Chris Wiggin not seeking Lib Dem nomination for Barnsley Central by-election

Liberal Democrat campaigner Chris Wiggin has announced that he will not seek the party’s nomination for the forthcoming parliamentary by-election in Barnsley Central, to be triggered shortly by the announced resignation of the sitting MP Eric Illsley.

Chris, who stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Barnsley Central in the May 2010 General Election and came second with 6,394 votes, indicated that he will concentrate his efforts on standing in Heslington ward in this year’s City of York Council elections.

Chris said:

It was an honour standing for Parliament last year in Barnsley Central for the first time. I was delighted to secure second place for the Liberal Democrats and it was a great learning experience for me.

Having pleaded guilty, Eric Illsley had no choice but to resign. It is inconceivable that someone who has betrayed voters in this way could continue to serve as an MP. The people of Barnsley Central deserve better.

However, York is my home and I want to focus on campaigning to win in Heslington at the local elections in May.

Living locally means I can work with residents to address the issues that concern them the most and ensure that they have a strong voice representing them.

I have enjoyed meeting the residents of Heslington over the last few months, and I look forward to continuing to work with them and for them.

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This entry was posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections.


  • Dave Warren 19th Jan '11 - 7:57pm

    It is one of Labours’ safest seats so it will be a tough fight.

    I fully understand Chris’ decision to concentrate on fighting
    the local elections in his home city and the party will now
    have to start the process of selecting a new candidate.

    Is it possible that the byelection will be held on the same
    day as the local elections?

  • Daniel Russell 19th Jan '11 - 8:11pm

    It is possible that it will be the same day as the locals as Illsley is yet to quit but I would imagine it will be before as Labour, sensing a win, will want to get on with it.

  • dave thawley 19th Jan '11 - 10:29pm

    Its not going to be a tough fight it will be another slaughter – a tough fight would be Cleggs seat which we would loose at the moment – quite rightly too. We can’t go around going out of our way supporting the tories, showing people we are liars and then our leaders lying to us repeatedly and get away with it. I think he should work hard to keep his seat in May. He will most probably be one of the hundreds of us voted out as a direct result of clegg selling us to the tory party. Again, I don’t blame the public and i I wasn’t a member of the party I think I would be voting against us in May as well. Clegg needs to go now so that we can reclaim our party and allow it to go back to the left of centre where it belongs.

  • best of luck in May Chris!

  • @Benjamin

    Am i right in thinking that your name is blue, this means you are staff on this site. If not my advanced apologies. If so i thik you should look at the way you deal with people with apposing opinions. Myabe a bit more diplomacy. The critiscism is hard to har, I understand that, but there is no excuse for rudeness.

    Back on topic.
    Barnsley Central is my constituency and it is indeed a Labour stronghold, always has been. But at the last election I spoke to many people in the town that were finally turning their back on Labour due to their polocies, mainly over the last 5 years, and saw Libdem as the alternative.
    All I hear from them now is why they will be voting Labour again, or BNP, as the libdems have let them down.
    In fact, if Eric Illsley stood again for the labour party he would undoubtedly increase his majority. This is a damning inditement of the way the libdems are percieved in Barnsley now. As far as voters in Barnsley are concerned they may as well vote tory, cause thats what they get with libdems.
    Its been a hard battle in Barnsley and the last few months have set us back 10 years. How do we fix this.?

  • This isa very nice argument, Andrew. The problem is that in Barnsley Central you are having to overturn a lot more than a few years of ingrained traditional voting. I live in the constituency next to Barnsley Central and although the state of things have undoubtedly fluctuated over the past 13 years, for most people they are infinitely better than the state things were in when the tories were last in power and I agree with them (sure, what recovery there has been could be purely coincidental but Labour will still get the benefit). It’s going to take a few more generations for the tories to shake off the image of the Government that killed Barnsley and unfortunately their unpopularity is going to taint the Lib Dems for quite a while as well, even if the coalition should end.

    The local Labour party has been returned to its natural position of strength as a stalwart opposition outpost and thorn in the side of Whitehall (a position which it even maintained during the years of NuLabour) and has finally regained it’s old enemy, a tory government. If you want to stand even a chance of getting votes, you’ll have to knock on every door and absolutely trash the conservatives which will get a few votes but I imagine not impress LD HQ.

