There were four principal local council by-elections held on Thursday 16th February. The Lib Dems lost one seat to the Tories and held one seat. Labour and the Tories held one seat each. There was seven parish or town council by-elections results reported to ALDC six Independents and a Liberal Democrat were elected.For those outside the metropolis London Liberal Democrats are building a great team spirit. One by-election at a time “Team London” are building towards the GLA and Mayoral Elections in May. The Worcester Park Ward by-election defence in the London Borough of Sutton was another good step on the way.
In an election campaign that was strong in many areas they focussed a lot of effort on the postal vote. Both a postal vote good morning and knock up of non-anti postal voters are now becoming the norm in successful by-elections. They followed the good practice from recent Islington and Camden by-elections by making sure that every road received a locally relevant street letter. A good but very hard fought victory.
In Oadby Woodlands ward of Oadby and Wigston council on the outskirts of Leicester, we went to the count expecting to win. We were defending a seat on a council that we run with a healthy majority and Labour did not have a candidate. The local party have not come to final conclusions in their post mortem but it was clear on polling day that houses that we were knocking up were being knocked up by other parties, which indicates either poor canvassing or a late swing. Ibstock and Heather Ward in North West Leicestershire is a semi -rural ex mining community that has had a few new housing estates added to it. It has traditionally voted Labour, and Labour are the opposition on the District council. In a political atmosphere where Labour has being holding 90% of its defence be-elections, a Labour hold here should have been no surprise.
What was a surprise was our jump from 4th to 2nd. Labour’s public local divisions led to the by-election and perhaps led them to parachute a candidate in. The Tories did the same. Our candidate was the only one to live in the ward. Labour did a very intensive door to door campaign. We concentrated on direct mail to postal voters and a six leaflet campaign. Not a victory but we now have more members and delivers in the ward and it is a potential target for the future from fighting it seriously.