Norwich North by-election result: open thread #nnbe

Here’s the result of the Norwich North by-election. In spectacularly uncoordinated fashion, all the LDV team are otherwise occupied this afternoon – so use this thread to pass your comment on the result…

The tension is clearly mounting over on Nich Starling’s twitter account, with the news expected “within five minutes” over half an hour ago.

Meanwhile over on the BBC, the Lib Dems have been squeezed out of the report entirely, with the reporter on the spot still thinking Labour could come second:

At the count in Norwich BBC correspondent Carole Walker said it looked as though Labour would come second, after earlier speculation it could be pushed into third, but the Labour vote had slumped.

Now Nich is announcing a 7,000 majority for the Tories. We’ll bring the full result when we get it.

EDIT from the Norwich North Lib Dems website, here’s the full result

39.54% Chloe Smith (Conservative): 13591 votes.
18.16% Chris Ostrowski (Labour): 6243 votes.
13.97% April Pond (Liberal Democrat): 4803 votes.
11.83% Glenn Tingle (UK Independence Party): 4068 votes.
9.74% Rupert Read (Green Party): 3350 votes.
2.77% Craig Murray (Put An Honest Man into Parliament): 953 votes.
2.74% Robert West (British National Party): 941 votes.
0.48% Bill Holden (Independent Candidate): 166 votes.
0.40% Laud Howling (Official Monster Raving Loony Party): 144 votes.
0.17% Anne Fryatt (None of The Above Party): 59 votes.
0.10% Thomas Burridge (Libertarian Party): 36 votes.
0.07% Peter Baggs (Independent Candidate): 23 votes.

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


  • Why such a bad result for the Lib Dems?

    Was it the presence of Lord Rennard in the constituency or the fact that the Lib Dem candidate had a moat?

    A £100,000 spent on this by-election,visits from Nick Clegg and zillions of pieces of literature and yet a truly awful result.

  • Grammar Police 24th Jul '09 - 1:39pm

    The percentages above are wrong, Tories were under 40%, Lab got 18ish% and us 14%. Questions will be asked about the LD campaign on this site, I’m sure. The most interesting result is the number of people who voted against the “establishment” by voting UKIP or Green.

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Jul '09 - 1:41pm

    Your percentages have gone haywire. Should be:
    Con 39.5%
    Lab 18.2%
    LD 14.0%
    UKIP 11.8%
    Green 9.7%
    Murray 2.8%
    BNP 2.7%
    Others 1.2%

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Jul '09 - 1:43pm

    Obviously, I meant LDV’s percentages, not Grammar Police’s.

  • Certainly very disappointing. If, with the government having screwed up the economy for a generation, lead us into the Iraq war and not winning in Afghanistan, got unpopular personnel at the top, were worst offenders on expenses etc and we still can’t beat them, we should be very afraid for the GE. We should be surging ahead, but only the chatterati have paid any attention. Perhaps we need the publicity of the General to reach beyond the high-information voters. I’d say we also need a more positive message as well as a critique of Labour.

  • Isn’t this really a repeat of Crewe & Nantwich? Labour seat, Tories in a clear second place. Added complication here was a rather more credible Green presence and a resuscitated UKIP. Third party might expect to be badly squeezed. Wasn’t.

    Not good, but not bad either.

  • Why didn’t we do so well – er well, this is what happens when the media say something is a two horse race. It’s the same reason Labour never did well in by-elections against the Tories where we were the challengers – they simply can’t / won’t / don’t have the intelligence to cope with the idea that there’s more than two parties.

    Given that, and the attempted squeeze on our vote, we’ve held up well. What we’ve not done is picked up disillusioned Labour votes – I suspect they’ve stayed at home.

  • Those percentages are utter bollox.

    Here are the correct ones:

    Party Name Votes % %change
    Conservative Chloe Smith 13,591 39.54 +6.3
    Labour Chris Ostrowski 6,243 18.16 -26.7
    Lib Dem April Pond 4,803 13.97 -2.23
    UKIP Glenn Tingle 4,068 11.83 +9.43
    Green Rupert Read 3,350 9.74 +7.04
    PHMP Craig Murray 953 2.77 N/A
    BNP Robert West 941 2.74 N/A
    Independent Bill Holden 166 0.48 -0.22
    Monster Raving Alan Hope 144 0.4 N/A
    NOTA Anne Fryatt 59 0.17 N/A
    Libertarian Thomas Burridge 36 0.10 N/A
    Independent Peter Baggs 23 0.07 N/A

  • I don’t know about afraid but it might help if we stopped putting out leaflets with completely wild bar charts on them. I like to think I support an honest party and this sort of crap fills me with shame.

