Henley by-election: open (speculation) thread

by Stephen Tall on June 26, 2008

There are just five hours til polls close in today’s by-election to decide who will succeed Boris Johnson as MP for Henley.

The widespread expectation is of a Tory victory – it is one of their safest seats – but there has been a great deal of energy behind Stephen Kearney and the Lib Dem team, so no-one’s ruling out a reduction in the Tory majority, or even a shock result.

Here’s what happened the last time the seat was contested, in 2005:
Conservative (Boris Johnson): 24,894 (54%)
Liberal Democrat (David Turner): 12,101 (26%)
Labour (Kaleem Saeed): 6,862 (15%)
Green (Mark Stevenson): 1,518 (3%)
UKIP (Delphine Gray-Fisk): 1,162 (3%)
Turnout: 68%

It strikes me there are three key questions which will determine how the result is viewed:

1. Has the Tory majority – either in actual or percentage terms – increased? If yes, then there’s no doubting this is a good result for the Conservatives.

2. How close can the Lib Dems get to the Tories; can we even overtake them? It would take a 15% Con-to-LD swing for the Lib Dems to win: that would be phenomenal. However, any increase in Lib Dem support at all would suggest that there are still folk willing to switch to the Lib Dems from the Tories – which bodes well for the party’s prospects in other southern England constituencies; and from Labour – despite Tory suggestions after the Crewe by-election that Labour defectors are switching direct to the Tories.

3. The question for Labour is how far their vote gets squeezed. No-one expects them to match their 15% in 2005; PoliticalBetting.com’s Mike Smithson believes they will lose their deposit and score below 5%, which would be a truly crushing defeat. The question is: who will those Labour voters switch to? If we were back in the two-party politics the media likes to promote, it should logically be the Tories who will be beneficiaries – in which case their majority should increase. If they switch in any number to the Lib Dems, perhaps the media will bear in mind that three-party politics remains the order of the day.

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Darrell, I know what you mean and it leaves me shaking my head in dismay sometimes, which is a turn-off in politics as far as I’m concerned. However I once suggested we put a big ‘Join Here’ poster in our constituency office window and I got a similar shake of the head.

If you can think of something better that’d be great – maybe a LDV suggestions competition and poll could be in order?

by Oranjepan on June 27, 2008 at 9:56 am. Reply #

Peter Chapman – totally agree on the using the economy which has traditionally been a weakness for us but could now become a strength because some of our MP’s have an excellent track record in business. We should be promoting Vince cable a lot more in tandem with Nick Clegg.

by Andy M on June 27, 2008 at 9:58 am. Reply #


I dont see anything wrong with Join here….because it makes no presumption it is merely a positive encouragement to do something…why dont we try something like fighting for henley which at least recognises we are in a scarp, fighting for the issues…something like that…anything that avoids the presumption of winning here…

by Darrell on June 27, 2008 at 10:00 am. Reply #

How about ‘vote for progressive change’?? Sorry maybe not my best efforts (am tierd and also at work shhh) but I am sure you can see the thrust…

by Darrell on June 27, 2008 at 10:05 am. Reply #

A little LibDem EU-scepticism would work wonders! Especially for the EU elections next year! Honesty and keeping promises would be good, too!

Henley result:

Pro-promised referendum – Conservatives, Greens, BNP and UKIP – 66 %

Promise breakers – EU-fanatic LibDems and New Labour – 31 %.

by Dane Clouston on June 27, 2008 at 10:06 am. Reply #

Darrell, something to mull over and write an article on later, perhaps…

Dane, please get of your cocked horse and contribute if you’ve got something to say, you’re getting overly repetitive (and I’m a big fan of electronic music, so that’s saying something).

by Oranjepan on June 27, 2008 at 10:22 am. Reply #


The reason why the LibDems won the Newbury Byelection was because we had so very nearly won in the two 1974 General Elections 20 years beforehand and had built up a very strong constituency organisation before and after that with numerous councillors and supporters.

In 1974 we Liberals in Newbury were for “a far fairer country without nationalisation” – unlike either Conservative or Labour at the time.

What is the LibDem party for now?

Unlike the Conservatives – “a far fairer country – greater equality of opportunity in education, health and the inheritance of wealth” (although you need to think more about that)?

And – unlike New Labour – what?

LibDems are now on a hiding to nothing unless they become EU-sceptical or at least seriously EU-critical, particularly with the EU elections coming up. And some sort of acceptance of the way their behaviour over the Lisbon Treaty is seen would be good, too.

