With last week’s victory in Fylde putting a spring in our step, by-election watchers have been waiting to see whether this week’s crop of nine principal by-elections could turn it into a full-blown Indian summer just two days shy of Federal Conference. The Conservatives held three seats, in Carlisle, Hackney, and the first of their two defences in Kensington and Chelsea. Labour held the Park ward in Knowsley, and also took two seats in Worksop from the Tories; the Worksop South ward on Bassetlaw District Council and the Worksop West division on Nottinghamshire County Council. Much better at fending off Labour’s attacks were this week’s Liberal Democrat teams, we saw off the reds at County level in the Cambridge East Chesterton division and, importantly, in the north of England with a win for John Potter in the Cadley ward of Preston City Council.
Our featured story today is a magnificent Liberal Democrat victory in the capital, where Linda Wade and the Kensington and Chelsea Lib Dem team increased their vote by a staggering 24% to take the Earl’s Court ward from a shell-shocked Tory party. Such was the level of presumption at the count, that the officers initially suggested tallying up only the non-Conservative votes and merely subtracting them from the total to work out the inevitable Tory majority! Unfortunately for them, a two-month election campaign and a candidate already widely respected for her role chairing a large local residents’ association proved potent enough to pop Kensington and Chelsea’s blue bubble. Leading from the front on problems with social housing, air quality, and the legacy of the soon-to-be-demolished Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, Linda’s personal following was augmented by an innovative approach to ‘zone one’ campaigning, which involved reconstructing walk-maps by building-type rather than location, cream letter postal vote literature differentiated from their later bi-lingual blue letter campaign, and an Eve of Poll mailmerged to include polling numbers, so that voters without polling cards would still be able to fully exercise their vote. With Labour busy targeting the other K&C ward having an election, and with a Tory campaign that never recovered from its initial complacence, Linda’s 44.8% victory is a testament to Liberal Democrat community politics and a shot in the arm for the party as it prepares to head to Liverpool.
Two results from the towns today, Lib Dem Malcolm Douglas held the Pinewood ward on Whitehill TC with 70% of the vote, and Liberal Democrat Helen Pighills held the Northcourt ward on Abingdon Town Council. The Abingdon team’s victory in Northcourt keeps the complexion of the Town Council itself a very fetching 100% yellow!
Congratulations to all of our successful campaign teams, and the best of luck to all candidates and campaigners in the field.
ALDC By-Elections Team
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