    UKIP are really starting to move beyond minor party to mediocre party status. If they follow the lead of Labour and Tories and pinch all our old campaign techniques they could do well – mostly at Tory expense though they will clearly take something off us particularly in the West Country.

  • Grammar Police 24th Jul '09 - 2:15pm

    What “wild bar charts” are these?

  • According to the Independent this is how the country would divide on the Norwich swing.

    The Tories would have 434 MPs, with Labour on 107, Liberal Democrats 79 and others 30.

  • This was an average by-election & doesnt tell us much except to confirm the softness of the Tory vote & the potential for Labours to collapse. Looking at all the evidence I still see no signs of a Conservative landslide. The fight for 2nd place is still wide open.

  • Herbert Brown 24th Jul '09 - 2:33pm

    “Isn’t this really a repeat of Crewe & Nantwich?”

    No, it’s very different.

    At C and N, turnout in the by-election was virtually unchanged from the preceding general election. The Labour share of the vote fell by 18 points, and the Tory share rose by 17 points. Minor parties were supported by only about 5%.

    At Norwich North, turnout dropped by about a quarter from the level of the general election. The Labour percentage dropped by 27 points, but the Tory percentage rose by only 6 points. Minor parties were supported by nearly 30%.

    In particular, the combined support for the two main parties dropped by more than 20 points (from nearly 37,000 votes to less than 20,000). In the past that would have been a recipe for a spectacular Lib Dem victory. But yesterday the Lib Dem percentage dropped by 2 points, and the vote by nearly 3,000.

  • Liberal Eye 24th Jul '09 - 2:49pm

    A dreadful result, less than 1500 votes seperated us from fifth place despite an economy in the biggest mess since the thirties and the shameful way in which Labour treated a well-regarded MP.

    It’s time to grow up, stop living on a diet of our own spin and get serious about developing a narrative that actually speaks to our situation.

    I for one will be delighted to see the back of Rennardism (as I think we can now assume) and an end to dodgy leaflets substituting for soundly-based policies and aspirations.

    Coincidentally (or perhaps not in view of recent staff changes at Cowley Street), “A Fresh Start for Britain”, launched just two days ago is better than I had dared to hope. It is, of course, only a start but at least we may at last be moving in the right direction.

  • Martin Land 24th Jul '09 - 3:23pm

    I don’t think I need to comment; my views are well known on our by-election ‘strategy’. There is no surprise here. I shall resist commenting any further, not because I’m afraid to, but because I simply don’t see the point. Don’t forget the Rennardista motto. ‘When it’s not working it’s because we didn’t do even more of it’.

  • plumbus

    ‘This was an average by-election & doesnt tell us much except to confirm the softness of the Tory vote & the potential for Labours to collapse. Looking at all the evidence I still see no signs of a Conservative landslide. The fight for 2nd place is still wide open.’

    What are you on?

  • This was a really awful result for us.

    We are relatively clean on expenses. We have more radical policies on reform than Labour or the Tories. We were the party of justice for Gurkhas. We are the party with Vince Cable, with the best ideas for the recession. Our party’s policies match up more closely with Ian Gibson’s voting record than even Labour itself.

    Yet we can’t make progress in a by-election despite the mountain of leaflets and army of volunteers!

    The answer seems fairly obvious to me. We need to get rid of Clegg. He simply isn’t an election winning leader.

    We did awfully in the local elections despite Bristol. We did awfully in the Euro elections although that is more understandable. We did awfully in Crewe and Nantwich. We did awfully in Norwich North.

    At what point are we going to wake up to the fact that Clegg simply can’t win? He doesn’t connect with people in the same way that Charles Kennedy did.

    If not Vince, then I think it would be fantastic if we had a female leader. Women win elections, they are the main swing vote, but all the opinion polls say they like Cameron! I don’t understand it myself, but we have to work with the data we have.

    I’ve never really warmed to Nick Clegg. He was good during Gurkhas but has been pretty awful otherwise. His timing for ditching our tuition fees policy was terrible and shows just what a bad strategist he is. He really has to go.

