Labour holds Inverclyde with reduced majority

From the BBC:

Labour has won the Inverclyde by-election for the UK parliament but its majority has been more than halved.

Iain McKenzie took the Westminster seat with 15,118 votes over the SNP’s Anne McLaughlin on 9,280. Labour’s majority fell from 14,416 at the 2010 general election to 5,838.

The Conservatives took third place with 2,784, the Liberal Democrats polled 627 votes and UKIP was fifth with 288.

The by-election was held after the death of David Cairns in May, aged 44.

Read the full story here.

In local council by-election news:

Wandsworth LBC, Thamesfield:
Con 1497;
Lab 1022;
LD Lisa Smart 545;
Green 202.
Turnout 28.1%

Broxbourne BC, Cheshunt Central:
Con 742;
Lab 481;
UKIP 88;
Ind Con 62;
LD Peter Huse 24;
Turnout 24.8%

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


  • Because of differences in turnout you should express the majority in percentage terms from last time:
    Labour 53.8%, down from 56%
    SNP 33% up from 17.5%
    Conservative 9.9% down from 12%
    Lib Dem 2.2% down from 13.3%
    UKIP 1.0% down from 1.2%,_2011

    Labour’s decrease, in the face of a resurgent SNP, is marginal and has delivered one of the largest majorities in parliament. The SNP have almost doubled their vote, at the expense of the Tories and the collapse of the Lib Dems.

    I admire your spin in the headline. But this is another lost deposit in a seat where only last year you came a decent third.

    A disaster for the party in Scotland and it shows that the Scottish election was not a fluke, the Westminster vote is collapsing too.

  • Surely there is a case for not standing in seats where the candidate will suffer this fate. It does more harm than good. Why not stand only where there is a LD vote that can be defended? Adopt that as a short term policy – stay out of the firing line and come back at next Gen Election or earlier if polls improve.

  • @AlexKN

    I did point out that the candidate was unsuitable here

    I had a comment deleted for suggesting that she was being blooded for future campaigns and that the party knew they would do badly.

  • @Alex Marsh – problem is, he still doesn’t and vast swathes of the party in England still don’t. The problem now is to stop the English party “writing off” the Scottish party altogether. It’s a pity Nick Clegg didn’t attend the Scottish members’ forum the other week – Danny Alexander took a bit of a pasting, especially over the oil tax, and I think Nick would have been genuinely surprised by the tone of some of the comments. (We don’t like to slag our leaders off in public, but we will do it to their face in private!)

  • @AlexKN – not standing wasn’t actually an option given the rout in May. The newspapers would have reported it as “Liberal Democrats unable to find candidate for key by-election”, and recall that this used to be a bit of a strong area for us. While I think Sophie was a good candidate, I was surprised that Ross Finnie didn’t stand, but I think I can understand why!

  • @KL – maybe, but there is surely a limit to the number of consecutive bad defeats a party can take without incurring long term damage? I suspect large numbers of those in the party have not grasped the implications of elections this year. In the North and Scotland the party needs to recognise the fight is now about survival as a viable political force. The leadership has been naive and organisationally there has been no clear strategy to retain members and maintain organisation in many areas of the country.

  • @AlexKN – I understand what you mean, but it’s a real Catch-22 – if we hadn’t stood, then we would have been written off by an already hostile Scottish media. As I understand it, we didn’t throw nearly as much at this by-election as we maybe have done in the past and it was being used to a point as a training exercise for the future. More attention is being paid to the Council elections next year and how to maximise support there,

  • @Simon McGrath – I’d rather have gone into Coalition and won the by-election, personally….

    The problem is that there has been no proper communication of the bits of the Coalition agreement which are ours alone. Also, the bits of the Coalition agreement which are the “bad bits” – the cuts to the public sector pensions, the changes to housing benefit, the rise in VAT – hit Scotland disproportionately harder than England, and Inverclyde is one of those which is particularly bad. Add in that these are generally being promoted by a Scottish Lib Dem MP (Danny Alexander) and you can see why most Lib Dems in Scotland are at least slightly disgruntled with the coalition, if not seriously disgruntled.

    For what it’s worth, my view is that staying in the coalition is the lesser of two evils – we’d be annhiliated if we pulled out now.

  • @SImon McGrath

    There are more ways than one of influencing a government, especially one with a minority. I suspect, albeit with hindsight, had you not chosen a formal coalition your vote wouldn’t have collapsed, and if Nick Clegg wasn’t your leader, nor his cabal of righwingers part of cabinet.

  • On 8 June I posted. “We got 7% in Greenock & Inverclyde at the Scottish Parliament election. I hope we’re not going to waste a pile of cash fighting this hard.”

    I guess and hope that we didn’t. I agree with the poster who argues that, as our vote in Scotland is clearly going straight to the Nats, we don’t humiliate ourselves by standing in seats such as this for the medium-term future.

  • @SImon McGrath

    I am no longer a Lib Dem after many years of campaigning. I am one of the many thousands of people who have left membership or withdrawn active support. I left because I am opposed strongly to the Coalition’s policies in many areas particularly education and employment. I am also appalled at the mendacity and failure to think through policy of the Coalition. These outweigh massively the parts of LD policy implemented. However I have not joined another party and still hope that I can return as a voter or perhaps as a member. Therefore I retain an interest in not seeing the party self destruct any further.

    The party leadership did not need to embrace the Tories so warmly or sign up to such an integrated (but still dysfunctional) coalition. A looser model should have been adopted where only consensus policies were put forward. Education, the NHS etc did not need immediate wholesale reorganisation. Where change is needed in areas like welfare, cross party support could have been built. Even on the economy the LDs could have been honest brokers acting in the national interest not just as the sidekicks for Osborne.

