A warm welcome back to our by-election watchers after our short summer sojourn. The smattering of by-elections that took place on the 12th and 19th yielded very little in the way of news, with no gains or losses to report on, so we shall recommence with events from the 26th. August 26th celebrates the anniversaries of two seminal events. Firstly, it was 221 years since the newly-created French National Assembly adopted the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen’, a foundational document of liberal democracy and of the concept that citizens can possess inalienable human rights. It was also 90 years since the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution came into effect, giving women across the United States the right to vote for the very first time. Looking to add to the great liberal heritage of the 26th were our by-election teams in Redcar, Sheffield, Cannock Chase, South Buckinghamshire, and Dacorum.
The best result of the day reaches us from Dacorum Borough Council, in Hertfordshire, where Rosemarie Hollinghurst took the very rural Aldbury & Wigginton ward from the Conservatives. The local campaign team introduced Rosemarie as part of their post-General ‘thank-you- leaflet and followed up with an impressive array of literature. Leaflets included an Election Special Focus (in three editions), a Candidate Introduction, and pre-election Focus. Target letters went out on a local parking issue, environmental issues and local tip closure, a letter for new voters, and a soft-Tory squeeze letter – a section of the electorate becoming increasingly fertile ground for Liberal Democrat campaigns across the country. Extensive canvassing coverage, with help from three neighbouring constituencies, a very popular blue-letter, and two mailshots out to postal voters helped confirm the ALDC adage that ‘where we work we win’. Congratulations to Rosemarie, Nick, and all of our campaigners in Dacorum.
No great surprises in South Bucks, where the Tories held on against a greatly increased UKIP challenge. Labour remain within their comfort zone, holding in both Redcar & Cleveland and the Woodhouse ward in Sheffield, and picking off the Conservatives in Cannock Chase. Out in the towns, our congratulations to the local Lib Dem team in Burgess Hill for taking the Victoria ward from the Tories.