Ben Bradshaw: Good prospects of Lib Dem Tiverton and Honiton victory

Former Labour culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has called for Labour voters to vote Lib Dem in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election on 23 June. Well, he almost did. In a carefully worded message on Westminster Hour and reported in the Independent, Bradshaw says:

“I think there are very good prospects of a Lib Dem victory.”

He says the only way to give the government “a kicking” is to vote Lib Dem:

“What some Labour members and activists don’t always appreciate is that a lot of Conservative voters, if they want to give the government a kicking will vote Liberal Democrat but they wouldn’t vote Labour.

“So if we have a joint purpose of wanting to send the prime minister a message and ultimately defeat this government in a general election then I think there are very good prospects of a Lib Dem victory there.”

I wonder how Liz Pole, chair of the local Labour Party and the Labour candidate for the seat feels about that.

Bradshaw’s intervention comes after Labour is reported to have instructed its frontbenchers not to travel to campaign in Tiverton & Honiton.

It also comes after another report in the Independent claiming the Conservative candidate has been ordered not to speak to the media by senior party officials because they fear she will be asked about Partygate. This has uncanny echoes of North Shropshire, where the Tory candidate was parachuted in from outside the constituency and would not talk to the media for the first week after selection because he did not know the constituency. The last thing voters want from candidates is not to hear from them.

Roger Gale, MP for Thanet and an ardent critic of Boris Johnson, told BBC News: “I asked in the tea room this morning if we had actually selected an electoral sacrifice to fight… and I’m told that we have.” And the right leaning press are largely ignoring the by-election. I wonder how the Tory candidate Helen Hurford feels about that.

List of candidates for Tiverton and Honiton.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Mick Taylor 29th May '22 - 2:13pm

    I accept that our candidate in Wakefield is a sacrificial lamb. Wakefield is an area where we have never had more than 3 councillors in my 50 plus years in Yorkshire. BUT, this should not be the case.
    With our increasing concentration on target seats we have allowed other seats to wither, so that a large number are wholly unable to mount effective campaigns at any level. Many seats have no active LD organisation at all.
    Whilst I accept that focussing more resources on seats we can win makes sense, we really do have to develop plans to have successful organisations in every seat.
    The next election could, possibly, see us once again in a position of influence, but I want the party I have been a member of for 58 years to be a serious force in UK politics not just the junior member of a coalition or supply and confidence arrangement.
    To do that we will have to raise serious amounts of money, far greater than we have to date. We have agreed to a more slimline party organisation. Those running the party must now bring to us concrete plans to get the LibDems into the big league, not just the also rans.

  • Jason Connor 29th May '22 - 4:12pm

    It doesn’t give much hope to people in labour facing seats who want and seek an alternative. We had an excellent Lib Dem candidate in the local elections who was given no support whatsoever by the party in a non target ward. So we now have a virtual one party state in this area. I would prefer to offer some support to the Wakefield LD candidate even if it’s a small financial contribution so that the local party build its base up there for the future. We don’t all want to live in areas with a Labour run council and Labour MP indefinitely, believe me.

  • Chris Moore 29th May '22 - 6:01pm

    In Wakefield run a small campaign in a few wards where the LDs have local election possibilities.

    Canvass for new members to build a team for future struggles.

    I agree with you and Mick that we have to regenerate weak areas.

  • Mick Taylor, Jason Connor, Chris Moore…I despair!..

    Currently we have a PM/government ‘setting fire to the house’ and, instead of putting all our efforts into getting rid of the arsonist, you are concerned with upgrading the furniture..

    Priorities, please.

  • Chris Moore 30th May '22 - 2:08pm

    Bamboozled by your metaphors! Expats.

    And not sure what your point is. Are you saying that LDs should only campaign in Tory/LD marginals? Bit limited that, isn’t it?

    What about the rest of the country? That is Mick’s point and I agree. We are a national party.

    And of course our focus is on getting out the current government!!

    And why are you despairing?

  • Chris Moore 30th May ’22 – 2:08pm….Bamboozled by your metaphors! Expats……

    I can imagine the outcry on LDV if Labour’s share of the vote in T&H allowed the Tory to scrape home and cost us the seat..
    The excuse, regularly trotted out here, for the 2010 ‘coalition’ was, “For the good of the nation”..Well, if ever the ‘good of the nation’ was at stake it’s now..With every passing day the traditional responsibilities, checks and balances of our uncodified British constitution are being weakened or removed whilst traditional rights and privileges are being taken from the wider population..This party should work with any, and all, parties to concentrate entirely on removing this PM and government..
    Jason’s, “We don’t all want to live in areas with a Labour run council and Labour MP indefinitely, believe me”, is for another day..

  • Jason Connor 31st May '22 - 11:59am

    People will probably vote tactically so that’s unlikely to happen in both Mansfield and T & H. If you live in an area which has been run by Labour for years and years with an ensconced Labour MP (except for back in the days of the SDP) then a change would be welcome. That can only come about by the Party supporting its candidates for Council or MP. If not another party will make the running such as the Greens and they are now the main threat/opposition in many Labour areas where the LDs are not getting the support from the party they should. Hull showed it can be done at local government level and the same should apply elsewhere.

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