Some good swings but no gains for Lib Dems in this week’s council by-elections

Six council by-elections in the final batch before Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton: four Conservative defences and two Labour ones.

Petersfield, Cambridge

As Britain Elects reports on the background to this contest:

Research by Cambridge city councillor Zoë O’Connell has identified just eleven openly-trans people who have ever served in our council chambers (plus former British MEP Nikki Sinclaire). Five of them are currently serving, two Labour (including Osh Gantly, who was re-elected to Islington council this May after transitioning during her first term of office), one Conservative, one UKIPper and one Liberal Democrat (O’Connell herself). Four of them are or were Cambridge Lib Dems.

Which finally brings us to the point of this article, which is after all a council by-election preview. The Labour party may well get around to being an opposition at some point, but there are internal disputes to indulge in first; and one of the most incomprehensible of them relates to whether transwomen should have access to Labour’s all-women shortlists. Outgoing Labour councillor Ann Sinnott was on the “no” side of that debate. Her resignation from Cambridge city council came in protest at the council’s policy of allowing transgender people to use council-run toilets and changing facilities for either gender. Former councillor Sinnott believes that this policy is a breach of the Equality Act and could be dangerous to women. The policy had been adopted by Cambridge city council in 2010 and was originally proposed by Sarah Brown, herself transgender and at the time a Lib Dem councillor for Petersfield ward…

Sarah Brown was one of only two Lib Dems to have represented this ward on the city council since its present boundaries were drawn up in 2004; she lost her seat heavily to Ann Sinnott in 2014, and a rematch between Sinnott and Brown this May saw Sinnott increase her majority to 56-20.

Sarah Brown was the Liberal Democrat candidate again in the by-election:

Coldharbour, Lambeth

Doug Buist was the Liberal Democrat candidate, securing third place:

Headcorn, Maidstone

Merilyn Fraser was the Liberal Democrat candidate, making it the third time in a row the party has fought the ward – the best run since the ward was created near the start of this century. With this week’s result that run may soon start featuring victories:

Pennington, New Forest

Jack Davies was the Liberal Democrat candidate in a ward the party last won in 2003, though in 2016 he won a town council by-election on the same ward boundaries on the drawing of lots after finishing tied on votes with the Conservative candidate. Alas he wasn’t quite that close this time, but still scored a good swing:

Birstall Wanlip, Charnwood

Carolyn Thornborrow was the Liberal Democrat candidate in a seat the party last won in a February 2014 by-election.

Pembroke: St Mary North, Pembrokeshire

No Liberal Democrat candidate, making it now a decade since the party last contested the ward.

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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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