We’re back to GAINING on a Thursday night…

After disappointment last week, we’ve GAINED a seat tonight:

Well done to David Goode and his team.

And a gain in vote share from a standing start for Andy Minty in Bury:

Sadly we didn’t have a candidate in Neath and Port Talbot:

That is one mighty poor Tory vote…

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

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This entry was posted in News and Op-eds.


  • BTW ALDC have updated their twitter feed with revised percentage changes – which is also what Britain Elects is tweeting:

    “Those changes in percentages should read Lib Dem +20.1% Con -3.3% Lab -1.3% there was no UKIP or Green candidate this time”


  • … The turnout in Knaresborough – assuming roughly the same electorate as in May 2017 (12,139) was by my calculations 31% against 37% in May 2017 – so not too bad for a mid-August by-election.

    Andrew Teale at Britain Elects has previous results as:
    May 2017 result C 1829/1676 LD 1656/1618 Lab 537/474 Grn 405/336 UKIP 322
    May 2013 result LD 2084/1861 C 1219/1108 UKIP 947/764 Lab 399/376 Grn 330
    June 2009 result LD 1985/1659 C 1765/1719 Ind 1240 Lab 355
    May 2005 result LD 4147/3911 C 2398/2147 Lab 1193

    And he wrote in his preview: “It is part of the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency, which was Lib Dem-held up until 2010. The division’s county results reflect that: this was a Lib Dem county division until 2017, but the Conservatives have made all the running here in recent years.”


  • Graham Jeffs 17th Aug '18 - 8:27am

    “And a gain in vote share from a standing start”

    Oh please!!

  • Peter Watson 17th Aug '18 - 9:16am

    What is the threshold between “one mighty poor Tory vote” and “a gain in vote share from a standing start”?

    The Tories’ “mighty poor” 4 votes was 4 more than the Lib Dems in a seat where neither party has a history. The Lib Dems’ “standing start” of 2.2% was in a seat in which they polled over 15% of the votes up to 2010. The Knaresborough seat was a strong enough Lib Dem seat to have been held in 2013 and its loss in 2017 must have been a shock (any hint of a “progressive alliance” with the Greens yesterday?) .

    Yesterday’s small number of results suggest that the Coalition years still cast a long shadow and that Lib Dems should consider how to ensure that some types of places don’t become no-go zones for the party.

  • Chris Bertram 17th Aug '18 - 9:53am

    @Graham and @Peter – when you have not stood in a seat for seven years, you are back to a standing start. Full marks to the Bury party for getting us on the ballot paper again. No marks to the party in Neath Port Talbot for failing to do so, even though we’ve never stood in that seat to date.

    Knaresborough in 2017 was lost due to the concurrent GE campaign which overshadowed local campaigns all over the country. Regaining it with over 50% of the vote is, I think, a cause for celebration. No idea about any arrangements with the Greens, but they’re not doing well generally, so may just have decided to sit it out. Not that we mind.

  • Whether Christians or not, I suggest people reflect on the story of the sower and the seed. ‘Some fell on stony ground, some fell among thorns,’ etc. As long as we work at sowing the seed (bye-election candidates), then even though vote share in the polls may be discouragingly stuck at a low level, we are preparing and tending the field. Away from general elections there is little interest among citizens as a whole; only later can we reap the main benefits of the hard work.
    If you’re into mindful meditation, go and look at a field of cereals in February.

  • Peter Watson 17th Aug '18 - 10:48am

    @Ian Hurdley “I suggest people reflect on the story of the sower and the seed …”
    Even when the ground is very well tended, e.g. Knaresborough, nothing is guaranteed when a national election comes round!
    There is often a debate about paper candidates on this site, and while I don’t have a dog in that fight, I would highlight the comment by Caron in this article. If you “prepare and tend the field” in the way that the Conservatives appear to have done in Port Talbot, you risk ridicule by your opponents for “one mighty poor vote”. That was the point behind my comment about the difference between a poor result and a good one.

  • Fully agree with Peter Watson.

