By-election update: Gains on the year

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)

Just two principal council by-elections were contested yesterday. The Conservatives held their seat in St James ward in Kingston upon Thames LB, winning 42.9% of the vote. Liberal Democrat candidate Annette Wookey polled 33% to increase the party’s vote share by 11% from the ward’s last election this May.

Elsewhere Labour retain their seat in Nottinghamshire in Ollerton Ward, winning 56.4% of the vote.

In addition, Plaid Cymru held their seat in Bowydd & Rhiw ward on Gynedd UA, with their candidate winning unopposed.

Key Statistics for the Year

In 2014, Liberal Democrat candidates were fielded in 181 out of the 274 principal council by-elections,a figure of 66.5% for the year.

The party gained a total of 14 seats (9 from the Conservatives, 3 from Labour and 2 from Independents), with 14 out of 22 seats up for election being held, a success rate of 63.6% for the year.

Throughout the year the party polled an average of 18.1% of the vote in elections we contested.

For all the detailed results see ALDC elections.

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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  • Why does it not say how many loses?

  • I agree with matt!

    Hard to take this briefing very seriously with that sort of omission. Does anyone have the figures to hand?

  • Also 1% at Ollerton yesterday. Good result at Kingston but outside the “bastions”, there is no party left either on the ground or at the ballot box. This is the legacy left to our successors.

  • Maurice Leeke 19th Dec '14 - 5:08pm

    I rather assumed that if we held 14 out of 22 we must have lost 8. Or have I missed something ?

  • Oops….post in haste on a Friday afternoon on the way out of the office. Previous post withdrawn with apology.

    So it’s +6 NET with 14 gains and 8 losses (do I recall that we didn’t stand a candidate in one defence…may have that wrong too.) as well as holding 14.

  • Glenn Andrews 19th Dec '14 - 5:39pm

    To be totally comprehensive if this were a review of the year’s council contests in 2014:
    LAB 2214 (+324); CON 1459 (-246); LIBDEM 455 (-304); UKIP 180 (+170); GREEN 45 (+21)
    So a pretty bruising year all round….. at least we are still the third best at winning elections.

  • Peter Chegwyn 19th Dec '14 - 5:43pm

    So, to flesh out the figures a little more:

    i) There were no Lib. Dem. candidates in just over a third of the 274 principal council by-elections in 2014

    ii) Of the 181 by-elections where there was a Lib. Dem. candidate, a total of 28 seats were won, a win rate of just over 15 per cent and a net gain over the year of 6 seats.

    I wonder if anyone has to hand the net gain / loss figures for every year since, say, 2005 so we can compare how we’re doing now and then?

    It’s good that we’re up six seats overall in 2014 by-elections but, to put that in perspective, we were down some 310 seats in the May elections this year so overall we have a net loss of some 304 local council seats in 2014 which, when added to similar net losses in 2011, 2012 and 2013 is, err, not so good.

  • Peter Chegwyn 19th Dec '14 - 5:47pm

    Glenn Andrews beat me by four minutes in pointing that out! And before anyone says that another massive dent in our local government base is the price we have to pay for being in government at a national level, Glenn’s figures also show that the Conservatives who are also in government and had more seats to lose actually lost a lot less than we did.

  • The headline ” By-election update: Gains on the year ” comes straight from the new book entitled simply ‘ 2014 ‘.
    The handwritten version turned up in the house Barnhill on Jura when a Liberal Democrat got lost   knocking on doors during the referendum campaign.
    A rushed publication has made it available just before Christmas.
    It is set thirty years after ‘ 1984 ‘ but some themes will be familiar to Orwell fans.

    The novel is set in Airstrip One in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation.
    Life is dictated by a political system euphemistically named ‘Centre Party’ under the control of a privileged Party elite that persecutes all independent thinking as “thoughtcrimes”. 

    The tyranny is epitomised by Nick, the Party leader who enjoys a cult of personality, but who may not even exist. 
    The Party “seeks power entirely for its own sake” through perpetual Coalition.

    War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.   
    By-election losses are by-election victories.

  • If you extrapolate the LDs polling 5% has they stood in the in the 1/3 of seats they didn’t contest (possibly optimistic but bear with) then works out at around 13.5% had all seats been fought. That is fractionally above the 13% estimated national vote share from the May elections – and below that figure from the 2011,12 and 13 local elections.

    Possibly puts some polling in context. ALDC used to do a graph of local election performance plotted against opinion polling and I can’t recall the polls being better than the local election “real votes” when averaged out.

    Joe is right to focus on the direction of movement though. Which makes it worrying that this is “southwards” in Sheffield Hallam (even with some wards not having Tory candidates)

  • Hywel
    “.,,Joe is right to focus on the direction of movement though. Which makes it worrying that this is “southwards” in Sheffield Hallam (even with some wards not having Tory candidates)”

    Worrying? Oh, I don’t think everyone would call it “worrying”. 🙂

    Whilst on the theme I note the announcement from ALDC that their next conference will be just after the May election in 2015 and it will be in Manchester. I assume the location has been chosen to illustrate the fantastic successes of our party in council elections in the last seven years. The number of Liberal Democrat Councillors on Manchester City Council today is a true reflection of that success.
    No doubt ALDC will be publishing an analysis of the numbers of councillors we have on that council to prove that we are doing so well as an appendix to the article at the top of this thread.

