By-election update: Lib Dems make a gain from Tories in Wantage

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Last Thursday saw four principal by-elections.

In Wantage Charlton (Vale of White Horse district council) the Liberal Democrats missed out on taking the seat by just 49 votes. The by-election, caused by the conviction of the previous Conservative councillor, saw the Tories hold the seat with 41.9% (-5.3%). Jim Sabbald, the Liberal Democrat candidate, took 38.4% (+2.5%). Labour came third with 11% and the Greens last with 8.8%.

However the by-election on Wantage Town Council caused by the disqualification of the same former councillor saw Jim Sabbald gain the seat with 39.9% of the vote. The Conservatives finished runner up with 37.6% and the same Labour and Green candidates did marginally better than their District results coming third and fourth again.

The Liberal Democrats did not stand candidates in the other three principal by-elections.

In Coal Aston ward in North East Derbyshire the Conservatives held on with 46.3%, Labour were second with 36.5% and UKIP came third on 17.2%.

In Belle Vue ward in north Cumbria Labour saw a 20.1% drop in their vote but still held the seat; the Conservative vote remained stable and UKIP (who did not stand last time) took 19%.

In Flintshire’s Flint Trelawny ward the successful Labour candidate came just 89 votes ahead of UKIP. Labour saw a 17.8% drop in their support and UKIP (who again did not stand last time) took 28.8%. An independent candidate took third place with 26.7% and the Conservatives came last with 6% of the vote.

For all the detailed results see the ALDC elections 

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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  • Chris Manners 14th Apr '14 - 2:06pm

    Shouldn’t you change the headline to make it clear it was a town council seat you won in Wantage?

  • The main news was the failure to win the District seat, the lack of candidates in other wards where there were elections and our continuing ability to be humiliated in by election after by election where we can find a candidate. These are the darkest times for the party and no attempt at glossing this over will do, work or fool anyone.
    We need someone to submit an article setting this out instead of these attempts to rally the troops. Its like the Yorktown garrison pretending they could win, when totally surrounded by the American and French forces. Nobody is taken in.

  • A Social Liberal 14th Apr '14 - 5:34pm

    In the by election for the South Ward of Skipton Town Council we got the grand total of 34 votes, an independent taking the ward. We were expecting not to do well, but 34 votes?

  • Paul in Twickenham 14th Apr '14 - 5:37pm

    Evening Standard London voting intention poll by You Gov.

    Euros (change relative to 2009 elections)
    Con 25% (-2%)
    Lab 33% (+12%)
    Ukip 24% (+13%)
    LD 11% (-3%)

    Borough elections (change relative to locals in 2010)
    Con 34% (+2%)
    Lab 40% (+7%)
    LD 12% (-10%)
    Ukip 9% (+8%)

  • Paul in Twckenham

    If the London Borough election results are even remotely similar to this poll then the party will have lost everything it has built over the last 50 years.

    I just hope this poll is wrong.

  • David Evans 14th Apr '14 - 7:37pm

    It’s not the party that will have lost everything it has built over the last 50 years. Nick has lost it.

  • We must all pray for the resignation of the leader in 6 weeks time. It is our only hope albeit a slender one, but you never know come a years time.

  • Bill le Breton 14th Apr '14 - 8:26pm

    Nick Clegg has indeed ‘lost’ everything we have worked to build over 40 or more years. But he has been aided andvabetted by those who should have intervened before now.

    The latest poll from ICM is telling. ICM, the blue ribon pollster …

    As the polling guru Mike Smithson has written today, “Clegg’s Farage debate gamble looks like a failure
    For me ICM IS the gold standard and I regard its monthly survey for the Guardian as the most important polling event of the month. ICM is also the firm that traditionally reports the best shares for the Lib Dems.
    Tonight the firm has the yellows down 3% to meagre 6% for the May 22 EP elections which would mean on a uniform swing that they’d lose every single MEP.
    This is really bad for Clegg and his party but it’s hard to see what can be done.”

    But we have a year if we had the right figure head.

  • Theakes, according to this Nick intends to continue as leader until 2020, no matter how bad the European Election results.

  • As a former Lib Dem I think Browne makes a good point. The party need to make a clear message what the party stands for and needs to set a vision for what it wants Britain to achieve. At the moment Clegg seems to be giving the message ” vote lib dem and we will babysit which ever party gets in”. This message is not really going to get people’s juices flowing.

  • And I ask again because I’m truly curious, sorry if you all discussed before and I missed it.

    If Clegg steps down next month, what do you all hope it will happen to the coaliton? Does Hughes stays in the government until an election? How soon can the party call for an election? If Farron is the new leader, do the LibDems just leave the Coalition before the five years term and the next budget or would he be willing to be the new DPM? Do people here think leaving the Coalition in a few months would be good for the party?

  • David Evans 14th Apr '14 - 9:40pm

    Sandy, you’re asking the wrong question. if Nick stands down next month … It’s party time! 🙂

  • Nick won’t – and shouldn’t – do anything until after the next GE. Then rebuilding can take place, ironically with a better than average chance (for us ) that we might still be in govt.