  • Liberal Democrat candidates mostly lost 15% at the 2015 General Election though there were some variations both higher and lower. This seems to have been the protest vote element which mostly went to UKIP in 2015 and Labour in 2017 with about 5% going to the Conservatives. It will be hard to get that element of the vote back as the party is now seen as the supporter of the status quo because of its pro EU Remain stance, hence the very slow rise in the opinion polls which might only change if leaving the EU turns out to be a disaster, at least in the short term. Unfortunately for us it might be a gradual process.

  • paul barker 17th Aug '18 - 1:28pm

    Congratulations to the Teams in Knaresborough & Bury. So far there is is no evidence that the rise in support shown in the Polls has worked its way through to Local contests.

  • @paul barker
    “So far there is is no evidence that the rise in support shown in the Polls has worked its way through to Local contests.”

    NO evidence is quite strong. A rise of +20% compared to when we were on 7% in the opinion polls would taking it on it own – as a one-off – an opinion poll rating of 27%. Now I am not saying we are on 27%. Clearly local by-elections have to be averaged out. But to be winning a by-election – fairly easily that we lost when we were on 7% in the polls would on its own imply an increased poll rating.

    Just NO evidence is a little strong.

  • Om 4 votes for the Conservative

    I am always in favour of democracy and people standing in elections – even if they get zero votes – without people standing we get no democracy. To try and fail is infinitely better than not to try. And clearly in an area that is dominated by Labour and the independents.

    But.. for a political opponent to get 4 votes is in a tribal sense quite nice :)! It does mean that beyond the candidate themselves – they could only find 3 other conservatives. You would think that they could find at least one more beyond the candidate, friend/relative, proposer and seconder. Now of course this does set us up for a fall when we only get 3 votes. And they did do infinitely – in fact more than infinitely better than us.

  • Christopher Clayton 17th Aug '18 - 2:27pm

    Peter Watson’s and David Raw’s comments are pointed and express good sense.
    Chris Bertram’s “Full marks to the Bury party for getting us on the ballot paper again” is obviously intended for a Lib Dem joke book. 2.2% will do the party’s credibility no end of good in that area which has historic Liberal/ Lib Dem support further east of that ward.
    I think the Neath and Port Talbot Independent who deprived the Labour Party of a seat is deserving of congratulations.

  • paul barker 17th Aug '18 - 3:22pm

    I look at all the Local Byelections where we stood either this time or last time, at when the last Election in the Seat was held & how we did that Year in The Local Equivalent Vote estimates. Then I average the last 25.
    Currently, my estimate is that we are averaging around 14%, about the same as we did in May. I expect that to start improving soon, if our National Polling keeps creeping up but we cant know until well into September, when Byelections start happening in reasonable numbers again.

  • John Marriott 17th Aug '18 - 5:51pm

    Voting in August? It beats me why they call elections during this particular month of the year. Surely an August moritorium would make a great deal of sense, wouldn’t it?

  • David Franks 17th Aug '18 - 6:19pm

    Still far too many by elections with no Liberal Democrat candidate.

  • @paul barker

    Apologies – I had a vague recollection that you computed a rolling average as I think you have mentioned it before but you didn’t mention it in your comment.

    Actually 14% would be worse than last May – the BBC gave us 16% as a national equivalent share then.

  • John Marriott 18th Aug '18 - 9:30am

    @Geoff English
    The point I was trying to make was that holding By elections in August when many people are away and, from my experience, there is little Council member activity seems a waste of tax payers’ money. It’s not the percentage of the votes a party gets that should be important but what percentage of the electorate bothered to vote. I grant you that the 50% turnout in Port Talbot is amazing in a local election at any time, let alone in August but that’s the Welsh for you. I can’t imagine it happening here in ‘Yellow Belly’ country.

