By-election update: Lib Dems jump from 4th to 1st to take seat from Tories in Julia Goldsworthy’s Cornish battleground seat

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)There were five by-elections in principal authorities this week (Cornwall, Torridge, Barnsley and two in Cheshire West and Chester) and one deferred election in North Hertfordshire.

The Liberal Democrats jumped from fourth place to take a seat from the Tories in Illogan (Cornwall Unitary Authority). David Ekinsmyth won 23.8% of the vote for the Liberal Democrats; an increase of 10.1%. The Tories slumped to third behind Mebyon Kernow with both parties receiving 18%. The UKIP vote fell by 9.1% to finish fourth (13.4%), Labour came fifth (11.1%), the Liberal Party in Cornwall came sixth (10.4%) and the Green Party finished last with 4.3%.

The Liberal Democrat campaign was focused around campaigning against an unpopular building development, for increased road safety and traffic calming and to transfer the ownership of a local park to the Parish Council (something Cllr Ekinsmyth achieved during the election campaign). The Illogan team worked very hard with their PPC (Julia Goldsworthy) and knocked on most doors at least three times. There was also a strong and concerted literature campaign involving a tabloid, four FOCUS leaflets and target leaflets to different areas of the division.

Cllr Ekinsmyth is Commodore of the ‘Blind at Sea Charity’ and is well known for his work as an Illogan parish councillor for the past 7 years. He puts his victory down to “action not words” and traditional Liberal Democrat campaigning focusing on local issues and the benefits of having a local candidate with a strong track record. The local team are thankful to the help they received from neighbouring parties across Cornwall. Voter ID and Polling Day were massively helped by using Connect and phone banks.

Labour held the three seats they were defending in Barnsley and Cheshire West and Chester. The Conservatives held on in Torridge and North Hertfordshire.

For all the detailed results see the ALDC elections 

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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  • The overall picture this week makes pretty awful reading:
    Conservative 2691
    Labour 2182
    UKIP 1518
    Lib Dem 484 and we could not find candidates in two of the seats

  • And in the other three elections in which the Lib Dems stood the results were one fourth and two fifth places, the average decrease in the vote since 2011 being 3.8 percentage points.

  • Charles Rothwell 12th Jul '14 - 10:32am

    There was no LD candidate standing in the Barnsley ward and the Kippers were within 150 votes of the Labour victor (with the Tories second) ( Many congratulations to the Cornwall Team but I am afraid the overall news (as confirmed by the figures presented by theakes) is that there is still a long way to go to rebuild the party as a truly national force once again. (Ludicrous really when its own fundamental stances on devolution and regional decision-making/spending (which have formed the core of what the party has advocated for generations) are being ripped off on an industrial scale by the Blues and Reds and business is reported (e.g. by Labour in its new ‘prawn cocktail offensive’) as becoming really rattled by the prospect of Brexit (and, in particular, the years of uncertainty which will precede this). It is hard to believe that the Party of “IN” and subsidiarity at all levels is simply not gaining traction and getting its messages across. Would seem to suggest we need a root and branch examination of our PR strategies and operatives to me, together with building a coherent (and consistent) political narrative to re-engage with the electorate as the colleagues in Cornwall obviously have!)

  • Stephen Donnelly 12th Jul '14 - 10:59am

    Congratulations on the victory. The most noticeable thing is that we won with just under 24% of the vote (on what turnout?). The first past the post voting system does not work in seven party politics !

  • Stephen: turnout 32.4.

  • The average Libdem vote loss was around 2% in the seats where we stood both times, the average loss for Labour was also 2% with a 5% loss for The Tories & 6% for UKIP. With more Parties standing everyones vote share falls & the system gets even less democratic.
    Note that while UKIP are gaining votes by standing for the first time their vote fell in 3 of the 4 seats where they had stood before.

    The real tragedy on Thursday was in Devon where we had a good chance of making another gain if we had stood.

  • “The average Libdem vote loss was around 2% in the seats where we stood both times …”

    Compared with the last contests in the same seats – which were nearly all in 2011, with one in 2013. By 2011 the damage to the party’s popularity had already been done, so it’s not surprising things haven’t got too much worse since then. But of course these figures represent a much larger loss since the last general election.

  • Paul, the Lib Dems in Torridge appear in disarray. Defections, disinterest is leaving the scene to others. They are far , far from alone.

  • Stephen Donnelly 12th Jul '14 - 11:44pm

    Theakes. Not a bad turnout. We needed under 8% of the electorate to win that seat. An active local campaign could easily swing such an election, and all credit to those who took part in it. However that will not be the case elsewhere, or in the general election.

  • A great victory by great campaigners. As I’ve said before, I’m not convinced by the Ashcroft polling in this constituency and think that Julia will do better than predicted because the local team is strong and there’s a fair bit of new blood. It was a decisive rejection of candidates coming from north of the Tamar and talking like Cornish nationalists, who most locals find hilarious. I’m not keen on his fish & chips either.

  • SIMON BANKS 16th Jul '14 - 8:35pm

    Charles, it isn’t just the PR strategy. People are confused about what we stand for because our leadership team has also been confused or at odds with the grassroots.

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