Official: the best (and worst) Lib Dem Euro results

by Stephen Tall on June 9, 2009

As m’LDV clleague Alex has just mentioned, the Guardian has kindly uploaded a spreadsheet listing all the council results from the European elections – allowing us to sort the results whichever way we wish. So listed below are the best – and worst – Lib Dem European election results.

There are 41 areas which we’re defining as the best-performing – ie, the Lib Dem vote exceeded 20%. As you might expect, a number of familiar names crop up, pleasingly a mixture of held and target seats. (NB: council results do not necessarily match Westminster constituencies, so careful in extrapolating too precisely!)

Sadly, there are more results that we’re defining as worst-performing, 118 in total where the Lib Dem result failed to reach 10%. For comparison, the Tories were <10% in 10 areas, but there were an astonishing 157 areas where Labour was <10%. Ukip was <10% in 62 areas, and the Greens <10% in 307 areas. Anyway, enough of such data-mining - here are the lists in full:

Best Lib Dem Euro election results:

(Defined as areas where the Lib Dem vote exceeded 20%)

Position / Council / MEP region / Vote / %-age

1. South Lakeland NORTH WEST 15,447 36.83
4. Richmond Upon Thames LONDON 16,446 30.79
5. Kingston upon Thames LONDON 11,658 28.01
6. Cardiff Central WALES 4,603 27.82
7. HIGHLAND SCOTLAND 14,550 27.49
8. South Somerset SOUTH WEST 15,093 27.25
9. Cambridge EASTERN 8,447 26.45
10. Newcastle upon Tyne NORTH EAST 15,646 26.43
11. Sutton LONDON 12,836 26.26
12. Stockport NORTH WEST 18,642 26.04
13. Oadby & Wigston EAST MIDLANDS 4,533 26.04
14. North Norfolk EASTERN 9,525 25.95
15. Cheltenham SOUTH WEST 7,954 25.48
16. Northumberland NORTH EAST 20,338 24.95
17. Eastleigh SOUTH EAST 8,724 24.92
18. Chesterfield EAST MIDLANDS 7,141 24.88
19. Watford EASTERN 5,717 24.49
20. Brecon & Radnorshire WALES 4,858 23.88
21. Winchester SOUTH EAST 9,825 23.6
22. Haringey LONDON 11,550 23.59
24. Lewes SOUTH EAST 7,540 23.24
25. Southwark LONDON 12,348 23.09
26. Taunton Deane SOUTH WEST 7,951 22.96
27. Burnley NORTH WEST 5,422 22.67
28. Woking SOUTH EAST 6,658 22.5
29. ARGYLL & BUTE SCOTLAND 5,293 21.97
30. Camden LONDON 10,180 21.72
31. Eastbourne SOUTH EAST 6,105 21.47
32. Mendip SOUTH WEST 7,353 21.03
33. St Albans EASTERN 9,469 20.92
34. Guildford SOUTH EAST 8,417 20.74
35. Malvern Hills WEST MIDLANDS 5,539 20.6
36. Stratford on Avon WEST MIDLANDS 8,841 20.48
37. West Dorset SOUTH WEST 7,175 20.33
38. Purbeck SOUTH WEST 3,276 20.27
39. Harrogate YORKS & HUMBERSIDE 9,336 20.14
40. South Cambridgeshire EASTERN 9,516 20.12
41. Gateshead NORTH EAST 8,873 20.08

Worst Lib Dem Euro election results:

(Defined as areas where the Lib Dem vote failed to reach 10%)

