Upset in East Herts, solid hold in Cornwall…

Another Thursday, another unlikely result…

Yes, that’s a 51.7% swing, for the aficionados out there.

For the Conservatives, who had previously held all fifty seats on the council, they’ll just have to get used to having an opposition in the Council chamber. Well done to Sophie Cook, one of our younger members, and her team in a part of the county where success has been traditionally hard won.

Elsewhere, a solid defence in Bude, on Cornwall Council…

See, not all gammon is bad… Again, congratulations to David Parsons and the North Cornwall crew – a lovely bunch from my memory as Presidential consort.

Elsewhere, whilst there weren’t any more wins, there was a reassuring uptick in our vote in Bromborough, on the Wirral, where Vicky Downie and her team have laid down the foundations for next time. Nice hi-vis jacket, by the way.

We ran candidates in Gotham, Rushcliffe, where Jason Billin scored 7.2%, and in Halewood South, Knowsley, where Jenny McNeilis tallied 6%. Those results might not look exciting, but running candidates tells the public that we’re still out there, so many thanks to both of them for doing the honours.

Finally, no candidate in the North Warwickshire ward of Newton Regis and Warton, although we seemingly didn’t run a candidate in any ward in the District in 2011 or 2015, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Are the Regional Party on top of this?

So, in summary, two good wins, one somewhere we have a long tradition, one somewhere new, a solid improvement on the Wirral, and green shoots in less promising climes.

Winning is nice, and the underlying improvement is grounds for some optimism, but there’s still some way to go to rebuild our local government base. Luckily, the will is there, and the enthusiasm too.

Once again, thank you to all of you who have stood, helped, or contributed in any way.

* Mark Valladares is Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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This entry was posted in Local government and News.


  • And amongst the also-rans (also-stoods) congratulations to Jennie in Knowsley Halewood South for getting slightly more than twice as many as the Tory!

  • Chris Bertram 24th Aug '18 - 12:26pm

    It’s good to be in five out of six contests – and occasionally even the Tories and Labour miss the odd one. There’s just one by-election next week, and we’re in that. But the following week we’re in just one out of four, and that’s disappointing. Regional and national parties need to get on top of the gaps and resuscitate dormant parties – this week it was North Warwickshire. In a couple of weeks time, Carlisle has no candidate for city and county elections, and nor has Tameside for a borough seat. Local voters notice these things, we mustn’t give them that chance.

  • Of course
    … we should be winning in Cornwall anyway.
    … you do sometimes get flukes due to it being August with everyone being away.
    … if we can’t win in urban seats with Corbyn doing so badly, we are doomed as a party.
    … not standing in a seat where we have before shows how much this party has declined.
    … it was better in the halcyon days of the 60s/70s/80s/90s/2000s when you had real Liberals standing.

    Sorry just getting in the spurious reasons people give in one go! Obviously an excellent set of results with a Lib Dem increase in every seat where we stood. Congrats to everyone involved.

  • paul barker 24th Aug '18 - 2:09pm

    A great win & improvements everywhere else. We seem to be doing better than we did in May though we are still doing much better against Tories/in The South than against Labour/in The North.
    The big failing is still all those places where we arent standing even “Paper” candidates.
    We are doing better though even if the improvement is frustratingly slow.

  • Ian Patterson 24th Aug '18 - 4:42pm

    Bude was a relief after Newquay. East Herts was correspondingly a nice surprise. But as has been said previously performance elsewhere is patchy at best. And the next couple of Thursday’s election rounds have fewer LD candidates to go around.

  • Chris Bertram 24th Aug '18 - 4:57pm

    @David Raw – it’s really simple. No candidate = no votes. Even a paper candidate will pick up some votes, and those who go to vote will notice our candidate on the ballot paper regardless of how they vote themselves. Impressions count, and absence hurts us far more than paper-only candidacies.

  • Chris Bertram 24th Aug '18 - 4:59pm

    On which note, I should say that in three weeks time we’re in 5 out of 6 byelections, and the week after that a full house of 6 out of 6. None of which are LD defences, so anything we win is a gain, and that stretches into the future beyond that for the moment.

