Local by-elections, the national picture: Lib Dems at 12%

by Stephen Tall on January 30, 2011

The Voice reported late on Thursday night the excellent performance of the Lib Dems in Winchester, recording a strong council by-election hold in the improbably-named Oliver’s Battery and Badger Farm.

The Independent, noting the party’s victory, however also recorded the national projections based on January’s eight local by-elections, which show the state of the parties as:

    Lab 39.4%, C 38.6%, Lib Dem 12.1%.

The report added:

… six of the contests were in areas where Lib Dems are traditionally the main challengers to Tories. In most of these the Conservative vote held up. This contrasted starkly with a huge swing to Labour in the only seat it was defending. In the one remaining result, at Camborne in Cornwall, the party also managed a big recovery in a ward where it traditionally performed strongly but had fallen back in recent elections.

This confirms suggestions of a split between the two halves of Britain with the better-off possibly being concerned with the deficit and the poorer areas with cuts.

Though 12% is well above YouGov’s current polling projections (8% again in today’s daily tracker), it shows what a mountain the party will have to climb in this May’s elections for the Scottish parliament, Welsh assemby and English council elections.

There is at least some comfort for the wannabe-elected and activists: the old message that where the party works, it wins (or at least maintains its vote), can be true — even in a Coalition climate.