  • Why not put up a single coalition candidate. Michael Gove has, in parliament, suggested that voters act tactically in either supporting the Lib Dems or the Tories. Consolidating the two parties into one would be a more honest way of permitting this behaviour.

  • James Loxten 20th Jan '11 - 12:11pm

    As I see it – this is a non-story. Mr Wiggin was selected as a paper candidate for Barnsley Central anyway, did nothing in the General Election – including never once setting foot inside the Constituency, not putting out a single piece of literature and not even attending the count so I hear.

    Coming 2nd was left to total chance. I’m guessing has not even had the courtesy to speak with the local party to see if they would even want him as their candidate now that they have a chance to look at other options.

  • Given the circumstances, surely this seat “ought” to have been a realistic prospect for the LD’s to win in a by-election? The fact that it isn’t only reinforces the misgivings many people have about the direction of the party. Without the votes of many people on the centre left who have profound misgivings about the Coalition and its programme, and have (as many posts on this site attest) been abandoning the party, how can any progress realistically be expected?

    What is noteable, and lamentable in my view, is the hostile reception which seems to be habitual on this site to anyone daring to criticise the party. What we don’t need is people who support the Coalition further alienating those whose votes propelled the party from a handful of seats to it’s current position.

    If what you want is slavish adherence to the current party line, why not just make it members only?

    What is it that those of you who so savagely attack people protesting about the Coalition are so scared of?

  • Andy, even in the most optimistic scenario for a byelection, Barnsley Central would not be remotely winnable. As Veeten has carefully explained in current conditions we have zero chance.

  • @ Benjamin

    That isn’t what is happening at all! There are PLENTY of ex LD voters and members who are at their wits end about where the decision to enter the Coalition leaves them politically. It is a grotesque charicature to say that such people believe everything Labour says is right. I have no more love for Labour (and particularly New Labour) than I do for the Tories.

    Attempting to hide the perilous state of the party behind criticisms that ANY principled opposition is not constructive, or can be simply be dismissed because some of it prophesies doom and destruction, is just a cop out. What is worse, on a site which purports to be open to all, the overtly hostile reception often given looks like an attempt to stifle debate.

    It betrays a certain desperation on the part of those who support the Coalition who insist that everything is just hunky dory, when it clearly isn’t. Remember that there are many still within the party who are deeply unhappy with the current direction, and similarly many like me who will take a lot of convincing to return to the fold.

    Of course there are alternatives to current policies. Many economists feel that the Coalition are cutting too far, too fast; indeed that was what the LD’s were saying prior to the election. The narrative that things were worse than expected, and/or that it was ALL Labour’s fault is unconvincing. Light touch regulation would have been even lighter had the Tories been in charge, and whatever Labour’s faults they didn’t bring about the recession on their own.

    Similarly with the cuts; nobody is saying there shouldn’t be any, the issue is are those being introduced the right ones, are they progressive, and are they well planned and thought out. The answer in many cases of course is no. Nobody is expecting the junior Coalition partner to get everything it wants, but many former and current supporters believe that the initial deal was flawed, and that actions since bear this out. I for one have seen nothing that convinces me otherwise.

    It isn’t a case of wanting to be in perpetual opposition, or being afraid of compromise, or of any Coalition with the Tories (altho’ I realise that it comforts those who support the Coalition to characterise opponents that way!!), it IS a case of thinking that sometimes a bad deal is worth walking away from, and that this particular deal was and is bad for the party and the country.

    Time will tell who is proved to be correct of course, but it seems to me that steering the party on it’s current course is a lot more questionable than principled opposition, since it risks reducing the party to a centrist rump undoing decades of work in a few months.

  • @ Tim 13

    In current conditions, yes; that’s rather my point. There is zero chance in Barnsley and many other areas (some probably more promising) due to the current position of the party, and the policies it is identified with. Similarly with Oldham & Saddleworth – given the circumstances, it ought to have been a shoo-in. The reasons it wasn’t are self evident.

  • Well yes – there is zero chance of you getting in here in Barnsley – I didn’t get a leaflet from you through my door for the general election (the BNP managed to) and when I emailed you to see if you were fielding a candidate I got no response. (i’m still waiting….) I eventually found out (probably on examination of my ballot paper) that the candidate was from York so probably had never set foot in Barnsley.

    I have voted liberal every general election since I could vote. but no more. I feel very let down by the LibDems on many levels.

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