Chesham & Amersham: Tories blame loss on a kitchen sink, a dog and a cat

The result was in just before 2am this morning. What a result.

Readers should beware that this post includes allegations of a kitchen sink drama and cruelty to animals. Allegations from the Tories of course.

When you read Peter Fleet’s comments – he was the low profile Conservative candidate by the way – you can understand why he didn’t win. He blamed the result on the Lib Dems working hard. Yes. That’s what we do. He hadn’t expected the result. How broken is the Tory machine that it can’t read the writing on the wall? The posters in the windows. The talk on the doorsteps. The changing demographics in a constituency.

Very broken it seems and nothing to do with kitchen sinks.


Quoted across the media including Sky News, Peter Fleet said:

Clearly this was a very disappointing result, not the result that I was expecting nor my team. It’s an absolutely extraordinary result which must take into account the fact that the Liberal Democrat party didn’t just throw the kitchen sink at this constituency…

You can see why Peter Fleet lost. He thinks the result is absolutely extraordinary. Was he so out of touch, that he was expecting to win? The Tories rolled out the big wigs. Even my local MP, Philip Dunne, turned out for an appearance.

The Lib Dems turned out the activists. Real people. On real streets. Talking on real doorsteps.

Blaming the Lib Dems for his historic loss, Peter Fleet tried to shrug off the reality that the Tories lost because, well, they are Tories. He said:

The Liberal Democrat party didn’t just throw the kitchen sink at this constituency, I think it was the microwave, the table, the oven, the dishwasher, the dog, the cat and anything else that was lying around as well.

And we should consider that when we reflect upon the extraordinary nature of the result.

I am sure Lib Dem campaigners saw microwaves and tables on their journeys around Chesham and Amersham. But we don’t throw dogs and cats around. Our regular correspondents to Lib Dem Voice, Newshound and Newsmoggie, would be very upset.

It is always difficult to speak after a defeat. But Peter Fleet’s comments show how out of touch the Tories have become. Even in what are claimed to be leafy Tory shires, Sarah Green and the Lib Dems won this by-election. Magnificently. But the Tories also lost the election. Lost it badly. And they were so out of reality, they clearly didn’t expect to lose.

The Tories don’t have a right to assume they own seats. No party or MP does. We won this by-election because our candidate and our teamwork were just the best. The Tories lost it because they expected to win and are just the worst.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • While knocking up yesterday in Amersham, I knew that we were doing well. It was not only the number of people I spoke to who were voting Lib Dem for the first time – it was the enthusiasm with which they were voting “for Sarah”.

    This was confirmed by a conversation with a Tory activitist who was knocking up on the same street – who told us of the negative response he was getting from his list of ‘Tory supporters’ (yes, the Conservatives still do their compaigning with paper lists). Not only that – he said that had placed a bet for the Lib Dems to win!

  • John Marriott 18th Jun '21 - 8:15am

    A foot in the door? The breakthrough at last? Whatever spin you care to out on it, it’s a massive achievement for pragmatism, a typically thorough Lib Dem by election campaign and clearly an excellent candidate. Who cares about the kitchen sink? But, please no crowing. As Mao said, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Don’t blow it. Don’t throw it away! But WELL DONE!

  • Peter Jones 18th Jun '21 - 8:27am

    I live near Chesham and, until I stood down in May this year, had been a Lib Dem councillor here for since 1991. Three lessons from this win, please.
    1. Thank you to the avalanche of helpers from all over the country. this is a win for every single one of you, well done.
    2. All the candidates, even the hapless Tory, tried to position themselves as being anti-HS2. Our party has often looked at the open goal of opposing HS2, and decided the kick the ball the other way. What Sarah needs to do as our MP is harry every step that HS2 makes and point out every time they chop down a tree that should have been left standing, every time they damage the environment when they say they wouldn’t, every time their lorries drive down country lanes that they said they wouldn’t, every time they CPO a house or a field then don’t pay for it. And so on, including supporting those protesting.
    3. Ed Davey was almost right on Radio 4 this morning in saying that new housing was a key factor in the election. What he should have said is that the electors have clearly said they don’t want houses built on the Green Belt or the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. (The Tory councils’ local plan to do just that was an important factor in their defeat, I believe). Simple – no housing in the Green Belt or the AoNB. That is also a Conservative election manifesto pledge – hold them to it, Sarah!

