Crewe and Nantwich by-election: open (speculation) thread

There are just four hours til polls close in today’s by-election to decide who will succeed the formidable Gwyneth Dunwoody as MP for Crewe and Nantwich.

Everyone’s expecting a solid Conservative victory, which would be their first by-election triumph against the incumbent party since 1982. The key question seems to be: how big will be their majority? (Though, as this will largely be a factor of turn-out, the percentage swing away from Labour is the figure to look out for. An 8% swing is all that’s needed to change Crewe from red to blue).

Here’s what happened the last time the seat was contested, in 2005:

Labour (Gwyneth Dunwoody): 21,240 (48.8%)
Conservative (Eveleigh Moore-Dutton): 14,162 (32.6%)
Liberal Democrat (Paul Roberts): 8,083 (18.6%)

The real question for the Lib Dems is: will we be able build on our 18% vote, or will we end up being squeezed out by Labour and the Tories (as per the London mayoral election)? Might we also shed some of our votes to some of the minor parties – eg, Greens – contesting the election this time around?

Lib Dem by-election guru Lord Rennard isn’t giving much away, but did tell the Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow – live-blogging Crewe here – that:

If you could have a ballot paper with ‘Not Labour this time’ on it, that would be the box that most people would tick. I would say there’s no positive enthusiasm for a Conservative government.”

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This entry was posted in Parliamentary by-elections.


  • Bibliophylax 22nd May '08 - 6:41pm

    The Conservatives won a by-election against the incumbents in 1982?

  • Bibliophylax 22nd May '08 - 6:47pm

    (Wow, so they did. I had forgotten Mitcham & Morden!)

  • A Conservative majority over 3,000 will keep Labour in second place, as that will indicate the majority of swing voters have switched directly.

    If it’s under 3,000 I think we should be in second place (unless we’ve won).

    A breakthrough for fourth parties (2+%)is less likely now than any time in the past decade.

    My reading of it is that the unspoken combination conspiracy for a third-party squeeze is probably stronger than the strength of union between non-incumbents, so it can be considered an honorable success for us to match or do better than our national rating (18-20%) in front of this rearguard action. Second place is attainable and would be a minor triumph, while clear water between us and third is a real breakthrough and resignation territory for Brown. Less than 15% is unlikely and would be a cause for rejoicing among both Labour and Conservatives.

  • Agreed Matt, this can be considered a poll to reflect the national position, with its regional inflection.

  • Second-hand, it sounds like Lab/Con have picked up many of our ideas (at last?!) as per literature design,etc.

    I won’t loose too much self (as a Lib Dem) over the result. The nearest challengers have been the Tories, and this makes them ideal receptical for the anti-government vote. I remember Labour almost lost its deposit in some seats during the 1990s when we were the main challengers during our spell of amazing gains from the Tories and it didn’t stop them winning the ’97 election.

    Still, if we come second, Labour is toast!

  • Come second to the Tories that is!!

  • Iain Roberts 22nd May '08 - 10:22pm

    I will be very surprised indeed if we don’t come third and get slightly squeezed. I’m guessing we’ll get around 15% of the vote this time around.

    Politically, that won’t tell us anything we don’t already know: the Conservatives are finally electable, reasonably popular and started C&N in a clear second place. Us putting 16 pieces of paper through everyone’s letterbox won’t be enough to convince C&N voters otherwise.

    Of course, come the next election there are a lot of seats that aren’t like that – easily enough for the Lib Dems to further increase the size of our parliamentary party.

  • I think we will come third. Last time (05) we had a lousy candidate. Sadly Paul Roberts has seen him go from leading the largest party in Chester to having just one Councillor. He should have made a real advance on behalf of the party and then we would have a good canvass and good support network. We are now in freefall in Cheshire and his finger prints are all over the controls.

  • I wonder if Sky in it ususal way trting to announce the by-electio result firt will get it wrok again. If the say Lab has held on then yo uknow it will be a Tory victory.

  • From Guardian blog looks as if Tories will be in by 6000. Lib Dems similar vote to last time.

  • Yes – I wonder how many Tory supporters will be impressed with that message….

    I mean, so the Tories think we have the better policies and THEY want to put across our policies as theirs so that Lib Dem supporters vote for them and they win to implement our policies – ummmmm!!

    Now which policies exactly would those be?

  • Funny that in Parliament Cameron and the Conservatives trumpet the fact that Labour is stealing their policies, while out in the country the Conservatives are boasting their successes are a result of their theft of our policies.

  • So if the Tories win tonight its really a big vote for our policies….

  • Paul L – whose policies?

  • So 14%? Somewhat squeezed. Only marginally better than recent polls and a slight squeeze from the general.

    Could have been worse but not a good results by any measure. I don’t think its a secret that this campaign didn’t seem to generate quite the same activist enthusiasm we normally see. Having been to help a few times some things which we normally do very well, such as posterboards, seemed to say the floating voters weren’t coming to us.

    Also, the tories actually turned up, and their leaflets while not as good as ours were not terrible. Maybe they learnt something from Ealing and getting stuffed by us for yonks.

  • Stepping aside from partisan concerns I think this by-election, coming of the back of the local elections, can be considered a triumph for the public, who are becoming increasingly sophisticated and independently minded, which I would conclude is a result of increasing frustration on their behalf at the failure of the established duopoly to match widespread aspirations for improvement across the board.

    Negative tactical voting is simply more appealing than the promises of the two potential winners.

    This presents a shining opportunity for us as a third party to win the political argument if we can continue to sharpen up.

  • er, alighting on here (wondering why it had reappeared) and discovering a thread I’d not previously soon [probably because I was at the count]

    STEVE, 1042pm on 22May –

    Paul Roberts was NOT “a lousy candidate” in 2005. Evidence? Well, how about his achieving the highest share of the vote we have ever achieved in the constituency??

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