ALDC’s By-Election Report – 6 February 2014

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)There were four principal by-elections last Thursday. The Liberal Democrats received disappointing results in the two by-elections they stood candidates in.

There were two by-elections in Clacton-on-Sea. In Peter Bruff ward, Tendring DC the Conservatives held onto the seat with 38.1% of the vote following the death of their councillor. Just 72 votes separated second and fourth place. Labour saw a very small rise in their vote coming second with 25.3% of the vote, UKIP did not stand in 2011 but came third on 21.5% and Liberal Democrat candidate John Candler came fourth with 15.2% of the vote.  The Liberal Democrats were just 48 votes from gaining a seat in the ward in May 2011 but last Thursday were still only 163 votes behind the winning Tory candidate. In St John’s ward, Tendring DC the former Conservative council leader Peter Halliday resigned in December brandishing local Conservatives as “deceiving, lying individuals”. However the Conservatives still managed to hold onto the seat with 44% of the vote. Labour on 28.6% were just ahead of UKIP on 21.8%.

In Sheffield, Labour comfortably retained their safe seat in Arbourthorne ward on 52.2% but their vote was down 10% on May 2012. UKIP were runners up with 18% of the vote seeing a 3.3% rise. Sue Ross for the Liberal Democrats came fifth of eight with 6%.

In Conwy UA an Independent candidate successfully maintained Betws Yn Rhos for the Independents with 347 votes (46%), gaining a majority of 150 over second place Plaid Cymru. A second Independent candidate came third with 16.8% and the Conservatives who did not stand in May 2012 came last with 11%.

On a brighter note we congratulate Liberal Democrat Richard Shrimpton who gained a seat from the Independents on Rawcliffe Parish Council in an unopposed election.

For all the detailed results see the ALDC elections page

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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  • The evidence is there from the failures to put up candidates and the derisory results where brave people have stood as Liberal Democrats. Clegg is killing the party. On Monday he could only get 4 Liberal Democrat MPs to vote for his pulblic stance against protecting children in cars. In his city of Sheffield the party can only manage 5th place. What a start to the 100 days to the local and MEP elections.

  • “Clegg is killing the party”

    No he is not and anyway, which Titan of Liberal Democracy are you going to replace him with?

    I don’t expect you have any answer to that. Better just to moan and talk in generalities about how awful things are, isn’t it? After all, we’ve got to have someone to blame for everything, haven’t we?

  • FormerLibDem 12th Feb '14 - 6:21pm

    RC – I know you are passionate about the Party but your aggressive responses to posters who do not share your opinions do you no credit. Let’s keep LDV lively but civil.

  • Paul Pettinger 12th Feb '14 - 7:10pm

    Hushing up the breakdown of deputy leader votes; giving out free memberships to inflate the figures and now down to 10% with ICM. Nick Clegg has had the most successful political career of any living Liberal Democrat – a pretty proud achievement to dine out on for life – but things will be much much more painful if we go to the electorate in 2015 with him still as leader. June would be a good time for him to stand down and do a ‘Ming Campbell’.

  • The Sunday Times published a tally of council by-elections the other week:

    “Analysis by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher for The Sunday Times shows how strong UKIP has become. The professors at Plymouth University Elections Centre have recalibrated their celebrated analysis of more than 100,000 votes cast in council by-elections and now put UKIP in third place in their latest national forecast: Labour 34%, Tories 28%, UKIP 17%, Lib Dems 13%.

    Since last year’s council elections, UKIP has taken 10 seats from the Conservatives and two each from Labour and the Lib Dems. In places where it stands, UKIP takes an average 22% of the vote compared with 15% for the Lib Dems.”

  • paul barker 12th Feb '14 - 8:13pm

    Members who beleive we would be doing better under a different Leader could begin the process of getting a new vote but they dont, presumably because they know they would get little support. The effect of constantly trying to undermine the Leadership is to demoralise the wider membership. One result is our failure to stand candidates. Its not as if either side have anything new to say, we just get the same arguments repeated.
    On the Collings & Thrasher figures, they sound reasonable to me. In all Elections except Westminster & Holyrood, Governing Parties are punished & the minority who vote often vote for Protest/Fringe groups. That tells us very little about General Elections when Voters get serious.

  • “One result is our failure to stand candidates.”

    You’re seriously suggesting that the reason the party isn’t standing candidates in local by-elections is because some party members are criticising Nick Clegg? Whatever next?