  • As I stand here on a were Friday trying to sell from a market stall it is warming news. I feel that if it wasn’t for labour being so useless at the moment the Tories wouldn’t look half as comfortable. Time to step up as a real alternative.

    Though we won before and got no place. So I guess do it better and push on.

    Well done to Sarah and the team!

  • Fantastic result for Lib Dems.

    Only note of caution, easy for the Lib Dems to be against the planning reforms in a one off by election, but a lot more difficult in a general election. In a general election the Lib Dems need to have a coherent plan about how and where all the houses will be built (especially if you advocate a liberal immigration policy).

  • George Thomas 18th Jun '21 - 8:50am

    Presumably 1.6% of Greens fall in vote and 11.2% of Labour’s fall in vote compared to last time helped boost the LD’s. Tactical voting to stop yet another Tory seat or one candidate being by far the best and electorate being able to forget their usual allegiances because of that?

    Early analysis saying “As I said, they’ve done it by campaigning on a) HS2 b) Development Housing c) sense of Conservative southern neglect.”

    No nation or region deserves to be neglected but some have been far more and for far longer than the south of England in the last 18 months. It would be strange if HS2 (generally good for the environment) and greater focus on regions of England away from the south played such a large role when LD’s would ordinarily be calling for that.

  • Donald Cameron 18th Jun '21 - 8:59am

    Congratulations on a great By-Election victory and much thanks to a fine Candidate and an avalanche of Lib Dem campaigners convincing the voters how to vote. Older Members will remember the huge victory at Crosby by Shirley W. but success faded away. As Dj and slamdac have said, we must push on and maintain the Media publicity and getting our good Lib Dem message through to the voters.

  • Paul Barker 18th Jun '21 - 9:19am

    Congratulations & massive thanks to everyone who made this possible, including The Labour Voters who “lent” us their Votes, the current Tory lead is built on sand, they can be kicked out.

  • @slamdac

    The key on planning and house building is, as Ed said on BBC Breakfast, is working with and involving the local community. By and large developers like using greenfield sites as it is easier and therefore cheaper and generates more profits for them – but I suspect that more than enough land is available not to build on the green belt and indeed pretty much on greenfield sites outside the green belt. But it does *seem* that the Tories are in the pockets of the big developers – the Tories get the donations, the developers get the greater profits!

    There is also likely to be the opportunity post-covid to have more housing in city/town centres if there are fewer shops/offices there which is great as many are dead after 6pm but have the potential to have a greater nightlife and many 18-35s prefer to be there than stuck out in the rural sticks.

    On Brexit/Immigration. Brexiteers are calling for the return of European workers! Actually I suspect that the EU was more nuanced on housing with for example retired couples going to live in Spain once their family had grown up and then renting out their properties as a family home again. I suspect that far far fewer will now be retiring to EU countries with all the hassles, red tape and problems it now involves.

  • Graham Jeffs 18th Jun '21 - 9:33am

    The change to the planning environment is key.

    This exemplifies the hypocritical way in which the Conservative Party talks about localism whilst taking away local planning powers.

    Here in West Sussex we are threatened with a tsunami of house building. It’s urbanisation – as local communities experience the prospect of being ‘united’ with their neighbours. And as for the coastal strip – don’t go there!

    There needs to be a much more considered approach to housing provision across the country. Here even affordable housing isn’t affordable – and that won’t be resolved by concreting over the countryside.

  • neil James sandison 18th Jun '21 - 9:53am

    Congrats to Sarah and her team a well deserved win. The question is how do we capitalise on this win. Clearly the Tory top down approach to planning and national infrastructure projects is a key issue . We see it here in the midlands too where they have a real disregard to genuine local concerns fail to bring local communities with them despite the highest levels of public engagement . The Tories have been brought lock stock and barrel by the development industry with massive financial donations to their coffers and residents whilst grateful for the vaccine roll out still want a quality environment in which to live , caring services that work when needed and affordable homes rather than volume units for profit on landscape scale development with poor infrastructure.