Position / Council / MEP region / Vote / %-age

2. Rhondda WALES 704 4.57
3. Barking and Dagenham LONDON 1,645 4.61
5. Thurrock EASTERN 1,602 5.23
8. Castle Point EASTERN 1,328 5.3
9. Llanelli WALES 946 5.43
10. Carm East & Dinefwr WALES 1,121 5.53
11. Islwyn WALES 789 5.61
12. Hyndburn NORTH WEST 1,285 5.75
13. Newham LONDON 2,761 5.75
14. Ynys Mon WALES 974 5.8
16. FALKIRK SCOTLAND 1,701 6.1
17. Great Yarmouth EASTERN 1,454 6.17
18. Sandwell WEST MIDLANDS 4,245 6.22
19. Caernarfon WALES 913 6.31
21. Meirionnydd Nant Conwy WALES 684 6.35
22. Cynon WALES 812 6.4
24. Blaenau Gwent WALES 964 6.72
25. Caerphilly WALES 1,204 6.74
26. Havering LONDON 3,940 6.75
27. Nuneaton & Bedworth WEST MIDLANDS 2,303 6.8
28. Vale of Clwyd WALES 1,070 6.85
29. Dartford SOUTH EAST 1,737 6.91
30. Neath WALES 1,275 7.03
31. ANGUS SCOTLAND 1,785 7.05
33. Broxbourne EASTERN 1,632 7.1
35. West Lancashire NORTH WEST 2,086 7.19
36. Gravesham SOUTH EAST 1,821 7.26
37. Clwyd West WALES 1,324 7.29
38. Walsall WEST MIDLANDS 4,216 7.35
39. Bexley LONDON 4,523 7.37
40. South Staffordshire WEST MIDLANDS 2,357 7.4
42. Boston EAST MIDLANDS 1,146 7.43
44. Wyre NORTH WEST 2,611 7.49
45. Wolverhampton WEST MIDLANDS 4,286 7.53
47. Copeland NORTH WEST 1,576 7.61
48. Aberavon WALES 1,132 7.61
50. Thanet SOUTH EAST 2,482 7.71
51. Dudley WEST MIDLANDS 6,265 7.72
52. Wellingborough EAST MIDLANDS 1,687 7.79
53. North Warwichshire WEST MIDLANDS 1,460 7.82
54. Tamworth WEST MIDLANDS 1,487 7.82
55. South Derbyshire EAST MIDLANDS 2,254 7.91
56. Basildon EASTERN 3,335 7.93
57. Bassetlaw EAST MIDLANDS 2,372 8.01
58. Crawley SOUTH EAST 2,063 8.04
59. Bolsover EAST MIDLANDS 1,501 8.07
60. South Holland EAST MIDLANDS 1,909 8.09
61. Ogmore WALES 1,147 8.13
62. Vale of Glamorgan WALES 2,002 8.2
63. Enfield LONDON 5,398 8.29
64. Tameside NORTH WEST 4,218 8.52
65. Wakefield YORKS & HUMBERSIDE 5,936 8.59
66. Carm West & South Pembs WALES 1,640 8.61
67. Chorley NORTH WEST 2,674 8.65
68. Barnsley YORKS & HUMBERSIDE 4,434 8.66
69. Rotherham YORKS & HUMBERSIDE 5,515 8.71
70. Conwy WALES 1,467 8.72
71. Blackpool NORTH WEST 3,067 8.74
72. Waveney EASTERN 2,837 8.81
73. Preseli Pembrokeshire WALES 1,691 8.84
75. Slough SOUTH EAST 2,004 8.94
76. Hastings SOUTH EAST 2,021 8.98
77. Tendring EASTERN 3,727 9
78. Swale SOUTH EAST 2,851 9.01
79. Breckland EASTERN 3,204 9.04
80. Amber Valley EAST MIDLANDS 3,536 9.05
81. Selby YORKS & HUMBERSIDE 2,125 9.06
82. MORAY SCOTLAND 1,744 9.1
83. Clwyd South WALES 1,491 9.11
84. Medway SOUTH EAST 5,460 9.15
85. Redbridge LONDON 5,793 9.16
86. Maldon EASTERN 1,668 9.18
87. East Northamptonshire EAST MIDLANDS 2,270 9.18
88. Rochford EASTERN 2,205 9.21
90. Bolton NORTH WEST 5,680 9.23
91. Wigan NORTH WEST 5,903 9.26
92. Hillingdon LONDON 5,714 9.3
93. Mansfield EAST MIDLANDS 2,337 9.3
94. King’s Lynn & West Norfolk EASTERN 3,898 9.37
95. Cardiff West WALES 1,725 9.37
96. Braintree EASTERN 3,905 9.38
97. Erewash EAST MIDLANDS 3,097 9.42
98. Newport West WALES 1,740 9.43
99. East Staffordshire WEST MIDLANDS 3,056 9.47
100. Torfaen WALES 1,587 9.48
101. Cannock Chase WEST MIDLANDS 2,126 9.53
102. Alyn & Deeside WALES 1,584 9.54
103. Reddich WEST MIDLANDS 2,123 9.57
104. Telford & Wrekin WEST MIDLANDS 4,313 9.63
105. Fenland EASTERN 2,319 9.68
106. PERTH & KINROSS SCOTLAND 3,544 9.71
107. Harrow LONDON 6,054 9.71
108. Stoke-on-Trent WEST MIDLANDS 4,806 9.73
109. Coventry WEST MIDLANDS 6,548 9.77
110. Gosport SOUTH EAST 1,938 9.85
111. Croydon LONDON 7,957 9.85
112. Doncaster YORKS & HUMBERSIDE 7,521 9.85
113. Greenwich LONDON 4,998 9.87
114. Peterborough EASTERN 3,704 9.88
115. Kettering EAST MIDLANDS 2,623 9.89
116. North West Leicestershire EAST MIDLANDS 3,085 9.89
117. Corby EAST MIDLANDS 1,389 9.97
118. Harlow EASTERN 1,966 9.98

