Two Liberal Democrat gains from Conservatives in by-elections

Five principal authority council by-elections this week, with four Liberal Democrat candidates. That’s one up on the last time these wards were contested.

Martin Howard was the Liberal Democrat candidate.

The Liberal Democrat candidate was David Wilkinson, standing in a ward the party did not fight last time. The by-election was a very strange one – caused by the resignation of an independent councillor, John Robertson, who then changed their mind, too late to call off their resignation, stood again and lost.

As Britain Elects reports he wasn’t not exactly a kinder, gentler independent:

Robertson has previous with South Tyneside council: in 2011 he deliberately drove a lorry into a council office building following a row over contracts, causing over £160,000 worth of damage. For that he subsequently got 40 weeks in prison, suspended, and was declared bankrupt.

Robertson’s bad behaviour did not stop when he was elected, nor when he became leader of the Independent Alliance opposition group on the council. He got straight into hot water over an offensive social media post aimed at one of his constituents, Michelle Potts, whose husband Jay’s sister is divorced from Robertson. In February 2021 he was sanctioned by the council’s standards committee for bullying a Labour councillor on social media, and suspended from the Jarrow and Boldon Community Area Forum. A month later the council sanctioned him again, this time for email and social media harassment of a senior officer at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group; the council ordered that all Robertson’s outgoing council emails be monitored by officers.

Great news from Harrogate Council, where the Lib Dems used to both run the council and have an MP:

Congratulations to new councillor, Hannah Gostlow, and the team.

The Lib Dem Leader in the House of Lords, Dick Newby had been out campaigning during the by-election:

No Lib Dem candidate however here:

That’s now ten contests in a row without a Lib Dem in this ward, stretching back to its first election in 2002.

But the final result brings news of a second great Lib Dem gain, coming from a distant third to win:

Many congratulations to Rob Colwell and the team.

Elsewhere in parish council by-elections (and remember those that get spotted skew towards better Lib Dem results), ALDC reports a big swing to the Lib Dems in Theresa May’s constituency:


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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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