  • Barry Lofty 18th Jun '21 - 9:54am

    Wow! What a result and glad my scepticism was proved wrong, after witnessing over fifty years of Conservative dominance in this constituency it was wonderful to hear this result. Congratulations to Sarah and everyone involved, I think my grandfather will be dancing in his grave at this outcome, as will many other people I knew so well over the years!!

  • Peter Martin 18th Jun '21 - 10:10am

    Congrats to the Lib Dems for a very unexpected win.

    The Lib Dems might want to take a leaf out of Sarah Green’s playbook. In this case the campaign list on her website. In other words, stop banging on about Brexit and get back to safer topics that no-one can disagree with. Who doesn’t want safer roads and an end to fly tipping?

  • Probably the best by-election result for our party since David Rendel’s triumph in Newbury in 1993, when we got a 28.4% swing and held the seat for the next twelve years. The whole team, locals and activists from all over the country who came to help out, but particularly each and every one of those stalwarts who kept the show on the road during and after the mess that was coalition, deserve our heartfelt thanks.

    Sarah and the rest of the Lib Dem team now need our help to make sure they can build on those local strengths to make sure that like David Rendel and people like Paul Walter in Newbury, we have a real core strength to fight off the inevitable negative counter attacks the Conservatives will doubtless engineer.

    But for now …

    Well done to all!

  • Roger Billins 18th Jun '21 - 10:16am

    Well done Sarah and the election team-a great boost to the Party when we needed it. May I suggest that the Party sets up a team at HQ dedicated to holding by election gains !

  • On Topic – the wonderful BBC are doing their best to play down the result – small earthquake, not many dead.
    None of the “Newspapers” covered it in their print editions – 2AM past their bedtime I suppose.
    Labour List have not covered it yet – I see their problem – the Labour Vote collapsed while The Green Vote held up.
    I dont think the fundamentals have changed – any formal “Progressive Alliance” is off the cards for now but a “Non-Agression Pact” is possible where LDs, Labour & Greens agree not to step on each others toes where we can.

  • Yeovil Yokel 18th Jun '21 - 11:25am

    A few observations:
    (1) Perhaps it’s time for some LD supporters on LDV & Twitter to respect the result of the last leadership election and, even if they can’t bring themselves to support Ed Davey, at least to stop undermining him.
    (2) It was good to see Alistair Carmichael supporting Sarah at the count last night – her commute to work will a lot easier than his!
    (2) 16.67% of our MP’s are now called Sarah.

  • From my experience (only one of me, so maybe not a fair sample), three things won it.
    Not HS2 – that was a comparatively minor issue.
    The three things were:
    1. Planning – the local people aren’t opposed to housing development in itself. They want more housing (some of them want to be able to help their children buy houses close to where they live – this is unaffordable at present), and they also want a say in where the houses go and what they look like. Not unreasonable in a beutiful part of the country.
    2. The aid cut. Never before (and I’ve canvassed since 1975) have I had doorstep conversations about international affairs. A lot of very decent proper ‘one nation’ Tories are furious about the aid cut. Doesn’t show Britain in a good light.
    3. Dishonesty and corruption in government. Many local people are/have been in business or the professions and know that if they had behaved like assorted members of the cabinet they would have been sacked forthwith. Doesn’t show Britain in a good light.

    Plus, of course, this was a splendid opportunity to give Boris et al a bloody nose without actually dislodging a government that many of them still hope will come to its senses and behave like the decent Conservatives they used to be able to vote for.

  • michael briggs 18th Jun '21 - 11:31am

    Peter Martin, thank you for your comments. Huge congratulations to Sarah Green who comes across well and in a social liberal way and the Lib Dem team. I echo the comments on planning above and the party’s policy to include local people more in local decisions, rather than ignoring them and that is very pertinent. I live in a London Labour area where the council seems to approve new mass scale developments with minimal affordable housing whereas many properties remain empty so it’s not just the tories not listening to the concerns of local residents. I hope the party takes a clear stand on these issues nationally was well as locally. I didn’t realise that the former MP for Chesham and Amersham, Cheryl Gillan, was also against HS2 despite her party being in favour of it so I don’t see a conflict of interest there for the new MP.

