Lib Dems win Richmond Park: Reaction led by Tim Farron and Sal Brinton

Here’s some of the reaction to Sarah Olney’s incredible victory in Richmond Park.

Tim Farron said that the Liberal Democrats are the standard bearers for those who oppose the dangerous path towards Brexit being pursued by the Government.

The message is clear: The Liberal Democrats are back and we are carrying the torch for all of those who want a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government.

We are the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united, and the only party that has said, loudly and proudly, that we want Britain to remain a member of the Single Market and that we want the people to be given the final say over the Brexit deal. That message has been resoundingly backed by the people of Richmond Park.

This was a remarkable, come-from-nowhere upset that will terrify the Conservatives. A year and a half ago, their man won by nearly 40% and had a majority of more than 20,000. In one fell swoop we have wiped that out completely.

If this was a General Election, this swing would mean the Conservatives would lose dozens of seats to the Liberal Democrats – and their majority with it. No one believes the Labour Party will win any seats off the Tories – and the SNP could only possibly take one off them. But there are dozens in our reach. So, as this by-election has demonstrated, the only way to prevent a Conservative majority at the next election is to vote Liberal Democrat.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Terry Stacy 2nd Dec '16 - 8:02am

    New members key to #LibDemFightback 1 and a half ago @sarahjolney1 wasn’t involved in politics. Now ousted brexiter Zac Goldsmith #eu48%

  • Sarah Olney is a corpse reviver for all those places who have not had by-elections of any sort since May. Fielding a candidate anywhere is always a good way of saying that you are not dead.

  • incredible Scottish poll, Greens on 11% labour on 15% in regional voting intentions.

  • Can we drop this stand everywhere line, it really doesn’t help if a sympathetic Councillor of another party (or none) loses a seat and the chance of lib Dems running a council goes down, in a seat the lib dems have no chance or intention of winning.

  • Paul Williams 2nd Dec '16 - 8:50am

    Firstly, many congratulations to Sarah and the Richmond Park team. It was a tremendous performance and it was a privilege to be there, if only for a short while, to support. Now our attention must turn to the Sleaford and North Hykeham by election on the 8th December. We need to turn up in significant to support our excellent candidate, Ross Pepper! I will be going. Please help in any way you can

  • OK, in those infamous words “calm down dears….”

    ZG stood down because of HEATHROW. I don’t wish to deny Sarah her victory, but PLEASE don’t continue to kid yourselves that she won BECAUSE of the Lib Dem message on Brexit (etc), or that somehow the Lib Dems have become more relevant. Just because you chose to fight on that message and won doesn’t mean you did so BECAUSE of that message. If you think the causality of the win is: “victory = Lib Dems + anti Brexit” then you’re really NOT learning from the mistakes you made over the past 4-5 years and are believing your own spin.

    Yes I agree, in any ‘normal’ by-election you could suggest the above causality WAS the reason for the win, but this by-election was very different (even if the party spin-meisters would have you believe otherwise).

    Heathrow is a massive issue to those who live around here. When ZG resigned because of Heathrow he made this the rallying cry amongst the Conservative voters in Richmond – in other words he was one of the first MPs to:

    – put local ABOVE central
    – put voters ABOVE his own position

    So when that rare thing happens, where an MP really does put their neck on the line for local constituents, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they in turn vote on THAT issue (i.e. Heathrow) and not on what the central party machines would suggest.

    I’m sure many of you reading this will dismiss it as anti-Sarah, or ‘not a Lib Dem view’, or as a target at which to shoot at as being overly-negative.

    It’s none of these.

    It’s a message to NOT believe in your own publicity being the thing “wot won it”, as if you do, you’ll not move forward.

  • Caractus: You dont get it do you, how does the party grow if it takes a view “that we wont win, so we wont stand”.

  • Who came out of the Richmond by-election better? The Greens who stood down to give Sarah the best chance of winning, or Labour, who stood a candidate that local supporters didn’t support, because they too would rather give Sarah the best chance of winning.