  • Jack McKenna 12th Feb '14 - 10:42pm

    Nick Clegg is easily the best communicator out of the other three party leaders. We’d be barking mad to get shot of him year out of the election. The electorate would be damning as they’d see the Lib Dems as a party of inner-looking career politicians who simply want to limp on and keep their cushy job in Westminster. Many people will already agree with that last sentence, but if we get rid of Nick before 2015 that number will balloon.

  • A minus 59% public approval rating for Clegg indicates that if he is communicating with the public they don’t like what he’s saying. If he cared about the Party he would go.

  • When, if someone comes up with a viable plan to restore our position in the polls I’ll listen to it: not necessarily vote for it, but at least listen. So far nothing but bleating, probably from people who don’t stand candidates in by-election or don’t work in them.

    You want to help? Then find the nearest by-election (or vacancy) and go and help or get on the phone. If you’re not doing that, what are you doing? Hand wringing?

  • David Evans 13th Feb '14 - 9:22am

    Janet , Nick Clegg did not win us a place in Government in 2010. He happened to be leader when the Electoral Arithmetic happened to give us a chance of power. Don’t forget at that election despite so called “Clegg Mania” he lost us 5 MPs. Since then he has lost us over a third of our councillors, a third of our members and about half of our share of the vote.

    Sadly for Nick he was leader when the Lib Dems got their one big chance, and he didn’t have the ability to build on the opportunity.

  • Peter Watson 13th Feb '14 - 10:40am

    @Jack McKenna “Nick Clegg is easily the best communicator out of the other three party leaders.”
    And ….
    It’s what he says and does that is important, not his style. And it is his words and actions that have disappointed many.

  • We are barking mad to accept the present situation. To put it bluntly we, the Liberal Democrats are finished for the next 2 years, the rebuild will take the best part of 10 years. It is a tragedy for all of us who spent 30 -40 years building the party up.
    It is so sad and despairing.

  • @Chris “You’re seriously suggesting that the reason the party isn’t standing candidates in local by-elections is because some party members are criticising Nick Clegg? Whatever next?” How about Sheffield Hallam decide not to stand a candidate because party members are criticising Nick Clegg? 🙂

  • @ Caracatus
    Who are you proposing as a candidate to replace Nick Clegg?

  • @ David Evans

    “Don’t forget at that election despite so called “Clegg Mania” he lost us 5 MPs”

    So nothing to do with the Tories’ aggressive targeting of our seats with money from Lord Ashcroft etc. plus slamming press stories tearing into Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats and everything to do with the party leadership then?

  • @RC – Tories doing aggressive targetting with their money and the press attacking us – It was ever thus. Nick wanted to be leader: Sadly he just doesn’t cut it.

  • Paul Pettinger 13th Feb '14 - 11:32am

    The defences of Clegg seem rather desperate. The Party has lots of choices for a new leader. Clegg’s defenders seem to be oblivious to how toxic Clegg is in the country – if voters won’t give him a second chance his communication skills don’t count for much, and we ‘re doomed if we limit ourselves to the small chunk of the electorate still willing to hear him out. Clegg won a game of musical chairs – he has done very well out of the Party and the Party has done poorly out of him. Time to go. With a new Leader we might still hit 15%, 35 MPs and be a credible national force.

  • David White 13th Feb '14 - 1:35pm

    There are some very interesting comments in response to some disappointing results in local government by-elections.

    I agree with most of the anti-Clegg postings but would add most of our MPs to the criticism. Nor can I exclude all of our noble peers from chastisement for, sheep-like, obeying the party whip.

    However, it would serve only to make matters worse were the resignation of Mr Clegg to be demanded before the general election. His pre-election demise as our Dear Leader would cause the electorate to abandon support for our party in even greater numbers than hitherto. He can be sacked afterwards and replaced by one of our 23 surviving MPs. – Oh please tell me that at least 20 LibDems will be returned to the Commons!

    To return more directly to the by-elections, it is interesting that UKIP candidates appear to be able to make inroads into NewLab majorities in northern England. This would bear out the opinions of a number of political commentators and seers. It hardly need be said that UKIP will obtain good results in the forthcoming EU elections but I suspect that ‘the man with a fag and a pint’ and his acolytes will damage NewLab votes in both the north and the midlands as much as in OldCon southern verdant shires and leafy suburbs. Do our election strategists have any wizard wheezes as to how we might exploit this?

