Tim Farron won the Lib Dem leadership on the strength of his election successes and was very much the choice of the activists.
With only eight MPs at Westminster Farron would dearly love there to be a parliamentary by-election. But who knows when one of those is going to come up? So in the meantime the emphasis will be going back to its roots by seeking to build up the party on a local level.
Next May’s elections are nearly ten months away but on a week by week basis the hope is that they can build up momentum by chalking up gains in local by-elections.
Overnight Farron’s party won two seats. These were Battle on Rother council from the Tories and Llay in Wrexham which the party had not contested last time. But the result that will give most pleasure to the new leader was in the Grove ward in Kingston upon Thames where the LDs had the Westminster seat until May 7th.
Grove (Kingston upon Thames) result:
LDEM – 59.9% (+26.3)
CON – 26.1% (-4.8)
LAB – 8.5% (-14.1)
GRN – 3.3% (-9.7)
UKIP – 2.2% (+2.2)
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) July 16, 2015
What’s striking about these numbers is where its 26.3% increase in vote came from. A bit came from the Tories but a lot from Labour and the Greens.
The one Westminster by-election is prospect is Zac Goldsmith’s Richmond Park – a seat where not so long ago the LDs were strong and, indeed, had the MP. The Tory majority of 23% looks impregnable but I know there is some nervousness in the Tory camp about having a battle here if Zac resigns over Heathrow or on becoming Mayor of London.
Lib Dems elect reasonable sounding centrist bloke after civil and constructive leadership campaign. Labour look on in awed wonder.
— Rob Ford (@robfordmancs) July 16, 2015