  • Martin Land 24th Jul '09 - 4:19pm

    Kate, when you have been in politics as long as I have, it’s a dubious honour to have had to read an incredible amount of utter b******s. But yours is priceless. Clegg is exactly what we need. His personality popularity is now good and with the exposure he will receive in a General Election it will continue to grow. He is everything that Cameron tries to be but fails to deliver on. He can master a brief and properly project it. With the able support of Vince Cable and other members of the parliamentary team he is a more than capable leader of this party. I love Charles dearly, but despite the occasional slip, Nick is a far safer pair of hands. It’s not Nick who is letting us down, but those who think that fighting elections is about bludgeoning the electorate to death with the merely mediocre.
    Our problem is ‘Cup a soup’ campaigners.

  • Foregone Conclusion 24th Jul '09 - 4:31pm

    I’m sorry, Kate, but that’s a complete logical fallacy. Saying ‘we’ve done poorly recently, Clegg has been leader, therefore Clegg is to blame’ is a little like saying ‘a dog has four legs, my cat has four legs, therefore my cat is a dog.’

    To be honest, most ordinary people wouldn’t be able to identify him in a line-up at the moment, but the evidence shows that people DO warm to Clegg when he speaks, as they can tell he’s a conviction politician. Just look at some of the comments on the Guardian website below his interview with Polly Toynbee. I think that Vince is very happy where he is, and I wouldn’t want to move him – he’s doing a fine job for the Party as it is. And besides Vince, there’s really a quite limited field of appealing candidates we can sell within twelve months of a general election.

    What really convinces me that Clegg isn’t the problem is that our poll rating is higher than it was when he became leader. We got rid of Kennedy (mistakenly, in my view) because of the supposedly ‘disappointing’ 2005 election, we got rid of Ming because of the bad polling numbers, now you want to get rid of Clegg? I don’t think it’s the leadership that’s the problem at all.

    So what is the problem? Well, I think that the resurgence of one or other party usually results in British politics in reduced popularity for the third. See 1951, 1979, 1997. To expect to be gaining in this context, although apparently common-sense, is hardly sensible. Obviously there are some complaints to be made about our campaigning at the Euros and by-elections (clue: bar-charts don’t work when you’re third, or if it’s a PR election, for frick’s sake). The Tories have learnt to campaign as well, which is unfortunate. But despite all that, I’m relatively optimistic. I feel confident for the first time in a few years that we’ll get above 20% of the vote next time round, and that after the General Election Clegg will be much better known.

    I doubt I’ll ever be wildly inspired by Clegg, but he’s earned my respect this last year and a half, and it’s foolish to think that we’d do better ditching him.

  • It is utterly astonishing that we were not able to show the electorate what a disgusting sham the Conservatives are on expenses – not having sacked the three ‘flipping’ front-benchers – on top of their overall lack of any policies whatsoever.

    If we are not careful, the general election will be a re-run of Norwich North, with the Tories winning by a landslide simply because of our stupid electoral system, with less than 40% of the vote.

  • I don’t see how Clegg is a major factor. He consistently performs well when focus groups and similar exercises compare leaders side-by-side and in general he doesn’t really have much of a profile with the general public; something I don’t think is his own fault.

    We have had some pretty mixed results under Clegg, but overall the picture looks ok – our national share of the vote has held up well: That’s actual people voting Lib Dem. What hasn’t happened is the campaigning to translate that into lots of seats, although we didn’t crash and burn as some in the media might think.

    I agree with the comments above that it is campaigning where we have been found wanting. We are no longer at such a low level in the polls where merely putting out any old literature and lots of it will do: We may have got from 3% to 13% just by telling people we exist, but it won’t work the same to get us from 20% to 30%. We are being held to a higher standard now and just being “the other guys” won’t cut it.

    We will continue to rely on leaflets as the basis of our campaigning, simply because it is the only way of guaranteeing our agenda is put in front of the electorate, but we will also need to supplement it with new technology, face-to-face campaigning (much overlooked) and a more effective mainstream media operation.

    Most important, though, will be the job of putting together and distributing a set of modern messages and a distinctive liberal ethos on which our campaigners will base what they do. We are really bad at this – not as bad as our opponants might have you believe, but still bad enough that I don’t know, when I arrive to campaign in a seat, what we will be saying about issues on the ground – in too many cases it seems to be based on either the personal prejudices of the chair of the local party (“I don’t like all these extra boxes so we’re against recycling round here”) or having latched on to a local NIMBY campaign (Ealing Southall and the blanket rejection of the Uxbridge Road Tram).

