ALDC’s by-election report – 11 January 2018

Since the start of the year there have been 5 by-elections, with 5 more to come in the rest of January. It’s been a quieter start to the year after some stunning gains at the end of 2017, so hopefully we’ll begin to build up some momentum in the run-up to May in short time.

Hertsmere BC, Borehamwood Cowley – 4th January 2018 – Labour gain from Conservative
Lab 709 [59.8%; +3.4%]
Con 381 [32.2%; -11.5%]
UKIP 57 [4.8%; +4.8%]
LD Paul Robinson 20 [1.7%; +1.7%]
Green 18 [1.5%; +1.5%]

Starting off with last week, a big thank you to Paul Robinson to flying the flag in Hertsmere. Although looking like a thumping gain for Labour, in reality Borehamwood Cowley is a seat that Labour has won or topped the poll for at least the last 20 years.

Kent CC, Birchington & Rural – 11th January 2018 – Conservative hold

Con 2534 [56.6%; +6.1%]
Lab 856 [19.1%; 2.9%]
LD Angie Curwen 561 [12.5%; +0.5%]<
UKIP 357 [8.0%; -7.8%]
Grn 169 [3.8%; -1.8%]

Thanet DC, Thanet Villages – 11th January 2018 – Conservative hold
Con 620 [49.3%; +23.4%]
LD Angie Curwen 313 [24.9%; +24.9%]
Lab 206 [16.4%; +5.9%]<
Grn 66 [5.3%; -7.0%]
Ind 52 [4.1%; -22.9%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -24.4%]]

Next to Kent and a double thank you to Angie Curwen for being our candidate at District and County level, with a particularly pleasing second place from a standing start the District by-election. Notable here is no candidate for UKIP in Thanet Villages. Whilst UKIP have repeatedly failed to stand candidates since the General Election, this is particularly notable as UKIP still have minority control of Thanet DC, so for them to not stand a candidate in a council they control shows what kind of state they find themselves in.

Lancashire CC, Wyre Rural Central – 11th January 2018 – Conservative hold<

Con 1745 [60.0%; -10.9%]
Lab 925 [31.8%; +13.9%]
Grn 237 [8.2%; -3.1%]

Wyre BC, Preesall – 11th January 2018 – Conservative hold

Con 930 [55.3%; -9.7%]
Lab 753 [44.7%; +9.7%]

We finish this week by heading up to Lancashire for another two tier by-election double, where the Conservatives comfortably defended both of their seats in Wyre, in spite of a modest Labour increase.

Next week we have 4 by-elections, with a defence in Rochford and 4 Lib Dem candidates to report on! See you next week.

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.

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.

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • I’m sorry to say it, but getting 20 votes as a paper candidate is not “flying the flag” or anything else for that matter. Given no contest anywhere nearby what was the regional party doing during the campaign. It is one thing to be weak – but quite another to advertise weakness by making no effort and by getting 20 votes out of almost 1,200 cast.

  • Chris Bertram 13th Jan '18 - 11:44am

    Just to note that in Preesall there has been no Lib Dem or Liberal candidate since 1976! It’s time that duck was broken.

  • The Lancashire ward where we last stood when Harold Wilson was PM is a good illustration of the patchyness of our support & how far back those problems go.
    The 3 results so far this Year are in line with the support we got in December, on a National Equivalent basis we are on around 22%, up 4% on last May. That gives us grounds for hope of a good performance this May but theres still three & a half Months to go & our Local support has been very volatile over the last Year.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jan '18 - 12:50pm

    Being careful not to repeat what David Cameron said in 2006 “mostly” we could comment on what they said and did themselves.
    The Daily Telegraph film review of 30/12/2017 reported that Nigel Farage
    “tweeted a solemn photograph of himself outside his local cinema one Tuesday evening, along with a hash-tagged endorsement.
    His approval was seized on by some as evidence that Dunkirk (with its account of Brits withdrawing from Europe) was a Brexit analogy, but Nolan dismisses the idea.
    It risks being disrespectful to the people who actually lived through these events to view their lives in purely symbolic terms, as if their only significance is how we use them to interpret today’s world.
    If you are asking me about what I call the resonance of the story, to me it is about European unity, the desperate attempt to keep the French in the war.
    Dunkirk has always been a Rorschach test for people, but I think the confusion we see today between patriotism and nationalism is extremely tricky. I do not believe that we want any political faction to own patriotism, or to own Dunkirk. These are points of national pride.”
    PM Winston Churchill wrote that the French had expected the British to embark our own people, but he insisted that French troops should be embarked on a basis of equality and there were also Poles, ‘Chech’ people etcetera. They were ALL taken off, leaving behind all their equipment, from rifles to tanks. British troops were given 7 days leave with their families. The rearguard at Calais were ordered not to attempt to join the evacuation, but to try to delay the German advance. They should expect to be killed or taken prisoner. Signal-intelligence from German troops trying to advance showed that they met vigorous opposition.
    An acquaintance who has seen this film said that it was shot on a sunny day. WSC reports that it was cloudy and the RAF were above the clouds, outnumbered 3 to 1 by the Luftwaffe but scoring at a rate of three and a half to one.

