This week’s by-elections resulted in in the incumbent parties holding their seats, but this hides a good performance by us in two of the three by-elections.
In Brockhurst ward of Gosport we were defending two seats in one ward as a result of a husband and wife team of councillors emigrating to Australia. The backdrop for this by-election was then made tougher still as a result of this week’s decision by the Standards Board to bar our council group leader Peter Chegwyn from office for two years. The Conservatives however had their own problems, as Sir Peter “Duck Island” Viggers is the local MP.
Despite these difficult circumstances a local campaign of regular hard-hitting leaflets, lots of canvassing and exposure of Conservative dirty tricks, helped to ensure we held on comfortably. The campaign was masterminded by Peter Chegwyn, who remains one of the party’s best campaigners, and they are very grateful for the considerable assistance from the many Liberal Democrats who came from across Hampshire to help out.
The Conservatives will have been gutted by the result. Not only did they arrive at the count thinking they had won, but there was actually a swing to us from the Conservatives with us doubling our majority since the last local elections in the ward.
Lichfield is an area that has seen steady progress over the last few years and we did well in the city of Lichfield itself in the recent county council elections. Yesterday’s by-election however was in a rural area to the south east of the city in a county division that saw the Conservatives win 67% of the vote in June. A 5% swing to us in this by-election is a sign we continue to be heading in the right direction.
Unfortunately this week’s results were spoilt by the failure of the Liberal Democrats in Suffolk Coastal to to field a candidate in a by-election. What makes it worse is that we have had a good record of winning by-elections in the area, with us taking a county council seat in Woodbridge last December – a seat we the held in June’s county council elections.
Don’t forget! There are people out there who want to vote Liberal Democrat, so failing to stand a candidate not only denies them that opportunity but it also stops us, (and as a result helps the other parties), build up support in the area and potentially finding people who may be sufficiently motivated by the campaign to become party activists in the future.