  • @John Marriott

    I have some sympathy for your view on August by-elections but you would then have to exclude a lot of other months from having elections – the winter months when it is cold etc. etc. “That people are away” for the whole of August is of course a wild exaggeration – a few more may be. If there are fewer council meetings etc. in August that it is firstly irrelevant and secondly probably a good thing – councillors can go and knock on a few doors for a change! In fact April before the May elections tends to be a period of fewer council meetings – I can’t think why! And officers tend to get uppity about “purdah” rules on taking decisions.

    In fact the percentage turnouts seem to have held up recently well this week – you mention Port Tablot and Knaresborough was officially 30.3% which would have been thought reasonable in many May local elections.

    Of course part of the skill in democratic politics (except where voting is compulsory) is not only to persuade people of your cause but that it matters enough – and have a cause that DOES matter enough – for them to go and vote.

  • @Christopher Clayton

    On the credibility issue which is sometimes used as an argument for not standing I think the reverse is the case. People WILL notice if they go and vote and there is NOT a Lib Dem candidate on the ballot paper. They have so little credibility in this area and care so little for it they don’t even bother to stand. If Lib Dem supporters trot along to the polling booth and there is no Lib Dem even to vote for – do you think they are more or less likely to make the effort next time – I would suggest the answer is less.

    The only people that know in detail the result in their ward are I would suggest political anoraks like us. If people are scared that their political opponents will use it against them then the line “they care so little for this area and do so badly that they don’t even bother to stand” is far, far more damning.

    Any by-election campaign in any area gives the party to achieve a few things. Importantly practise community politics and campaign on a local issue. Get their views into the press. Make a noise. And gain canvass data, members, supporters, helpers, donors. It is sad day when we say as Lib Dems we can’t even be bothered with and we care not one jot for a corner of this country.

  • Kevin Hawkins 18th Aug '18 - 4:30pm

    There are far fewer by-elections in August than in most months – In the last twenty years there have been 804 by-elections compared with 1,956 in July and 1,921 in September. The only months which had fewer elections than August are January (590) and April (734). There are obvious reasons why these months are lower than normal.

    August is also the second worse month for Lib Dems in by-elections – our performance is typically 3% down on other months. The only month in which we perform lower is May, which can be explained as many by-elections in May coincide with regular council elections and/or general elections.
    (Data referred to above is for principle authorities in England & Wales 27th Aug 1998 to 16th August 2018 – 4,816 by-elections.)

  • Kevin Hawkins 18th Aug '18 - 6:08pm

    Apologies – the figures I gave in my previous post were incorrect though the true figures don’t alter the fact that August is a quiet month. The correct number of by-elections over the last twenty years is August 226, compared with July (650) and September (583). This makes August the second lowest month for number of by-elections after January (171).

  • John Marriott 18th Aug '18 - 6:55pm

    @ Michael 1
    My main motivation for excluding August is more to do with council activity than anything else. Most council committees etc. tend to close down in this month. Of course ‘people are away’ is an exaggeration. I was trying to make a point. I could have added that politics is probably the last thing on voters’ minds at that time of the year. We all deserve a break, don’t we?

  • @John Marriott
    A break? Whatever outlandish suggestions will you be coming up with next? A break from berating the good citizens of this country on the benefits of multi-member STV constituencies and Land Value Tax reform – outrageous!

    Don’t you realise we have 50 million more to convert. And it takes at least two hours of a considered lecture on the doorstep. Admittedly they do whimper after the first hour about their food getting cold or Coronation Street starting. But after two hours, the small brains are beginning to cotton on and they are agreeing with me. But if only we can convince more people of the benefits of STV – and I do find that too few unfortunately have given it a second thought – power will be ours. A break? Never there are not enough hours in the day! Let alone days in the week or months in the year!

    As to meeting, my experience as a councillor was that most of officers’ time was devoted to coming up for reasons for NOT having meetings – especially pesky scrutiny meetings. April is obviously out because of purdah. May is out because you can’t have committee meetings until the full council has met and decided membership of the committees. June is good! The overview committee can meet and decide what the scrutiny panels should do. July is obviously out as there is not time to get started before the August holidays. September is also good according to the officers but obviously the politicians don’t want to meet then as they are going to party conferences. So they get pushed back to October when the panels can meet to decide when they will meet. November is obviously out as it leads into the December holidays and there is not time to get started. January interferes with the work/life balance of officers. In February we can hold the first substantial meeting. But obviously March is out as the committee doesn’t have time to complete any reports before purdah in April so it’s not worth even starting – best to leave it to the new committee after the elections.

