ALDC’s by-election report – 14 July 2016

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)The Liberal Democrats enjoyed some fantastic by-election results last night, winning in four of the ten wards which were being contested – congratulations to our new Councillors, Pierre Butikofer in North Norfolk, Chris Auckland in Wiltshire, and Dominic Fairman and Paul Summers in Cornwall! Last night’s results were hailed as “the best night of local elections we have had in a decade” by the party president Sal Brinton, as we took seats off UKIP, the Conservatives and Independents, whilst significantly reducing Labour’s voter share in several areas. In all of our winning wards we saw a massive increase in the Lib Dem vote share, with 40.8% of the electorate voting for Butikofer, 45.9% for Auckland, 44.8% for Fairman, and 57.8% for Summers.

ALDC had a busy Thursday night at our phonebank last night ringing up support for Summers’s ward, and with a 32.9% increase in our voter share in the area, we are so delighted with the result. Having lived in the area for over 30 years, spending most of that time as a teacher in a local school, Paul will make a fantastic addition to the Cornwall Council, using his experience as a former Lib Dem Councillor. Paul is keen to protect the Porth Beach and coastline, address traffic and parking concerns, and bring a new playpark to St Columb minor. 

Whilst we did not win in Islington, we saw an impressive 7.1% increase in our voter share in Corbyn’s home borough, putting us firming in second (whilst Labour held the ward with 51.6% of the vote, representing a 4.1% decrease in their voter share). Our candidate Bradley Hillier-Smith posted on Facebook, stating that he was very proud of the positive campaign fought and that “we raised a half tonne of food and recruited three new volunteers for the local foodbank, increased donations and support for local mental health services, got national media coverage for an anti-racism campaign, and got the local party more active”.

Whilst we are delighted with these results, last night also reminded us of the hard campaign that still needs to be fought by the Liberal Democrats. In two of the remaining wards we saw slight decreases in the Lib Dem vote, of 1.5% in Bradford and 2.5% in Newham (both remaining Labour holds), with a further three not being contested by a Lib Dem candidate (in the Gwynedd and Selby councils). The Lib Dems have put up candidates in the vast majority of by-elections this year, and it is important that we continue to maintain representation in wards across the country. The Lib Dem commentator Mark Pack argues that “a loyal core vote comes in part from people getting the habit of repeatedly voting for the Liberal Democrats – and that requires repeatedly giving them the chance to do so”.

We will be going straight from one Super Thursday to the next, with another ten by-elections taking place next week from wards across the country, including Lancashire, Newark & Sherwood, East Devon, Gwynedd, Hackney, Lewisham, Northampton, Reading and Tandridge.

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.

A big thank you as always to those who come every week to 23 New Mount Street in Manchester to make calls at ALDC’s By-election HQ, funded through fighting fund donations. If you can help us fight in even more wards, please donate here.

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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  • We also took the Trowbridge Town Council seat at the same time as Chris Auckland took the Trowbridge Grove seat on Wiltshire County Council. I guess these are not considered major Councils?

  • We came in a very comfortable second on Stapleford TC. From not putting candidate forward last year

    Stapleford South West
    Lab 36.6% (-10.4%)
    LD 29.7% (+29.7)
    SA 21.8% (-5.4%)
    Con 11.9% (-14%)

    SA = Stapleford Alliance

  • Tony Dawson 15th Jul '16 - 6:04pm

    A remarkable night’s results showing just how desperately different the Lib Dem performance is in the three different sorts of areas.

    (a) Lib Dem survived post-coalition at a reasonable level – mainly conservative-facing) – good prospects
    (b) Lib Dem trundling along at the bottom, worthy increade in a lowinh vote but not much chance of going anywhere at the moment)
    (c) Lib Dem ‘black hole’.

  • Allan Brame 15th Jul '16 - 8:00pm

    @Tony Dawson
    While it would be wonderful to gain 40-50% everywhere, last night’s mixed performance is actually encouraging.
    To gain a modest vote across the country would leave us with virtually no seats, like UKIP. On the other hand, a number of areas of real strength could see us re-building a parliamentary presence.
    Early days yet, but indications that the wilderness years may be coming to an end.

  • Garfield Kennedy 15th Jul '16 - 10:44pm

    The Shepton Mallet win for us was achieved by drawing together a rainbow coalition of parties. We had the support of Labour and independents to keep the Tories from taking the seat. Our canvassing never hid our Lib Dem credentials but we have managed to persuade others from other parties and none that the focus had to be to promote progressive values and deliver a responsibly managed future. This in contrast to a dogma-driven group of backward looking Tories on our Council who have held our town back for many years.

  • @Allan Brame

    ” indications that the wilderness years may be coming to an end.”

    Allan, this is the sort of comment which really worries me. Both Tories and Labour are very unpopular art the moment for different reasons, and my be for some time after Mrs May’s brief honeymoon. Popping a ‘Lib Dem’ vote into the ballot box as a ‘plague on both their houses’ in a seat no Lib Dem is ever going to win is not a difficult thing for people to do and does not reflect particularly upon our Party one way or another. The performance in a really-quite-small number of areas across the country where we have not totally fallen apart is a completely different kettle of fish and is, of course, to be welcomed. This Thursday’s results included a conjunction of several of those areas. Such performances will not, however, restore us to anything like the level of national significance as was the situation in the early 2000s. Our distribution of success is now massively more polarised than it was before which means our ability to ‘develop’ is much weaker than before.

    What concerns me is that the small army of armchair members who thought that they could just sit back and let the coalition do all the work for us (it did, but it went backwards!) might now be lulled into thinking that they can sit back and let Jeremy Corbyn do it for us.

  • Allan Brame 17th Jul '16 - 7:32am

    @Tony Dawson
    Let me assure you that I am not an ‘armchair member ‘. I have been the campaign manager in my local area for forty years and 2015 saw our first ever loss to Labour. We reversed that in May with a 10% swing, giving us an 800 majority.
    I am not naive enough to think that last Thursday’s results herald an inevitable Lib Dem resurgence. You are right that in most parts of the country we are in no position to capitalise on the current divisions in Labour.
    It is a cliché to say that the only votes that count are those in the ballot box and it seems that in some places at least those votes are again being cast for us.
    There is no room for complacency or false optimism, but let’s at least welcome these encouraging signs.

  • Andrew Sosin 17th Jul '16 - 2:38pm

    Galleywood parish Council.

    3 vacancies as a result of resignation of three conservative parish Councillors (also Chelmsford City Councillors).
    Andy Robson , liberal democrat filled one of vacancies. The two others were filled by independents. Nominations uncontested.

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