Another Thursday, more Lib Dem GAINS

Excellent news from Leicestershire tonight where Angela Williams became Church Ward and Earl Shilton’s first ever Lib Dem Councillor with a whopping 68% of the vote. That’s another cracking campaign run by Michael Mullaney and the Bosworth local party who are constantly a beacon of Lib Dem hope in the East Midlands.

And there’s more good news from that Yorkshire:

And a trio of Town Council wins is completed with the election of newbie Andy Soughton, who joined hte party last year, to Yeovil Town Council.

Thanks to Sheila Kingston-Jones who flew the Lib Dem flag in Bryncoch South in Neath/Port Talbot. Nearly 100 people need to be found because they voted Lib Dem in a place which is not a hotbed of Lib Demmery. If even a tenth of them joined the party, just think what they could do.. And it’s up 3.3% from last time.

A good result in Eyres Monsell, too – 8% higher than in 2010 but 23& higher than the last time it was fought. Well done, Tony Faithfull-Wright.

Bit of a Labour surge in the wonderfully named Cotswold ward of Grumbolds Ash, but the Tories were pretty unassailable there.

Real disappointment in Perth, though, as the Tories hold on to their seat in Perth City South ward. Our Liz Barrett ran an amazingly spirited campaign in a ward where we topped the poll in May. It was always going to be a challenge to win in an AV by-eleciton but we could not have tried any harder. To lose by 29 votes in the end was just heartbreaking.

In Rutherglen, though, Ellen Bryson made solid progress Labour held the seat but her vote went up by 8.9%.

In Hereforedshire, the Tories tumbled – but at the expense of the Greens. We, however, gained almost twice as much as the Greens.

It looks like we lost out to an Independent in Stockton:

Well done to Jeanie Falconer for a very strong result.

In Chalford, Kris Beach got 8.8% of the vote from a standing start.

More news in the morning.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Well done Michael Mullaney and Stuart Bray for running another excellent campaign in Hinckley and Bosworth -taking a Labour Town Council seat in Earl Shilton tonight. Earl Shilton is the only urban area of the Constituency where the Lib Dems have never previously elected a Cllr.

    This follows last weeks hold against the Tories on Burbage Parish Council which was part of the Borough Ward where a couple of weeks before that they cut the Tory majority from around 300 to 45.

    Labour proved irrelevant in all 3 by elections even though they regard Earl Shilton as a traditional Labour area and thought Corbynism was going to sweep them on to great things.

  • In the District and Scottish elections the results were not good and and in my view we should stop these sort of headlines on a Friday morning. There is little sign in these results that next May will see any substantive gains. UKIP are starting to pick up in the national opinion polls and they may even be back in business by May, given the Brexit mess. The good result in Leicester appears to be the protest vote that went Lib Dem to UKIP has now come back. Even after 7 years of electoral poverty it appears we try to avoid the real reality.

  • Just to point out that in the by-elections where our vote % decreased there was an intervention by either Labour or in Independent, which automatically works against us.
    Perth is different (and in some ways similar to the Flintshire result last week) where we already had a well known sitting Cllr in the ward, our vote would inevitably go down due to a less well known candidate standing.
    Please keep reporting town and parish results as few others do, also as we are now unitary (Cheshire West) and Town Councils are becoming as politically important to us as the old district elections were.

  • Mostly encouraging. I do see us making gains next May. Please do carry on these Friday reports.

  • The report on Perth North is a bit incomplete. We were third on first preference votes, 183 behind the SNP and 137 behind the Conservatives. After the independent and Green candidates were eliminated, we were still third, 186 behind the SNP and 117 behind the Conservative, with 332 Labour votes to be reallocated. We got 106 of them, but the SNP got 70 and the Cons got 18. However, there were 138 Labour voters who chose not to transfer their votes to us or anyone else.

    It would be interesting to see how many Labour votes used to come to us pre 2010 (i.e. pre coalition) or whether it was our Brexit stance that meant they didn’t prefer us over the Conservative.

  • Sorry, I should have said Perth South.

  • Nobody is saying do not make these weekly reports, it is the misleading headlines which would do justice in the Daily Mail. We could quite easily do a headline this week, “The misery continues, yet another poor set of major council by election results”. We must stopy trying to con/delude ourselves. We continue in the political doldrums.

