Witney: great result – thanks team!

Well, that was a great result at Witney. Congratulations to Liz Leffman who was an astonishingly brilliant candidate.

This was the biggest swing from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems since the Winchester by-election in 1997.

We moved from 4th to 2nd. In 2015 the Guardian described the 25,155 Tory majority at Witney as “ultra safe”. Liz and team reduced that majority to just 5,702 with a very high turnout for a by-election – 47%.

Labour were pushed into third place with both the Greens and UKIP losing their deposits.

This really is an exceptional result. It was staggering to see the whole UK Lib Dem team sending “all hands to the pump” in Witney.

Thank you to everyone at helped both at Witney and around the country!

After the result, Neil Fawcett said in a crowded Witney HQ:

A massive thank you on behalf of the campaign team. When we sat down five weeks ago we were simply aiming for second place. We absolutely smashed that. We said “if we build it they will come”. We did build it and you came. We had one of the best by-election candidates of all time. It is my absolute pleasure to say: Well done Liz – you were a cracking candidate. We built on your achievements over many years – so well done.

Liz Leffman said to supporters:

I’m really so grateful to all of you – you have been so supportive – day in day out – we have worked together as a fantastic team. Thanks for everyone out there who has helped – we couldn’t have done it without you. The Lib Dems aren’t going anywhere except up from now on.

Here are some images from the by-election from Getty Images. Each one is a slideshow of five pictures. Use the arrows to move around within each slide show:

* 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.


  • Richard Underhill 21st Oct '16 - 9:37am

    A special mention should be made of Candy Piercy.

  • We stated with a 53% gap between us & The Tories & cut that by more than two thirds to 15%. That is a fantastic acheivement. If this had come 6 Months later we could have won. Congratulations to everyone who helped.

  • Good stuff. Just one caveat in all our excitement. The Labour vote held up far better than I expected, perhaps Clegg and Ashdown appearing had something to do with that.
    I would recommend they stay away from by the next couple of by elections just to see whether we encroach much more into the Labour vote as a result.
    Otherwise excellent stuff. Well done to our leader.
    Good to see us regaining ground in another previous strong area area where we had declined due to the coalition, namely Beverley. We are definately coming back.
    Mind you watching Sky News this morning you wouldn’t know that.

  • Richard Warren 21st Oct '16 - 12:56pm

    On LBC’s news this morning there was extensive coverage of Labour’s win, but only one line about Witney with no mention of the Lib Dems. Is LBC’s news editor a Labour voter?!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '16 - 1:21pm

    Always talk of commercial stations not covering us , last night Sky were there live , and the BBC were not , they were too busy with world news brought to countries not forced to pay for the wretched TV licence ! Sky in any given week give us no less coverage than others, LBC has our own terrific, Maajid Nawaz as a presenter now. The Batley and Spen result is significant because of the tragic circumstances of the reason for the election , and the happy ,peaceful ,outcome .

  • Christopher Haigh 21st Oct '16 - 2:45pm

    Tim Farron got a crude expression of disgust from the sad man on a train on ‘This Week’ last night which actually made Andrew Neil reel back in horror. We are obviously rattling the Tories now.

  • paul barker 21st Oct '16 - 3:37pm

    This was a seat where we got 1% less than our Average vote share, I think if we got 31% in 2020 most of us would be quietly pleased. This was a very good, solid result.
    However, dont expect most of the Voters or The Media to take much notice. The Voters are still sleeping off May 2015 & The Referendum & The Media have bought in to the “Libdems Dead” story, they will need a big push to get them to move on. It will happen but probably not yet.

  • Congratulations to Liz and the Corn Street team on an outstanding success. The magnitude of this achievement is best seen by looking an the number of votes cast, not the swing:
    The turnout at this election was around a third less than at the 2015 General Election. The change in the number of votes was:
    Turnout (total): -36%
    Lib Dem vote: +194%
    Labour vote: -43%
    Conservative vote: -51%
    Green vote: -54%
    UKIP vote: -75%

  • David Allen 21st Oct '16 - 5:55pm

    The sad thing is that the media treat this as such a non-event. Byelections just don’t generate the same buzz as they once did (and that’s even true when a seat actually changes hands).

    The media probably understand their viewers and readers. Politics is a turn-off. You can still make news out of misery (Aleppo), craziness (Trump, Corbyn), and threats to people’s livelihoods. You can’t, nowadays, make news out of sensible people behaving sensibly. You can’t persuade the public to put much faith in rationality, positive political goals, or optimism.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Oct '16 - 6:45pm

    Tim Farron said “we’ve given the Tories one hell of a fight”.
    Should that be “we’ve given the Tories one hell of a fright”?
    Either would pass a spellchecker.

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