  • Peter Chegwyn 14th Feb '14 - 2:59am

    Meanwhile in the parliamentary by-election on 13th February…

    A lost deposit in Manchester Wythenshawe, vote down from 22.3% to under 5%, BNP & Greens beaten by just 400 votes, Lib. Dem. vote just 1/3 of the Tory vote and 1/4 of the UKIP vote, all this in a seat where we polled better than the national average in both 2005 & 2010 and, in normal circumstances, could have expected to finish a respectable 2nd this time.

    No doubt we’ll hear the usual from the leadership… ‘This is a seat we were never going to win’ (true), ‘We wouldn’t expect to poll well here’ (untrue), ‘We’ll do better in seats we hold’ etc. etc. etc.

    How long before people wake up and smell the coffee?

    Will it take a hammering in the European & local elections in May or even then will people still stick their heads in the sand as 2015 fast approaches?

  • We should have had Huhne as leader. If only the delayed postal votes had been counted….

    The ‘say goodbye to broken promises’ video is still on Youtube. It feels so ironic to watch it now. It will be a long time until we gain the student vote again. And also the demand for a ‘Real referendum’ on EU membership in 2008, the details of why we are not supporting a referendum now are lost on the electorate, and it is simply seen as a broken promise.

    Unfortunately Nick Clegg is a broken brand. We should recognise the fact sooner rather than later if we can have any hope in 2015. It probably is too late to do something in time for the Euro election. It was of course too late for Wythenshawe and Sale.

  • Peter Watson 14th Feb '14 - 9:12am

    @Peter Chegwyn “Meanwhile in the parliamentary by-election on 13th February…”
    A nod to the prescient Paul in Twickenham who last week predicted “there is a realistic prospect of the Liberal Democrats dropping from 22% to a lost deposit.” (

  • How many local government seats are the LDs defending this May?

  • Yes Paul inTwickenham should start his own political betting website. I hope his side of the river are keeping their heads above water.

    Peter Watson 14th Feb ’14 – 9:12am
    @Peter Chegwyn “Meanwhile in the parliamentary by-election on 13th February…”
    A nod to the prescient Paul in Twickenham who last week predicted “there is a realistic prospect of the Liberal Democrats dropping from 22% to a lost deposit.”

  • RC 13th Feb ’14 – 11:13am. @ Caracatus Who are you proposing as a candidate to replace Nick Clegg?

    I have seen the question posed by RC before. Perhaps he is one f the well paid SpAds working for Nick Clegg and therefore has a vested interest in pretending that the Liberal Democrat are a one man band.

    So far people have been sensible and refused to play his game. But now that some members appear to be considering doing the necessary to trigger a leadership election RC might want to think about some of those MPs who did not stand for Deputy Leader of the parliamentary party. If he looks at the Wiki page on this subject there is an interesting collection of media reports in the source section. He might find the names of several men and women who are well placed to provide a more successful future lead of the party.

    It is not difficult to think of a dozen different names for party leader who would have more experience of campaigning and knowledge of what makes the party tick than the incumbent.

  • David White 14th Feb '14 - 2:20pm

    Oh dear, it wasn’t a wonderful result for our team, was it? Yet, could we have hoped for anything special? No. We LibDems have to accept that we’re the fall guys for almost every ConDem coalition decision which adversely affects ordinary people, such as those who live in Wythenshawe.

    Before this disastrous alliance to OldCon, we were perceived to be socio-economically liberal – the most caring party since NewLab deserted the principles which made Attlee’s government so great.

    Can we recover from the deleterious actions and decisions of Messrs Clegg, Alexander, Laws, et al? No, we have no chance prior to the EU elections (let us stiffen our sinews against the imminent electoral disaster). Nor, I fear, can we recover many/any lost votes prior to the general election. We shall lose able MPs who are valuable assets to the UK.

    However, I am a member of a resilient party which has battled back from past adversities. We shall come back, again, once we’ve pruned the dead wood at the top of the parliamentary party.

    Finally, an apology. Yes, really! In my previous missive, I said that I felt UKIP would damage NewLab in their heartlands. Apparently, that did not happen, yesterday, in Manchester. But UKIP will be working very hard to win the hearts and minds of all northern voters. They are already doing so in both Hull and the East Riding.

  • @ Joe King 14th Feb ’14 – 7:56am

    “Unfortunately Nick Clegg is a broken brand”.

    The LibDems think Clegg is close to Cameron. The Tories think Cameron is too close to Clegg. These two seem to have it all stitched up together no matter what their party members think. Hey; that’s democracy Joe. Personally, I would like to see Simon Hughes make a power grab. Wish he would. Come on Simon, sort it out. We want our party back.

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