Maybe that requires a change of leader – or otherwise for Nick Clegg to become a great leader – to remove the LibDems EU-bedazzled blind spot. In the past I always heard him spoken of as EU-sceptic. What has happened?

by Dane Clouston on June 27, 2008 at 11:01 am. Reply #

Dane, you’re spilling over into singularly negative criticism, try being constructive, will you? I think that’s how I’d describe our attitude towards Europe, also termed ‘EU-realist’, fyi.

by Oranjepan on June 27, 2008 at 11:27 am. Reply #


Mais oui! I am being positive and constructive about the Liberal Democratic Party, while believing that the UK should leave full membership of the EU.

Why you would imagine that I had not heard of ‘EU-realist’? In fact, amusing to relate, I was ticked off in a Bruges Group meeting recently for not using it instead of ‘EU-sceptic’. If you wish to adopt the ‘EU-realist’ views of the Bruges Group, that would be excellent. Lead on!

You said you were glad I had not been elected MP in the Newbury By-election! I hope by now that you accept that it was not in a By-election, but in two General Elections in 1974, that I very nearly became Liberal MP for Newbury. You are obviously not the apologising sort.

by Dane Clouston on June 27, 2008 at 12:52 pm. Reply #

Dane, sometimes you sparkle with wit, sometimes you are so dull you make rust shine.

The by-the-by slip was probably due to crossover with other threads here, but it did provide an opportunity to illuminate how your words and actions don’t match.

Now you wish to twist and wriggle with presentational language at the expense of greater substance.

To draw a comparison: I’m critical of the EU, just as I’m critical of Israel. My criticisms are only valid and are only acceptable because I accept the existence and right to exist of both.

You, on the other hand, are both critical and opposed to the EU.

May I ask if you are consistent in your approach with regard to Israel and how many friends that wins you among Israelis to listen to your views?

Frankly your political position is unsustainable, just as it is politically unsustainable for politicians in the middle-east to avoid making greater efforts to control and reduce organised violence across or within their borders. Some will of course argue the opposite and play to the watching gallery and vested interests, but it cannot last, and we mustn’t let it.

by Oranjepan on June 27, 2008 at 1:13 pm. Reply #


You have made a number of personal comments and have been free with superfluous advice. You have made an excuse rather than just admit that you were wrong. I wonder what are you like when you are not are anonymous!

If you would like to know my views on Israel, let me have your email address or otherwise start another thread on the subject, since it would be rather a distraction from this one.

by Dane Clouston on June 27, 2008 at 2:18 pm. Reply #

Fun though this is Dane, I don’t feel this conversation is progressing anywhere productive (or at least not fast enough).

I don’t really want to know what your particular views on any subject are because that will only end up with us going round the houses, instead I was trying to draw you on how you build your approach into a consistent thread to try to understand what your ‘liberal’ viewpoint actually means in practise. I only raised the subject of Israel as a means to draw a stark comparison – if you feel this is invalid, I would of course be interested to learn why you think so.

After all, it is you who has criticised this party for not being what we suggest it is, whereas I contend your claims are both fatuous and baseless. I do however wish to listen to you try to demonstrate how your thinking unties the knots you’ve made for yourself, but as yet you seem either unwilling or unable to make the attempt.

To address your complaints for a moment – you’re really scraping the barrel in trying to discover where it isn’t watertight. I admire your patience in trying to do so, but I question both your motivation and reasoning.

Really, in continuing this online chat here across the Liberal-LibDem divide you must want to be convinced that you share our beliefs, but are struggling against the resistance of your persoanl prejudices and emotional investment in them.

We all welcome constructive contributions within the terms of the debate, so however much we disagree and on whatever we dispute I’m still pretty sure we can find common ground to alleviate any lingering concerns.

On the other thread you raise electoral reform, which offers encouragement, but although you seem fixed in your preference it remains an ongoing debate which has yet to reach a definitive conclusion (or indeed a modicum of consensus) – so I hope you are able to keep open the possibility for fresh thinking on that as well as other matters.

by Oranjepan on June 27, 2008 at 3:31 pm. Reply #


If you do not want my views on a question, do not ask for them.

I would like the LibDems to rethink their view of the EU, as I have over the years.

I have already expressed my thinking on Electoral Reform in a relevant way.

Has it occurred to you that you might sound rather condescending and pompous. It doesn’t matter, but it does make me laugh!

by Dane Clouston on June 27, 2008 at 4:38 pm. Reply #

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