Political

Conservative candidate gets wrong why he lost in Chesham and Amersham by-election

One part of the story of the Chesham and Amersham by-election was the complacent low key Conservative campaign, as shown every Sunday morning by the nearly adjacent Lib Dem and Conservative offices in Amersham with their contrasting opening times.

But that was by no means the only thing wrong with the Conservative campaign. Very poor political judgement about what the voters were thinking and worrying about played a big role too, as shown by defeated candidate Peter Fleet’s very odd take on why he lost. Tories didn’t turn out to vote for him because, he says:

These stay-at-home Tories want to hear more about traditional Conservative values. While they fully recognise that we had to commit emergency wartime levels of public expenditure to deal with Covid, they are now looking for clear evidence that their Conservative government will restore fiscal discipline at the earliest possible opportunity.

They fear a return to a bloated public sector which stifles private enterprise and demands ever higher taxes. They very much like and respect Rishi Sunak, and they do not expect fretful Tory backbenchers to push the chancellor into saying yes to every request for more and more public spending from the benches opposite. [Daily Telegraph]

Very wrong (and Peter Fleet’s whole piece in the Telegraph is remarkably graceless all the way through).

Some hopefully rather better analysis of the result will be in next week’s Liberal Democrat Newswire. Sign up below to get it direct to your email inbox.

I was though amused by his reaction to how often Sarah Green’s leaflets quoted Theresa May, pointing out her own concerns with government policy:

It did not help my cause that prominent Conservatives were quoted front and centre of the Lib Dem leaflets which advanced this pernicious charge. As a party we need to do better at conducting policy debates in private.

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4 responses to “Conservative candidate gets wrong why he lost in Chesham and Amersham by-election”

  1. Now that Johnsons Conservatives are looking over their shoulders for who is next to go can we be aware that in the 24 seats with less than 9% swings for us to win they might now put some effort into holding on to.

  2. Good article. To put it bluntly, Mr Fleet, like so many Tories, seems simply to be out of touch with the realities of living in Britain today. But LibDems must not be complacent – many Tory seats may be ripe for picking, but the Tory Party will not just lie down and let that happen. Expect a full and well-funded blast of adverse publicity of LibDems and LibDem policies from the Tory Press. It will take a lot of effort to promote positive LibDem thinking and policies in that context. But equally it will be important to squeeze Labour, which may be on the threshold of terminal decline. We must emphasise the crucial role of tactical voting in returning power to the people.

  3. The Lib Dem campaign in C and A was efficient and effective. It was overwhelmingly focused on preservation of the greenbelt from decisions made outside local accountability and scrutiny to build much-needed housing and it exploited local grievance about HS2, which the party nationally has always supported.
    The party nationally now needs to decide whether or not HS2 should still go ahead. If it does and Sarah Green opposes for local popularity reasons – as did Cheryl Gillan – that will just look cynical and will not help retention of the seat at the next general election. Furthermore, Sarah and the local party need to shown the electorate either where all the brownfield sites are in this area to provide the much-needed affordable homes for the younger and less affluent members of the community or demonstrate why this perceived need is false and by what extent. My opinion is that this is an area so rich in green space – not all of it particularly attractive or without blight- that some of it will have to be sacrificed to reduce currently outrageous house prices and provide homes for local people who are otherwise priced out of the area entirely or forced to live in very expensive and often not very good quality privately rented accommodation, thus accentuating social and economic divisions further between owners of more than one property and owners of none.
    In short, where is the affordable housing needed to introduce more social equity into the area going to be built?

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