Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Lib Dems hold firm against the Tories

In last week's local Council by-elections the Liberal Democrats held on to both seats they were defending against the Conservatives. They enjoyed slight swings towards them in Watford and Shropshire, denying the Tories a gain on the eve of their party conference. In turn, the Conservatives easily held a seat in Cherwell in the other English by-election to take place last Thursday.

I'll start in Watford (Hertfordshire) where the Nascot ward was vacant following the resignation of Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Forrest. He was offered a chance to become Head Teacher at his old school in Ireland and took the opportunity. The ward has been a tight LD/CON marginal in recent years and is currently split with the Lib Dems holding two seats to the Tories' one.

The Liberal Democrats were victorious here in May and last week's result was almost a carbon copy of the spring contest. The Lib Dems enjoyed a miniscule 0.17% swing to them from the Tories to hold this with majority of 203. It seems the Labour vote was squeezed by the two front-runners in this campaign as their vote share was almost half that of the May election. As the Lib Dems and the Tories benefitted equally from this Janette Aron comfortably held the seat for her party.

The victory maintains the Liberal Democrats majority in Watford with the next partial Council elections due to take place next May. There is, however, another by-election taking place for the Council this week as Labour look to defend the Vicarage ward.

Nascot (Watford)

By-Election Candidate


Vote %


Jeanette Aron (E)




Penny Edwards




Omar Ismail




Sally Ivins




The second seat the Liberal Democrats were defending last week was in Shropshire, and it was under very similar circumstances to the Watford vacancy. The by-election in Bishop's Castle took place following the resignation of Cllr. Peter Phillips after almost 40 years of service. He was initially elected in 1973 as a Liberal and has stood down as he no longer feels he has the 'youthful vigour' to continue.

Losing the personal vote of such a long serving Councillor could have caused a problem for the Lib Dems, especially as Phillips' winning in 2009 wasn't that big, but they ended up easily holding the seat. Charlotte Barnes enjoyed a 5% swing from the Conservatives to ensure a comfortable victory.

The Conservatives still enjoy a large majority in Shropshire but this is the second by-election in 2011 they have lost ground to the Liberal Democrats. The next full Council elections are due to take place in 2013.

Bishop's Castle (Shropshire)

By-Election Candidate


Vote %


Charlotte Barnes (E)




Georgie Ellis




Jean Kingdon




Mike Tucker




The other English by-election to take place this week was in Cherwell (Oxfordshire) where the Conservatives were defending the safe ward of Bicester North. The vacancy arose following the death of Cllr. Carole Steward following a long battle with Leukaemia.

Melanie Magee easily held the seat for the Conservatives and the result represented a 6.4% swing to them from Labour since the last election in May. However, compared to the 2008 election there was a 6.9% swing to Labour, suggesting the Tories may struggle in the handful of marginals in Cherwell next May. However, as they currently hold 43 of the 50 seats on the District Council they won't be worried about losing control here.

Bicester North (Cherwell)

By-Election Candidate


Vote %


Melanie Magee (E)




Kevin Walsh




John Innes





Tom Harris

Welsh (well, Gwynedd) round up to follow.


Post a Comment