Lib Dem Geraldine Locke takes safe Tory Council seat in Richmond

Just under two months ago,  Liberal Democrats in South West London suffered the shock loss of Vince Cable in Twickenham. It would be understandable if they had just curled up in a ball and sulked. They didn’t get the chance to do that. The new Tory MP, Tania Mathias, resigned her Council seat so they had to get back out on the streets campaigning. The Hampton Wick ward was a massively safe Tory seat. Last year, the Liberal Democrats polled about half as well as the Tory candidates.

Well, our fabulous team in Twickenham and Richmond managed to pull off a brilliant, confidence-boosting victory, with Geraldine Locke taking the seat by just over 100 votes. The excitement on Twitter was palpable!

And it was good to see a new member enjoying his first polling day:

When people stumble across this post in 10 years’ time, they won’t remember the conditions in which yesterday’s by-election was fought. Let’s just say it was a tad warm, in a week  of record temperatures well above 30 degrees with ridiculously high humidity as well. We have nothing but admiration for the team who campaigned with such vigour in the circumstances.

This party is still very much in the woods, but results like the Richmond team have managed to pull off show that the Lib Dem Fightback is going strong. Well done from us to all involved and congratulations to Councillor Locke.

And, finally, a word about the sacrifices we make for this party:

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  • Lib Dem fight-back!

  • Bill le Breton 3rd Jul '15 - 8:48am

    This is wonderful news.

    Its implications need to be considered in conjunction with the light which Thevoz and Baston shed on the 2015 GE campaign here:

    Add on Paddy’s performance in the Lord’s debate on the Middle East and North Africa yesterday and this Friday is most definitely a sunny day.

  • Shaun Whitfield 3rd Jul '15 - 9:36am

    Shame she can’t spell councillor!

  • David Blake 3rd Jul '15 - 10:23am

    Sometimes councillors are also counsellors!

  • John Tilley 3rd Jul '15 - 10:42am

    If you are in London or the South East and you are encouraged and enthused by this result you might want to come amd help on the other side of the river (a stone’s throw from Hampton Wick) in Grove Ward, Kingston to help elect Liberal Democrat candidate Jon Tolley.

    We had a by-election in this ward just 2 months ago and won by only 18 votes, so your help could make all the difference.

    Contact –
    Jack Chesterman, Kingston and Surbiton Liberal Democrats 
    Email: [email protected]

    Postal votes go out this weekend so Jack would love to hear from you right away. 🙂

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Jul '15 - 10:48am

    They are the same word. Certainly the two spellings used to be interchangeable.

  • Only in this party could such a fantastic, spectacular piece of news degenerate within 3 comments to a semantic discussion about spelling! Come on people. No more niggling about councillor/counsellor. Lets just congratulate the Richmond team on this amazing Lazarus performance – and then ask them how they did it so we can do the same!

  • Hi Geraldine
    Well done, well done, well done……our hearty congratulations from the Lib Dems in Sutton. A fantastic victory!! I was elected just recently as councillor here in Sutton, shortly after the GE: I know exactly how you are feeling this morning. Be great to catch up and compare notes. Have a great day.
    Best regards
    Cllr. Steve Cook
    Lib Dem – Sutton

  • Sorry to be miserable today, but we would rather there had been no council by-election.

  • Let’s just say a hearty ‘well done’ to the team! They have given us a message of hope and better times to come. Thank you.

  • Someone has given counsel on winning. Congratulations!
    I want to see much more of this counsel in the weeks and months ahead.

  • Martin Elengorn 3rd Jul '15 - 12:01pm

    This Martin is NOT me! Brilliant candidate plus brilliant agent, Stephen Knight. Some good local transport issues which the Tories had neglected and enough help to make the best use of Connect.

    My garden was sorry it didn’t rain but the sun shone on us

  • paul barker 3rd Jul '15 - 12:20pm

    This was an astonishing result – our vote up by 25%, more than doublling. We took votes from Con, Greens & Lab & for an added bonus, UKIP flopped with 2.5%.

  • Liberal Neil 3rd Jul '15 - 2:26pm
  • Congratulations to Geraldine and the team in Hampton Wick!

    I did not realise this ward was in the Twickenham constituency!

    I think this is perhaps a sign that many of our 2010 voters in Twickenham now regret what they did to Vince Cable. Hopefully it shows that there is a sentiment out there that we could capitalise on next May and do much better than expected. It may be a “consolation prize” sentiment, but it is there..

    What we need to know elsewhere is whether there are campaign messages that particularly resonated with the voters…

  • A by-election in this ward in 1984 gave the Liberal/SDP Alliance outright control of Richmond Council for the first time.