  • Chris Bertram 24th Nov '17 - 1:39pm

    @theakes: The headline does make a rather big deal out of non-principal local authority gains. They’re welcome news, but as Mark Pack and others would remind us, we shouldn’t rely on them too heavily.

    Thas said, your inevitable suggestion of a “woe is me” style headline does not do this week justice. We stood in nine out of ten contests, in several cases returning to the poll after absence last time. Some would have us believe that we’re finding it hard to stand candidates – this gives the lie to that. And in most of those contests our vote was UP, not down. Parties truly in the doldrums include UKIP – who really *are* having trouble standing candidates, and whose results post loss after loss of share – and the Greens both south and north of the border, mouldering at about 2%, where they bother to stand, that is.

    I do sometimes wonder what “good” looks like for you. Do we have to gain every seat we stand in? Perhaps you could help us understand how you judge this.

    Yes, there’s work to do, and no, we’re not where we want to be yet, but the general trend is in the right direction. We must keep working and not lose heart.

  • Good is where we poll a minimum of 15 – 20% in at least 90% of the by election seats each week. “2% in Wakefield and Stockton is abhorrent. At the moment we are going literally nowhere and silly headlines remind me of our Posters “Winning Here” which are the subject of much desereved sarcasm from our competitors. As I say Lets get real, deal with life as it really is and acknowledge we are still in the polite term “mire”.

  • paul barker 24th Nov '17 - 5:56pm

    We stood in 9 of the 10 contests this week & that is unadulterated good news.
    If, like me you make a habit of looking at all the results, every week the first thing that you realise is the massive amount of noise, results jumping around for all sorts of local reasons. However if we average out a large number of results there has been a clear direction under the froth, our vote has been rising by around 2% a Month since July.
    That is no guarantee that our vote will continue to edge up, we have to wait & see. We do have reasonable ground for hope though.

  • Paul Barker – completely agree. The first thing I noticed about this set of results is that we stood a candidate in 9 out of 10. That in itself is very encouraging, and says something positive about our activist base. Our local party n Dover might want to reflect.
    The results themselves are a mixed bag but most show progress. We have a long way to go but I’ve always said our recovery will start in local government, and progress there will eventually start to show in our national polls. Therefore we keep standing, keep working, and keep focused. It’ll take time, but the signs of progress are clear. To ignore that is as bad as claiming all is going brilliantly.

  • The Kantar poll gives Con 42 Lab 38 LD 9 UKIP 5 and Green 3 per cent on 21st November. The problem for the Liberal Democrats is that Jeremy Corbyn has seized the imagination of the young and the radical voters because his simplistic remedies are easy to sell and the hard choices are too difficult for many people. Probably most Labour MPs in their hearts do not agree with him but as long as he might get them back into power they will go along with it and maybe hope he will be unable to implement the policies fully. This will further undermine what remains of trust in politicians whereas the possible failure of the Corbyn plans to produce the hoped for results will be forgiven as Labour voters are motivated more by hatred of the “Tories” than any belief in party policy.

  • David Evans 25th Nov '17 - 1:11pm

    The problem TonyH with your “I’ve always said our recovery will start in local government, and progress there will eventually start to show in our national polls” is that people like you have been saying it since 2011. How long is your eventually, what do you mean by ‘show in the national opinion polls’ and will it come soon enough for us to still have a presence in the HoC when it comes?

    It took us 40 years to build what Nick and his supporters destroyed in five. Many of whom are still here saying ‘We were right all along.” Are you really content that we are back in that situation again?

  • jayne Mansfield 25th Nov '17 - 1:19pm

    I can’t speak for all Labour voters, but I would argue that most Labour Party voters are motivated by contempt for Tory policy, and a comprehension of the philosophy underpinning Tory party policy. Quite right too.

    The Corbyn phenomenon has attracted a greater number of educated, and middle class and younger people to the party. Rather than inferring that these young and radical voters are somehow incapable of anything other than a simplistic understanding of politics, the Labour party is attracting new voters who are more than able to cope with uncertainty and hard choices.

    There is something rather tragic about a party with the history of the Liberal Democrats, that it has sunk to the level of petulant, embittered criticism of voters who want a political party that they believe offers a vision of a better , more socially just society, in a more better, socially just world.

