ALDC’s bumper by-election report – 14 December 2017

A bumper set of by-elections for the last time this year, with 2 on Wednesday and 8 on Thursday. We continued our fine form of recent weeks with another gain off the Conservatives, along with 2 solid holds, ensuring that we finished December with 19.7% (+8.2%) of the vote, standing candidates in 10 of the 12 contests.

A huge thank you to last night’s brilliant team of volunteers who came to 23 New Mount Street in Manchester to make calls at ALDC’s By-election HQ. It’s always good fun with such a lovely team – if you haven’t been yet please come and join our winning team! ALDC’s by-election support and the grants we offer to by-elections are funded through vital fighting fund donations. If you can help us fight in even more wards, please donate here.

Waverley BC, Godalming Central & Ockford Lib Dem gain from Conservative
LD Paul Follows 266 [37.8%; +37.8%]

Con 246 [35.0%; -6.5%]

Lab 151 [21.5%;%]
Grn 40 [5.7%; +5.7%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -15.4%]]
Ind 0 [[0.0%; -17.0%]]

To start off this week we start with a rare Wednesday by-election, and an even rarer Wednesday gain! A big ALDC congratulations to Paul and everyone in Waverley for a standing start triumph, making it 9 gains in 7 weeks. It’s clear that we’ve regained our confidence against the Tories, hopefully leading to a very successful 2018

Exeter BC, Newtown & St Leonards – Labour hold

Lab 1044 [54.6%; +5.0%]

Con 512 [26.8%; +3.3%]
LD Alexandra Newcombe 179 [9.4%; +2.3%]
Grn 137 [7.2%; -4.8%]
UKIP 40 [2.1%; -2.9%]
IfE 0 [[0.0%; -3.0%]

For the other contest on Wednesday, a big thank you to Alexandra Newcombe for flying the flag in Exeter, where each of the big parties saw vote share increases at the expense of the smaller parties.

Torbay UA, Watcombe – Lib Dem hold<

LD Swithin Long 655 [57.5%; +14.4%]
Con 355 [31.1%; +7.9%]
Lab 121 [10.6%; -8.4%]
Grn 9 [0.8%; -5.3%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -8.6%]]

Onto Thursday now, and we welcome Swithin Long into the ranks of Lib Dem councillor with a cast iron hold in Torbay. Like last year it is beginning to be a pattern that we are recovering rather well at the local level in our former South-Western strongholds, a vitally good sign as we continue to fight back across the country as a whole.

Welwyn & Hatfield BC, Handside – Lib Dem hold

LD Siobhan Elam 1105 [52.4%; +16.7%]

Con 691 [32.8%; -9.3%]
Lab 260 [12.3%; -3.5%]
Grn 51 [2.4%; -3.9%]

For our last win of the week, a massive well done to Siobham Elam for a stonking hold in Welwyn & Hatfield, easily holding off the Tory challenge in a seat where they have the other 2 councillors. Siobham won’t have long to celebrate though, as she’s up for re-election in only 5 months time! As a certain American said in response to a “by-election” loss across the pond, it never ends!

Barnsley MB, Rockingham – Labour hold
Lab 938 [66.6%; +15.0%]
Con 272 [19.3%; +10.9%]
LD Paul Nugent 199 [14.1%; +14.1%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -32.5%]]
EDP 0 [[0.0%; -5.0%]]
TUSC 0 [[0.0%; -2.6%]]

Up to Yorkshire and Barnsley for next week’s contest, and a big thank you to Paul Nugent for an excellent performance from a standing start. Interestingly we reckon this is the first time in 10 years that neither the BNP or the EDP have stood a candidate in this ward.

Newcastle-under-Lyme BC, Bradwell – Labour hold

Lab 396 [50.7%; -3.2%]
Con 360 [46.1%; +27.4%]
LD Richard Virr 25 [3.2%; 0.0%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -24.2%]]<

Newcastle-under-Lyme BC, Newchapel – Conservative hold

Con 216 [43.3%; -7.1%]
Lab 197 [39.5%; -10.1%]
Ind 86 [17.2%; +17.2]

Next to two by-elections in Newcastle this week, we thank Richard Burr for flying the flag in Bradwell. Interesting to note the good Conservative performance in this part of the Midlands, mirroring their General Election performance earlier this year. This kind of area is probably where the Tories are outperforming relative to the rest of the country, so we should not assume that even in their 7th year of government they will suffer big losses across the board in the local elections next year.

Salford MB, Langworthy – Labour hold
Lab 601 [58.0%; +8.9%]

Con 183 [17.7%; +11.2%]
LD Jake Overend 125 [12.1%; +12.1%]
Grn 72 [6.9%; +1.0%]
Ind 55 [5.3%; +5.3%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -25.2%]]
Ind 0 [[0.0%; -11.3%]]
TUSC 0 [[0.0%; -1.9%]]

Up to Salford, a big thank you to Jake Overend for a good showing in Langworthy, getting into double-figures percentage from nowhere. Having struggled to field candidates at the local level, it’s pleasing to see the team in Salford back up and running, fielding candidates in every by-election they’ve had for the last couple of years.

