Christmas came early for the country and the Liberal Democrats with a win in the North Shropshire byelection. An excellent local candidate, Helen Morgan, won with a 34% swing. The last time the Liberal Democrats gained two Conservative seats in parliamentary byelections in the same year was back in 1993. For the record, the last time Liberal Democrats came from 3rd or worse to win was in 1981.
North Shropshire followed on from Chesham and Amersham. Both were regarded as safe Conservative seats, safer than for example than North West Hampshire. Whilst byelections are unique events in themselves, these two offer some interesting perspectives. In both cases the Liberal Democrat candidates were local and had a history of campaigning for their communities rather than themselves. They were not professional politicians parachuted into a safe constituency from outside. The Conservatives did not have a clear message aside from 'vote Conservative because you always have' irrespective of how often you let us down. Incidentally, this was the same tactic used by Labour in Scotland where I grew up; you can understand why the SNP took all their seats bar one.
Whilst there was some tactical voting by Labour voters this was not enough. Some Labour fundamentalists spent more time attacking the Liberal Democrats rather than the Conservatives, and it is fair to say two party politics reigns supreme in our major parties. But then do turkeys vote for Christmas? Overall people were disappointed with the antics of the government and Johnson. Whilst the Christmas party scandals have gone down badly with voters across the country, many people now vote early by post and this was before the scandals hit the headlines. The result in North Shropshire is therefore probably indicative of a deeper change. What it is only time will tell.
What does this mean for us in North West Hampshire and other parts of the country? The answer is simple. If you feel taken for granted and let down, do not waste your vote. You have an alternative. Demand something much better and vote for it, whether at a local or general election. On a final note, it rests me to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson
for North West Hampshire