    I would like to see the Liberal Democrat Party rise like a Phoenix from the ashes given the terrifying rise of nationalist, extreme Right sentiment, not least on mainland Europe. If you want to criticise simplistic solutions to complex problems, using negative campaigning in lieu of a positive vision that would attract people like myself, I suggest that you give more attention to the right wing momentum of the Conservative party and its absolute incompetence, rather than the attempting to undermine the possibility of ( in my opinion), a better social democratic alternative. However, given what I have already suggested, a clear and positive vision of a better Liberal Democrat alternative to the offers of the two major parties would be preferable.

  • paul barker 25th Nov '17 - 2:16pm

    The losses we made in Coalition were a disaster waiting to happen & would have happened whenever & however we entered Government. We had failed to build a loyal, “Core Vote” & we utterly failed to tell our Voters how we would behave in Power at Westminster.
    The Election campaign really knocked us back, we have yet to get back to our “Peak” of April when we were averaging 11% in National Polling & were probably getting 20% in Local votes. That has been the pattern of our Recovery so far, 2 steps forward & 1 back. That doesnt mean that we are getting nowhere but it is painfully slow.
    Its too soon to guess how we might do in May but we have reasonable grounds for hope.

  • nvelope2003 25th Nov '17 - 2:42pm

    Why not just join the Labour Party ? Most people seem to have all they need. There seems to be an orgy of waste, skip loads of barely worn clothing being taken to landfill, huge amounts of alcohol consumed, betting shops heaving with people, enormous amounts of food thrown away. People on benefits buying TVs that size of the planet, overpaid people worrying about their investments, their gambling debts, how much they can get for their houses and everyone looks so miserable. Something is wrong and yet when I go to a supermarket or fast food place the underpaid young people there are so friendly and polite and do not seem at all unhappy.

  • David Evans 25th Nov '17 - 3:20pm

    paul barker – Your claim that the losses we made in Coalition were a disaster waiting to happen & would have happened whenever & however we entered Government, is simply wrong. The fact is we had built a loyal “Core Vote” by promising to work hard for them and their community and represent them in the same way as we had done in their local council. Instead our leadership chose to betray that “Core vote,” to break a pledge, forgot about who they had said they would work for and instead shored up the Conservatives with a loyalty that would even make David Cameron blush.

    What our leaders failed to tell voters was indeed how they would behave in power at Westminster – ignore supporters, ignore votes in party conference, ignore the huge damage they were doing to the party’s future, ignore the views of the electorate and just carry on regardless. But then, they didn’t tell our party members that either.

    And then of course pretend it was inevitable and ‘would have happened whenever & however we entered Government’.

  • @ Paul Barker

    We did have a core vote, we had inherited it from the 1945’s. It was in the region of 15%. Now it is in the region of 3 or 4%.

    The major feature of our 2010 manifesto was the idea we would create a “fair” Britain. We even promised to create jobs for those who needed them (page 21). We said we would make the benefit system fair so people could live on benefits. We said we would not cut government spending too soon implying we would only do it when there was economic growth promising an economic stimulus in our first year in government. We said we would invest to build fair futures for everyone. We even said we would protect our civil liberties. And as David Evans points out we promised to scrap tuition fees.

    We betrayed all these promises. The first thing we did was cut government investment and spending. No economic stimulus. Bringing the economy into recession according to the news (later revised so technically it was not a recession). We didn’t create jobs for those who needed them. We even cut legal aid denying legal redress to lots of poor people making the UK an unfairer place. We supported real-term cuts to benefits and the bedroom tax, making it much more difficult to live on benefits.

    Our core vote was middle management and lots of people working in the public services. We ensured that public service workers would not vote for us by cutting their wages in real-terms and reducing their pensions and I expect making their working conditions worse by not giving them enough money to do the job and so causing them stress.

  • So there we are, really going nowhere except in the minds of those who write the weekly By election headlines. Why they do it I simply do not know because the awful realism is apparent to almost everyone elase. It fools no-one.
    We have inherited the past so clearly and correctly identified by David Evans.
    We completely messed up in coalition, the German FDP have handled matters so much differently, now forcing another Grand Coalition foer 4 years whilst they become the reasonable opposition. Our Parliamentary team, our Headquarters staff , our whole approach needs a rapid re-appraisal. One starting point would be to shut up about Brexit for 3 months and just shout about a social policy that is ours and one the public will respond to. It is no good waiting for some heaven sent miracle. It aint coming. We are out of favour and with the present approach will remain so.

