Rather better day at Black Rock… and Vale of White Horse, Brentwood, Sutton…

We keep being told that, where we work, we can win. And it’s still true, no matter how gloomy the opinion polls are, as this week’s by-election results demonstrate.

The Liberal Democrats have gained two seats from the Conservatives in a stunning by-election win in Oxford West & Abingdon constituency. Elizabeth Miles and Val Shaw won on a 17% swing from the Tories in Sunningwell & Wootton ward, and their double victory reduced the Conservative majority on the Vale of White Horse District Council to just three.

Speaking after the result, Lib Dem Campaign Manager Neil Fawcett said: “This is a fantastic result in one of the more Conservative parts of the constituency. Elizabeth and Val campaigned positively on their track record in the community and will be hard-working councillors who will stand up for their community.”

Meanwhile, in Sutton…

In Shenfield, in the Essex commuter belt, another gain from the Conservatives, as Liz Cohen joins Graeme Clark on Brentwood District Council;

The result;

  • Liz Cohen – 728 votes
  • Conservatives – 557 votes
  • UKIP – 199 votes
  • Labour – 31 votes
  • And in St Austell, Stephen Gilbert will be delighted with the news that his colleagues have gained a seat on the Town Council, again from the Conservatives.


    “This is a fantastic result in one of the more Conservative parts of the constituency.”

    It’s only natural that people are pleased, but really that’s a bit of an exaggeration, considering the Lib Dems carried this ward with 64% of the vote in 2007.


    3 council seats won also Littlehampton town council seat won

    Liberal Neil

    @Chris – based on our estimates Sunningwell & Wootton ward was the second most Conservative leaning ward in the constituency in the 2010 General Election. It is the case that we got an exceptionally good result in the ward in 2007 when a number of factors swung it our way and when the conservatives were engaged in marginals elsewhere.

    Google ‘properties for sale in Boars Hill, Oxford’ and you’ll get a good idea of what a lot of the ward is like 😉



    Perhaps this reflects the difference between national and local elections, but I find it surprising that a ward where the Tories have polled 36%, 44% and 38% in the last three local elections could be one of the most Conservative in a constituency they won on 42%.


    also won a seat today on st Austell town council

    Liberal Neil

    @Chris – I can see where you are coming from, but if you look at the May 2011 results you will see that it was the only Vale ward in the constituency the Tories won outright and their biggest margin over us by some distance. FYI the ward that, on our estimates, was even more Conservative in the General Election was Yarnton + Gosford. You are right that there is a difference between local and general election voting. Our best ward in the GE is one we do poorly in in local elections – Jericho + Osney.

    Simon Banks

    These results are brilliant and completely give the lie to commentators who think we’re about to curl up and die. They also suggest that where we’re strong and campaign well and with conviction, we do well.

    In Shenfield certainly, and I suspect in the Vale of White Horse and Sutton too, we succeeded in squeezing the Labour vote. People who quite clearly supported Labour as their first choice voted for us to beat the Tories. This reinforces the message already evident that in local elections at least, despite the coalition we can still attract a tactical Labour vote against the Tories. This was not easy for some of the Labour voters and we should be grateful. We also need to remember that nationally and locally, we need to do something to demonstrate they didn’t make a mistake.

    Tony Dawson

    Excellent results overcoming the national ‘handicap’.

    Malcolm Brown

    As the winner of the Town Council by-election in St Austell, can I point out this was a tremendously encouraging result. It is a ward which has the same boundaries as the Cornwall Council seat which we won by 16 votes over the Tories in 2009 but where our councillor defected to become an Independent. This time I won by 80, the Tory vote collapsed and, on a low poll, I received half as many votes again as they did.


    Congratulations, Malcolm!

    Liberal Neil

    Well done Malcolm :-)

    Simon – yes – nearly all the Labour (and Green) supporters we spoke to were somewhere between happy and willing to lend us their vote. A tiny number weren’t, but they were the same people who never have been.

    We did give them very clear reasons why we were the better choice over the Conservatives locally and they seemed convinced.

    This suggests to me that in places where we work hard locally, and can demonstrate differences of substance between us and the Tories, it is quite possible to continue to win over ‘tactical’ voters.

    Some of our national successes are also starting to get through. We have quite a few mentions of raising the tax threshold and stopping some of the more extreme Tory proposals.

    David Pollard

    Notice how in Liz Cohen’s win UKIP had an effect. With Tories splitting on gay marriage and Europe, we have a great opportunity to take more of their Council seats.

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