Two spectacular by-election gains and a frustrating but brilliant near miss

It was another brilliant night on the by-election front for the Lib Dems.

Two years ago we narrowly missed out on gaining the North East Fife parliamentary seat by just two votes. And that was the same margin by which we lost out on gaining Dunfermline Central on Fife Council. Aude Boubaker-Calder had run a passionate and spirited campaign and more than tripled the first preference votes and ran the SNP extremely close. She is in a very good position for the next Council elections in 2022.

In Tunbridge Wells, Justine Rutland gained a seat from the Conservatives with a spectacular swing:

And in Cumbria, we also pulled off a gain. Congratulations to Cllr Neil McCall and his team.

We held our own in Rosyth as the local party concentrated its efforts on Dunfermline Central.

And in Wales, we didn’t stand as Plaid Cymru took a seat from Labour.

One feature of all of these results is a significant fall in the Labour vote.

More results to come later today. Watch this space.


The news isn’t quite so good from Wales but the Labour vote is up:

And a second loss in the South West to the Tories in as many weeks:

Inverness Central was never going to be our brightest prospect but we did gain in vote share and the Labour vote tanked again.

So, good news and disappointment in equal measure.

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

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  • Richard Underhill. 15th Nov '19 - 10:12am

    The Tunbridge Wells Alliance is a local party

  • Great result in Tunbridge Wells, but the swing is misleading, we won the ward in May with over 30%, think the alleged increase of 39% is based on the result in 2017. Still waiting for Brecon and Torbay?

  • Interesting that in actual elections the Liberal Democrats are doing well and Labour are doing badly, sometimes disastrously. They want us to stand down in the GE but they will not reciprocate !

  • Great result in Tunbridge Wells, but the swing is misleading, we won the ward in May with over 30%, think the alleged increase of 39% is based on the result in 2017. Still waiting for Brecon and Torbay?
    PS lost in Torbay, sizeable swing to the Tories, suggests we may well struggle in the South West seats.

  • Paul Barker 15th Nov '19 - 1:30pm

    Of the 8 contests we stood in 7, good news in itself; for the 6 Results we have so far its a very mixed bag with Gains & losses & Vote shares rising & falling.
    Altogether I would say that we are doing better than in May but not much better. With 4 Weeks to go its much too early to see what is happening, a lot depends on The Debates, if we get them.

  • Chris Bertram 15th Nov '19 - 2:30pm

    @theakes – yes, the swing in Tunbridge Wells is vs 2017, not May 2019, but it’s still a very good win. Re Goodrington (Torbay) our share actually went up even though we lost! An independent stood last time and may have pulled the Tory vote down then, they have recovered that vote in their absence. Disappointing, but there are mitigating factors. Of course the best thing is for councillors not to resign and cause byelections, but that can’t be helped sometimes.

  • Theakes there were some particular local issues in the Torbay situation to factor in too. Given the age profile in Torbay we are likely to struggle there in my view and I suspect the party will focus efforts on other nearby seats.
    Brecon was a rare thing, a Labour gain, an area they have won in before mind you, that said at the Westminster level the good folk of B&R clearly understand tactical voting as we have seen before!

  • Caron,
    Wasn’t last weeks loss in Wadebridge to an independent, not the Tories?
    The Tories did contest the seat though.

  • Tony Greaves 18th Nov '19 - 2:25pm

    So why do we report false swings – the swings in Council by-elections are always calculated form the last contest in the ward not some historic result. And where do I look to find out reasons for the disaster in Torbay?

    But the real story of Council by-elections continues to be Labour votes collapsing.

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