Torridge DC, Westward Ho! – Independent gain from Conservative

Ind 321 [46.9%; +46.9%]
Con 128 [18.7%; -21.5%]
UKIP 90 [13.2%; +13.2%]
LD Christopher Potts 63 [9.2%; +9.2%]
Ind 47 [6.9%; +6.9%]
Lab 35 [5.1%; +5.1%]
Ind 0 [[0.0%; -36.1%]]
Grn 0 [[0.0%; -23.7%]]

Now we return to Torridge for the second time in recent weeks, and we thank Christopher Potts for flying the flag. I am informed that Westward Ho! is the only placename in the country with an exclamation mark in its title (no it wasn’t a typo!) and only one of three in the entire world.

Wigan MB, Shevington with Lower Ground – Labour hold

Lab 765 [43.4%; +3.4%]
Shevington Independents 552 [31.3%; +5.0%]
Con 402 [22.8%; +11.5%]
Grn 30 [1.7%; -1.9%]
LD Joshua Hindle 15 [0.9%; +0.9%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -18.9%]]

Finally, we round off 2017 in Wigan where we thank Joshua Hindle for standing in Shevington. Labour saw off a challenge from a local independent group.

For a detailed list of this week’s results please click here. If you would like more information on all the forthcoming by-elections and details on who to contact to help, click here.

With no by-elections until 2018, next week we will be compling a whole of 2017 by-election report for your pre-Christmas entertainment. Thank you for reading and following and we hope to tell you of plenty more Lib Dem successes in 2018. See you then!

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Christopher Clayton 17th Dec '17 - 9:43am

    I know it is the case that ALDC will want to put a positive gloss on these results but apart from the wins (or rather holds) in Torbay and perhaps more impressively Welwyn (not an area of strength) I cannot see much to celebrate here. In areas of Labour strength In the Midlands and north the party’s candidates appear to be making little or no impact. This ought to be a matter of grave concern for all sorts of reasons but particularly because of the Labour Party’ s stance on the crucial European issues and recent evidence of a return to tactics similar to Militant in the 1980s.
    There are no figures on % turnout here, without which these results mean little. It is nevertheless clear that voting figures in most cases are small. Congratulations are generously offered to those willing to “contest” seats simply by flying the party flag? Is this wise, when the level of support is very low. It is hard to believe that such candidates are well known as campaigners or even just residents living or working in the ward whose people and area they seek to represent. Perhaps the party should institute a self-denying ordinance – you do not live or work in the ward, so you shall not stand as a candidate there, because you are unlikely to represent it as well as somebody who does. An incentive to recruit widely within a local government area?

  • Christopher Clayton wrote:

    “In areas of Labour strength In the Midlands and north the party’s candidates appear to be making little or no impact. This ought to be a matter of grave concern for all sorts of reasons”

    Why should it be a matter of grave concern?

    Of the 21 Lib Dem local byelection wins since the General Election, all but one have been in areas of existing or previous Lib Dem strength:

    Surely that is evidence of a sound strategy working? You build your strength first in your already strong areas, then in your previously strong areas, and once you have done that you branch out elsewhere.

    The party lacks the necessary infrastructure to make headway in areas of Labour strength in the Midlands and North. Trying too hard to do that at this stage would divert resources away from areas where a real impact can be made.

  • Nigel Quinton 17th Dec '17 - 2:40pm

    Regarding the Handside by-election – although this is being reported as a HOLD, which it was in the sense that it followed the resignation of our Councillor, it was really a GAIN in the sense that in 2016 we had all outs, the Tories won two of the three seats, and we only won the third by 5 votes. Their share of the vote then was 44% to our 37%. In May of this year I won the county division which includes a labour facing ward with 48% of the vote, and this time we knocked the stuffing out of the Tories, even winning the postal votes count, which we have never before come close to doing.

  • Nigel Quinton 17th Dec '17 - 2:44pm

    Chris Clayton above refers to Welwyn as not being an area of LibDem strength, but in May we returned three county councillors out of 8, equal to the Tories, and knocked Labour into third place in the vote across the Borough. We hope to win more seats in May, so watch this space! It will take time for voters to recognise that we are the more likely challengers to the Tories at national level here, but we are doing what we can by building a strong local Councillor base.

  • suzanne Fletcher 17th Dec '17 - 5:01pm

    The Morning Star had a headline saying Labour was going UP in by election results. I didn’t buy it to find out exactly how, but sounds like an interesting manipulation of the figures.
    maybe that is how they do their budget too

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