Friday, July 03, 2015

Another great Liberal byelection victory in Hampton Wick

Photo by Sunil060902 
Last night Geraldine Locke gained the Hampton Wick ward of Richmond upon Thames Borough Council for the Liberal Democrats. Until last night, I believe, it was the safest Conservative ward in the Twickenham constituency.

The result in full;

Liberal Democrats     1189     (42.96%)
Conservative             1081    (39.05%)
Green Party                237     (8.56%)
Labour Party               185     (6.68%)
UKIP                           69     (2.49%)
Independent                  7      (0.25%)

The ALDC website tells us all about Geraldine.

It says that though
"the vision and values of the Lib Dems has always been close to her heart, it was the loss of Vince Cable at the recent election that galvanised her into joining the party".
But then in local politics it is often a case of identifying the people you would like to stand for you first and persuading them to join the party aferwards.

Anyway, congratulations to Geraldine Locke and everyone concerned in a victory that give me hope that talk of a Liberal Democrat revival is more than wishful thinking.

But the attentive reader will have noticed that the headline of this post refers to "another" great by-election in Hampton Wick. Let me explain...

In 1983 and 1984 I was living in Kew (well, North Sheen) and have great memories of the night the Alliance took control of Richmond council.

Up until 10 November 1983 the Conservatives had been clinging on to control of the council thanks to the Mayor's casting vote. Then one of their councillors from Hampton Wick died and the Liberal Party (as part of the Alliance) won the resultant by-election and took Richmond.

It must have been the first time the Liberals had run a London borough since... I have no idea when.

Out victorious candidate was a pleasant young Australian dentist called Ted Garside. I can remember cycling down the Thames towpath to his house to help in the byelection.

I also have clear memories of the formidable Pat Wainwright (Richmond's agent) not allowing me home until I had made the evening's canvass returns tally both across and down on her spreadsheet. (This was before the days of EARS and personal computers, kids.)

Why was Richmond's agent in charge of a by-election in Twickenham? I had a vague memory that there had been a second by-election in Twickenham that night, and I was right.

The byelection section at the end of a London Borough Council Elections 8 May 1986 document shows that there was also a contest in Hampton Nursery that night, which resulted in an Alliance hold.

No doubt that was where the Twickenham agent was. It also explains why we had not taken control as soon as the Hampton Wick seat fell vacant.
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So well done Geraldine Locke. Let us hope her victory is the first step on the long road to taking back the council and both parliamentary constituencies.


Unknown said...

I was there, too. In those days, the Richmond side of the borough was the Liberal powerhouse, and Twickenham lagged well behind in terms of councillors and also in election results (In the 1983 general election, the Alliance candidate Alan Watson came within 74 votes of winning Richmond; in Twickenham, the candidate John Waller was 2nd but well behind the Tory). Hence, Pat Wanwright's formidable skills were brought across to help. The candidate in Hampton Nursery, Maureen Woodriff, held the seat for 19 years before standing down. Unfortunately, Ted Garside did not hold on in Hampton wick for quite so long...

Jonathan Calder said...

All true, John. But didn't Twickenham have a formidable woman agent of their own in those days?

Ken McArthur said...

Congratulations Geraldine Locke for winning the ward where I was born and raised into a Liberal. I had left for University, and my parents had moved to Scotland by the time that last byelection. I think my father was a little unhappy it was not him standing. He had been a Liberal Councillor locally on the then Twickenham council, in the sixties, and had worked and waited for power locally for decades.