ALDC’s by-election review of 2018

It’s fair to say 2018 has been a great year for the Lib Dems with some resounding successes in by-elections nationally. 

We made 26 fantastic gains, with 19 of these coming from the Conservatives! A full list of our 26 excellent gains is below:

  • Arun DC, Marine – LD Matt Stanley gain from Conservative.
  • Aylesbury Vale DC, Quainton – LD Scott Raven gain from Conservative.
  • Bath & North East Somerset UA, Kingsmead – LD Sue Craig gain from Conservative.
  • Broadland DC, Aylesham – LD Sue Catchpole gain from Conservative
  • Chesterfield BC, Moor – LD Tony Rogers gain from Labour.
  • Chichester DC, Rogate – LD Kate O’Kelly gain from Conservative.
  • Dacorum BC, Northchurch – LD Lara Pringle gain from Conservative.
  • East Hertfordshire DC, Watton-at-Stone – LD Sophie Bell gain from Conservative.
  • Hertfordshire CC, Three Rivers Rural – LD Phil Williams gain from Conservative.
  • Highland UA, Caol & Mallaig – LD Denis Rixson gain from SNP.
  • Mendip DC, Wells St. Thomas – LD Tom Ronan gain from Conservative.
  • North Norfolk DC, Worstead – LD Saul Penfold gain from Conservative.
  • North Yorkshire CC, Knaresborough – LD David Goode gain from Conservative.
  • South Northamptonshire DC, Whittlewood – LD Abigail Medina gain from Conservative.
  • South Oxfordshire DC, Benson & Crowmarsh – LD Sue Cooper gain from Conservative.
  • Southwark LB, London Bridge & West Bermondsey – LDs Humaira Ali, William Houngbo and Damian O’Brien (2 gains in New ward boundary.
  • Sunderland MB, Pallion – LD Martin Haswell gain from Labour.
  • Teignbridge DC, Chudleigh – LD Margaret Evans gain from Conservative.
  • Teignbridge DC, Dawlish Central & North East – LD Martin Wrigley gain from Conservative. 
  • Warrington UA, Lymm South – LD Anna Fradgley gain from Conservative. 
  • Warwickshire CC, Stratford North – LD Dominic Skinner gain from Independent.
  • Waveney DC, Southwold & Reydon – LD David Beavan gain from Conservative.
  • West Berkshire UA, Thatcham West – LD Jeff Brooks gain from Conservative.
  • West Somerset DC, Alcombe – LD Nicole Hawkins gain from UKIP.
  • West Somerset DC, Minehead South – LD Benet Allen gain from Independent. 

We successfully defended 18 seats too. Holding onto seats relies on excellent work from campaigners on the ground and from candidates taking time out of their lives to represent the Party.

Along with these 18 holds there were also eight tough losses, however we’re sure that with hard work and perseverance these seats can be won back next time round. Standing a candidate is extremely important in ensuring that people always have the option of voting for the Lib Dems.

We’d like to send a huge thank you and well done to the hard work of all the teams who have contributed to this success and may it continue in 2019!

Not included in these figures are some of the excellent results from Town and Parish councils who also made some excellent gains this year.

We hope to see another great year in 2019 with the important local elections taking place on Thursday 2 May.  

If you have a spare hour you can find contact details of who to ring to help out on the forthcoming by-elections section of our website.

Or why not donate to the ALDC Fighting Fund so we can give more grants to local teams to help us win more by-elections.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

**Note – there are different ways of calculating by-election figures. At ALDC we have consistently included ‘deferred elections’ in by-election statistics, which make our figures slightly different from those who don’t.**

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • John Marriott 22nd Dec '18 - 11:31am

    First of all, let me say how pleased I am that the party still has fire in its belly. In themselves the by election results may not amount to much in the scheme of things; but each one may well represent a combination of blood, tears, toil and sweat as well a good dollop of political nous. Any success in the present febrile atmosphere is to be applauded.

    However, and here’s the other side of the argument, how do you repeat that when the election in any given area is for more than a single seat, as will happen on 2 May, when the result could mean far more in the long term? Despite the fact that many people, if they bother to vote at all, may well be prepared to change political allegiances in local elections, an equal number will not normally be prepared to change their default position and, indeed, may still be more influenced by national rather than local issues.

    So, unless the party can make a real impact nationally by stopping being the ‘one trick pony’ so eloquently described by LDV contributors such as David Raw, and start to realise that life goes on both below, after and even without Brexit, the great Lib Dem fight back will stay firmly on the back burner. So, let’s hear less about ‘The People’s Vote’ and more about Universal Credit, Education and Providing effective Local Services, to give just three examples, My personal feeling is that, if you spend an excessive amount of time pontificating about what constitutes a ‘Liberal’, while it might salve your own conscience and provide endless hours of fun for the more zealous of LDV contributors, it won’t do much for most of the population, who want common sense not ideology. You can leave the latter to the Labour Party, a large section of which still appears still to be fighting the ‘battles’ of the past.

  • Just a correction

    London Bridge & West Bermondsey (LB Southwark) previously roughly correspondeding to Grange ward, which had 2 LD councilors (Damien O’Brien who re-contested in 2018, and Ben Johnson who did not) and 1 Labour (Lucas Green) from the 2014.

    So the LD win of all 3 councillors in the ward for the deferred election represents a net gain of 1, not 2.

  • John, as usual I agree with much of what you say, but the idea we should dial back on our Brexit message now, at this moment, is madness. There are 12 weeks to go till Brexit day! The polls are showing extraordinary momentum for the message we are part of, and the Labour leader is leaving the anti-Brexit field open to us. Even his own voters are telling pollsters they will come to us if he backs Brexit (which is exactly what he is doing).
    Campaigning for a PV is right in principle, and right politically. Brexit is not an isolated issue. It will have a massive impact on our economy and our society. It affects jobs, security, peace in Northern Ireland, and the economic hit it causes will undercut the ability of governments to invest in public services for years if not decades. Of course we should talk about other issues too – and we do – but to take our foot off the pedal on Brexit now would not just be wrong in principle. It would be bad politics.

  • Sue Sutherland 23rd Dec '18 - 1:40pm

    The reality is that we can’t be choosers about the publicity we get. At least a lot of people know where we stand on Brexit and our membership has increased because of it. We might get publicity for our other policies if we linked looking after the vulnerable with staying in the EU and promising that life will get better for them.
    We are all remembering Paddy Ashdown with fondness, but when he became leader we were at a similar place in the polls because of the break up of the Alliance. Our recovery came with local election success and several Parliamentary by election wins. Paddy was a great leader who could enthuse the troops but we activists often used to bemoan our lack of publicity at that time. It goes with being a party with a small number of MPs but we are obviously doing something right in local elections.
    I think the only thing to do is to keep our heads down and carry on working and putting out our message locally. Our MPs are doing their best to promote our policies on various issues and at least this time we do have Brexit and a unique position nationally and we do get publicity for this.

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