Huge swing to Lib Dems in Lewisham East, leapfrogging Conservatives

One Parliamentary by-election, one council by-election and one delayed council election (due to the death of a candidate) this week.

Lewisham East Parliamentary by-election

The contest in a Labour-held Parliamentary seat where in 2017 the Liberal Democrats polled just 4.4%. The party’s peak was in 2010, though still under 30% even then at 28.2%. Back in 1983 the SDP’s candidate here was Polly Toynbee, who secured 22.0%.

And this time…

Labour 50.2% (-17.7%)
Liberal Democrat (Lucy Salek) 24.6% (+20.2%)
Conservative 14.4% (-8.6%)
Green 3.6% (+1.9%)
Women’s Equality Party 2.3% (+2.3%)
Ukip 1.7% (n/c)
Turnout 33.4%

Up in to second place with an 18% swing is a very promising result for the Liberal Democrat – a swing on a par with Witney and the biggest swing from Labour to the Lib Dems (or predecessors) whilst Labour is in opposition since 1983. There have been bigger swings from Labour since then whilst Labour was in government – but even then you have to go as far back as Hartlepool in 2004.

The traditional pessimistic well placed Lib Dem in Business Insider was wrong. The result also shows that – especially when using the European issue – the party can buck that trend seen in May of struggling to make progress in urban, Labour areas.

Well done Lucy and the team.

Vince Cable said of the result:

Lucy Salek and the Liberal Democrats have fought a proud, pro-European campaign and have seen former Labour and Conservative voters switching support and rallying behind our campaign. We have also focused on the issues that matter to the community – and that have been neglected by an overly confident Labour Party – and will continue to do so.

This result sends a message to the Labour leadership that it cannot take pro-European voters for granted.This is the largest swing from Labour to the Liberal Democrats in over a decade and the failure of Labour’s leadership to oppose the Conservatives hard Brexit cannot be hidden or forgotten. The collapse in the Conservatives’ vote is also damning.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up to Theresa May on Brexit. She is making a mess out of it, and we will keep fighting to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal.

London Bridge and West Bermondsey

The delayed council contest in a three-member ward on new boundaries which now include City Hall (home to Mayor of London and the London Assembly), one quarter of Tower Bridge, a lovely view of the Tower of London, a Charles Kennedy gnome and a sadly paved-over watercourse through the More London development.

And a great result, seeing the Lib Dem group grow in Southwark overall as a result of this year’s locals:

Town Ward, Doncaster

A Labour-held seat fought twice before, both times with out a Lib Dem candidate but with one this time in the form of Ian Smith.


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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