    There is a world of difference between simply not showing up, and making a point of standing aside. Many Greens turned up to Richmond to explain to their supporters, and floating voters, why they were taking that approach. It gave the Greens a chance to emphasise their values, and to maintain their profile, without compromising the candidate with a real chance of implementing many of those shared values.

  • clive english 2nd Dec '16 - 9:21am

    Standing in more seats is necessary. Standing absolutely everywhere is crass if only because we can’t expect Greens and the WEP to stand aside for us if we never ever consider doing them a favour in return. I really don’t see how the Lib Dems standing against Caroline Lucas or in Green target council seats in their strongest areas is going to do anything to help us.

  • The leader and candidate both had excellent campaigns – well done to them. However, Zac Goldsmith as the opposition in a strongly remain seat was a dream come true for the Lib Dems. Next stop is Sleaford (brexit country) which will be even more interesting. Will anyone be able to challenge the Tories? Will Labours voters desert them again and if so will they choose UKIP or the Lib Dems? Interesting times for most parties, but extremely worrying for Labour.

  • @Sarah – ZG had his opportunity to persuade his colleagues to stop Heathrow expansion. He failed and unsurprisingly the electorate did not return him to Parliament.

  • @Sarah – but there was zero difference between Zac Goldsmith and Sarah Olney on Heathrow. Both opposed expansion. So if the result wasn’t based on Brexit, what was it based on? Was it just that Zac Goldsmith had suddenly become a rubbish MP (which even opponents acknowledged wasn’t the case), or that suddenly loads of Tories had turned against him because of his Mayoral campaign (unlikely)?

  • “Who’d have thought it”. Well devoid of the coalition leg irons, a new leader, a policy that people can easily understand evn if they disagree, (Europe) and that magic contributor luck, (Goldsmith resigning), it happened. Now we must hope for a second place at Sleaford. I fancy the wind will be in OUR sails over the next 12 months.
    Well done to everyone concerned. Good win at Chichester as well and significant percentage vote gains elsewhere. Happy Christmas.

  • I can certainly go along with a view that Caroline Lucas should be given a free run,with us standing down. BUT to stand down to this Labour rabble would be nonsensical because they are unlikely to deliver anything at this time

  • Leekliberal 2nd Dec '16 - 10:56am

    @Clive English ‘I really don’t see how the Lib Dems standing against Caroline Lucas or in Green target council seats in their strongest areas is going to do anything to help us.’
    Well said Clive! Not standing a Lib Dem candidate against principled Caroline Lucas in the General Election should be our minimum response to her generous gesture in Richmond Park.

  • If we want more help from the Greens in future, then we’ll have to do better than thinking that just promising to stand aside for Caroline Lucas will be sufficient. She won her seat in 2010 and 2015 even with the LibDems standing; she doesn’t need LibDem votes. The Greens will inevitably want us to stand down in some places where they can realistically expect to win new seats. It might seem hard to swallow, but if we want meaningful change then we’re going to have make compromises.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Dec '16 - 12:58pm

    As said before , but in support of colleagues above , we must not stand in Brighton , Caroline Lucas is an ally even if her party are neither friend or foe in the uk itself. We must do the same for the women’s equality party if they have a high profile possibility anywhere , though unilikely , or if they and the Greens agree a joint candidate somewhere .

    We cannot gain from being la dee da and standing everywhere . Why not target sometimes, in imaginative ways.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Dec '16 - 1:09pm

    The party has already lost some of the more sceptical remain voters, like me. It’s not a good idea to start giving the Greens and other left-wing parties a free run on elections.

    Yes, the party has gained other voters, but everything we know about politics hasn’t changed. Some voters are more worried about hard brexit than I thought, but the country is still split pretty much evenly between the right and the left.