  • John Marriott 13th Jan '18 - 4:25pm

    Can you please enlighten me as to what Richard Underhill’s comments have to do with Lib Dem ‘success’ in local by elections?

    Just seen the party video on the need to ‘show the flag’ in by elections. I think David Raw’s comments sum up the problem this tactic can cause. A few years ago our local party fielded a paperless candidate in a District Council by election, who failed even to get all the votes of the ten electors, who signed his nomination papers!

  • John Marriott 13th Jan '18 - 4:29pm

    I forgot to add that he got the grand total of nine votes!

  • Chris Bertram 13th Jan '18 - 8:38pm

    @John Marriott : that happened to Lt Cmdr Bill Boakes in a parliamentary by-election at least once. But even so, those 9 votes were votes we’d not have got *at all* with no candidate.

  • John Marriott 13th Jan '18 - 10:11pm

    @Chris Bertram. Bill Boakes, Screaming Lord Sutch….I thought the Lib Dems were supposed to be a serious party. Mind you, with the exception of the Tories, we here in ‘true blue’ Lincolnshire (they currently hold 58 of the 70 seats on the County Council and control six of the seven District Councils) often get ‘candidates’ from the other parties who, quite frankly, would not know what to do if they actually won.

    The last time I successfully stood for election in 2013 I scraped home thanks to the large number of votes taken from the Tories by the UKIP candidate, who, not only did no campaigning; but also, had he won, would have struggled to attend meetings as he lived in an Old People’s Home.

    Does anyone not think that, while giving the electorate a chance to vote Lib Dem by putting forward scores of paperless candidates, we might in one sense be conning them. But I suppose it looks good if a party can claim to be ‘contesting’ most seats when local elections come round.

  • I’m still a believer in the ALDC mantra “always stand a candidate” but perhaps somebody (or indeed some body) should devise a firm code of practice for nominating a candidate for any by-election. It could be something along the lines of “You must tell the region of your intention to nominate (or at worst that you have already done it). There are always people around to help – sometimes from farther afield than you think – if they are aware of a by-election. The simplest way of doubling the vote in derelict territory is to put a leaflet out (yes, 40 is better than 20!). Even a leaflet in part of a ward can make a difference. There are perfectly good reasons for doing nothing beyond nomination in non-target wards in local parties when hard-fought campaigns in targets can rub off in a wider area and standing in every seat lends additional credibility to very serious candidates. But by-elections are different.

  • Christopher Clayton 14th Jan '18 - 11:45am

    I agree very much with what David Raw and Geoff Reid have written but would go further. Nobody should be allowed to stand in the party’s name in a council by-election – (as opposed to a full election – or one third election in the Metropolitan areas- where Geoff Reid’s “spin-off” argument might apply, and even then such candidates should be expected to pull their weight within the seats being targeted) unless they are prepared to do some work on the ground in the form of canvassing personally (at the very least) and leafletting some of the electors. Not to do so is a clear indication to electors that a candidate would not be prepared to do any work if elected as a councillor. That is disrespectful to electors and brings the electoral process into disrepute, which is actually more important than the party’s reputation, which is also clearly harmed and humiliated by such dilettantism.

  • The current Media consensus is that we dont really exist, in terms of National coverage we are often treated as being less important than UKIP. Every time we dont stand in an Election we confirm that image in the Voters minds.
    Even Paper Candidates get us noticed, Voters who thought we had died can see that we are still alive. Of course, if we do stand in a Ward that hasnt seen us in nearly half a Century, we cant expect a great welcome at first.
    Standing in Elections is a start & its always better to begin than to put things off.

  • Surely the only point of standing a paper candidate is to remind people that we exist, and to prime the ground for future elections? This means treating it as an opportunity to talk to the public and to post a few leaflets communicating our values. If there isn’t a plan for even limited promotion, then there seems little point in standing at all.

    National elections are different, because a paper candidate can use at least some of their time more effectively campaigning in target seats, depending on geography.

  • William wallace 14th Jan '18 - 2:26pm

    Just to comment. My daughter’s godmother was “accidentally” elected to The Council in Amersham 20 years ago. “Well, they asked to stand as a paper candidate, but I thought it was a bit cheeky when I had only lived there a couple of years, so I thought at least I ought to go round and introduce myself to people… “. A useful approach for any candidate?

  • “Even voters who had thought we had died can see we are still alive.” Yes, Paul, but even a chicken flaps it’s wings after it’s neck has been pulled, but to get just 9 0r 20 votes is actually a well reported confirmation of an obituary.

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