2009 has been the best year for Lib Dem success against the Tories in local government by-elections in this parliament.
There is an old Lib Dem adage “Where we work we win” and this seems to be the initial conclusion of ALDC’s analysis of the 2009 principal local by-elections. With 17 net gains we have had our best year since we made 17 gains in 2006.
The difference in 2009 was that we made 11 net gains off the Tories, helping them to 25 net losses for the year. In 2006 we had net losses of 3 to the Tories but offset this by making 16 net gains off “others” – largely rural independents. In 2009 there were fewer Independents defending; 23 rather than 46 in 2006. In addition the Independents improved their defence rate from a mere 20% in 2006 to around 50% in 2009.
Whilst we have not yet done a full and more detailed analysis of the results (see January’s Campaigner for this) we believe a number of factors to be at play in these results. The theory that “anti-politics” mood would herald success for Independents and smaller parties has not been borne out in real elections. Party organisation really does matter. Without making predictions about the general election the clear message is that doing it by the book works.
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