 30th Dec '21 - 6:28pm

    Nothing wrong with a local council byelection win from Labour. Sounds like good news to me.

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