As Andrew Teale has pointed out, parts of Tiverton and Honiton constituency have had a Conservative MP continuously, all the way back through reigns of Queen Elizabeth II, George VI, Edward VIII, George V, Edward VII, Victoria, William IV and a couple of years on top of that too.What’s more, it’s 99 years since the Conservatives last lost a Parliamentary election in the Tiverton and Honiton area, so the fact that there was even talk of a possible Lib Dem win is a huge tribute to Richard Foord, agent Simon Drage and the thousands who have helped.
It’s been a brilliant campaign, one that’s held the government to account, given many their first experiences of campaigning and been wonderfully fun.
And what a result it’s produced:
That’s the 11th biggest post-Second World War swing for any party in any Parliamentary by-election, larger than Chesham and Amersham by-election and slightly smaller than North Shropshire. That makes for three Liberal Democrat gains from the Conservatives in only just over one year,
Here is Richard Foord’s victory speech:
Thank you. I’d like to thank the Returning Officer, her staff and my fellow candidates for a well run election and count. To my wife Kate, and our three wonderful children – thank you. I couldn’t have done this without your love.
I’d like to thank my election agent Simon Drage, my incredible campaign team, the local party members and Liberal Democrat supporters here in Tiverton & Honiton, and the thousands of Liberal Democrat campaigners from across the country who came to volunteer with me here in Devon.
Your extraordinary efforts have delivered a historic result and sent a shockwave through British politics. Tonight, the people of Tiverton & Honiton have spoken for Britain. They’ve sent a loud and clear message: It’s time for Boris Johnson to go. And go now.
Ours is a great country and there’s no greater part of it than Devon. But every day Boris Johnson clings to office, he brings further shame, chaos and neglect. Communities like ours are on their knees. Every one of us standing on this stage tonight has heard the pain people are suffering as the cost of living crisis starts to bite.
Yet when Boris Johnson could be fighting for farmers, for our NHS and for rural services, he’ll be fighting once again to save his own skin. I also have a simple message for those Conservative MPs propping up this failing Prime Minister: The Liberal Democrats are coming.
If you don’t take action to restore decency, respect and British values to Downing Street, you too will face election defeats like the one we have seen here tonight. It is time to do what’s right for our country. You know in your heart that your leader is not the person to lead this great nation into the future.
Across the country, the Liberal Democrats are taking on the Conservatives and winning. Thousands of lifelong Conservative voters, appalled by Boris Johnson’s lies and fed up with being taken for granted.
Thousands of Labour voters, choosing to lend their votes to the candidate with the best chance of beating the Conservatives. Thousands of people who believe our politics should be about building a better life for everyone, not a daily parade of self-serving chaos. All of them, voting for the Liberal Democrats.
These are difficult times for our country. The cost of living crisis – as we know here in Devon – is hitting hard: people forced to choose between filling up their car, or putting food on the table.
Our local NHS is teetering on the brink. Our rural economy is in a precarious state with people’s livelihoods at risk. Our country is crying out for leadership.
I served as an officer in the British Army for 10 years Mr Johnson. I can tell you that leadership means acting with decency and integrity. It means keeping your word. It means setting an example and putting other people’s needs before your own. I served alongside friends who personified these values, and laid down their lives in service of their country.
And yet your behaviour Mr Johnson, makes a mockery of leadership. By any measure, you are unfit to lead. The people of Tiverton & Honiton have told you tonight that enough is enough. They demand a change. The only decent course of action left open to you is to heed their call and resign.
I want to pay tribute to Ed Davey. Ed, thanks to you the Liberal Democrats are taking on Boris Johnson across the blue wall and winning. From Chesham & Amersham to North Shropshire to here in Tiverton & Honiton.
You believed from the start that this result was possible. You rallied our troops and led from the front. Whether it is on the streets of Seaton or Bampton, Honiton or Branscombe, Axminster or Tiverton, you have led the charge for change.
But finally, and most importantly of all, thank you to the people of Tiverton & Honiton, and everyone in our part of Devon. For your support throughout this campaign. For putting your faith in me to be your champion in Parliament.
As your local MP, I promise I will work tirelessly for you. I will always put local people and our communities first. Whether you supported me or supported someone else, I want to let you know, I’m here to represent you and to stand up for everyone in Tiverton & Honiton. I will never take you for granted.
Ed Davey said:
The Liberal Democrats have made political history with this stunning win. It is the biggest by-election victory our country has ever seen.
This should be a wake-up call for all those Conservative MPs propping up Boris Johnson. They cannot afford to ignore this result.
The people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken for the country. The public is sick of Boris Johnson’s lies and law-breaking and it’s time for Conservative MPs to finally do the right thing and sack him.
The Wakefield result is also a Conservative loss, this time to Labour with a swing of 12.7%:
Thank you to Jamie Needle for flying the flag for the Lib Dems in Wakefield.
Elsewhere, this week’s council by-elections have included a Liberal Democrat gain from the Conservatives in Jeremy Hunt’s constituency.