    Obviously regulatory committees such as planning do unfortunately have to meet. But its OK because if the councillors do dare to doing anything other than rubber-stamp the officer recommendations the National Inspectorate will see that common sense prevails. And of course it only takes five minutes at most for Cabinet meetings to rubber-stamp officer recommendations.

    I exaggerate but only marginally!

  • Philip Knowles 19th Aug '18 - 7:45am

    It’s very easy for people to criticise local parties for not standing at elections and not easy for those parties to respond. Our branch has increased its membership by 50% since 2015 but still have only 70 members. Our district council elections are ‘all out’ next year and trying to get 24 candidates out of 70 is going to be tough (and that’s a boundary change reduction from 34). We also have a high proportion of sitting independents that we would not want to challenge and split the anti-Tory vote and let a Tory in.
    So, before you have a go because so and so area hasn’t fielded a canddate, just think that there could be a reason for it. The Tory above couldn’t even get his nominators to vote for him or her and sometimes standing for eveything does more harm than good. If someone feels they have ‘wasted’ their vote they may not turn out when you really need them.

  • @Philip Knowles

    While I don’t underestimate the difficulty – my local party found 42 candidates in a party that probably wasn’t much over 150 members if that at the time. While all candidates should go through a local party approval process and be willing to serve if elected – there is a difference between paper “no hope” wards and other wards.

    Get advice from ALDC and I was also impressed with what Eastbourne Lib Dems at a conference fringe meeting a few years ago said about finding candidates from among “community champions” etc. – the myriad of people who do something in the local community – local PTA, school governors, whatevr. I guess also ALDC would say that you should be getting on with it PDQ and that candidates should be selected by about now for next May.

  • John Marriott 19th Aug '18 - 5:52pm

    @Michael 1
    I assume that your long response to my ‘suggestion’ was an example of your version of irony. Whether it is or not, I still stand by my choice of August where moritorium might have some merit.

    I have to say that your portrayal of council meetings and officer attitudes does contain a grain of truth. However, part of the problem can lie in the calibre of people who get elected. I tend to agree with Philip Knowles with the dilemma facing some local parties in areas where one party, usually the Tories, appear to dominate. However, I WAS referring specifically to by elections, not all in council elections.

    In my thirty years as a councillor I can recall at least one occasion when one of our ‘paper candidates’ actually got elected, succeeding a well established colleague and we spent four difficult years making sure he fulfilled the minimum attendance requirement to remain a councillor.

  • Jayne Mansfield 19th Aug '18 - 6:53pm

    @ Michael1,
    I have always appreciated your passion, and indeed your values in past posts Michael1, but ‘small brains’.

    Wow. Do you actually believe th Radical, I know, but have you ever tried defining there is a relationship between brain size and cognitive abilities, Michael1? Have you ever found the holy grail of defining ‘intelligence’.

    Have you had an MRI scan on your own brain? Was it larger than that of Einstein who had an average sized brain?

    Dear Lord, what super elite do the Liberal Democrats now think that they belong to?

  • Jayne Mansfield 19th Aug '18 - 6:59pm

    @ Michael1,
    As someone who probably has the brain the size of a pea, and that is before a clot killed off portions of it, may I say that I can tell when I have got my posts jumbled, but too late, which explains my jumbled 2nd paragraph.

    Perhaps bigger brains can develop an edit button.

  • @Jayne Mansfield

    Thanks very much for the kind words. Oh dear never tell a joke or attempt satire on the internet! I thought it might be a little bit clear that this is NOT how I go about canvassing! I assure you – I don’t spend two hours lecturing people or think of them as having small brains – honest! It does though bring to mind a few – luckily a very few that I have canvassed with – and of course it IS a trap that we can all fall into to a lesser or greater extent from time to time.