  • David Westaby 24th Aug '18 - 5:28pm

    These are indeed encouraging results and this is a time when they are very much needed. I was disappointed to read a guardian column on Brexit today saying ‘where are the Liberal Democrat’s’ and belittling Vince Cable .Well the LDs are out there working extremely hard to be heard. Following the great demise of 2015 it has been so difficult to be heard. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure we are.

  • Chris Bertram 24th Aug '18 - 5:58pm

    @David Raw – how little you know about me and the ward I work in. Suffice to say that during the May elections I clocked up many thousands of steps on the pedometer and scraped knuckles on lots of uncooperative letter boxes. I will not take lectures from you or anyone else on getting active in the service of the party!

  • Sophie Cook in East Herts clearly has a good team around her. Just as well given that she has to face 49 Tories on the 50 member Council. All power to her supporters in the months ahead.

  • @David Raw

    It is better – in order
    1. To stand than not to stand – even if we do nothing / very, very little.
    2. To stand and fight an “appropriate” campaign
    3. To stand and really go for it.

    I would always urge local parties to go for 3. But there may be good reasons for not doing much – we might be conserving money to fight other seats in the future. We might in a big ward decide that it is far, far better to put out ten leaflets in a few polling districts than one across the whole ward.

    There is always a vast amount that can be done/achieved in a paperless/no money campaign – canvassing doesn’t cost anything, nor does talking to the local media and it is an opportunity to get members, helpers, supporters, donors.

  • Jacquie Gammon 24th Aug '18 - 10:23pm

    This Gammon is one of the Lib Dem Cllrs that hold the majority of seats in North Cornwall and last nights win was a hold of a Lib Dem seat in a winnable Lib constituency and we will unseat the Tory and take our constituency back!

  • Peter Watson 24th Aug '18 - 10:58pm

    It seems that Lib Dems fair better in local elections where presumably Brexit is not a factor than they do in national elections and polling where the party makes Brexit its defining issue.

  • John Marriott 25th Aug '18 - 8:07am

    David Raw, in his usual down to earth Yorkshire way, is expressing sentiments with which I entirely agree. In their zeal to ‘give the voters a chance to vote Lib Dem’ our more enthusiastic, even more idealist, brethren often make the party look rather silly. I am reminded of a District Council by election near where I live not that long ago, where the Lib Dem candidate ended up with 9 votes, so not even all the ten electors who nominated him could bother actually to give him their support at the ballot box! It reminds me, for some unknown reason, of the story of the Emperor’s new clothes.

  • No one has commented that the only by-election on Thursday where Labour did well was the one we failed to contest.
    Suggest this is not coincidence. Theories on postcard to……
    Re paper candidates (I to a degree agree with David Raw), a few years ago mid-coalition, we had a by-election in Northwich in a large unitary Ward, totally derelict and one member, she stood. Delivered the ward twice, got about 8%. Probably stopping UKIP taking the Labour seat.
    The point is we deliberately got involved, and didn’t embarrass ourselves. In any council by-election it should be easy enough to deliver one half decent leaflet to most of the ward. You won’t get 9 votes. (Didn’t the Tories get 2 votes last week in South Wales)!

  • Spencer Hagard 25th Aug '18 - 11:34am

    To adapt Saki: “She was a good Cook as Cooks go; and as Cooks go, Sophie Cook was never there in the first place”!
    It was Sophie BELL, very recent Chair of the ever more politically active Cambridge University Lib Dems, who took Watton-at-Stone ward off the Tories with a 51.7% swing, not Sophie ‘Cook’.
    So it’s Sophie BELL who’s going to face the grim ranks of 49 Tories on the 50-seat East Herts council. Since one of the 49 failed to note her party affiliation in the 2015 election, and three more subsequently lost the Tory whip, that’s a mere 45 Tories to face, plus four Condependents.
    And – given help and support – it’s the same Sophie BELL, who will hopefully defend her seat successfully in eight months time, and be a standard bearer for Lib Dem gains in some of the other 49 wards.
    Well done, and best wishes, Sophie!

  • David Blake 25th Aug '18 - 1:29pm

    I see that in the last full council elections in East Herts, the Tories won 100% of the seats and just 49.8% of the votes. They call that democracy.

  • Thank you Spencer for making that CLEAR.

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