Chesham & Amersham Lib Dem victory: What it means for Ludlow

Chesham & Amersham Lib Dem victory: What it means for Ludlow

Yesterday Lib Dems were in a state of high excitement have won the Chesham and Amersham by-election by a mile and a half. Although I don’t often publish national political stuff on this blog, the result was game changer. It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention it.

And the comments made by the defeated Tory candidate show how of touch the Tories have become. How arrogant they have become.

There was a 25% swing to the Lib Dems in Chesham and Amersham on Thursday. That is huge. Ludlow constituency has been Lib Dem in the past. We would need a swing of 23.5%. That now look achievable.

A big challenge. But achievable.

The following article was first published on Lib Dem Voice early yesterday.

Chesham & Amersham: Tories blame loss on a kitchen sink, a dog and a cat

The result was in just before 2am this morning. What a result.

Readers should beware that this post includes allegations of a kitchen sink drama and cruelty to animals. Allegations from the Tories of course.

When you read Peter Fleet’s comments – he was the low profile Conservative candidate by the way – you can understand why he didn’t win. He blamed the result on the Lib Dems working hard. Yes. That’s what we do. He hadn’t expected the result. How broken is the Tory machine that it can’t read the writing on the wall? The posters in the windows. The talk on the doorsteps. The changing demographics in a constituency.

Very broken it seems and nothing to do with kitchen sinks.

Campaigners in Chesham and Amersham

Quoted across the media including Sky News, Peter Fleet said:

“Clearly this was a very disappointing result, not the result that I was expecting nor my team. It’s an absolutely extraordinary result which must take into account the fact that the Liberal Democrat party didn’t just throw the kitchen sink at this constituency…”

You can see why Peter Fleet lost. He thinks the result is absolutely extraordinary. Was he so out of touch, that he was expecting to win? The Tories rolled out the big wigs. Even my local MP, Philip Dunne, turned out for an appearance.

The Lib Dems turned out the activists. Real people. On real streets. Talking on real doorsteps.

Blaming the Lib Dems for his historic loss, Peter Fleet tried to shrug off the reality that the Tories lost because, well, they are Tories. He said:

“The Liberal Democrat party didn’t just throw the kitchen sink at this constituency, I think it was the microwave, the table, the oven, the dishwasher, the dog, the cat and anything else that was lying around as well.

And we should consider that when we reflect upon the extraordinary nature of the result.”

I am sure Lib Dem campaigners saw microwaves and tables on their journeys around Chesham and Amersham. But we don’t throw dogs and cats around. Our regular correspondents to Lib Dem Voice, Newshound and Newsmoggie, would be very upset.

It is always difficult to speak after a defeat. But Peter Fleet’s comments show how out of touch the Tories have become. Even in what are claimed to be leafy Tory shires, Sarah Green and the Lib Dems won this by-election. Magnificently. But the Tories also lost the election. Lost it badly. And they were so out of reality, they clearly didn’t expect to lose.

The Tories don’t have a right to assume they own seats. No party or MP does. We won this by-election because our candidate and our teamwork were just the best. The Tories lost it because they expected to win and are just the worst.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Friday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

2 thoughts on “Chesham & Amersham Lib Dem victory: What it means for Ludlow

  1. Only once in my three-score years and ten have I voted for the candidate who was elected, so Matthew Green’s election in Ludlowe in 2001 has a particular significance for me. 43% of the vote and a swing of 8.25%. Happy days. But the reality was that the country was in a period of change, with Labour losing popularity nationally, and in Ludlow a patronising and rather unpleasant Tory candidate so irritated the traditional deferential voters that they simply refused to turn out to vote for him.
    The Conservative party did not repeat the mistake; the decision to appoint local, urbane, Eton and Oxford educated landowner Philip Dunne was a savvy one. He smiles a lot, is unfailingly polite and carefully non-controversial, he follows (I think) without exception the party line. He’s a nice man, and he now commands a whopping majority.
    So before we get all excited about Chesham and Amersham, let’s be realistic. The turnout there fell substantially from the General Election, and the Labour vote moved en masse to the Lib Dems, whose vote increased by about 7,000. At the same time, the Conservative vote fell markedly. My reading of this is that, whilst some ‘lost’ Tory voters may have decided to give their government a bloody nose by voting LD, most simply stayed at home. Although the 55% vote share enjoyed by the Lib Dem is remarkable, the likely situation at a General election is that the Tory vote will be approaching 50%.
    In this by-election, 55% of voters made the choice to vote for the candidate most likely to beat the Tory, helped by the departure of a well-respected MP with a large personal following. The lesson is not that there is a sudden breakthrough for Lib Dems; it is that there is a desperate need for the opposition parties to recognise that they must work together to overturn the First Past the Post system of voting. Once we have proportional representation, voters will be able to vote positively for the things they believe in rather than negatively against policies they dislike.
    I hope Labour retains Batley in two weeks’ time, with the voters there making the same decisions to vote for the candidate most likely to beat the Tory. But it cannot be left to the electorate to try to make these judgements. Tribal loyalties run deep, and many voters have terrible issues voting against their party (I’m a Green; believe me, I know!). So the parties must – just once – form an Alliance. Candidates could stand as Labour Alliance, LibDem Alliance, Green Alliance – with the crucial bit being the Alliance. The resulting government should change the voting system as early as possible before calling another General election under the new rules, and we would take it from there.
    The argument against PR has always been that it creates smoke-filled room agreements that the people never voted for, and that FPTP produces strong government like the one we have now, with an almost impregnable 80-seat majority on 42% of the vote. I would exchange compromise and barter for dictatorship any day; and for once my vote would really mean something instead of being just a hopeless expression of faith.

  2. The UK had a vote on adopting PR in 2011 and voted a resounding no. I think (and I might be wrong) that almost 70% of those voting were against PR. This was on a turnout of c.43%. The average turnout in a general election is c.48. So the PR vote was a fair reflection of the view of the public. We, apparently, like FPTP.

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