    @John Marriott

    It was as I say an attempt at satire that may be got a little overblown! – sorry! I think actually that there is some merit in politicians having a break from the electorate and vice versa.


    There is though a menace of pushers at large in this country that is threatening its very fabric. And that is officers pushing that meetings on councillors. Those nice people at ALDC do warn you against inhaling – telling to kick(start) the habit but they are clever, they are insidious – these pushers! And unfortunately as a result thousands of orphans languish unloved and uncared for. Countless scrutiny reports lie abandoned on websites – unread by anyone including those that wrote them.

    Meetings have 4 purposes:
    1. Most importantly to waste the time of opposition parties
    2. As one tool (of many) to practise community politics
    3. To fulfil the legal requirement of you as councillor having to turn up once every six months.
    4. That you as a councillor were in attendance – in case the opposition get uppity about you not turning up.

    During my time on my council Lib Dems grew from 6 to 26 out of 42 so we must have done something right. But I can say of the hundreds of hours I spent on scrutiny panels I can’t think of anything that came out of them. Some my say that my scrutiny meant that our council was the best in the country for Target 25a (i) – litter on bridle paths. The cynics might add that it helped that as a urban authority we didn’t actually have any bridle paths!

    Of course meetings can be highly effective and indeed important. And I even got some bad planning applications turned down that weren’t then won on appeal! But you get my drift….

    (I think I have now got this out of my system you will be relieved to hear 🙂 !!!!! )

  • Jayne Mansfield 19th Aug '18 - 9:57pm

    @ Michael1,
    I have a bee in my bonnet.

    Maybe you were employing satire, but I am afraid that in the context of so many posts ( not your previous ones), that display an intellectual arrogance, forgive me if I thought that you had ‘caught the bug’.

    @ John Marriott,
    ‘Life of Brian- this calls for immediate discussion’ Youtube.
    However, think we need to learn from those who were successful in their aims, and it seems that you were.

  • Katharine Pindar 20th Aug '18 - 12:38am

    Michael 1, I for one loved your ironic posts earlier this evening! Your amusing skit on why council officers don’t really think ANY month is suitable for scrutiny meetings reminded me tangentially of an ironic joke that surfaced from the underlings in the university I used to work for, about academics. That they didn’t like Wednesday meetings because that interfered with BOTH their weekends! Not a joke of course that could ever be reapplied to hard-working Lib Dem councillors such as yourself!

  • @Katharine Pindar

    🙂 LOL !!!!! Thanks very much for your kind words – greatly appreciated!

    @Jayne Mansfield


    We are in a large degree of agreement and against my fictional “alter-ego” canvasser who shows some of the pitfalls of this approach. I have though (very occasionally) walked away from voters – some that were probable Lib Dems – expressing completely racist views and wanting me to agree with them – saying: “I’m sorry that is not my view, I may not be the candidate for you.”

    Obviously many will say that we should call out racist, sexist, homophobic views – and it is difficult to do if a mate expresses such a view or if an individual voter does or voters at large do. And we have this debate here on LDV all the time on subjects such as immigration and Brexit. There is a case for setting out clear Liberal views and there is a case for engaging with the voters and where they are on an issue. Clearly the Hillary Clinton campaign thought too much of the “rust belt” voters as “deplorables” and didn’t engage enough with them. When the Lib Dems first got minority control on my council we had a two page spread in the local paper on the u-turns we were doing but we were listening. Later, facing as everywhere very tight budgets we arguably didn’t listen enough.

    “I am their leader, I must follow them.”

  • Steve Magner 21st Aug '18 - 11:54am

    The Bury result is as abysmal as it is laughable. People really need to get real as to just how bad the situation is except in a minority of well educated, professional middle class areas like Oxford West and Twickenham. It was bad in 2015 and actually got worse in 2017. Average support per constituency now is even less than it was in 1970 and nobody in any kind of leadership position has any kind of clue as to what to do about the situation.

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