  • Joe Otten: one thing this weeks two by elections appear to confirm is that the Lib Dems have the potential to hold their vote in the few “bastions” that remain, whilst the 1% at Ollerton tells us of the parlous near wipe out state of the party in many, many areas of the country. We are no longer a national party in the true meaning of the word..

  • Sadly Joe is simply wrong in his psephology. Comparing by elections with past results gives us no guide as to direction of movement due to the distorting factors associated with by-elections we have all known about since the 1980s – differential turnout, help from outside the area etc. I know the “It’s not as bad as it looks, honest” line is one that maintains party morale as well as keeping Nick in place, but the latter is dragging us down, while the former still crumbles away around us because Nick isn’t changing anything (other than continuing to make strategic mistakes that make things worse). The catastrophe continues.

  • @JohnTilley

    Meanwhile, over at Animal Farm, Young Bore the Labour leader summoned the flocks
    to listen to him speak, again. SnowBalls and co cheer him bravely and then, inspired by his oratory, go back to sleep to dream that they hadn’t sent his brother away.

  • Dave G Fawcett 20th Dec '14 - 1:00pm

    ‘outside the “bastions”, there is no party left either on the ground or at the ballot box.’ Theakes, please don’t write the rest of us off so readily. Here in Gateshead ; outside the bastion , we have a small but thriving party. In last may’s elections we held the four seats we were defending and came within a whisker of taking a seat from Labour (an omission we intend to rectify next May. This was done in the heartland of Labour domination and without a sitting MP anywhere in the area. Don’t write us all off on the basis of what I suspect is your own experience.

  • Peter Chegwyn 20th Dec '14 - 2:12pm

    Dave G Fawcett is correct in saying there are still areas ‘outside the bastions’ where we continue to win council seats against the national trend. In my area of Gosport, like Gateshead, we held all the seats we were defending last May, gained another from the Tories and came close to gaining two more.

    But Theakes is also right in warning of the ‘parlous near wipe out state of the party in many, many areas of the country’. The fact that over a third of by-elections in 2014 had no Lib. Dem. candidate and far too many of the rest saw Lib. Dems. polling less than 5 per cent speaks for itself.

    We need to re-build our local government base across the land so we can once again contest and win council seats in ALL areas, not just a select few. More than ever we need to have radical, campaigning, effective Liberal Democrat councillors to defend public services against Tory (& Labour) cuts and to promote a genuine Liberal ‘community politics’ approach to empowering local communities and helping them to help themselves.

    Our national success in winning more Westminster seats over the past 20 years was built on our local government success. Many of our MPs owe their seats to previous local government successes in their areas. There are clear signs that those MPs most likely to survive next May are those in areas where we still have a strong local government base.

    Much of the debate on LDV is about our national polling, experience in government, performance of the Leader etc. etc. But it’s actually our local government base which is more important to the re-building of our party post-May next year.

    Lib. Dem. councillors are the public face of our party in their local communities. The activists, the campaigners, often the fund-raisers, the membership recruiters, the people who get things done.

    Local elections are the means by which we can re-build our support throughout the UK. Local election victories the means by which we can re-build morale and put our policies into practice at a local level. Instead of just talking about whether we can save a couple of dozen Westminster seats next May let’s give a higher priority to considering how we can fight and win more local council seats so we can again be a truly national party with elected representation in all areas and not just a fortunate few.

  • David Evans 20th Dec '14 - 5:17pm

    Peter is right. Put simply our bastions are wherever we have a group of Lib Dems who are still working, fighting and winning. Not just those where we have an MP or control the council. Indeed those centres without an MP or a big council group, but still survive are those that make me most proud to be a Lib Dem. These stalwarts fight not for the personal glory of bums on ministerial seats, or even positions in council, but for their local communities, against uncaring and domineering local Tory and Labour Administrations which do not give a damn for individual people, just for their votes.

    That is tragedy of Nick. He has made it massively more difficult for these stalwarts to survive. We have lost many, not from lack of effort or ability on their part, but just from public animosity and distrust of Lib Dem values as personified by him, undermining their great efforts. Where they do survive is a testament to them and the values and teamwork they promote, plus that bit of luck we all need. If only Nick looked on them as part of the team and not just disposable shock troops, things would have been so much different. Local councillor scepticism of the coalition agreement; independent voices not easily swayed or silenced by patronage; real experience in government and dealing with duplicitous Tories (and Labour) – what is there not to like?

    By comparison, councillors among us who have an MP’s staff to back us up have never had it so easy, Focuses largely written, printed and paid for; deliverers often recruited; all we have to do is make sure we don’t mess up in the council.

    While in charge Nick has lost us half of all those councillors we had when he became leader – a litany of decline and destruction. It will take decades to get them back, indeed after 2015, wherever we lose an MP, there will doubtless be a further turning of the screw. It is a long, long way back, but we have to start right now.

  • Martin Land 20th Dec '14 - 7:43pm

    Liberal Democrats. Winning Somewhere.

  • Dave Fawcett,
    I was a member and activist in Durham back in the 80s. Remember Gateshead and its development well. Note I said in “many many” areas, I hope Gateshead is not one, but outside the “bastions”, I fear for most other places, the lost deposits will be enormous.

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