Tonight’s local by-elections – a CON defence in Theresa May’s constituency and a LD one in Tim Farron’s

Tonight’s local by-elections – a CON defence in Theresa May’s constituency and a LD one in Tim Farron’s

Kendal, Strickland and Fell (Lib Dem defence) on Cumbria
Result of council at last election (2013): Labour 35, Conservatives 26, Liberal Democrat 16, Independents 7 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 8)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Liberal Democrat 980 (52%), Labour 506 (27%), Conservative 191 (10%), United Kingdom Independence Party 186 (10%), Trade Unionist and Socialist 15 (1%)
Candidates duly nominated: Virginia Branney (Lab), Andy Mason (Green), Harry Taylor (Con), Peter Thornton (Lib Dem), David Walker (UKIP)

Maidenhead, Riverside (Con defence) on Windsor and Maidenhead Royal
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 54, Ratepayers 2, Liberal Democrat 1 (Conservative majority of 49)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 2,167, 2,116, 1,995 (49%)
Liberal Democrats 685, 653, 604 (16%)
Labour 562, 529 (13%)
Green Party 517 (12%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 499 (11%)
Candidates duly nominated: Saghir Ahmed (Lib Dem), George Chamberlaine (UKIP), Judith Diment (Con), Jeff Lloyd (Ind), Nigel Smith (Lab)

South Lakeland (the council area that Kendal is at the heart of) and Windsor and Maidenhead are two council areas that have diverged from each other over the years in terms of how the Liberal Democrats have done. Back in 2003, both were areas of Liberal Democrat strength. South Lakeland had 23 Liberal Democrat councillors (just four short of winning overall control) and with 34 Liberal Democrat councillors on Windsor, the Liberal Democrats were in control. Windsor only has elections once every four years so when the locals in 2004 rolled along, only South Lakeland went to the polls and that could have gone a little better for the Lib Dems as they lost a seat to the Conservatives, but they still remained the largest party. No locals for either council in 2005 but the divergence had already started. Westmorland and Lonsdale elected a new MP in the form of Tim Farron (gaining the seat on a swing of 3.5% from Con to Lib Dem) whilst down in Maidenhead (a seat that had the potential to go Lib Dem on that same swing) Theresa May held on and recorded the same swing in the opposite direction and from then on, the die was cast. The 2006 local elections saw the Lib Dems GAIN South Lakeland from No Overall Control and they increased their majority in 2007, Windsor and Maidenhead however? Conservative GAIN from Liberal Democrats with 18 Liberal Democrat losses and from that moment on the two councils have diverged like never before. 2011, the next time the two councils voted on the same day. South Lakeland: Liberal Democrat HOLD with just two Lib Dem losses, Windsor and Maidenhead: Conservative HOLD with 15 Lib Dem losses and in 2015 both councils were held by their respective parties, South Lakeland seeing no change for the Lib Dems and Windsor and Maidenhead another Lib Dem disaster with no gains whatsoever. So therefore it could be said that a Lib Dem hold in Kendal would be far less impressive a result than any swing to the Lib Dems in Maidenhead but the Lib Dems have proved one thing since the last election, boy can they bounce back at the local level.

Compiled by Harry hayfield

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