    Our local campigns should be about applying a coherent set of liberal principles to local situations so that they are relevant to voters. That’s the only way we will be seen as a relevant party worthy of people’s support.

    There is also the issue of targeting. This also desperately needs updating. Instead of telling people, “You’re a target – and you’re not,” if we are to spread beyond the limited reach we have had until now, we are going to have to be far more subtle and nuanced about it: moving away from targeting as a binary state and making it a process of setting targets for all local parties. These may only be targets for winning one council seat or gathering voter ID, but just like the Party as a whole often not seeing itself as a party headed for government, many local parties in “non target” areas do not see themselves as being on any kind of route towards winning anything and so don’t see the point of doing anything and don’t feel that they are expected to. That needs to end.

  • Herbert Brown 24th Jul '09 - 4:43pm

    “So what is the problem? Well, I think that the resurgence of one or other party usually results in British politics in reduced popularity for the third.”

    But the Tories are only “resurgent” by default. Despite the huge unpopularity of the government, the Tories are under 40% in the polls. In Norwich North yesterday, the Tory vote was 2000 less than it was in 2005!

    In these circumstances, the third party should be making hay. Instead, the Lib Dems are sharing the general unpopularity of the established parties, and it’s the minor parties which are benefitting.

  • Foregone Conclusion

    The trouble is that Nick Clegg only really appeals to Guardian and Independent readers.

    If you look at some of our policies they should appeal even to Sun readers – and certainly to Times readers. Yet Clegg just can’t communicate them in a way which sticks.

    Also, our magic touch has always been our strong local performance. We out-do the opinion polls because of our ground game when it counts. Under Clegg we seem to have lost this edge.

    We need to get our head out of the sand. When Labour is imploding we should be picking up their disgruntled voters left right and centre. We’re not. Why?

  • Another thing I would add about ‘why we have done badly’ is because Cameron, for one reason or another, is given wall to wall fawning and uncritical coverage simply for getting up and sitting down, let alone making a speech. He has yet to be subjected to any scrutiny of his principles and policies for a very good reason – he doesn’t have any. Nick Clegg, by contrast, has to fight for every single shred of media time. The mass of the electorate are simply presented with: “Look, here’s Cameron, he’s shiny and new and not Gordon Brown.”

  • Alix Mortimer 24th Jul '09 - 4:46pm

    @Nathan, couldn’t agree more. Ok, so you need to know that the candidate isn’t an axe-murderer and actually knows where the constituency is and shows at least some tenuous sign of having had a normal job, but beyond that a great local reputation is earned through years of hard slog, not bought by shiny pictures of them pointing at graffiti.

    The other thing that puzzles me (I may as well run on now I’ve started) is the obsessive localism. The whole population spends its time glued to 318-channel satellite TV and readily discusses wars happening thousands of miles away, and yet for some reason when we write a political leaflet we pretend that they’re all medieval peasants who’ve never been further than the local market town. Sure, put the hospital in, but what’s wrong with putting civil liberties in too?

  • Martin Kinsella 24th Jul '09 - 5:00pm

    I think we had a reasonable candidate here but this was an awful result and the rubbish coming from HQ – 24%, pushing the Tories, etc etc, was little more than a joke and makes us look like imbeciles.

    Having that clown Rennard in the constituency has not helped.

  • Alix Mortimer 24th Jul '09 - 5:06pm

    Kate, “Under Clegg we seem to have lost this edge.”

    We’ve lost our edge in local campaigning because the other parties have copied our best methods – we’re no longer distinctive because of our leaflets, our local focus (pun intended) and our campaigning style. It’s as simple as that.

    It’s the campaigning team’s job and local campaigners’ job to raise their game in response to this new development, to experiment with communicating with peple until we find a new edge. Clegg is leading very well by example, doing regular town hall meetings from day one (before it was cool) and trying any new technology we throw at him. He’s also made a great appointment in Chris Fox, and I wonder if he’ll stay as Chief Exec. There’s not much more Clegg can do than that.