  • Laurence Cox 2nd Dec '16 - 2:13pm

    The point that needs to be made about standing/not standing is that in Council elections there is no cost in standing a paperless candidate to give the Lib Dem voters someone to vote for. In Parliamentary elections there is a £500 deposit and at the 2015 GE we lost 340 out of 631 deposits, second only to the Greens. So that is £170k down the drain even before you take account of the cost of campaigning in these constituencies. If we take targetting seriously, we are probably better off concentrating all our resources on around half the Parliamentary constituencies than spreading them across all of them. As far as I can see the only advantage of standing candidates everywhere is our entitlement to PPBs.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Dec '16 - 2:51pm


    I am in the centre of this party .I identify my stance as radical centre two thirds on the issues , centre left one third , a centre right attitude to the individual not being swamped, and on violent criminals , !

    This is a time for any of us in the mainstream to join together on issues or occasions. Caroline Lucas is in the centre of her party . She has been criticised in the past by her leftwing members . She is a good and eloquent person and I thanked her on facebook , her page , today for her brave stance.

    We should not stand in Brighton against her , at all , or perhaps ,against , say , a genuine liberal left radical like Peter Tatchell should he stand.

    Other than that , as a moderate on the EU , while I sympathise with you , we must garner the majority who are for emphasising our humanity and decency as a nation , and throughout this planet !

  • Noorderling 2nd Dec '16 - 3:36pm

    Re Caroline Lucas The proposed boundary changes in the Brighton area are not favourable for the Greens. The Lib Dems not standing might help a her little

  • Alasdair Brooks 2nd Dec '16 - 3:40pm

    There seems to be an assumption in some of the comments here that we would all vote Green if the LibDems didn’t stand a candidate in a seat.

    I would not.

    Whatever I might think of Caroline Lucas as a person, I detest her party. If there was no LibDem candidate (assuming I was voting in England), I would (with a heavy heart) most likely vote Labour; and if we had some system of preference voting in place, I might well place the Greens after the Tories.

  • Matt (Bristol) 2nd Dec '16 - 5:15pm

    Noorderling — I wouldn’t be surprised if this win has killed the implementation of the boundary changes dead.

    Will May want any more resignations / retirements from hacked-off back-benchers that could threaten her vulnerable and small-ish majority?

    Not until Article 50 is triggered and Brexit secured, I’m thinking.

    Any Tory thinking of standing down will be on 24-hr surveillance by the whips, after this year.

  • Laurence: not standing also gets voters who might normally support the Liberals into the habit of voting for someone else. That said, I don’t have £170,000 going spare either.

  • @Alasdair – one of the reasons for standing aside for another candidate is about furthering our shared aim of electoral reform. I must admit, I would draw the line at a pact with UKIP, but we do have enough in common with moderate Greens, including floating voters, that we have something to gain from it.

    I’d advocate only standing aside in seats where the Greens/other have a strong chance of winning, but would benefit from our stance. And obviously where we don’t. The Greens stood down knowing they had no chance, and I don’t think would expect different from us.

    It will be essential that we are comfortable with their selected candidate. Most political parties are a broad church, and the Greens are no exception. Caroline Lucas came out in support of Sarah as much as the LibDems. However, if we are adopting the philosophy of only supporting candidates with a decent chance of winning, then they will have to be one of the more sane ones.

    It’s safe to say WEP wouldn’t have supported us if we’d stood a male candidate.

  • It’s worth remembering that the Greens didn’t just not stand. They made their presence felt by explaining why they weren’t standing. It still uses resources, but it’s less expensive than a full campaign, and provides goodwill, which there’s not been enough of lately.

  • Simon Banks 5th Dec '16 - 12:04am

    I find the other Sarah’s post entirely confusing. Goldsmith’s big issue was Heathrow. He lost. So was that because Richmond Park voters didn’t agree with him and wanted Heathrow expansion? Of course not. They agreed with him on Heathrow but did not agree that was the biggest issue, not least because the other credible candidates were also anti-Heathrow-expansion and there was no need for an election to demonstrate what Richmond Park people felt on this issue. So they must have agreed with us on some other issue and if it wasn’t Brexit or the associated issue of intolerance and racism, what was it?

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