Political

Lib Dems gain seat from Conservatives with a 36% swing as 6 out of 8 seats change hands

After last week’s full slate of Lib Dem candidates, this week’s contestation rate slipped back to three quarters with six Lib Dem candidates in the eight seats. Disappointingly, that’s down one on when these seats were last fought.

The overall modest Lib Dem results across these eight seats – five Conservative defences, three Labour defences – does make this week a useful test of how broad the Lib Dem recovery is. Or, as Jonathan Calder would put it, a test of whether the party can score good third places (read his piece to see why that matters).

But even better than that, in a ward first fought in 1979 and won by the Conservatives in every contest until this week, something rather special happened:

Congratulations to Lara Pringle and the team. Here’s a little bit about Lara:

Lara Pringle and the Northchurch Lib Dem team - photo from Twitter

Lara Pringle lives in Northchurch and has done for over 15 years. She has two young sons who went to St Mary’s Primary School.

She has served as a parent governor and is well known in the village…

She is a barrister with 25 years experience and will be an effective advocate for the people of Northchurch.

Lara says, “It’s great to have a brilliant local team behind me! Thanks to everyone who is supporting my campaign, especially all the canvassers who this week have braved hailstones, freezing rain & biting wind. It certainly hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of the local residents who are showing great support for us on the doorsteps.”

That wasn’t the only Conservative loss:

Even a rare pair of Labour gains from the Conservatives:

But Labour also lost a seat:

As for the other Lib Dem performances:

Elsewhere, with no Lib Dem candidates:

The overall verdict on the Lib Dem performance then? Up in four seats, down in three (including the one where there was no candidate this time). In amongst the first one was one seat gain on a huge swing and another move up to a very promising second. Both of those were in seats that used to be Conservative, whilst weakest performance was generally up against Labour. May’s local elections will put this pattern to a much bigger test, and suggests the Lib Dem performance may end up being a story of primarily two performances – with the pattern against the Conservatives in southern England and the pattern against Labour in Labour strongholds and urban areas.

One thing that wasn’t mixed this week was the Conservatives results: five defences, five loses.

These by-election results round-ups cover principal authority by-elections. See my post The danger in celebrating parish and town council wins for your own party for the reasons to avoid straying too often into covering town, parish or community council by-elections.

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