By-election update: Lib Dem progress in Stockport

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Three principal council by-elections were fought yesterday alongside the Parliamentary contest in Rochester & Strood.

In Stockport, the Conservatives held on to their seat in Bramhall South & Woodford despite a hard-fought campaign by the Liberal Democrat team. Polling day saw many volunteers from across the Greater Manchester area descend on the Stockport MB ward in an attempt to clinch victory from the Conservatives. However the Conservative candidate polled 53.2% to secure victory by 578 votes. Liberal Democrat candidate Jeremy Meal managed to increase the party’s vote share by 5.3% from the ward’s previous contest in May in winning 38.4% of the vote.

The story of the council by-election in Peninsula ward in Medway council drew a direct parallel to the Parliamentary contest in the district. The UKIP candidate had defected from the Conservatives at the same time as Mark Reckless and subsequently called a by-election. UKIP secured 34.6% swing from the Conservatives to comfortably take the seat with a majority of 885 votes. There was a disappointing result from a Liberal Democrat point of view with the party polling 1% of the vote.

The contest in Uplands ward on Swansea UA resulted in former Liberal Democrat PPC Peter May winning the seat as an Independent from Labour, with May finishing 118 votes clear of the Labour candidate. Janet Thomas polled 10.4% to finish third ahead of the Conservatives.

For all the detailed results see ALDC elections.

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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26 Comments

  • Charles Rothwell 22nd Nov '14 - 10:15am

    To describe achieving 1% of the vote as “disappointing” speaks volumes for where we are. The Sun helpfully suggests this morning that we merge with the Monster Raving Lunatic Party! As someone who rejoined in response to the “IN” campaign, I feel totally betrayed. Instead of showing Farage/UKIP up for what they are, Clegg succeeded (in combination with Cameron and Milliband also helping due to their total lack of basic political competence) in allowing them to access huge quantities of free broadcasting space which has really given them the momentum to take off from the European and local elections (a total and unmitigated disaster for us) onwards. If someone at the top does not “come clean” soon and present a clear and credible vision and strategy (beyond desperately clinging on to something like half of the current number of MPs and hoping that “something will turn up” in the form of an offer from whichever party happens to secure most seats*), then we might indeed just as well call it a day and go our separate ways (to the Greens, Labour or whomever (as I am sure the “Not any of the above!” drifters have already all jumped overboard and swum to join the Kippers already)). In my view, Fallon is the man who can do this. (*The expert from Strathclyde Andrew Neil always has on hand reckoned, by the way, in the Rochester By-election Special programme that even this ‘strategy’ might be wildly optimistic and that there could be three Scottish MPs left post-May 2015. “Vote for me so that I can stay an MP and possibly get a ministerial job!” has never been a particularly attractive offer to the British electorate but in the current anti-politics/anti-central government mood sweeping across the entire Western world, it could lead us to a similar national position as was experienced in Rochester and Strood this week (or the German FDP has failed to recover from since the Bundestag elections, with thousands of their former supporters seceding and joining the AfD ,which is in turn becoming ever more opportunist, nationalistic, anti-immigrant, anti-EU and xenophobic in general).

  • ALDC is just the parrot on the shoulder of the Campaigns Department.

    I’m sick to death of hearing the work harder mantra. It’s the message and the messenger that are the problems, not activist commitment.

  • The Conservative vote went up as well.

  • Simon Shaw 22nd Nov ’14 – 11:02am
    …,.,,in May 2014. And that was in what were a set of “bad” elections for us.

    Simon, I agree with you that the succes of UKIP is exaggerated, most especially by the BBC and other media.
    But you know a thing or two about winning elections and your experience in the party goes back to the 1970s. We used sometimes to have a “good” set of election results.

    During the last seven years we have had nothing but a set of “bad” elections.
    Every year since Clegg became leader we have suffered in council elections.
    Wales Assembly Elections, Scottish Parliament elections, European Parliament Elections (2009 and 2014), the last General Election, eleven parliamentary by-elections with a lost deposits , none of these were “good” for us.

  • The Bramhall South & Woodford result, and the Queen Edith’s result the previous week, are simply not good enough to hold those two Parliamentary seats next May. That, far more than Rochester & Strood, is something for our MPs to think about over the weekend as they pluck up the courage to tell our so-called “Leader” to go.

