We’ve been hosting a visiting Lib Dem activist who’d come down from Manchester to support the Lib Dem candidate. He was quite pleased with the result. Disappointing turn- out though - won’t be good for house prices.
Lib Dems did very well here. Aside from their locally-popular anti-Brexit stance, I suspect it helped that Ms Salek engaged with the community at the hustings, unlike the Labour and Tory candidates.
Some thoughts on the election. I’d be interested to hear other conclusions drawn.
First, it is always a sad day for democracy when a vote is determined when two thirds of the registered electors fail to participate. By-elections seldom get the same turnout as general elections, and of course people may be weary of elections so soon after the local elections last month. But in this case we now have a new MP with a majority on the back of 8% of the registered electors in the constituency.
So some thoughts.
Notwithstanding the 50.2% result, this was not a good result for Labour. Perhaps in a constituency where voters overwhelmingly chose to remain in the EU, this is their show of displeasure with a party so underwhelmingly representing their position in parliament. Of course many Labour voters may also have assumed this a foregone conclusion and chosen to enjoy the sunshine.
But if it was bad for Labour it was also pretty bad for the Conservatives. Conservative party supporters tend to vote more often and consistently. If Labour voters stayed home, you can usually rely on Conservative voters to hit the polls. But the Conservatives also had the advantage of a known person. Voters should already know Ross Archer, after all he was the Conservative Candidate for the Mayor of Lewisham in an election only weeks before. I would have expected the Conservatives to at least maintain their share.
The real winner is the Liberal Democrats who seem to have picked up a substantial number of votes with 25% of the registered voters. Somehow I doubt that her participation in a small hustings event on the eve of the election had much impact. But perhaps the LibDems are finally coming out of the wilderness, or at least have policies that resonate around Lewisham voters. Brexit maybe? It shouldn’t be surprising though. Before the Labour hegemony in local government, the Liberal Democrats were very much the party of opposition in this borough.
I’m reluctant to conclude if the parties of the far(ther) right - UKIP and For Britain - were also winners. I had fully expected the UKIP vote to be split between David Kurten and Anne Marie Waters who is party leader of the relatively new For Britain party. Some may recall that Waters was the UKIP’s Lewisham East candidate in 2015 and fought for leadership of UKIP at their last “who wants to be a leader” event. But the vote wasn’t split, with Kurten maintaining the UKIP vote share from 2017, albeit a mightly drop from 2015, and Waters carving out a further 1.2% for herself.
Looks like it was a Remain protest vote which saw Labour’s majority slashed.
Now if Brexit does become a major issue after we leave the EU at the next General Election, this may be the trend we’ll see in other safe Labour seats in London.