ALDC’s by-election report – 3 November 2016

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Yesterday saw ten principal council by-elections across the country with Lib Dem candidates contesting all but one of them.

The highlight of the night was a Town Council win for Steve Hartley in the Woodthorpe ward of Staveley Town Council in Derbyshire.  Steve gained the seat from Labour taking two-thirds of the votes.  This is the latest in a series of fantastic wins for the party in the East Midlands! Three key elements of their recent success are: solid hard work, harnessing the enthusiasm of new members and building a culture of going to help each other across the region.

In Lib Dem run Eastleigh Nicholas Couldrey held a seat in Fair Oak & Horton Heath, increasing the Lib Dem majority from earlier this year.  As usual the Eastleigh team worked their socks off to make sure they won, and some of them are heading to help in Richmond Park this weekend too!

In Gloucester we saw a good 10% swing our way in Longlevens ward.  Linda Castle leapfrogged Labour and UKIP to finish a very strong second, increasing our vote share by 23.7% after a hard fought campaign.

It wasn’t all good news though.  Sadly we lost a seat we were defending in Inverurie & District, Aberdeenshire, to the Tories.  This was partly as a result of how by-elections work in multi-member Scottish seats which are usually fought by STV.  Alison Auld actually increased our share of the vote by 5.1%  In nearby Banff & District the SNP also lost the the Tories, and Alistair Mason increased out vote share by 8.7%.

The other good news of the night is that our Local Parties fielded candidates in Rainham, Medway, and in Gibbonsdown, Vale of Glamorgan, where we didn’t stand last time.  Thanks to Paul Chaplin and Jennifer Gironi for putting yourselves forwards and giving Lib Dem voters someone to vote for.

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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  • paul barker 5th Nov '16 - 1:51pm

    The diversion of resources to Witney & Richmond Park has lowered our performance in Local byelections, probably costing us around 6% in vote share. Thats just temporary but its likely to continue, with Sleaford coming up.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Nov '16 - 3:35pm

    Andy Murray was number two in the world rankings for mens’ singles but has improved.
    There is room for further improvement in doubles, in which he partners his brother in Davis Cup and Olympics.

  • The Burnely result was disappointing, especially as I seem to recall it is not so long ago that we won the seat. Shows there is still much to do easpecially as Labour appear to have stopped their summer rot.

  • paul holmes 6th Nov '16 - 12:11am

    Absolutely right John. Paul Barkers idea that someone directs resources into Council by elections and has now temporarily switched that effort to Parliamentary by elections is very wide of the mark. Chesterfield’s victory in the Staveley by election on Thursday was entirely and completely the result of local effort, expertise and resources as were the 3 recent Council gains in next door Tupton.

    That of course is why this years run of good Council by elections gains has been so patchy. The political climate is much improved and voters are willing to listen to us again but turning that into votes in the ballot box depends on intensive local campaigning. Our capacity for that has been much diminished by the electoral wipe outs of the Coalition years and has to be painfully rebuilt.

    The National Party should have treated 2015/16 as Year Zero and refocussed its (diminished) resources into training, supporting and rebuilding campaign capacity around the country. If it did we have seen no sign of it in the East Midlands.

  • “The Burnely result was disappointing, especially as I seem to recall it is not so long ago that we won the seat.”

    We won it in 2009 (fairly narrowly) but the councillor elected passed away shortly afterwards and there was a by-election on the same day as the 2010 general election which Labour won. There is a substantial asian population in that division and our support in Daneshouse does seem to have substantially declined in recent years (I think for – shall we say – ward specific reasons).

  • Anne Winstanley 6th Nov '16 - 8:39am

    In Eastleigh we also had a contest for Fair Oak Parish Council on same day, same boundaries, but no Tory candidate, and all different candidates for the other parties. Held again with LD, Perry Harwood – 1077, UKIP – 506, Lab – 171. The spare Tory votes split 45% to LD, 40% to UKIP, 8% to Lab & 7% to NV.
    The turnout was 26.6% of which 45% were the postal votes. 65% turnout for the postal votes and 17% on the day.
    Fair Oak has the prospect of 1,000s of new houses in our emerging Local Plan, at both ends of the village, so the result is a good reassurance to the Local Party & Group.

  • paul barker 6th Nov '16 - 9:40am

    Our average performance in Local contests showed a consistent improvement from May to the start of The Witney campaign & has been down since then; I assume that is not just co-incidence. One factor that Local activists may not be aware of is the Phone Bank run by ALDC, that is normally directed at Local byelections but was switched to Witney for that campaign.

  • Gordon Lishman 6th Nov '16 - 10:25am

    The Burnley division was the lowest priority out of 6. We expect to win three with a good chance in two others. As Hywel says, this is the ward with a high Asian population which has a highly organised Labour postal vote which was included in the under 18% turnout.

  • I would like to say a few words about the result in Rainham (Kent):

    Conservative 1448 [61.1%; +9.9%]
    UKIP 389 [16.4%; -5.2%]
    Labour 320 [13.5%; -2.9%]
    LD Paul Chaplin 137 [5.8%; 5.8%]
    Green 61 [2.6%; -5.2%]
    English Democrats [0.6%; +0.6]
    [TUSC [0.0%; -1.9%]]
    Majority: 1059
    Turnout: 24%
    Conservative hold

    Rainham is predominantly working-class and owner-occupied. It is not what we might imagine to be natural Tory territory. Yet the Tories got 61.1% and Labour 13.5% (and the Lib Dems 5.8%). Readers may recall that not so many years ago the Liberal Democrats actually controlled Gillingham Borough Council and Labour held the Parliamentary constituency during the Blair years.

    The drift of the white upper-working-class to the hard populist right is a very worrying phenomenon that needs to be tackled urgently.

  • paul holmes 7th Nov '16 - 1:37pm

    @Paul Barker. As a ‘local campaigner’ and once a national campaigner I am well aware of the role of the small voluntary phone bank organised by ALDC. I have been closely involved in various roles in six of the Council by election victories in the East Midlands since September 2015 and that phone bank helped (knock up) in just one of those.

    In any case a phone bank can only contribute so much. As with social media campaigning it can add to a good Ground campaign but it cannot remotely replace it. If there is not a credible local candidate fighting a strong campaign then we are not in with a chance of winning, which is why the twenty plus Principal Council by election gains this year have mostly been in areas of past strength and why the great majority of this years Council by elections have seen relatively low (although usually increasing) Lib Dem vote shares.

    That’s why I argue that the National Party should be taking a long hard look at how it spends its (decreased) resources and should be putting more into supporting the build up of local campaigning capacity. ALDC for example used to the powerhouse in this area and still does good work with very limited resources. But only around 8% of its income now comes from the National Party.

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