  • These elections tell us nothing we havent known since since 2011. Voters punish Parties that form Governments. Nothing much has changed over the last 3 years, we are still averaging 14% in Local Elections. The Medway result was dominated by the fight for the Parliamentary seat & as such was a one-off.
    The only real change over the last 3 Years is the fall in numbers of Candidates we stand & thats down to us, ordinary members & no-one else.

  • Glenn Andrews 22nd Nov '14 - 11:54am

    John; We’ve had nothing but good results here in Cheltenham and the tories have been losing their grip in neighbouring Tewkesbury constituency and even Cirencester turned yellow in the County Council elections so it’s not all doom and gloom – factoring in West Oxfordshire the battle in the Cotswolds is going to be fierce next year and we might not be on the losing side….. but in general I take your point; I think in this neck of the woods we have potential to do far better in the post-Clegg era (which I fully expect to commence next May)

  • Paul Barker’s posts tell us nothing we haven’t known since 2011. Voters punish Parties that break pledges. Nothing much has changed over the last 3 years, Nick remains leader in denial and the party continues to collapse in Local Elections. Paul Barker tells us that everything is a one off and designed to get us to do nothing and allow the party to disintegrate around us.

    The only real change over the last 3 Years is the fall in numbers of active local parties and that is down to Nick and his destruction of morale in a once proud party. No-one else.

  • A Social Liberal 22nd Nov '14 - 12:58pm

    Simon Shaw once again plays with words. Yes, we managed not to lose 427, but 310 Liberal Democrat councillors lost their seats – nearly half.

  • Glenn Andrews 22nd Nov ’14 – 11:54am
    Yes we have had some examples of success here in South West London as well.
    We even elected some Liberal Democrats in May this year when across the rest of the 32 London Boroughs an elected Liberal Democrat is almost as rare as a TV appearance by Clegg in the days following a lost deposit.

    Good to hear about Cheltenham.
    I will keep an eye on Tewkesbury as well, assuming that this winter it stays above the flood water long enough for people to dry out the polling booths for May.

  • IN 201 0- Bramhall South was Con 48%, Lib Dem 41%

  • Stevan Rose 22nd Nov '14 - 3:40pm

    60 votes in the Medway council election. What? Are we down to friends and family of the candidate in some places?

  • Charles Rothwell 22nd Nov '14 - 4:34pm

    I can assure everyone that there is nobody who is happier to hear “good news” than me (Cheltenham, Tewksbury, Cirencester etc.) Long may it continue! What I am getting sick of is hearing about lost deposit after lost deposit in contests which everyone except an ultra-Panglossian believes can result in anything beyond further humiliation and allowing us to be the but of ridicule of the red tops, the Kippers and the pseudo-Kippers (Tories who have not yet had the guts to defect but are waiting instead for their party to split like a ripe peach). We were absolutely right NOT to stand in the recent South Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner elections and to de facto give Labour a clear run against the ex-desk sergeant the Kippers put up as their candidate. We need to be assessing EVERY contest MUCH more clinically and identifying where we can win and then really GOING for it (with the top party leadership being as visible as possible!) As Liberals, we should be able to learn even from those who were most decidedly NOT Liberals in any way whatsoever:
    “But when we want to fight you, we make sure that you can’t get away and we hit you squarely on the chin and wipe you out. When we are able to wipe you out, we do so with a vengeance; when we can’t, we see to it that you don’t wipe us out. It is opportunism if one won’t fight when one can win. It is adventurism if one insists on fighting when one can’t win.”

  • Peter Watson 22nd Nov '14 - 8:31pm

    @Simon Shaw “We need remind ourselves at times that, for every 2 UKIP councillors elected on May, there were over 5 Lib Dems elected.”
    But for every 13 Lib Dem votes there were 17 UKIP votes. It’s a hollow victory if it is because of the vagaries of an unproportional first-past-the-post system that Lib Dems oppose.

  • Peter Watson 22nd Nov '14 - 8:39pm

    @paul barker “we are still averaging 14% in Local Elections.”
    Does this calculation only include the seats in which Lib Dem candidates stand?
    It seems reasonable to assume that candidates avoid the seats where there is the least support, in which case 14% would be a very flattering figure (or a pessimistic one if you are counting 0% for each seat that Lib Dems avoid).