  • Foregone Conclusion 24th Jul '09 - 5:08pm


    You say “our magic touch has always been our strong local performance. We out-do the opinion polls because of our ground game when it counts. Under Clegg we seem to have lost this edge.” As far as by-elections, that’s true (partly because ‘Rennardism’ is becoming increasingly derivative and corrupted from it’s origins, but mainly because the Tories have learnt to campaign). I’m not sure whether that’s the case at all – the Tories we’re facing in our constituency are still a miserable shower as far as campaigning goes, and we’re putting out superior stuff. But even if we were being outgunned, is that Clegg’s fault? It’s one of the things he has least control over! Blame Rennard, blame the Campaigns Department at Cowley Street, blame whoever you want, but don’t blame Clegg!

    The fact is, we appear as an unsatisfactory vehicle for change for a number of reasons. Number one – we’re the third party. I’m as tired as you are of the glib dismissal of the Party by people who should know better, but it’s a real phenomenon. We’re barely hanging on in the media, especially with the increasingly dualistic battle between Brown and Cameron. Number two – we appear to be part of the establishment. We’re a victim of our own success. Number three – we’re crap at communicating policy. I’m not talking about conference speeches or policy announcements – I’m talking about Focus leaflets and knocking on doors. The first is essentially the reason for the historical squeeze, the second we can’t do anything about, but the third we can change.

  • Foregone Conclusion 24th Jul '09 - 5:11pm

    Inevitable correction – I’m not sure whether that’s the case at all [i] for the general [/i]

  • Liberal Neil 24th Jul '09 - 5:25pm

    There was string of by-elections in the run up to the 1997 and the trend was pretty consistent: Where we started in second place and had a reasonable base to work from we did well and often won; where Labour started second to the Tories and we had no base we got squeezed.

    We tend to remember by-election like Christchurch and Brent East because we won them but forget the Dudley Wests and Uxbridges because we didn’t. Those of us who worked on the latter ones know that results like Norwich North are just par for the course.

    Little has changed, but with fewer by-elections we are seeing fewer opportunities.

    In by-elections like this one we are neither the obvious vehicle for a vote against the Government, and nor are we the obvious choice for a vote against the main parties.

    @Benjamin – you are right that we ought to be encouraging every seat to work hard and achieve success and that we should not have a targeting strategy that excludes it. But that is exactly what all the party’s training, campaign guides etc. seek to do.

    We do ask activists to go and help in target seats in the run up to and during the election. No-one says they should not also be developing their own seats.

    In fact quite a lot of resources have gone into schemes like the Moving Forward programme which have encouraged seats to develop, some of which have, in turn, become targets themselves.

    It is also a bit of a myth that we have not been expanding our base of winnable seats. At every elections since 1992 we have increased the number of seats we have targeted.

    @Kate Like all Leaders Nick has strengths and weaknesses. Most of the evidence is that the more people see him the more they like him. I don’t agree with him on everything but I do think we would be barking mad to even think about replacing him.

  • rantersparadise

    Kennedy may not have been working class himself but he definitely spoke their language.

    With apologies to Charles, he was definitely someone most people would have chosen to go to the pub with!

    Right now I’m not sure Clegg fits that bill – though Brown and Cameron are even worse.

  • Martin Kinsella 24th Jul '09 - 5:31pm

    Kate, you may well be right but if that is the case that Brown and Cameron are worse why do they consistently poll better than us ?

    Our By-election strategy has been a busted flush for years.

    Clegg is doing well and I do not think we should ditch him. He has done very well since the expenses fiasco (for politics not us) especially compared to Chris Huhne.

  • Martin Land

    ‘Kate, when you have been in politics as long as I have, it’s a dubious honour to have had to read an incredible amount of utter b******s. But yours is priceless.’

    Wow,seems that your only dubious honour is your unbelievable arrogance.

    Clegg is exactly what we need. His personality popularity is now good’

    So if that’s true why are the results so poor as detailed in Kate’s long list of failures?

    ‘He can master a brief and properly project it.’

    Oh yea,this is the guy that didn’t even know how much the state pension was!

    Martin,whilst I’m sure that Kate can forgive your vacuous nonsense,at least you should aplogise for your rudeness.

  • Martin Kinsella

    I used to like Chris Huhne but after his awful attempted defence of his trouser press he lost all credibility.

    Maybe I am being too hard on Clegg. Many of the posts above raise good points why wider factors might be to blame.

    Ultimately though, when Labour is falling apart we should be rolling in votes, because old Labour voters certainly won’t switch to the Tories. Instead we fight ridiculous rearguard campaigns against Greens.

