Lib Dems gain seats from both Labour and Conservatives

Four principal authority council by-elections this week, all with Liberal Democrat candidates – and that’s one up on the last time these wards were up. The number of Lib Dem councillors in these wards is now also up with some great gains.

But first another result, impressive in its own way too:

On both the previous occasions the ward was fought, the Lib Dems finished fourth. So many congratulations to Marie French and the team for moving up to second this time.

Even more congratulations to the Eastbourne team:

To quote Eastbourne resident and political scientist, Professor Tim Bale:

If you know Meads like I know Meads, this is, to quote Tony King on election night 1997, equivalent to “an asteroid hitting the planet and destroying practically all life on Earth”.

Previously a rock-solid safe Conservative ward (with one of the oldest populations in the country), Meads was won by the Lib Dems in the borough elections in May and now Brett Wright is the country councillor too. Congratulations!

But there was also a win off Labour too:

Winning councillor Ryan Priest missed out by just 21 votes last time and is now the first Lib Dem councillor in the Black Country, the party having previously been reduced to no seats on the local authorities in the area.

And the good news continues with another gain:

Congratulations to new councillor John Crofts and the team, winning a ward the party didn’t fight last time.

For what all this means for the running total of council by-election results since the last May elections, see my council by-elections scorecard here.

These by-election results round-ups cover principal authority by-elections as it’s only those for which comprehensive results are available.

Understanding the opinion polls

For understanding what is happening in politics, by-elections have the advantage of being real votes in real ballot boxes. But the opinion polls have the advantage of trying to be a representative sample of voters, not just those in the places that happen to have by-elections. To understand the polls properly – and what they do and don’t really tell us – see my book, Polling UnPacked: The History, Uses and Abuses of Political Opinion Polls.

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