  • Sandy, since Lib Dems are the most Democratic Party, I guess it would have to be discussed at a Special Conference,

  • Nick Clegg should stand down absolutely no doubt about that, but Sandy raises good points – who will replace him and what happens to the coalition. As a replacement I think we can rule out some of the high profile MP’s – Laws, Alexander, Brown etc because they are to closely linked to Clegg, I’m not sure that their vision for the Lib Dems would be much different from his. I previously thought Farron may have been an alternative, but having seen his more recent TV appearances I’ve change my mind. I saw him discussing the Farage and Clegg debates with a very average member of UKIP and he didn’t come across very well. I would support Charles Kennedy – if his health was up to it – at least as a temporary measure, for me he was the best leader we have had by far. As for the coalition I would like to see us split from the Tories – the whole thing has been a disaster for the Lib Dems and the country. We would no doubt get a thumping if there was a early GE, but that is going to happen anyway and who knows with a new leader who took us out of the coalition we just may get a bit of a boost. I would certainly look forward to Kennedy tackling Cameron and Milliband in the leadership debates. However, the main thing is that Clegg must go, he is not trusted by the voters and is not up the job.

  • As Phyllis has pointed out no matter how bad it gets Nick Clegg has decided he will not resign as leader. His position makes sense in that he wants to defend what we have done in government. When he says he is staying until 2020 I assume this assumes that we are still in a Coalition Government with some other party after the 2015 election.

    As Nick Clegg will not resign the only hope that there could be a new leader before the general election would be if at least 75 Local Parties during the AGM season passed resolutions requesting that a leadership contest be started and at least one MP stood against him!

    My preferred candidate to be our new leader is Jenny Willott because she has been a councillor and she resigned from the government to vote against tuition fees.

  • Alex Meredith 15th Apr '14 - 8:53am

    This is an extraordinary thread. From by-election success to leadership contest in three angry steps! We worked hard in Wantage, with great support from OxWAb and came very close to taking the District seat (49 votes). We increased the share of the vote and did take the Town seat. In the face of a strong campaign from the Tories we are making gains and had there been a UKIP candidate we would probably have taken both seats. Congratulations to Jim and all the team. Good luck to those who want to spend their time carping about the leadership, we’ll get on with working and winning.

  • This is an interesting discussion about the manner of Clegg’s departure.

    Amalric, malc, Phyllis, David Evans, all make good points. I hope that Clegg and others at the top of the party keep in mind what is in the best interests of the party.
    There seems to be a growing swell of opinion that he should go sooner rather than later — which is theakes’ point.

    But how do the people at the top of the party engineer this so it is not damaging to the party?

    Charitable people might also suggest that it would be better if it were not damaging to Clegg.
    If for no other reason it would be better for it not to be damaging to Clegg so that people who are loyal to him are not alienated. There have been far too many people alienated from the party over the last 7years, we do to want to lose any more.

    It is not in the future interests of the party for Clegg’s name and his 7 years as leader to become a memory of dismal failure. Clegg is a national joke at the moment but that noteriety might fade in time if he could be shifted somewhere appropriate.

    An EU job which has a measure of respectability and adds to the credibility of the party would perhaps be the perfect solution. It is also the one area where his failed gambit against Farage might still have some credit.

    The timing of his departure is also best handled carefully. If he were to go as leader but remain as DPM that would be a new achievement in UK politics although it has been seen in other EU countries. With such an arrangement the leader of the party could concentrate on the success and message of the party whilst Clegg continues to do whatever it is that he does with his two dozen special advisors in Whitehall. Thereafter Clegg could be put out to grass in a field deemed correct at the time. Although given his marked lack of popularity in the un-reformed House of Lords I doubt that either he or they would welcome him being ” kicked upstairs”.

    Given his banking and lobbying experience, he would no doubt be able to pick up all sorts of lucrative positions — but it is unlikely that such a path would reflect well on the party.

    There are however a number of respectable international roles for former statesman and a Deputy Prime Minister could (at a stretch) fall into that sort of role. One of Mr Branson’s “elders” perhaps? Or something to do with the UN, or maybe the International Monetary Fund.

    Or he could just pop up on the BBC and Sky every now and again to impart words of wisdom on any subject whilst writing the occasional article for the Guardian or the Independent. And of course he could write his memoirs. Paddy has so far written four volumes to half fill a moderately sized bookshelf, and hopefully made a euro or two from his efforts. Clegg could do the same although his life has not been quite so action packed as our hero From Norton sub Hamden

    If this was they US he could become an ambassador to somewhere comfortable. Or if he wanted a challenge his family connections to the Ukraine might be an advantage.

    So how will the people at the top of the party arrange for Clegg to depart with some degree of respect?

    Of course it is possible that an answer has already been found and it is all a matter of time. The last week in May of this year could see a gentlemanly announcement. He could slip away from the chores and responsibilities of leading a party in which he has never really been at home.

    We could all get back to building the Liberal Democrats as a party based firmly in our communities, that wins elections and increases the number MEPs, MPs and councillors rather than squandering them. We could work with ordinary people to take power and use it.

  • Apologies — that should have said Norton-sub-Hamdon

  • Simon Banks 17th Apr '14 - 8:30am

    Actually, Yorktown was by no means a foregone conclusion, especially as there was a prospect of a relief force.

    Yes, there is little point and even some harm in spinning this more positively than it deserves. In seats we came close to winning last time, the most helpful circumstances for a by-election imaginable resulted in a very small shift to us and one gain, one miss.

    More significant, I’m afraid, is the statement that in the other three seats up for grabs we didn’t contest.

    In the 1970s the Liberal Party put a lot of effort into turning a party with a patchy presence here and there (strong in a few places, weak in many, absent in some) into a genuinely national party. Merger with the SDP filled some gaps. Now we’re in danger of reversing the process and with a central operation that does not seem to understand the importance of local party organisation as long as membership figures aren’t too bad, we need to remind ourselves as soon as the general election is over of the importance of supporting and advancing the party where it’s weak and in danger of disappearing as an organised local presence.

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