ALDC’s by-election report 30 November 2017: A great night of by-elections

This local politics malarkey is all too easy, isn’t it? A full house of Lib Dem wins in the 4 by-elections across the South of England has us all cheerful as we head into the festive season, and provides us with a some inspiration for what we can achieve in 2018! Last night leaves us with a vote share of 25.3% (+12.0%) across November, with a total of 9 seats (2 holds, 7 gains, 0 losses).

Tandridge DC, Westway – Lib Dem hold
LD Helen Rujbally 483 [53.5%; +17.5%]
Con 239 [26.5%; -2.5%]
Lab 118 [13.1%; -2.8%]
UKIP 62 [6.9%; -12.2%]
Starting off with a brilliant hold, congratulations to Helen and everyone in Westway. This seat is normally a pretty tough fight between us and the Tories so to hold it with an absolute majority is a real testament to the campaign team in Tandridge. Very interesting to note is that the collapse in UKIP vote didn’t benefit the Tories at all here, which does seem to be the case in local elections recently. Certainly the UKIP vote seems to be quite willing to switch to us locally if we campaign effectively, leaving our prognosis looking evermore hopeful for next year!

Maidstone BC, North – Lib Dem gain from Conservative
LD Rob Field 719 [51.4%; +8.4%]
Con 364 [26.0%; +2.1%]
Lab 270 [19.3%; +6.1%]
Grn 47 [3.4%; -0.1%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -16.8%]]
Next to a reliable Lib Dem seat that we lent to the Tories in 2015, well done to Rob and the team in Maidstone. This result continues the fine record of success in the Borough Council and leaves us as the biggest party, with 23 councillors to the Tories’ 22, hopefully leading us to push on from leading with a minority and into overall control in 2018!
Gosport BC, Bridgemary North Ward – Lib Dem gain from Labour
LD Stephen Hammond 644 [58.0%; +58.0%]
Lab 255 [23.0%; -49.0%]
Con 213 [19.1%; -8.9%]
To the first of our “from nowhere” gains of the week, massive congratulions to Stephen and everyone in Gosport. I have it on good authority that the campaign put out a forest’s worth of literature and it clearly paid dividends in a seat where we had never even stood a candidate and that Labour had won every time. If this one doesn’t show you all the merits of standing candidates then I don’t know what will!
Torridge DC, Torrington – Lib Dem gain from UKIP
LD Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin 701 [60.2%; +60.2%]
Ind 180 [15.5%; +15.5%]
Con 159 [13.6%; -6.0%]
Grn 76 [6.5%; -15.9%]
UKIP 49 [4.2%; -16.8%]
Lab 0 [[0.0%; -12.4%]]
Ind 0 [[0.0%; -24.6%]]
Finally we head down to Torrington, scene of the first Liberal by-election gain for 29 years in 1958, signalling the start of the long Liberal revival across the nation, and perhaps one of the most politically diverse seats in the country, where in 2015 the ward returned 1 Independent, 1 Green and 1 UKIP councillor (told you it was diverse!). Congratulations to Cheryl and the team in Torridge, winning from a standing start and giving us a full set for the week!
Next week we have a mere 2 by-elections. but with a chance of another gain in North Devon (and a chance at toppling the Conservative council in the process!). See you all next week.

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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  • paul barker 1st Dec '17 - 9:15pm

    Its worth noting that in Novembers conrests we got more votes than Labour.

  • nigel hunter 1st Dec '17 - 10:34pm

    we have been here before. Winning elections getting over cocky and then in the May elections and onward’s getting trounced. Winning the voters hearts and minds is important. We have to spell out the reasons why we are better off in the EU and sell our local and national policies.

  • And the turnout was more than ten per cent?

  • nigel hunter 2nd Dec '17 - 9:35am

    We must remember that after the campaigns to go round and thank the volunteers for their efforts and see if they would help by delivering a leaflet round a street or more near where they live etc. When our supporters need a little help, say do some shopping or help with form filling out and invite them to social gatherings meetings etc. to make the local organisation a social group of all ages. Keep in contact with them.

  • nigel,

    We got squeezed between two blocks in the general election. Due to the timing of the GE it effectively made the May local ones just part of that process. Now we could be in a GE election campaign again come May but if we are not the squeeze will be much reduced and as the last time the seats where up was 2014 it would be hard to do worse.

  • David Raw – Yes: The simple mean of the turnouts appears to have been in the order of 27%. With rolling voter registration the total electorate is not finalised until a couple of weeks before poling day. It would be good if those who report to ALDC included the official turnout figures.

  • Tony Dawson 2nd Dec '17 - 11:57am

    Great results by great local teams. But the idea that it has any national representation is as ludicrous as applying the same analysis to the results from weeks when Lib Dems get nowhere in local by-elections.

    One swallow does not a winter make!

  • We also took a Town Council seat off the Tories on the worst night of the year.
    Neil Cook 213
    Labour 156
    UKIP 149

    This is the second seat on the Town Council we have won this month.
    The same day as this by-election 2 non-Lib Dem Cllr’s resigned.
    Elections or co-options in the New Year.

  • @ David Dobbie Turnouts of 9% and 10.1% don’t exactly signify a massive mood swing of enthusiasm for the Liberal Democrats amongst the electorate – although I wish the newly elected Councillors well in their new responsibilities.

    One presumes, however, that those elected did bother to canvass and campaign compared with ‘paper’ candidates who don’t treat the electorate with respect.

  • What appears to be ignored in the self congratulation is the fact that those committed to a party that polls 7% nationally are the ‘die hards and, as such, are far more likely to turn out to vote…
    Low turn-outs ( of 9% and 10.1%) will show a disproportionate result…We should be pleased with our wins but we should expect to win in such areas and not read too much regarding our national standing…

  • nvelope2003 4th Dec '17 - 10:10am

    expats: Some recent polls give the Liberal Democrats 9% with slight increases for the Greens and even UKIP and slight falls for Labour and Conservative – maybe the two party system is not quite so popular now as the faults begin to show

  • Andrew Sosin 4th Dec '17 - 12:14pm

    Something awry with percentage movements for Maidstone . 51.4% less 8.4 percentage points would still be largest vote?

  • Peter Chegwyn 4th Dec '17 - 4:03pm

    I’m puzzled by the comments on low turnouts. The turnout in the Gosport gain from Labour was 32%, almost exactly the same as when the ward was last fought (with no Lib. Dem. candidate) in May 2016. The fact that as many people turned-out on a cold, dark late November night suggests a high degree of enthusiasm to vote for a hard-working Lib. Dem. who took a third of the previous Tory vote and two-thirds of the previous Labour vote. Turnouts in local by-elections won by the Lib. Dems. throughout the autumn have generally been pretty good.

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