  • Sir Norfolk Passmore 3rd Jul '15 - 2:48pm

    Andrew – having seen the approach in Hampton Wick, dwelling on regret over losing Vince was not the approach and nor should it have been.

    No doubt some of those voters were saying sorry for evicting Vince. Greens and Labour supporters – despite the messages delivered in May – did think they could protest safely and woke with a bad hangover. But what’s done is done. Vince will not be the candidate in 2020 and we will not surf to victory there or elsewhere on a five year long wave of sympathy.

    The focus was – as in any decent campaign – on the future; on a strong candidate working for local people, hope for a better run council, and sending a clear message on Heathrow and other issues.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Jul '15 - 3:00pm

    How did she win? I always like to hear how people pull of council victories. Often it seems to be defending the green belt, which I think sometimes needs to be done.

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Jul '15 - 3:13pm

    The Eagle has landed.

    And the Albatross has left.


  • Sir Norfolk,

    I was not suggesting that we should surf to victory in 2020 on sympathy for Vince Cable…

    Just that in the rather shorter term of next May when we have numerous elections but NOT a general election, the signs are that Labour Green and Tory votes (and UKIP) may all be coming back to us if we say the right things and campaign in the right way

  • Please don’t criticise over the spelling of the word councillor. I have a hell of a time on my tablet and smartphone with predictive text. I type fast and press enter and then notice errors, often due to predictive text. Congratulations on your election win. That’s what counts.

  • Well done. You know, I don’t think the public are so anti line dem and I don’t think recovery should take 20 years, I think the public couldn’t accept the betrayal of trust over tuition fees. I think the lib dems should just simply say that nobody who voted for tuition fees or publically supported breaking the pledge can ever hold office in the party, with anyone in office who did is either asked to resign or publically deselected. If they do this I think a line will be drawn under this mess and results like this by-election can become the norm again. 🙂

  • John Tilley 3rd Jul '15 - 5:41pm

    Andrew Lye speaks for us all. Congratulations, that’s what counts.
    If I had been charged 50p every time my iPad had re-written a word or mangled my spelling, or the many occasions when the error was my own, I would be a much poorer man.

  • Ok, was this election primarily about Heathrow?

    If so with the airports commission favouring Heathrow the previous day despite the opposition of the new MP, perhaps we should not read too much into it? Were the local Tories were just sending Cameron a message in case he was thinking of breaking his pledge on Heathrow?

  • David, I have long thought exactly what you have just said but was not brave enough to say so on here. The Lib Dems are not ruthless enough to do what you suggest, it’s something to do with them being ‘ a family’ rather than a political party. Notice the adulation Paddy is held in, even after all his misjudgements since May 2010. No, the Lib Dems will not be ruthless enough to save their party,

  • @phyllis: a family eh? You know, whenever I hear anything described as a family, other than an actual family, I always think ‘religious cult’. Anyway if they’re really not ruthless enough to throw every ex-mp who either voted forbtuition fees or abstained under the proverbial bus so to speak, maybe they could politely ask those MPs to throw themselves under the proverbial bus. For the good of the party that is. After all, surely those people must know their lies are the reason that the party is in the state it is, and why the public don’t trust them.

    The lib dems should tell the public that they are sorry for breaking the pledge, and sorry for the offensive cop out apology that they made for making it, not breaking it. They should say that every mp that either voted for the increase or abstained will therefore be standing down at the next election and that nobody who voted for it or abstained will ever be selected to stand for public office under that lib dem banner ever again. Period. Those peoples careers as elected representatives should be over. They should also say that any advisor who recommends what they did will be sacked.

    Now that would restore trust, draw a line under it and allow the party to really move on. Couldn’t those responsible for this mess be persuaded to agree to this for the good of the party? To take one for the team so to speak, or rather, take one for the family?

  • I think electing a leader who kept the pledge will be sufficient to be honest – maybe not with a few ultimate sanction enthusiasts like you David, but with most voters. That is no guarantee of recovery of course – the Party has many other problems – but I do not expect the pledge to be mentioned much if Farron is elected – simply because every time Labour supporters bring it up will give him an opportunity to mention how he actually kept the promise in the face of all the pressure from the top. And perhaps contrast that with some Labour broken promises…. It was the Leader leading his party into pledge breaking that did all the damage.

    The pledge was made by individual MPs, and the few pledge-breakers who kept their seats have evidently made enough peace with their electorate – it will have less effect next time. I actually think that unless Hallam is badly affected by boundary changes (quite likely, unfortunately) Nick Clegg would get in in 2020 with a much increased majority, if he chose to stand. If Farron makes it clear that Lib Dem MPs will not be allowed to break pledges in future, there is not reason why the electorate should not trust him.

