Brecon and Radnorshire by-election open thread

Well, it’s all over bar the counting. In just a few hours, we’ll know if Jane Dodds has succeeded in her attempt to become Wales’ only Liberal Democrat MP.

She has been an amazing candidate. We could not have asked more of her. She’s talked about local issues and Brexit, she’s been engaging and warm and kind.  We should all be very proud of the work she has done.

So, what happened in 2017?

Chris Davies (Conservative)                                20 081

James Gibson-Watt (Liberal Democrat)          12 043

Dan Lodge (Labour)                                                 7 335

Kate Heneghan (Plaid Cymru)                               1 229

Peer Gilbert (UKIP)                                                       576

This time, Plaid Cymru has stood aside in favour of Liberal Democrat Welsh Leader Jane Dodds.

The Brexit Party is represented by Des Parkinson, Labour by Tom Davies, UKIP by Liz Phillips and the Monster Raving Loony Party has Lady Lily the Pink.

The Liberal Democrats have had the weight of expectations in what was always going to be a tough fight. At the start of the campaign it looked like the Brexit Party might be our main opponents. However, since Boris Johnson took office and appointed a horrifically right wing extreme Brexiteer Cabinet, the Brexit Party has felt the squeeze as voters return to the Conservatives and their Brexiteer candidate. Whether enough Labour and Plaid voters have come to Jane remains to be seen.

When I was there a couple of weeks ago, I met Labour, Plaid and Green voters who were enthusiastically voting for Jane. I met a few very hostile people who were obviously looking for the most extreme form of Brexit to vote for. And there were so many people in the middle who had questions or who weren’t particularly motivated to go and vote. Whether we win tonight will depend on how many of these people we were able to persuade in the tail end of the campaign.

Postal votes went out six days before Boris took office so may well have a big Conservative/Brexit Party split.

It’s going to be close and this is going to be a very nervous few hours. Stick with us as we look at the commentary and try to stay awake…

If the Boris bounce overtakes us tonight, it will be disappointing but not a knockout blow. His government has bene in office for barely a week and hasn’t done anything yet. And a majority of two is not much better than a majority of one.

On Newsnight, James Clayton has just said that he thinks that the presence of Jo Swinson and Ed Davey at the count is significant and means that we think we are going to win. Given the size of the constituency, I’d be surprised if even we know that by now. All the boxes won’t have arrived, although the ones that are furthest away are in our strongest areas.

These kind of tweets, though, don’t help my nerves.

Ed on Sky News now. He says it is very close. That shouldn’t be a surprise as Lib Dems won by less than 1000 in 1985.

He seems to be downplaying expectations by saying that Tories have a large majority.

He says that people’s views on Brexit are changing. Lifelong Conservatives are switching to Liberal Democrats because of our position on Remain and he sees Labour supporters going the same way.

He says that our position is based on principle.

He’s now being asked about electoral pacts. He is grateful to PC and Greens for standing down. They didn’t have a massive vote here but it made sense for them to help Lib Dems defeat a large Conservative majority.

If we overturn the 8000 it will be a massive victory for the Lib Dems, he says.

If the Tories lose, this will puncture the Boris bubble says Ed. The voters will have taken one stop forward to stopping Brexit.

He talks about how votes have been won or lost by one single vote so whoever wins tonight could have a crucial say in the future of the country.

On the Lib Dem leadership, he says he thought Jo was likely to win from the start and she’ll be a fantastic leader. He says the contest was fought between friends with respect, although does admit to disappointment at the result for him.

Ed is not helping calm down the butterflies in my abdomen, that’s for sure.

12:25 am: Turnout 59.7%

This is important. The Tories would never have won this town in a month of Sundays but Labour should have walked it. If those votes have all come to us, that is a good sign. But we’re a long way off winning so keep the bubbly in the fridge.

Sky’s Lewis Goodall now saying that Lib Dems are looking “increasingly bullish” with swings from 2017 from both Conservatives and Labour.

Labour are apparently in “deposit losing” territory.

And a Lib Dem who actually knows this territory is starting to believe we can do it.

Brexit Party candidate says that he’s coming third and that’s what he always expected. Right.

He also reckons that people didn’t vote Labour in Ystradgynlais because they wanted Brexit. Err, that’s why they seem to have voted Lib Dem, then? I think not.

Elsewhere, though, we have definitely won one election – holding a seat in Hazel Grove:

And another one.


