Wow. What a win! Congratulations to Colin Taylor on winning the Lib Dems 17th seat on Shropshire Council on a massive swing from the Conservatives of 36%. It’s the third by-election in South Shropshire in two years. As Colin said after his victory: “The Blue Remembered Hills are turning gold.”

Across the county, the Lib Dems are the biggest opposition party on Shropshire Council with 17 councillors. The Conservatives had 54 seats on the 73-seat council in 2009. Since then, they have lost 15 seats as they have become increasingly unpopular in the county and nationally. They command a majority for now but it is getting wafer thin.

No Conservative seat on Shropshire Council is now a safe seat.

Colin Taylor and Chris Naylor

The mood of the local Conservatives was outlined with startling honesty by Lord Hamilton of Dalzell, President of the Ludlow Conservative Association on Conservative Home. There are obviously a demoralised lot.

His statement that “Shropshire Council, under Conservative control, has generally been satisfactory, with minimal significant problems in local services.” That is far from the case and shows how far he is out of touch with the real Shropshire.

I don’t agree with Lord Hamilton that his national government is the only problem. Of course people are fed up with years of austerity and thirteen years of government incompetence under four prime ministers. Of course they are fed up with the government’s wavering commitment to tackling climate change and environmental damage. And of course, they are angry at living in a broken Britain where too many things don’t work anymore or get scrapped on the whim of the prime minister of the day scared by headlines in the Daily Mail and Sun.

One of the main problems with the Conservatives locally is that they have not listened to residents. They have not engaged with them or understood their local concerns. A second problem is that the Conservatives are so arrogant, they believe they have a right to govern at national and local level. Philip Dunne exemplified this, telling people in Alveley and Claverley that the Conservative candidate for the general election, Stuart Anderson, is the next MP for South Shropshire. Parliamentary seats are not hereditary Phillip.

These faults are culturally embedded in the Conservative Party.

With opposition parties growing in strength, the Conservatives have put themselves in a position where they have become unelectable in many local and national elections.

Labour had a very good night and Kier Stamer got the hammer blow to Tory confidence he was looking for. The Lib Dems held their end up, increasing vote share in Mid Bedfordshire. Despite losing, the by-election helped the Lib Dems build campaign capacity. That will stand us in good stead at the general election next year.

Locally, the campaigning capacity of the Lib Dems in Shropshire the highest it has ever been in Shropshire. We saw the result of that in Alveley and Claverley where Colin Taylor delivered the biggest swing since Shropshire Council was founded 24 years ago. Of the six councillors who have won by-elections and still sitting on the council, all six are Lib Dems.

I take my hat off to Colin and the campaign team. They believed they could win and they did!

Some of the Alveley and Claverley campaign team

The Conservatives locally and nationally are running scared. Their campaign slogan should be:

“It’s a nightmare. And it’s going to worse.”

I sincerely hope so.

The results

  • Liberal Democrat: 662 votes, 58.7% vote share (+36.2%)
  • Conservative: 408, 36.3% (-33.0%)
  • Labour: 55, 4.9% (+4.9%)

Turnout: 1,137, 31.6%. This is high for a by-election.

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