  • And I am talking as someone who resigned over the pledge BTW – it is of prime importance for me and I would still hesitate to actively campaign for a pledge breaker in the future (eg. David Ward, who I helped in 2010 and who may well stand again)

  • Andrew, yes all that sounds very rational but for the fact that in many people’s minds Lib Dem equals ‘untrustworthy’. People will remember how sincere that nice Nick Clegg looked in 2010 when he looked straight to camera and promised ‘ an end to broken promises’. Tim Farron may not have broken his Pledge but the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party is still 50% full of Pledge breakers, and secret-court/bedroom tax supporters. And the Party as a whole supported the NHS reforms.

  • Andrew “”but I do not expect the pledge to be mentioned much if Farron is elected – simply because every time Labour supporters bring it up…”

    Why do you mention Labour supporters specifically? The Tories will also bring it up, don’t forget they campaigned against AV by saying it would give the ‘untrustworthy Lib Dems’ too much power. And so will every other party and also people who support no party.

  • TonyJ
    “Only in this party could such a fantastic, spectacular piece of news degenerate within 3 comments to a semantic discussion about spelling! ”
    Thoroughly depressing isn’t it! Let’s ditch the negative energy.

    Congrats to Geraldine and her team.

  • I know that two or three swallows don’t make a summer but by golly don’t they give you hope! Thank you thank you thank you. I’m typing with tears of joy in my eyes so I may misspell something too. If I could I’d be out there campaigning in Kingston with a spring in my step. The fight back has definitely begun. A new leader soon and then what we need is a decent bye election and all the pessimists will know we’re back for good.
    Of course we still have to reform the party but let’s just enjoy this moment of success.

  • Phyllis,

    No, if “Lib Dem = untrustworthy” we would have no councillors left. The focus of all the opprobrium was very much Nick Clegg (and perhaps Vince Cable).

    The Tories and Labour will try and get Tim Farron (if he is elected) on things like abortion and gay marriage, just like the Normtroopers have. But every time they mention the pledge it will just give Farron a chance to look more trustworthy himself. So they will not mention it…

    I agree that much damage has been done, and there is no guarantee it can be repaired even by Farron. But publicly eviscerating the Party of all pledge breakers would be extremely daft! Your analysis presumes that there is some vast number of voters just dying to rush back to us if only all trace of the coalition is removed – but there is no evidence for that.

    If the Party does what you want it would collapse in controversy and internal trench warfare, and there would probably be another split…Which may be what some people giving advice want, of course… Parties that do that sort of thing lose another half of their votes. Even there is such sweet purity in being the People’s Liberation Front of Judaea

  • Andrew “Your analysis presumes that there is some vast number of voters just dying to rush back to us if only all trace of the coalition is removed – but there is no evidence for that.”

    No I’m not saying that at all. My view is that the Lib Dems face the same problem as Labour do on the economy. People – and I mean ordinary voters not the Westminster bubble or us politics geeks- will continue to consider the Lib Dems as ‘untrustworthy’ (and not just because of tuition fees but also the other things I mentioned) unless something drastically changes. In Labour’s case we have the same people as were there before, and they haven’t developed a convincing narrative about their economic record. That is the same problem facing the Lib Dems – unless Tim is going to be the only Lib Dem representative to appear on any of the media for the next five years, – it’s largely the same people and the Party has not yet developed a convincing narrative about its role in the Coalition, or indeed about tuition fees. We don’t even know what Party policy is anymore. That’s not to say there isn’t a narrative – it’s just that no-one finds it convincing. Even many Lib Dems find it unconvincing.

    I suspect that the same fate awaits the Lib Dems as the Tory Party during 1997-2005. The Tories went through a succession of leaders but it was only when a relative unknown came in as Leader with a whole new team that they started to look electable. Much as I like Tim, whilst there are still the usual suspects (Paddy, Nick et al) appearing on TV /LBC representing the Lib Dems, it will look as though nothing much has changed.

    By the way, on your first sentence, I didn’t say everyone thinks Lib Dems = untrustworthy. I said that is what is “in many people’s minds” .

  • Tony Dawson 5th Jul '15 - 10:27am


    “I didn’t say everyone thinks Lib Dems = untrustworthy. I said that is what is “in many people’s minds” .

    Including quite a number of Liberal Democrats. And a much bigger number of former (and present!) Lib Dem voters. Seriously, why would they not think that?