    The leader has to be responsible for failure – that is part of what leadership means. Good leaders don’t let events overtake them, they seize control of the agenda.

    Paddy Ashdown did that consistently. Charles Kennedy did that consistently. Menzies Campbell didn’t do that, and rightly, we got rid of him. Maybe it’s time to assess whether Clegg too is controlling the agenda to the best of his ability.

    I don’t think so, personally.

  • Grammar Police 24th Jul '09 - 5:59pm

    Rantersparadise – why don’t you do a template then. Send it to your local party, hell – send it to me – and we’ll see what it’s all about.

  • David Allen 24th Jul '09 - 6:35pm

    Clegg has improved, I grant you. Nowadays he’s worth a steady seven-out-of-ten mark. (Though, diving in with a unilateral delaration that we didn’t really mean it when we said we’d scrap tuition fees does show that the gaffes haven’t altogether stopped….)

    Huhne, seven-and-a-half out of ten I suppose, after the trouser press incident. Still a potential leader one day, but not clearly so much better than the incumbent that it would be worth changing to Huhne right now.

    Cable, nine out of ten in pretty much everybody’s assessment. Er, at what point might we need to reflect on this, and decide to take notice of it, after all? It will be a bit late to bemoan not doing it in a year’s time…..

  • ‘Huhne, seven-and-a-half out of ten I suppose’

    I’d go for 8 out of 10,his trousers are always impeccable.

  • Martin Land 24th Jul '09 - 7:09pm

    john zims: Perhaps if more people were rude to ‘kate’ she would think first before posting such comments. A good rule is to talk about principles or tendencies and not personalities.
    I reserve my right to lose my rag occasionally. Perhaps if more of us did so from time to time we would be in a better situation than we are?

  • Martin Kinsella 24th Jul '09 - 7:15pm

    Martin, we share two things, a first name and a disdain for the tactics of Rennard. However I do not think losing your rag at another poster is helpful even though I do agree with your sentiment.

  • Liberal Neil 24th Jul '09 - 7:20pm

    @Kate “Instead we fight ridiculous rearguard campaigns against Greens.”

    That would be the same Greens who were being talked of as potential victors at the start of the campaign but ended up coming fifth while we retained our third place?

    @Martin “Our By-election strategy has been a busted flush for years.”

    How many years exactly? The three years since Dunfermline? The four since Cheadle? The five since Leicester? The six since Brent East?

    Did we think the same thing during the seven by-elections we lost between Littleborough and Winchester, the six we lost between Winchester and Romsey and the eight we lost between Romsey and Brent East?

  • Martin Kinsella 24th Jul '09 - 7:21pm


    You make a fair point about Chris Huhne and his awful defence of the trouser press. Many of us have jobs where we have to look smart, but we just pay the money necessary to make our clothes look smart. Huhne lost some brownie points in my eyes over that although I always wanted Clegg to triumph I had alot of time for Huhne.

    I think your enthusiasm is fantastic and I think your questioning sound but remember Paddy and Charles had the good fortune to have a Tory party in disarray to go up against. Nick does not have that. Ming was a mistake but Nick is steadying the ship and needs to cut a clear, defined, direction for us rather than trying to be all things to all men.

    As one other poster, I thin Cllr Smith, has pointed out Nick has done very well recently especially on reform and expenses whereas the other two parties have just gone in for gesture politics.

    Certainly to change leader now would be foolish.

  • I actually think this could have been much worse – Norwich is 1 of the very few places the Greens have a solid presence – we beat them – at a time when UKIP is on its uppers because of the European elections – we beat them and at a time when Indies are on the way up – we beat them – when the voters previously had a go at politicians and the system – we were the recipients very much because of the protest element. It is due to our strong position and recent successes that we are now part of the mainstream.
    What I would like to know is how many helpers did we get – how many of the electorate did we contact ? how much telephone canvassing did we manage? Could all this be reported on the members’ forum? It would be useful if we could have some analysis from those running the campaign.

  • David Blake 24th Jul '09 - 8:16pm

    Yes, we beat UKIP, but if this by-election was in the West Country they would have won. They had a poor campaign and almost beat us.

  • Martin Kinsella 24th Jul '09 - 8:18pm

    David, you are deluding yourself. The Greens are entrenched in Norwich South and have a presence in North but not a major one. They used this by election to campaign in wards they think they can win next year.