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There appears to be a strong correlation between areas where we performed well and where we have parliamentary representation or have target seats. It makes you wonder whether the party is simply dying out in other areas, thus, enabling fringe parties to make headway. With the departure of Chris Rennard and the likelihood of a General Election next year, it is probably time to give our campaign strategy a thorough examination. Perhaps, this could be Nick Clegg’s internal priority for the next 100 days?

by RMC on June 9, 2009 at 6:36 pm. Reply #

So we performed appallingly in Islwyn?! I am horrified. Seriously, the best thing to do with Euro elections is to count our lucky stars that there’s a system in place which allowed us to get 11 members elected and move on.

by Paul Walter on June 9, 2009 at 7:21 pm. Reply #

RMC, it is our strategy to target held and target parliamentary seats in Euro elections, in order to maintain momentum for the general election.

Clearly this chosen priority does involve a sacrifice of votes in the European election, as we fail to reach out of our strong areas, and deluge within.

I’m not saying this strategy is wrong – parliamentary seats are vital after all, but I do wonder if we are overdoing it, and we should put a little more effort into fighting today’s election rather than tomorrow’s.

by Joe Otten on June 9, 2009 at 8:19 pm. Reply #

We are always going to struggle in the European elections considering the general skepticism in Europe. I agree that we are lucky to have a system though in which we can return 11 very good MEP’s it’s just a shame what they do isn’t widely known. As for the strategy, Westminster has to be the priority and resources are finite. Target, Concentrate, Establish and then Expand

by Stuart Holdsworth on June 9, 2009 at 9:17 pm. Reply #

@Joe Otten (and RMC): I’m not saying this strategy is wrong – parliamentary seats are vital after all, but I do wonder if we are overdoing it, and we should put a little more effort into fighting today’s election rather than tomorrow’s.

I agree. We tend to have natural advantages in target seats (such as a strong local government presence) anyway; we mustn’t let other areas wither.

But some of the most worrying results aren’t visible in this list. What are we doing in Oxford (Oxford East is one of our absolute top target seats) letting the Greens top the poll with 26.1% (!!) and only getting 17.8% ourselves?! What will happen in the general election with Peter Tatchell standing?

Personally I think any area where the Green vote is higher than the Lib Dem one (and there are several in the Guardian table) is a serious cause for concern.

by Niklas Smith on June 9, 2009 at 9:52 pm. Reply #

A little work in ‘black holes’ can go a long way.

In my own Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham (a Tory/ Labour marginal with no LibDem Councillors), we were delighted to see at the count that in the 4 wards where we put in some work for the Euro election (a couple of leaflets in areas we thought might be demographically sympathetic to LibDems) our vote share tallied at c.18%, significantly above both the London (13.7%) and Borough (12.5%) average.

To get this level of support in a ‘black hole’ shows just what can be achieved, even when starting from a low base (in the GLA List elections last year we got 9.2% in H&F).

In London half our elections are now fought on PR, so we need to shore up our vote in weaker areas without undermining the targeting stategy which serves us so well in General and Council elections.

Smarter and less labour-intensive campaigning, like more phone canvassing and demographic targeting, can help us have our cake and eat it: maxing out target seats without abandoning black holes.

It also helps candidates like me (with two pre-school children) play a full part in the campaign while mitigating the impact on family life.

by Dinti Batstone on June 9, 2009 at 10:55 pm. Reply #

I should have added in response to Niklas Smith’s comment above [“I think any area where the Green vote is higher than the Lib Dem one is a serious cause for concern”] that in last year’s GLA election LibDems in H&F were beaten into fourth place by the Greens, whereas in this year’s Euro election we were third and they were fourth.

by Dinti Batstone on June 9, 2009 at 11:00 pm. Reply #

Niklas – what will happen in the General Election in Oxford East is that everyone will know that it is neck and neck between the Lib Dems and Labour and will vote accordingly. The Greens got 16% of the vote in the 2005 County elections in Oxford East but the same poeple voting in the same ballot boxes only gave them 4% in the General – and that was when we were much further behind. Tatchell is making no impact whatsoever.

by Liberal Neil on June 9, 2009 at 11:02 pm. Reply #

RMC and others – all the evidence is that we get the best vote overall by concentrating our efforts where we have the organisation to do it. It is far easier to tun out votes where you have canvass data, delivery networks, activists etc., as well as a higher base vote to turn out.