    The leadership is taking the party towards extinction in large parts of the country. Where I live it has already disintegrated to a large extent and I doubt the small band of members carrying on will survive another round or two of local election defeats. Hence my argument for radical action and a survival mode operation to ensure there is an organisation left to fight the 2015 gen election and to revive.

  • David from Ealing 1st Jul '11 - 12:52pm

    Isn’t this somewhere where we used to run the council not so long ago? Or are the boundaries different?

  • David Allen 1st Jul '11 - 12:53pm

    “For what it’s worth, my view is that staying in the coalition is the lesser of two evils – we’d be annhiliated if we pulled out now.”

    Hmm, problem is that the great British public may twig that this is what motivates us, and if they don’t, our opponents can find ways to let them know. How about “Vote Lib Dem – Because Four More Years Earning an MP’s Salary is More Important Than Stopping the Tories Wrecking the Country”?

  • The by-election Graham fought wasn’t in the Lib Lab pact era it was 1980is (pre formation of the SDP). Graham also fought another Glasgow by-election in about 1982 and then went on to win a Euro seat polling more votes than any Liberal or Lib Dem had ever acheived (only beaten by London Mayoral candidates).

    Wikipedia says it covers the area of Inverclyde Council – that was majority Lib Dem until the STV elections in 2007 (so probably had there been a by-election here in 2009 we would have made a major effort)

  • @David Allen – so what’s your answer then? Pull out of the coalition, see a majority Tory government elected with miniscule Lib Dem representation (probably down to about 1987 levels, if not lower,) and another whopping SNP landslide in Scotland? The result – Tories implement policies which are unpopular in Scotland, SNP hold the referendum within a few months, and independence declared within the year. Scotland resorts to a left-wing government with an economy over-reliant on a diminishing fossil fuel, poor relations with our most immediate neighbour, and no control over its own interest rates or monetary policy.

    Labour, meanwhile, are left languishing as the major Opposition party with no likelihood of regaining power with Scotland gone, and with little Lib Dem representation the Tories are able to run England with the zeal of an elected dictatorship.

    OK, this might seem a little apocalyptic, but don’t tell me it couldn’t happen. And all because we decided it would be more honourable to zip up and leave the tent altogether, rather than stay inside pissing in.

  • @KL you’re pissing out, not in. IDS has been talking to the media today and distorting the issues surrounding immigration. This is an issue which the Lib Dems think the opposite of the Tories for the most part, yet I’ve not heard any Lib Dem ministers or MPs rebutting IDS in the strongest terms, just Labour.

    You must know as well as I do the dimness with which the actions of the coalition are viewed in Scotland. The Tories don’t care about their reputation here, as the lack of support given to the very decent Annabelle Goldie and David McLetchie over the years indicates. The Lib Dems are the sacrificial lamb for the Tory destruction of the parts of the UK dear to the centre-left.

  • @g – it does worry me when Migrationwatch say they agree. But then, I’d use this as an example of the Tory right-wing dog instinctively barking again. IDS should be getting attacked by the Lib Dems – of all the ministers in the Cabinet, he’s the one least able to argue for loyalty after what he did to John Major.

    I totally understand how the coalition is seen here. The thing is, as long as we’re still Scottish Liberal Democrats, we’re bound by that whether we agree with it or not and whether the policies are implemented or not. There’s no real appetite for a split in the Scottish party – though I don’t immediately rule that out as a way back – so we have to live with what we’ve got as the lesser of two evils.

  • A disappointing result, but surely the most difficult of circumstances, coming so soon after the rout in the Holyrood elections and with Andrew who would presumably have been running the campaign dying suddenly at the start of the campaign, with the shock that will have had on everyone involved in our Scottish campaigning.

    There is also something of a history of the party doing dreadfully in Scottish by-elections where we are not the obvious challengers.

    My commiserations to Sophie and the, presumably small, campaign team on the result but well done for flying the flag and giving the 627 good Lib Dems of Inverclyde the chance to show their support. I’ve campaigned in deposit-losing by-elections myself (SE Staffs anyone?) and others where we only held it by the skin of our teeth (Uxbridge comes to mind). Results can be disappointing but I would never support the idea that we should not stand in some by-elections, any more than we should not stand in some seats in general elections.

  • Of course we have to stand, but does anyone know the last time we did not stand a candidate in a by-election? It must be over 40 years ago.

  • @Andrew Page:

    Thing is, it isn’t just Scotland. The Tories (and anything associated with them, especially those who give them a majority) are, with a few exceptions, just as hated in the North of England and most of Wales as well. You should realise that you will never recover your vote in these areas so long as you give the Tories legitimacy. So long as you are taking the side of the Tories when it comes to students, public sector workers and sick & disabled people you are seen as pretty much the same as them.

    The “we didn’t have a choice” argument is rubbish. There is always a choice.

  • “does anyone know the last time we did not stand a candidate in a by-election? It must be over 40 years ago.”

    Haltemprice and Howden, 10 July 2008.

  • Don Lawrence 2nd Jul '11 - 8:43am

    @ Simon McGrath

    “Would the commentators above (I mean those who are actually Lib Dems) really prefer to come third and not be having our policies implemented?”


    Do you prefer having a pick and mix rag bag of our policies, none of which can be regarded as fundamentally Liberal, implemented as a fig leaf to the Conservative party while our party continues to be decimated?

    I’m a liberal for a whole set of values, not just to give a few convenient policies to the Tories. What are you?

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