Friday, February 22, 2019

Two contrasting by-election performances by the Liberal Democrats


There were two local by-elections yesterday and they saw contrasting performances by the Liberal Democrat candidate.

In a Northamptonshire County Council contest in Oundle we moved from third to second place in what had previously been a safe Tory ward, increasing our vote from 10 to 35 per cent of the poll.
We may have been helped by a story that broke in the Northamptonshire Telegraph in the week of the poll:
A district councillor who missed two thirds of meetings last year is standing for this Thursday’s Northamptonshire County Council by-election for Oundle. 
Conservative Annabel de Capell Brooke wants to be elected to the county to represent the Oundle ward despite only attending nine of the 24 meetings she should have gone to at East Northamptonshire Council in 2018.
The name de Capell Brooke will be familiar to anyone who has studied political history in this part of the world. They owned Brooke House in Market Harborough in the 19th century.

There seems to be a tendency among local Tories to fall back on their great families when they are short of candidates.

At the height of the Lib Dem ascendancy here in Market Harborough they put up two Hazleriggs from distant Noseley Hall.

Their ancestor Sir Arthur Haselrig was one of the five members whose arrest Charles I sought and would have taken the radical side in the contest.

The most significant story from Oundle may be the fall in the Labour vote.

Oundle, with its public school and fine stone buildings, does not feel like the kind of town that is ever going to elect a Labour councillor. But it does lie within the Corby constituency, which is a key Tory-Labour marginal.

At the last election the Tory majority was only 2690 and it is just the sort of seat they need to win to gain a majority next time round. Instead they are going backwards.

The second by-election was in Cardiff and saw the Lib Dem vote dropped to only 2.4 per cent.
The Ely ward has never been an area of strength for us, and the top Lib Dem candidate last year outpolled the other two by some way, so we may have lost a personal vote here.

Still, it was a poor result and reinforces the point I made yesterday in my Thought 2. 

We should not assume that The Independent Group will rush to do a deal with us that encompasses every seat in the council. They have little to fear from us in most of them.


Once of Market Harborough said...

Understand that the candidate in question may be the estranged wife of the not sure that she was part of the same political dynasty...but take your general point Jonathan

Michael said...

I don't know Cardiff but it is important to note that last time the Tories put up 2 candidates for 3 vacancies. It is likely that there were 150 Tories who voted for the 2 Tories and used their third vote for one Lib Dem - especially as it was our candidate who was first alphabetically that got 150 more votes than their two colleagues. So the Lib Dem vote was artificially boosted. (And the top vote is used for the comparison)

The effective drop in the Lib Dem vote is therefore about 1%-2% - which isn't bad in what was a fierce fight between PC and Labour. Note that Labour 66% in this ward in 1983 - just before they crashed to their worst ever General Election result!