Back to Brecon and what nobody is mentioning in the tv analysis is that it might be tight on the night, but what happened with the 10,000 postal votes which were issued 6 days before Boris became PM. If we win tonight, they could have made the difference.

1:30 am

Sky’s Lewis Goodall now talking about Lib Dems winning by 4-5%. This is not helping the butterflies having the party in my abdomen.

2 am

Sky News now getting exercised about Jane not being there yet. But mentioning Lib Dems gathering round the doorway…..

Now Conservatives seem to be conceding….

Andy Sangar looking very happy on Sky News.

Jane has just arrived at the count. She looks very happy and I am a bit of a soggy teary mess.

Davies C  Conservative 12,401

Davies T   Labour 1,680

Dodds J 1 Liberal Democrat 3,826

Parkinson D Brexit 3381

Phillips L UKIP 242

Pink, Lily the 334

We have done it!!!

Jane’s speech:

People in Brecon and Radnorshire have sent a powerful message.

34 years ago a Liberal victory sparked a liberal revival.

People demand better.

The message from me and our new leader – is that you can have better, and better with the Liberal Democrats. This victory must be a turning point for not just for b and r but for our whole country too.

There is no time for tribalism when our country is faced with the threat of a no deal brexit.

My first act as MP will be to find Boris wherever he is hiding and tel him to rule out no deal Brexit now.

This is a time when people who share liberal values must work together which is why I want to thank the Green Party and Plaid Cymru to back me this time.

It is an immense privilege to follow in the footsteps of Roger Willians and Richard Livesey.

I am so glad I went down and spent those 4 days in Llandrindod Wells. LDV team members spent about 18 days there in all.

And now the by-election circus moves to Sheffield Hallam. How amazing would it be to get Laura Gordon elected too.


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

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This entry was posted in News.


  • So I’m watching the various news channels and checking twitter feeds etc. Not much coverage so far, but from what coverage there has been the Tories seem quite upbeat. Not exactly claiming victory, but they do seem to be feeling they’re in with a chance of holding it. That’s the vibe I’m getting anyway. But very early yet. Could be just whistling in the dark….

  • David Evans 2nd Aug '19 - 12:35am

    The voters I spoke with today we’re generally positive. Past Con voting farmers who couldn’t support an expenses cheat, and rural Labour people who just didn’t like where Labour were now.

    The key question is have we done enough to recover our old core vote.

  • Joseph Bourke 2nd Aug '19 - 2:28am

    Good job by everyone in turning out the vote. 60% turnout highest in this parliament.
    The Welsh party is in good hands under Jane Dodds leadership. Fantastic campaigner, great acceptance speech thanking Greens and Plaid for their support. Majority of 1425.

  • Hooray. Well done Jane. Well done all.

  • Geoffrey Holland 2nd Aug '19 - 3:38am

    *** better correct the number of votes listed above for Jane. You have left off 10,000 in your excitement. Well done!

  • Peter Martin 2nd Aug '19 - 6:34am

    The lesson to be learned by both Remainers and Leavers is that you’re much less likely to win a seat if you don’t co-operate.

    Counting Labour and the MRLP as Don’t Knows we have:

    Leave: 50.3%
    Remain: 43.5%
    Don’t Know: 6.3%

    The Remain side co-operated to get all their votes with one candidate. The Leave side didn’t. Therefore Remain won.

  • John Marriott 2nd Aug '19 - 8:07am

    I know that polls are not 100% accurate when trying to predict the future. Peter Martin’s assertion about cooperation is however true. The warning to all those putting their eggs into the ‘People’s Vote’ basket is to be careful what you wish for. As far as B & R is concerned – and it’s certainly the case where I live in Lincolnshire – any result as far as England overall is concerned would likely be pretty close and, according to yesterday’s By Election, Leave could win again. So, for me, the answer is still IN for cooperation, commerce and trade and OUT for further political integration. I reckon that this view is probably shared amongst many citizens of the EU as well.

  • marcstevens 2nd Aug '19 - 11:15am

    This constituency voted to leave by 52% to 48% to remain. So this Lib Dem gain is still a pretty good result overturning an 8,000 tory majority with an increase of 14%. The press are making a big thing about the split in the anti EU vote and that the Lib Dem majority was smaller than expected but it’s been a fairly marginal seat in the past Lib Dems held it in 2001 by only 751 votes. Plaid and the Greens stepping down definitely helped so thanks to them. Congratulations to Jane Dodds who looks to be another Social Liberal MP.

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