Many successes, some worrying signs: Lib Dem council by-election performance, 2018

No more council by-elections to come this year, so here’s a quick look back on the overall pattern for the Liberal Democrats, courtesy of ALDC:

2018 council by-election results graph from ALDC

As ALDC explains:

Please note: there are different ways of calculating by-election stats. At ALDC we always include ‘deferred elections’ in by-election stats, so this will make our figures slightly different from people who don’t.

Regular readers will know that the number of contests which still happen without a Lib Dem candidate means we should be far from complacent about these figures. One positive sign I do find though is that since I started regularly banging the drum in the party on the need for us to stand whenever we can, adding my voice to those of the likes of ALDC, I’ve noticed a significant shift in people’s responses. The sort of responses I was getting in early 2017 now feel a very long time ago. There has been a shift in opinion in the party on this, and that’s very welcome.

The other reason for muting a little cheer at the net seat gains is the high proportion of seats the party was defending which were lost – just under a third, and sometimes without even a Lib Dem candidate in a formerly held seat.

Which all means the local elections next May – which even though beyond the March Brexit date are already pretty close – are a big test for the party.  The biggest round of elections in the four-year cycle, they place a massive stress on the party’s ability to find candidates, train agents and run campaigns.

There’s huge potential for great gains – if the party summons up the imagination, energy and focus to realise it.


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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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