  • David Evans – I don’t know who ‘people like me’ are, but I have not in fact been talking about recovery since 2011. By then I thought our coalition strategy was abysmal and I knew we were likely to be electorally destroyed and that we wouldn’t make any real recovery until we had left government. Please do not misquote me and don’t assume I am part of the Clegg fan club. I am not, and never was.
    As to how long our recovery will take, I don’t know. It depends partly on factors outwith our control, like for example whether the Tories destroy themselves and if so when. That would create opportunities for us to make parliamentary gains, but my point is that in order to take those opportunities we need to have built up a decent local government presence by then.
    So… we keep standing, we keep working, and we keep focused. If you disagree with that strategy I’m not sure what your alternative is? Constant in-fighting about the coalition doesn’t win us any votes.

  • David Evans 25th Nov '17 - 7:33pm

    TonyH, I definitely didn’t claim you had been talking about recovery since 2011, just that a lot of people had been and as some fell by the wayside, there are always new ones.

    Nick Clegg was indeed a catastrophic leader, but the problem was that there were always enough members prepared to believe that recovery was just around the corner and so excuse him, and later Tim and now Vince (and there surrounding senior allies), from actually facing up to the mess they helped make of our party. Hence the only thing to urge is that the troops just get out there and do all the work again, while those at the top can pretend that things are as good as they can be and so they do not need to change one bit.

    The simple fact is that they all made a total mess of our party’s future, but always had enough people saying things will get better to insulate them from the fact that it was they who need to accept they messed up, they who need to work out along with others what went wrong and what they need to change in themselves to change our fortunes.

    However, so long as there is a continuing number of people who simply say we should urge on the troops: nothing will happen; the party will remain in the doldrums (which it clearly is); and the only thing we can hope for is that something will turn up; because being blunt, too many of us refuse to do anything other than remain in our comfort zone of endless denial, leaflet delivery and knocking on doors. Thinking about what went wrong and how we all need to change is just too difficult.

  • I have to agree with most of these comments. Our by election gains pre and post June 2017 have been the result of strong localised campaigning owing nothing to our national profile which has flatlined for the best part of seven years now.

    When we made 33 net gains in the year before the June General Election attempts were made to claim them as a sign that Remain voters were switching to us even though half or more (as the same commentators noted with puzzlement) were in Leave areas. As we know the fantasy of a huge surge to us of Remain voters never materialised any more than did the ‘Liberal Cons’ voters who were supposed to be going to flock to us in 2015.

    The only glimmer on the horizon is that at last we seem to be leaving these simplistic theories of sudden redemption behind. The response to the Budget has been effective, thoroughly done and doesn’t pretend that absolutely everything is to do with Brexit. It will be a long haul to undo the profound damage of 2010-2015 but at least we may now be starting on that journey which we did not do 2015-2017.

  • simon hebditch 27th Nov '17 - 3:05pm

    Can we at least stop producing Town Council results. Nothing can detract from individual efforts but they have absolutely nothing to do with either principal council seat results or national polling?

  • Simon Hebditch: Why is that ? Are people who vote in Town Council elections a different species ? Maybe small parish councils are different but some towns are relatively large and have taken on bigger responsibilities in areas which have unitary authorities. Even in district council areas the town councils have been given more things to do because of the government cuts which apparently do not affect them.

  • simon hebditch 28th Nov '17 - 3:34pm

    I am not saying that Town Councils aren’t playing an important role. My point is that there is no evidence that there elections have any relationship with either voting intentions in principal local authorities or at national elections. Therefore, there is no reason for Lib Dems to read undue significance into town or parish councils elections.

  • nvelope2003 28th Nov '17 - 4:33pm

    Simon Hebditch: There is not much evidence that voting in principal local authority elections bears much relationship with voting in national elections either, particularly in LA by-elections. Any electoral success ought to improve morale and thus stimulate some effort in more important elections. One can only hope. The main problem is the lack of popular policies and concentration on Brexit and minority issues which have no resonance with voters and are often a positive deterrent.

  • nvelope2003 28th Nov '17 - 4:46pm

    jayne mansfield: I agree very much with the last two paragraphs of your post especially your comments about the Conservatives but I do not think a return to the policies of the 1950s – 70s is likely to be very helpful. Only today I heard that education results in the two countries where the public sector establishment is most inclined to support socialist policies, namely Briatin and France, is the worst in Europe.

    I am not in favour of slashing public services but to maintain that every bus or train service must be retained even if scarcely anyone uses it is not helpful. I lost one of my local bus routes but as I was often the only passenger I do not feel I can complain.

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