Every single vote to 20%

There were nine by-elections in total on Thursday. Seven were spread out across England with one each in Scotland and Wales so after celebrating our two gains I decided that they represented a big enough cross section to do some analysis.

Across the seats we contested the average increase in our vote was 12.3% and our total vote share was an impressive 24.7%.

However, we only contested six of the by-elections. 1/3rd of the elections went ahead without any Liberal Democrat on the ballot. Unfortunately when you add in these three 0% figures our vote increase comes down to 8.2% and our vote share down to 16.5%

In the 2016 local elections the media glossed over the fact that we had the biggest number of net gains and were the only party to gain control of a council. But what they couldn’t gloss over was the fact that we’d pushed UKIP back into 4th place with our vote share. LAB 31%, CON 30%, LDEM 15%, UKIP 12%. Wherever the graphs and tables were shown it was clear that the Lib Dems were back.

Everyone is aware of the electoral reasons for always putting up a candidate but it really does matter for another reason which I will show you below.

I took those three 0% election results and gave them last place LDEM vote shares of 2.2%, 2.4% and 4.6% and then I re ran the vote share calculation. This time our vote share was 17.5% a 1% increase

This is the best reason why we must ALWAYS field a candidate, especially in the 2017 local elections.

Thankfully deposits are not required for local elections but some local parties don’t have enough members willing to stand to field candidates across all of their wards.

I know a lot of Lib Dem members don’t want to be councillors, especially if (like me) the thought of standing for election fills you with dread. All I did in my ward in 2016 was go out with the chair of my local party to gather my nomination signatures. That’s it. No leafletting, no door knocking and thus no chance of winning that ward, but as a result I delivered an 11% vote share to our national calculation instead of 0%.

Even if you hate the idea please stand, ask to be placed in a ward we have no chance of winning. Demand the local chair helps you gain your nomination signatures and then do literally nothing else, but please put your name on the ballot.

If we cover every ward in 2017 all of those small, ‘deposit losing’ percentages will add up with the (hopefully) brilliant results from our target wards. I think we can set a goal of clearly pulling away from UKIP, a stretch goal of clawing our way back to a 20% vote share and who knows? If we are fantastically lucky, maybe we will meet one of the big two parties coming the other way.

The data for the calculations was taken from Britain Elects results.

* James Cole is a member of the Liberal Democrats in the South East Region

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  • Glynn Quelch 27th Sep '16 - 9:53am

    Since May this year my list has us standing in 111 of the 145 (i have listed, some may be missing and i am still looking for more)

    Our vote share across all by elections (including the ones we didnt stand) 15%
    Our vote share only in seats we stood at 19.4%

    Our vote share increased in 80 and decreased in 31

    Our average share in seats we gained/held at 47%

    Since the Referendum

    Contested 64 and didnt stand in 17

    Our vote share across all by elections (including the ones we didnt stand) 18.3%
    Our vote share only in seats we stood at 23.15%

  • This has nothing to do with anoraks. It is an essential strategy. Plug those (almost) weekly gaps….

  • Thank you Glynn, its good to know that the trends are stacking up in a more widespread analysis and that the lack of candidates still brings our vote share crashing down multiple points in these large samples.

  • Thanks Geoff, that is exactly what I am trying to get people to do by explaining annother reason why it is so important.

  • paul barker 27th Sep '16 - 2:13pm

    I want to support the idea of standing every time, even paper candidates are a massive omprovement on no candidates, we seem to be getting there & thats great.
    I have also been looking at our votes, using the method pioneered by Rallings & Thrasher, essentially it means looking at the vote change (including standing/not standing where that has changed) & applying it to the Eqivalent Vote Share for the last time the seat was fought. The result is a wide range of figures, some negative, but I average them out & the end product is consistent. (I am aware that I am not explaining this well)
    Currently we are on about 23% & that figure has been rising by about 2% a Month, I keep expecting the improvement to to stop but it hasnt yet. If we were to get 23% next May that would put us close to overtaking Labour & would imply net gains of more than 100 seats. If the improvement continues we could easily come in 2nd or 1st place – that would make the Media sit up & take notice.

  • It’s a lot better in local elections there is no doubt about that. However, don’t forget several parliamentary by-elections and the Scottish, Welsh and London elections during 2016. The party needs to do better in Witney, anything less than 2nd place would be poor. Finishing behind UKIP or the Greens would be a disaster.

  • That’s wonderful news Paul and I totally agree Malc. We really have to win or come second, though the Scottish elections did bring some good news.

  • I agree about the good news in North-Eaat SCotland where the best candidate was top of the list

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