  • Tony Greaves 22nd Nov '14 - 8:49pm

    The Bramhall result was a 1.4% swing to the Tories, an odd kind of “progress”.

    Queen Edith’s is not in the Cambridge constituency.

    Just saying.

  • Simon Shaw 22nd Nov ’14 – 8:48pm
    “………In those places where it matters (i.e. where we have a chance of winning) it has held up much better. ”

    Simon, were you deliberately excluding all 32 London Boroughs when you made that calculation?
    We had all up London Borough elections in May of this year. Check the results from May against those seats where there are Liberal Democrat MPs or where we came second in the 2010 General Election.
    In some of those places “where it matters” we were wiped out.

    I am guessing you would agree that there are some places “where it matters” in Manchester. Is it not true that every councillor in Manchester is now Labour except the one who is Independent Labour?

  • Tony Greaves wrote:

    “Queen Edith’s is not in the Cambridge constituency.”

    I am very much aware of that. However, it is right next door to the Cambridge constituency and within the City of Cambridge. Surely it is reasonable to wonder if the mediocre Lib Dem performance and rising Tory vote in Queen Edith’s might be reflected on the other side of the street?

  • @ sesenco

    No, that’s not the case.

  • “The places “where it matters” in Manchester are in Stockport MBC, Greater Manchester. I’ve not carried out any detailed analysis but my assumption is that they have been doing broadly as well as we have in Southport over the last 4 years.”

    Simon – seats or votes? We have been wining in Southport but on reduced vote shares. As I keep saying a win is a win is a win but only a fool doesn’t recognise the issue and dangers of falling vote share

    Looking at the figures for local election vote share all three are about the same (if you make some rough allowance for Heald Green). I wouldn’t have any of them uppermost on my at risk list – but nor would I be bouncing around the internet being superconfident on a sub 35% vote share without very strong evidence that the performance at a General Election would exceed that in the corresponding locals. IN 2010 in Cheadle every wardbar Heald Green polled above 45%, in Hazel Grove every one was above 45 except one (which was 44) and in Sefton all above 45% except one at about 35%.

    If I were a betting man I’d bet on holding all three but there is a pretty big note of caution there!

    Hazel Grove
    Liberal Democrat – 8,387 (34.57%)
    Conservative – 6,116 (25.21%)
    UKIP – 4,565 (18.82%)
    Labour – 4,255 (17.54%)
    Green – 790 (3.26%)
    BNP – 149 (0.61%)

    Cheadle (bear in mind that one ward is pretty much a non-party one-party state if there is such a thing)
    Liberal Democrats – 9,110 (31.64%)
    Conservatives – 8,557 (29.72%)
    Labour – 4,635 (16.10%)
    UKIP – 3,655 (12.70%)
    Heald Green Ratepayer – 2,010 (6.98%)
    Greens – 822 (2.86%)

    Compared to Southport
    Lib Dem – 8,473 34.24%
    UKIP – 6,177 24.96%
    Conservative – 4,891 19.76%
    Labour – 3,231 13.06%
    Greens – 1,141 4.61%
    Southport Party – 834 3.37%

    [Figures from the Vote-2012 boards and unchecked]

  • @paul barker:

    “These elections tell us nothing we havent known since since 2011. Voters punish Parties that form Governments.”

    These results may teach YOU nothing new, Paul, because there is little evidence that you knew anything about elections before.

    The Bramhall result is ‘good in parts’. The Tory vote went up fractionally more than ours did but there was no UKIP candidate this time. The good news was a major squeeze on the Labour vote, the kind which few other local Parties know how to effect and maintain. Stockport Local Party deserve a lot of credit for this.

    Hywel’s figures above present both a cautionary tale and a ray of hope at the same time. I have been saying for a couple of years now that we need to work out how to hold on to seats while polling between 30 and 40 per cent of the vote. This is a very different activity, psychologically, than winning on 45-plus per cent. You can win when two out of three people you canvass are not voting for you. This feels strange and can make less-experienced canvassers feel despondent.Victory can be achieved, however, in these circumstances, thanks to UKIP splitting the vote disproportionately.

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