There were five principal council elections held on the 5th February. Labour held two seats and the Tories held three. There were no Town and Parish Council results reported to ALDC.
In the Plaistow ward of Chichester District Council in West Sussex we came within 113 votes of taking the seat off the Tories. The by-election was called following the resignation of a Conservative Councillor who attended just one of the seventeen council meetings held since he was elected in May 2007. In the run up to polling day another Conservative Councillor resigned from the Tories and backed our candidate. The swing of 21% to us was huge but this was a ward in which the Tories got 78% of the vote in 2007.
There has been a worrying trend in recent months. Each week we have had at least one by-election which the BNP have clearly targeted – presumably nationally. This week it was Hyde Newton Ward in Tameside where the BNP got 29%, coming second to Labour. Last week it was Fenham Ward in Newcastle where the BNP got 836 votes, 27% only 213 behind the Lib Dems, but in third. On the 22nd January it was in the East Wickham Ward in Bexley, London where they got 790 (26.5%) only 8 votes from the Tory victors. As they did not win these seats it may not have received national news coverage. Full marks to our local parties for standing candidates and fighting all these seats. What is clear is that you can’t “carry on regardless” and hope the BNP will go away.
If your by-election has been targeted by the BNP, and your campaign is not just a flag waving exercise then you need to do more. One of your key campaign messages needs to be exposing the BNP as fascists. This may be an obvious concept to active Liberal Democrats but the public has lowered its tolerance threshold and we need to remind them of who and what the BNP are and what that means. As with all your key campaign messages this means including it in all your literature. For help and guidance please get a copy of “Tackling the BNP” from ALDC and contact us for advice and standard artwork when you are planning your campaign.