However ‘targeting’ does not and should not mean only working in existing held and target seats. We should be aiming to steadily increase the areas we are active in – and european and other PR elections, if used inteligently, give us an opportunity to open up new territory, depending on the other elections they coincide with.

Every Local Party should have a long term strategy in place that uses each election in turn to steadily develop its campaigning and capacity.

So this time round, in the areas that had County elections we should have concentrated our effort in target county seats – the seats where we had the largest numbers of our supporters to turn out.

In London sensible Local Parties will have used the european campaign to consolidate their position in existing held and target wards AND to start building up capacity in potential new target wards.

Dinti makes some useful points about using our resources more effectively. Building capacity in new wards should not just mean delivering endless Focus leaflets, but, as she suggests, using the telephone and inteligent targeting to identify supporters and recruit activists is a very effective way to start.

by Liberal Neil on June 9, 2009 at 11:12 pm. Reply #

Mark, the figures you ask for:

2008 GLA result (for which we received ward by ward breakdowns) shows an average LibDem vote of 11.56% in our sample wards; one year later our Euro vote in the exact same wards was approx 18% (no ward by ward breakdowns available but the wards in the sample were counted together on Sunday so the aggregate figure can be used for direct comparison with the 2008 result).

The difference between 2008 and 2009? In 2008 we worked in our target ward only, whereas in 2009 we branched out and also worked (albeit much less hard) in the sample areas we believed might be responsive if they heard our message…

The increase in the LibDem vote in the sample wards (55%) is well above the average increase in LibDem vote across the Borough (35%, a figure which is in any case boosted by the larger than average increase in the sample wards).

I’m not a statistician, but this to me suggests that the little bit of extra delivering we did in the sample wards did have a significant impact.

The point I have been trying to make for some time (eg in the London Election Commission last year) is that we do not give sufficient consideration to diminishing returns in PR elections. How many extra votes will leaflets #14 and #15 yield in an area reaching saturation point vs leaflets #1 and #2 in an area where people might be demographically sympathetic but never hear the LibDem message because we ignore black holes.

The tremendous Euro-results in Richmond and Kingston are a vindication of our targeting strategy, and I would not dream of suggesting we throw the baby out with the bathwater. I just think that in PR elections there is room for a little bit of diversification. I’m certainly glad that as well as phone canvassing and knocking up in Richmond Park I found time to deliver leaflets in my own ‘black hole’ area.

by Dinti Batstone on June 10, 2009 at 2:35 pm. Reply #

Corby, number 117 on list with 9.97% of vote in euro elections. Same day, same area, same voters, 24% of vote in county council elections and our first ever county seat in Corby, a gain from Labour – although it was actually between us and the Tories and we had a majority over them of 150. People think the euros don’t matter and use the opportunity to protest and vote for a party other than one of the three main parties. We also suffer because we are the so called “pro eu” party so we get twice the kickin’.

by Chris Stanbra on June 10, 2009 at 9:13 pm. Reply #


How many extra votes will leaflets #14 and #15 yield in an area reaching saturation point vs leaflets #1 and #2 in an area where people might be demographically sympathetic but never hear the LibDem message because we ignore black holes.

I quite agree. Yet I’ve had conversations with experienced campaigners who insist that the deluge of leaflets is so effective that it is better to deluge 10% of a region, rather than deliver the whole region once or twice.

When, I ask, do we think the law of diminishing returns kicks in?

by Joe Otten on June 13, 2009 at 4:55 pm. Reply #

In which areas did we top the poll?

by Neil Woollcott on June 14, 2009 at 6:56 pm. Reply #

It’s a well-known phenomenon in advertising that to get a point across, you have to repeat it and repeat it. You will find that’s how most commercial advertising campaigns work.

So it actually is the case that putting several leaflets out on one area and none out in another will work better than putting one leaflet out everywhere.

Remember, the people in the area that get all the leaflets don’t know they’ve been singled out – they think that’s how it is everywhere, and it serves to counter the problem “the LibDems are weak, it isn’t worth voting for them”.

In PR elections we can and should still target. In fact we can target even more efficiently than in FPTP elections. We need to win a quota of votes to get a seat (still works this way with list systems, which are essentially STV with the people forced by the politicians only to choose certain combinations). We can choose where we concentrate our campaigning that will most likely win us votes to go towards that quota. Unlike FPTP it needn’t be a geographically contiguous area determined by someone else.

by Matthew Huntbach on June 15, 2009 at 10:59 pm. Reply #

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