  • As a part-time supporter but never a member of the Libdems I may be guilty of naivity but I can but help feeling the by-election result was a bit of a disaster for the party.

    with both major parties mired in expense-gate, with the Tories losing a string of local council by-elections and claims earlier in the week to be at 24% and closing on the Tories you have to ask “What Happened” A few years ago the party would have walked this by-election on a wave of protest votes. Now the protesters go elsewhere and our share of the vote actually drops.Seems to me we need to be asking what went wrong and why are we failing to engage a pretty hacked-off electorate

  • I thought I better to write in to defend renardism and a whole heap of rubbish written about this by-election.
    It is not Clegg, our campaigning or our candidate who caused us to finish third. It is simply the fact that we started this election in third place in what was already a tory target. Historically we have always performed poorly in by-elections when we have started third. In the period 92-97 (which feels similer to the political situation at the moment -just with Labour and not the tories falling apart) we did badly in Dudley West, Staffordshire South East and Wirral South. In by-elections a large percentage of the population want to use thier vote to give the Government a kicking and use it to vote for the party they believe have the best chance of defeating the incumbent government. Give us a seat where we are second to Labour and I suspect you will see a Lib Dem gain.
    In terms of our reliance on leaflets it’s funny that in seats where we put no leaflets out (or badly done, pure policy leaflets) we finish third. Where we campaign properly and put out regular leaflets that have local content we tend to do well. As we are the third party we need to show that we are better and work harder than the opposition. the best way is to do this is to actually show voters what we are doing for them locally – as we can’t show people what we are doing for them nationally as we are not in power! The attacks on SNAP I find snobbish. SNAP is clearly not designed for the person who already reads our literature, it is meant to connect with an entirely different section of voters and explain in a different way what we are and what we do. It is not as if SNAP was the only leaflet we put out and must be viewed in the context of an overall campaign.
    With Clegg the actual truth is you have to give him time, both Kennedy and Ashdown took a couple of years to bed in with the electorate (and usually a General Election). He is a clever man who I think will lead us to success in the future.

  • Terry Gilbert 24th Jul '09 - 11:11pm

    Rob J
    I disagree that ‘we can’t show people what we are doing for them nationally as we are not in power’ – we have many excellent campaigns in Parliament, but many of our local campaigners fail to integrate this information into their local leaflets. A quote from ‘[X], the Lib Dem MP who is Parliamentary spokesman on [the issue you are campaigning about]’ emphasises that we are a serious party with 60 odd MPs, as opposed to say, UKIP and the Greens, who have no MPs, and will very likely still have none after the next election.

    Incidentally, I think that just by being there, we have forced the Conservative Party to try to portray itself as more liberal and inclusive. Who, 10 years ago, could have imagined they would have been campaigning on civil liberties today? We have national achievements to our name, and should not be shy in shouting about them.

  • Herbert Brown 24th Jul '09 - 11:36pm

    “It is not Clegg, our campaigning or our candidate who caused us to finish third. It is simply the fact that we started this election in third place in what was already a tory target. … In by-elections a large percentage of the population want to use thier vote to give the Government a kicking and use it to vote for the party they believe have the best chance of defeating the incumbent government.”

    The point is that the people of Norwich North did not flock to the second-placed party. In fact, despite the fact that the Labour vote dropped by nearly 15,000, the Tory vote dropped too – by more than 2,000.

    If the Lib Dems cannot even maintain their share of the vote in these circumstances, it’s a signal that something is very badly wrong.

  • Oh dear a lot of ill informed bollocks on here.

    Rantersparadise – if you’re a member of the members only forum please PM me – I’d be very happy to talk to you about leaflet production.

  • NoOffenceAlan 25th Jul '09 - 12:16am

    I’m not convinced about the ‘but we started in 3rd place’ argument – the Greens and UKIP managed to increase their votes.
    My explanation for this is that these 2 parties have an ideology. The ideology may be flawed, but they have one. I think this is what we are lacking – without a clear ideology how are we going to get people to spontaneously join us in areas without a history of local campaigning?

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jul '09 - 12:22am

    I said what I thought of our literature here and
    here before polling day.

    It was dull and uninspiring, it contained far too much knocking copy and very little vision, it was badly designed, it came across as just another politics saying “yah booh sucks, I’m wonderful and all the others are rubbish”, it was everything that turns people off politics. What an opportunity we had here, and how we threw it away with a rubbishy campaign.

