If no news is good news, then this week’s by-election report is positively gospel.  The only by-election reported to ALDC was for two seats on a Town Council in Westbury, and it featured no Liberal Democrat candidates!  It took place on what would have been satirist Henry Fielding’s 303rd birthday.  One of Fielding’s best known quotes is that ‘the slander of some people is as great a recommendation as the praise of others’ – and having read April 22nd’s broadside against Nick Clegg in the right-wing press, one can only conclude that the same still holds…

As there is so little to report on, here is a whirlwind tour of our year so far:

January saw five by-elections across the country.  In addition to successfully defending our seats in Taunton Deane and Harrogate, we pinched the Great Bowden and Arden ward of Harborough District Council to open this year’s by-election account with a monthly net gain.  February was a busy month, with 27 principal council seats up for grabs.  The main news was Labour rallying, holding three of their five seats and gaining a further eight, for a net monthly gain of six.  The Tories gained and lost three apiece, essentially standing still over the month, and the Lib Dem tally was two successful defences out of seven – three gains and five losses left us on a net of minus two seats.  Our by-election nadir came in the Holmewood and Heath ward of North East Derbyshire, where we failed to field a candidate for a seat vacated by a Liberal Democrat Councillor, prompting some stern rejoinders from the By-Elections Team here at ALDC.  March saw six principal by-elections, with the Conservatives having to defend them all.  They succeeded in four cases, with the Mid-Suffolk Greens and Broadland’s Lib Dems dividing the remainder.  Up to now in April, we’ve had five principal by-elections.  The Tories have lost two of the three they’ve had to defend, one to the Devizes Guardian party in Devizes, and one to us in Dave Patrick’s historic victory in Fenland last week.  Of the rest, the Tories held us off by thirty votes on Cambridgeshire County Council, Labour held a seat in Lancaster (again, with Lib Dems in second), and finally Labour picked off Tory splinter group Tendring First for a seat on their eponymous District Council.  For those incurable political anoraks out there, the Westbury Town Council by-election returned two Independents, both gaining from the Conservatives, with forty and thirty percent of the vote respectively.

2010 up to now therefore, sees our electoral account in the black but only by one seat net.  Although we are yet to see the impact of the ‘Clegg effect’ and the General Election on the by-elections scheduled for May 6th and after, our efforts to this point have demonstrated that the Liberal Democrat approach of ward-level, grassroots activism, thorough canvassing contact, effective squeeze messaging, and heroic literature output, is still the key to authentic electoral success.  Where we’ve worked, we’ve won – and we will continue.


ALDC By-Elections Team

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