  • Alex Macfie 5th Jul '15 - 9:23pm


    “The Tories and Labour will try and get Tim Farron (if he is elected) on things like abortion and gay marriage”

    I doubt it, as it would expose the splits in both other parties on such issues. Abortion and gay marriage are not issues that most voters consider important when deciding how to vote, so anyone who raises them for partisan purposes (whichever side they take) risks looking like an obsessive.

  • Alex

    here is an example from one Tory:

    I am not all that worried about it, to be honest! We have our laws on equal marriage and on abortion and those battles are over. Tim Farron is not seeking to change those laws, so they will not come up. But within particular groups particularly interested in those issues he will continue to get negative comments. So I am not talking about Labour and Tory politicians as much as non-politicians with an axe to grind…

  • Phyllis,

    I agree that if we let the likes of Nick Clegg have too much exposure it will undo any good work we may have done. Paddy Ashdown should be allowed out on foreign policy, but not much else. He has a credible track record on that and his recent speech was good. But actually I think very few people other than the Leader will get much attention in the next five years, and the Leader will not have his diary too cluttered by media appointments. We will get on Question time maybe 1 week in 6. The Liberal Democrats will have to make their impact in other ways (like the Greens)

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jul '15 - 4:23pm


    I agree that much damage has been done, and there is no guarantee it can be repaired even by Farron. But publicly eviscerating the Party of all pledge breakers would be extremely daft!

    Agreed. I very much want the party to shift back to where it was on the left-right spectrum, but I don’t want that to be done by the sort of factionalism that was done by the Cleggies. The problem over the “pledge” was made worse by this factionalism, since the Cleggies tried to use it to attack the left of the party and accuse them of making unrealistic policies. But it was the Cleggies who were in control of the party image in the 2010 general election, so they who chose to make this policy into a “pledge”.

    Those of us with more practical experience knew perfectly well that if you elevate a policy into a “pledge” and make a big thing out of “no broken promises”, you must be absolutely certain you can keep it under all possible circumstances – and one of those possible circumstances in May 2010 was a coalition with the Conservatives. If you couldn’t be sure the Conservatives would agree to it in a Coalition, have it as a policy, yes, but not a “pledge”, especially as pledge to vote against, as that only makes sense in terms of being in a coalition.

    It was wrong for Clegg to claim this policy was “unaffordable” as that makes us look bad for having it. Of course it was affordable: so long as taxes were raised to pay for it. However, we were in coalition with the Tories whose main policy is cutting taxes. So we couldn’t have this policy not because it was “unaffordable” but because the Tories would never agree to the tax increases necessary, or would have demanded huge cuts to balance the cost. That is what Clegg should have said, i.e. blame the Tories, not blame members of the party he was supposed to serve as leader.

    If we now use the “throw out the pledge-breakers” line, that’s just as bad and damaging to the party as a whole as Clegg blaming members of his own party.

  • Simon Banks 7th Jul '15 - 9:54pm

    As for the sacrifices at the end, I thought, “I remember many times making similar sacrifices in pubs after or in the middle of canvassing.” But it was about clothing colour. Were the bunch in the background then Tories?

  • nvelope2003 9th Jul '15 - 1:01pm

    It is gratifying to have 2 or 3 Local Government by election successes recently but these have all been at the expense of the Conservatives or UKIP. A seat was recently lost to Labour in Cambridge. Opinion polls show the Liberal Democrats still at about 8% while the Conservatives have moved up to over 40%, though Labour and UKIP seem to be in decline while the Greens are slightly up.

    No doubt there will be rejoicing by many on this forum at the news that David Laws is not planning to stand at the next General Election.

  • John Tilley 9th Jul '15 - 1:17pm

    “….No doubt there will be rejoicing by many on this forum at the news that David Laws is not planning to stand at the next General Election.”

    Less said the better. But a huge opportunity for candidates from previously under-represented groups to beat a path to Yeovil.
    Get stuck in now and by 2020 the locals will have forgotten why they did not vote Liberal Democrat in 2015. 🙂

  • nvelope2003 9th Jul '15 - 9:39pm

    John Tilley: I think it is a bit patronising to assume that the “locals” will have forgotten why they did not vote for Laws. It was more likely a wish for an end to the coalition so I would not place much faith in a Liberal Democrat revival any time soon, in Yeovil or anywhere else. Unless that is there is a collapse in support for UKIP, the Greens and the Labour Party and some massive failure by the Conservative Government on the lines of say the poll tax – maybe the end of tax credits might do the trick. Who knows ? As Harold Macmillan said “events dear boy, events”.

  • Florence Wright 13th Oct '15 - 1:28pm

    Geraldine has impeccable spelling – her enthusiastic daughter (me) who did the tweet for her has awful spelling. Mum provides fantastic council and counselling.

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