The final round of by-elections before the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton starts is looking rather good. Not only a full set of Lib Dem candidates this time but also this fantastic result in Derbyshire for David Hancock and his team:
Impressive enough figures in themselves. But what’s more, in none of the four previous rounds of elections – stretching back over 13 years – was there even a Lib Dem candidate in this ward. See below for examples of David Hancock’s campaign literature.
The by-election was caused by the incumbent Labour councillor biting a teenager on the nose. He got a police caution and quit the seat.
Elsewhere, good to see no candidate last time become very nearly second place this time in East Hertfordshire:
This by-election too was caused by unwise councillor behaviour. A Conservative councillor who responded badly on Twitter when three people disagreed with his support for prayers before council meetings – calling them “thick”, “illiterate” and “pathetic”, was censured by the council, quit his party and then quit the country.
Up in Newcastle the Lib Dems moved back up into second, overtaking Ukip:
Back in the Lib Dem heyday in Newcastle, this was a Liberal Democrat ward, although by general election day in May 2010 Labour was already winning the ward again. By May 2015 the Lib Dems were fourth. That start of a decline before the Lib Dem – Tory coalition is part of a wider decline in the party’s council base which started pre-coalition – and one of the reasons why my pamphlet setting out how to rebuild the party makes the point that we need to do far more than just not be in coalition.
On a similar theme, the result from Carlisle reinforces this point about the scale of the Lib Dem recovery challenge. In a ward the Lib Dems used to hold but then also started losing to Labour in May 2010, this time the party put up a candidate (good) yet also finished fourth with a fall in the vote:
The two results counted on Friday showed also a mixed picture for the Liberal Democrats. A solid hold in Shropshire but also no sign of recovery in the Hackney Mayor election, despite the area being one which is increasingly demographically promising for the party. The borough is the sort of place where many of the party’s new members are found along with the potential new core voters for the party.