Alongside the Witney and Batley & Spen Parliamentary by-elections, twelve council by-elections have also taken place this week.
Witney by-election result
- Liberal Democrats move up from 4th to 2nd
- 19.3% swing from Tories to Lib Dems
- Lib Dem vote up 23.4% to 30.2%
- Conservative majority cut by over 20,000
- Biggest Lib Dem vote increase in a Parliamentary by-election for twelve years (since Hartlepool in 2004)
- Highest Lib Dem vote in the constituency this century
- Labour falls back to 3rd
- Greens and Ukip lose their deposits
The key test for Liz Leffman and the Liberal Democrats in Witney was whether the party could move back into second, the sort of result which would suggest the Lib Dems can return large parts of southern England to being Lib Dem versus Conservative contests… and that’s a test the Liberal Democrats passed. For more on how to judge the Lib Dem Witney result see here.
Elsewhere some promising signs for the Liberal Democrats too with a win and a hold.
Denis Healy has been a Liberal Democrat Parliamentary and Police and Crime Commissioner candidate. Now he’s won a council by-election in a three-member ward that was split and returned some Lib Dems in 2003 and 2007, before the party slipped to third in 2011 and then fourth in 2015.
Congratulations to Ellie Hudspith and the local team for a solid defence in St Albans in a ward that stayed with the party all through coalition:
The loss of a Ukip council seat to the Tories will be rare case of a Conservative victory that many Liberal Democrats will be quite happy with, I suspect:
Worth noting here that it’s a ward where Labour used to sometimes split the ward, but is the Conservatives rather than Labour who gained the seat at Ukip’s expense.
Elsewhere, Labour gained a seat but lost three others: