ALDC by-election report, 6th January 2023

A bite-sized start to by-elections in 2023, with just two taking place. In Uttlesford, Essex, the Conservatives took victory over localist Residents for Uttlesford, beating them 375 to 238. Lorraine Flawn of the Lib Dems achieved 88 votes, where no Lib Dem stood last time! Excellent news, and congrats to Lorraine and the Uttlesford Lib Dems.

Over in Cannock Chase, Labour edged the Conservatives by the cursed 52-48 margin, a testament to the binary systems of British politics. Labour and the Conservatives were helped – or were they hindered? – by a lack of third parties, with Greens, Independents and the Lib Dems choosing not to field candidates. Once a Lib Dem stronghold, we know not how we would have fared in disrupting the two-party system. Full results below:

Great Dunmow South & Barnston, Uttlesford DC

Conservative: 375 (46.0%, +16.7%)
Residents for Uttlesford: 238 (29.2%, -27.2%)
Labour: 115 (14.1%, +2.0%)
Liberal Democrat (Lorraine Flawn): 88 (10.8%, +10.%)

Conservative GAIN from Residents for Uttlesford


Etching Hill and The Heath, Cannock Chase DC

Labour: 422 (52.3%, +17.0%)
Conservative: 385 (47.7%, -0.3%)

No IND (-9.9%) or GRN (-6.8%) as previous.

No Lib Dem candidate.

Labour GAIN from Conservative

* Alan Good is a councillor on Manchester City Council and the Campaigns and Communications Intern working with ALDC.

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  • Paul Barker 6th Jan '23 - 12:37pm

    On the wider Polling front the only significant shift is that The Tories are now averaging around 24% to 25%, a step down from the plateau they have been on since Truss went.
    Some of those Voters seem to have gone to Refuk which will probably encourage the Anti-Sunak factions on The Conservative backbenches.

  • Mel Borthwaite 6th Jan '23 - 1:33pm

    I find it incredible that despite everything going on in the country just now, Electoral Calculus is projecting the Liberal Democrats to win only 16 MPs with just 8.8% of the vote. What does the party have to do to be taken more seriously?

  • Mick Taylor 6th Jan '23 - 4:42pm

    Mel makes a very valid point. We could have a wholly different agenda; Closer ties with the EU; electoral reform and constitutional change; a modern system of industrial relations that rewards people properly and pays them not to strike; An education system that teaches what people need in the modern world; a social care system that is properly funded and looks after people in need; a proper living wage and decent pensions in old age; an NHS that focuses on prevention of illness and getting people out of hospital without undue delay; A ruthless focus on getting to net zero and ending wasteful consumption
    Yet our leadership vacillates, afraid it might offend a few Tories in seats we could win but probably won’t because we have nothing distinctive to say. We need to be radical and bold and offer the UK something different, not a watered down version of what the other parties offer.
    The last time we started making significant advances, in 1997, we had something to say and people voted for us to help get rid of the Tories. In 2005 they voted for us because of our principled stand on the Iraq war.
    When will our leadership start speaking out?

  • Paul Barker 6th Jan '23 - 4:51pm

    The thing that will make the crucial difference is Tactical Voting, if it happens on the same scale as 1997 it could give us an extra 20 MPs on top of the ones predicted by sites like Electoral Calculus. Labour would also gain around 30 extra Seats.
    The evidence for Anti-Tory feeling is pretty strong so we have real cause to hope.

  • Ian Patterson 6th Jan '23 - 5:42pm

    It should be noted that a) the Tories gained a seat yesterday in Essex and b) their vote barely changed in Staffordshire. The lack of previously standing candidates in Cannock contributed to Labour’s gain there. We apparently had the Cannock seat until the Coalition period. As previously asked how many moribund branches do we have, especially relevant in run up to next GE?

  • Jason Connor 6th Jan '23 - 6:02pm

    It should not be down to tactical voting but people wanting to vote for the party and what is stands for. This is not coming across from the leadership and MPs hence the stagnant opinion polls.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Jan '23 - 7:11pm

    The result in Uttlesford can probably be put down to local factors. Residents for Uttlesford lost about 1/3 of their previous vote, and all other candidates gained to some extent. Looks like a Lib Dem stood where there wasn’t one before. Anyway there’s virtually nothing that you can read into this sort of local by-election result as far as national politics is concerned.

  • The Uttlesford ward was held (on slightly different boundaries) by us until 2011.
    Similar background to the Cannock Chase ward.
    Worrying that we are moribund in so many places that used to be safe wards.

  • Gerald Francis 7th Jan '23 - 11:10am

    Lack of being taken seriously is not just about policies or leadership. It is more about being the forth party in terms of MPs, which goes back to the damage of the coalition years.

  • Paul Barker 7th Jan '23 - 12:51pm

    Parties generally take 13 to 15 Years to recover from a really bad defeat & for us 2015 was very bad indeed. We are not going to make a full recovery till the end of the Decade & there no Silver Bullets.
    Having said all that, our Vote share usually goes up during Election Campaigns as some of the Media are legally bound to admit that we exist. I expect more than half our MPs to come from Tactical Voting, Voting against The Tories rather than specifically For Libdems. That seems fair enough to me, any choice is as much about what you don’t want as its about what you do want.

  • Mel Borthwaite 7th Jan '23 - 1:33pm

    @Paul Barker
    I think your comment about it taking 13 to 15 years for a party to recover from a bad election is true if we are considering one of the two major parties in a First Past the Post electoral system. I’m not sure that claim applies to 3rd or other political parties. Third parties have to build up a reason to exist over time and if they lose that there is no guarantee that they will ever recover. The decision to back the Tories in government in 2010 will always be cast up in future elections and is likely to deter potential anti-Tory tactical voters from considering supporting the party in future. Even signing a pledge to ‘never support the Tories in government’ would not convince in light of the absolute pledge on tuition fees that was betrayed after the 2010 election. So, I believe that the Liberal Democrats will only grow in future if it can carve out a distinct reason to exist, beyond just having marginally different policy offers. I would like it to focus on changing our broken system country by standing for really radical constitutional and economic reform.

  • By election now pending in heart of StIves constituency. Con won seat with 36pc with us second on 23pc. Something to keep us busy.

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