Ahead of both the 2005 and 2015 general elections there was a key Liberal Democrat Parliamentary by-election win which massively altered the political atmosphere ahead of that general election – motivating activists, persuading media commentators and influencing the public. One was Brent East in 2003, the other Eastleigh in 2013.
The impact of both is all the clearer if you consider what the impact of missing out on the gain in 2003 or slumping to defeat in 2013 would have meant.
Ten years apart, the first showed how the party could gain urban seats off Labour, with some huge Labour majorities actually being rather brittle, and the second showed how the party can still win in the areas that matter the most for the next general election result.
Both victories were the result of a great team working together effectively. Some people worked on one but not the other (such as myself, in Brent East). Some people worked on both. And one person was in charge at both – Victoria Marsom (agent in 2003, campaign manager in 2013).
Being in the right place at the right time to run a significant election campaign is sometimes down in part to luck. But doing it twice in by-elections of such importance? That’s much more than luck. As is having an effective, functioning team around you.
That’s one I picked Victoria as one of the Lib Dem winners from Eastleigh in the spring and it is why she’s my pick for Lib Dem Voice’s stars of 2013.