Friday, August 02, 2019

Six thoughts on Brecon and Radnorshire

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Well done the Liberal Democrats

Brecon and Radnorshire may have looked like an inevitable Liberal Democrat gain – we have held the seat for 20 of the past 34 years – but an enormous amount of work went into winning.

Even to force the by-election after the sitting Conservative MP was committed of fraudulent expense claims required us to collect the signatures of more than 10 per cent of the constituency’s electors. In the event we achieved 19 per cent.

Then we flooded Brecon and Radnorshire with workers for the six weeks of the by-election campaign and overturned a Tory majority of over 8000 votes.

Well done the Liberal Democrats. Well done us.

The Remain Alliance helped…

The Green and Plaid Cymru stood down in favour of the Lib Dems so there was only one Remain candidate.

It was a helpful decision and one the Lib Dems should reciprocate in the few seats where it might have an effect. But it may not have been a decisive one.

At the last general election there was no Green candidate in Brecon and Radnorshire and the Plaid candidate’s vote was (just) lower than the majority Jane Dodds achieved last night.

…but the unofficial alliance with Labour voters was decisive

From what I saw on Twitter last night it was when the boxes from Ystradgynlais were sampled and found to be strongly in favour of the Lib Dems that it became clear we were going to win.

This willingness of Labour voters to abandon their party if another has a better chance of defeating the Conservatives is an important development and an encouraging one for the Lib Dems.

An anti-Brexit vote or an anti-Tory vote?

Brecon and Radnorshire came out for Leave in the EU referendum, but that does not mean that the issue is of overwhelming importance to the constituency’s voters.

Back in June, a YouGov survey found that Leave voters feel less strongly about Brexit than us Remainers do.

Which makes me think that our victory yesterday was more of an anti-Tory vote than an anti-Brexit vote. Brexit was far from the only issue we campaigned on.

The local Tories are to blame

That is what the national Conservative machine was saying. The local party had assured them that Chris Davies was still popular and would win the by-election. They were wrong.

My impression that local Tory officials are increasingly out of touch with the wider electorate has only been strengthened by this contest.

And the national Tories are no better

I have seen tweets from the Conservative Party today telling off people for voting for the Brexit Party.

The idea that you own your supporters’ votes - and that the way to win them back if they stray from the path of righteousness is to attack them – comes straight from the Hard Left.

It will do the Tories no more good than it has done Labour.


JohnM said...

I wouldn't assume that a portion of traditionally Labour voters just voted tactically for the Lib Dems and not the Brexit Party. Equally I'm sure some traditional Tory voters who were Remain switched to the Lib Dems.

Phil Beesley said...

The B&R result confirms my belief that electoral success, for the Lib Dems at least, is happenchance. All year round campaigning is essential, of course, but the circumstances which convert good results (core vote plus campaign vote) into significant wins are beyond the party's control. Now that fortune is on the the Lib Dem side, it is essential that the party maximises the opportunities.