  • @Michael1

    The trouble is that whilst everyone agrees that we more houses, nobody wants them near them. Whilst the local community should be consulted they should not (in exceptional cases) have a veto. Otherwise there is a danger that no houses will be built.

    Also are Lib Dems now against HS2?

  • David Brenton 18th Jun '21 - 12:36pm

    Yeovil Yokel:

    4) 75% of our MPs are now women!

  • Peter Martin 18th Jun '21 - 12:43pm

    @ Slamdac,

    “Also are Lib Dems now against HS2?”

    It would appear so. At least for the stretch of it which passes through the constituency of C&A.

    Maybe we could have extra termini at the constituency boundaries? The passengers could then alight and be transported between the two by some suitably Green and improved bus service which I noticed Sarah Green has promised in her manifesto. 🙂

  • Ian Patterson 18th Jun '21 - 1:36pm

    With hearty congratulations, to the team in C&A can I inject a word or three of caution into this thread, to wit Brecon and Radnor. That was hailed in similar rhapsodic terms and only to be lost at GE 2019. We’ve been here before.

  • Paul Barker 18th Jun '21 - 1:52pm

    Theres been a lot of comment about C & A across the media of which the best so far was on R4,s One O Clock News. They stressed that this wasnt just about local issues but part of the wider re-alignment of British Politics. That change goes back a long way before Brexit.

    One factor that hasnt been mentioned is what the Voters in this By-election didnt talk about – Covid. C & A has been a pointer to what Politics may be like after Covid.

  • Great that one from the Soc/Liberal forum has got in. Just the job.

  • Phil McLellan 18th Jun '21 - 3:13pm

    For many years I was the Chair of the Planning Committee in Gloucester. Over that time I saw a gradual erosion of the rights of local people and local councillors in deciding planning applications. This went from simple things like extending development rights to planning inspectors, using government guidelines to give developers the green light to build estates with very little affordable housing. The latest Troy proposals take this move to the ultimate meaning local people and local planning committees will have a very limited say in where housing goes – potentially a green light for all developers.

    This does not mean we do not need housing but surely local people and local councillors should have a say in where it goes and how much affordable housing etc should be provided.

    This result may cause the government to think again – in one sense I hope it does. If not I suspect Sarah’s campaign will be used at least all over the South of England.

  • Jane Ann Liston 18th Jun '21 - 3:53pm

    ‘ … the microwave, the table, the oven, the dishwasher, the dog, the cat …’

    They would have thrown in the fridge as well, except they were afraid the PM might hide in it!

    Well done, Sarah Green MP.

  • George Thomas 18th Jun '21 - 5:41pm

    margaret, I hope your experience reflects what is going on throughout the constituency – that this result isn’t about HS2 but is about foreign aid and opposing Tories wish for lots of cheap, rushed, ugly housing – but several within Conservative Party are now using the result to bash Boris’ green agenda which is worrying.

    I think there is room for nuance to say the idea of radical green policy is good and needs to be delivered but Boris doesn’t know how to implement it (the problem with HS2 is more about going over budget and not sending a penny to Wales than it not being a good idea for the environment) but if the Conservatives turn against it and LD’s are winning seats opposing because beautiful areas don’t want any building work then we are in trouble.

  • Barry Lofty 20th Jun '21 - 9:11am

    A dislike, to say the least, of this present PM and his administration also played a part!

  • Steve Coltman 20th Jun '21 - 11:50am

    I think the Lib Dems should be cautious about this by-election result. If the two main issues were HS2 and housing/planning the party is on dodgy ground. The party is in favour of large-scale immigration which, at current rates, requires the building of a city the size of Leicester (or the equivalent) EVERY YEAR to accommodate the perpetually increasing population. And the party does not oppose HS2 as far as I can see (but it should, its an offence against rational policy making). So, what exactly were the voters in Amersham voting for, and against? it needs closer analysis, not just wishful thinking.

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