    As for Clegg’s leadership, well, I’ve just written some rude stuff about it and deleted it – not the right place for it now. I made clear I didn’t think he was the right person to be leader at the time of the leadership election, and said why. But we’re stuck with him until after the general election, obviously, so let’s keep quiet about him until then.

  • Matthew – Let’s keep quiet about him – by broadcasting on the internet.

    Nooffence is also utterly wrong – there were two elections in Norwich a few weeks ago and the Greens and UKIP did very well in one or both of them.

    The fact is that the reality on the ground is both UKIP and Greens did worse than a few weeks ago so their campaigns were arguably worse than the so-called flawed ‘Rennard’ model.

    I’d caution any Lib Dem from throwing out our tried and trusted campaign methods as result of one or two by-election results and a few blog comments.

    If they were so ineffective – why have they been borrowed lock, stock and barrel by our opponents – including the Greens in places like Norwich, Oxford and Brighton?

    The fact is they work – they worked in Crewe and they worked in Norwich. And they’ll crush the Tories in a by-election where they start from 16% and we’re the clear challengers to Labour.

    Iain Dale and his fuckwitted Tory chums must be laughing at the mischief they’re trying (and succeeding sadly) to cause in Lib Dem ranks.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jul '09 - 1:48am

    I’ve nothing against the Rennard approach if it’s done well, and done in a way where it supports the underlying vision we have. But here it was done all the wrong way, as if we’d remembered the formula but forgot why we used it in the first place.

    As for remaining quite on Clegg, well as I said, I deleted a whole load of stuff on why he’s failing to be an inspirational leader of the party. So I’m keeping quiet, yes? I could say all those things like “looks and sounds like a rather dull public schoolboy who’s been picked to play the Liberal Democrat in the mock election, so he’s mugged up on what they stand for” that I really want to say, but that would be cruel and divisive wouldn’t it? We’re meant to go “rah rah, we’re the best, the others are rotters, we do what our leader says and we never think for ourselves” aren’t we, because that SO impresses the general public, doesn’t it?

  • Herbert Brown 25th Jul '09 - 8:43am

    “The fact is that the reality on the ground is both UKIP and Greens did worse than a few weeks ago so their campaigns were arguably worse than the so-called flawed ‘Rennard’ model.”

    Actually, according to an opinion poll by ICM in mid-June, party support in Norwich North then stood at:

    CON 34%
    LAB 30%
    LDEM 15%
    GREEN 14%
    UKIP 2%

    On that basis, the main movements during the campaign have been a 12-point decrease in Labour support and a 10-point rise in UKIP’s.

    I suspect the decrease in Labour support compared with the poll mainly represents people who didn’t bother to vote, but UKIP does seem to have picked up quite a lot of support during the campaign – probably with less media coverage than the Greens received.

    I suppose this comment will result in my being called a “UKIP troll”!

  • You’ve got no narrative and no individual identity. You are Labour/Tory +/- 5%, ‘the same but better!’ which isn’t going to inspire anyone. Your specific policies might be grand, but since you only get to explain those policies after the the two big parties have had their turns you’re talking to people who have already switched of (literally or metaphorically).

    You have the most bland leader it’s possible to imagine. The only thing that’s remotely interesting or memorable about him is how condescendingly sincere that face he puts on whenever he thinks there’s a camera pointed at him is. He is 100% Public schoolboy bore, even when he’s right.

    Your fetish for localism blinds you to the fact that most of the time most people don’t give a damn about parochial local issues.

    If that leaflet posted earlier is representative of your efforts (I wouldn’t know, not having recieved any Lib Dem spam through my door in years), then Dear Lord you’re in trouble, because that is an abomination. I can’t remember the last time I saw such an affront to graphic design.

    But really your main problem is that too many of your members and candidates conform to the stereotype of the bleating, gutless, muesli-eating, sandle-wearing wet liberal, and you have no hard edge for balance. You are exactly what those who deride you would claim you to be.

  • Bob Roberts 25th Jul '09 - 1:52pm

    For all of those people who are complaining about the result, ask yourself this question…. Did you go to Norwich to help? If not then the answer to the problem is yourself.

  • Martin Land 25th Jul '09 - 4:46pm

    Tell me Bob, what difference does it make if 10 more people go every day and do the wrong thing? Wouldn’t that just make it worse?

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