Live updates from the Witney count

The Witney Gazette is carrying live updates from the Witney by-election count here. Turnout is said to be low and a Tory majority is expected. Estimates of the Lib Dem vote are currently around the 25% mark, which would be a fantastic achievement given we started as 50/1 outsiders, fourth with 6.8% of the vote.

This great success has been the result of wonderful teamwork led by a superb candidate, Liz Leffman. Just today we had 400 activists in the constituency, 300 people making calls from home, 10,000 doors knocked on and 13,500 phone calls made.

I reported for duty at 5am this morning and was very smartly sent off with a huge bundle by the marvellous legend that is Candy Piercey!

Certainly, Witney has some of the most beautiful villages in the country. I can vouch for the fact that Over Norton is so beautiful you could eat it!

The result is “expected 3am-4am” and the first verification is currently taking place.

We’ll be posting the result here as soon as we get it (and are awake!).

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Parliamentary by-elections.


  • Great campaign. Well done to everyone. 25% would be fantastic!

  • Provisional turnout figure is 47% – down from 73.6% in last year’s general election.
    Not sure whether that is good or bad news for the Lib Dems, but it would indicate a lack of interest.

  • Considering the hype I think 25% is a poor showing. Liz managed to get 23% in Witney in 2005 and Dawn Barnes achieved 19.4% in 2010.

    I remember these successful by-election wins during the last Conservative government:

    Eastleigh our vote increased by 16.3% from 28 to 43.3%
    Christchurch our vote increased by 38.6% from 23.6 to 62.2%
    Newbury our vote increased by 27.8% from 37.3% to 65.1%.

  • Christine Headley 21st Oct '16 - 2:14am

    Given the way we have disappeared from the media, 25% would show that we are still here! A friend was saying yesterday that he had liked Tim Farron, what had happened to him? I said Tim was doing his best to get coverage, but 8 MPs meant that he didn’t get a regular question to the PM, or much airtime. There was a gossipy article in the Evening Standard today which mentioned Patrick Stewart and Duncan Enright, Bernie and Larry Sanders (which provided the headline) and Theresa May, David Cameron and Robert Courts. Yes, that’s a full stop.
    Mark Pack’s quantification of the hurdles to get over is very interesting – – I hadn’t realised how nearly we stopped having good parliamentary by-elections the day Tony Blair disappeared. It wasn’t just the Coalition.

  • Mark Goodrich 21st Oct '16 - 3:08am

    The Witney Gazette is not giving many updates. The last one was 30 minutes ago and yet the result should be expected any minute….

    Based on the Mark Pack table, anything above 25% is an excellent result but was hoping for a bit more.

    What we needed was an opinion poll in the final weekend showing us in clear second place!

  • Michael BG: The results you mention were achieved when the Government was very unpopular unlike now when it has an 18% lead according to the most recent opinion poll. In the circumstances gaining 30% and second place from 6.8% and fourth place is a remarkable achievement.

  • Interesting that they were showing pictures of votes being counted. At most counts I’ve attended, that would be absolutely forbidden, for fear of revealing how someone had voted, (even though you can’t tell whose vote is shown). Also, the rules of secrecy of the ballot make it illegal to reveal information about how the count is going before the result is declared. The Gazette got round this by reporting opinion from the Parties present, rather than fact. I’m not quite sure that’s sufficient to be legal but it’s probably enough to avoid anyone bothering to test it in court.

  • @ nvelope2003
    “gaining 30% and second place from 6.8% and fourth place is a remarkable achievement.”

    I don’t think it was remarkable. If it were a council by-election and the seat was up again in a year or two, it would be an achievement which could be built on and if worked hard, might be winnable. However I consider most of our unusually low vote shares of the 2015 general election as statistical outliers which should be ignored and comparisons made with 2010 and 2005 instead (when we were in second place). This is a 10.8 improvement on 2010 and 7.2 improvement on what Liz achieved in 2005.

  • Michael BG : I could not disagree more. In other Parliamentary by elections there have been poor results, even falls in the vote achieved in 2015. This also applies to some local council by elections although there have been some remarkably good results like this one.

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