By James Moules
THE LIBERAL Democrats pulled off a sensational win in yesterday’s Chesham and Amersham by-election – taking down a traditionally Conservative bulwark.
The party’s candidate Sarah Green scored 56.7 per cent of the vote (21,517 votes) in the Buckinghamshire constituency, representing an increase of 30.4 per cent from their vote from the 2019 general election.
Two years earlier, the Lib Dems came third, more than 4,000 votes behind Labour – leading the latter’s dismal performance this time around labelled as a “shock” by one candidate.
Conversely, the Tories’ share of the vote dropped drastically, falling from 55.4 per cent to just 35.5 per cent (13,489 votes).
Chesham and Amersham has always been held by a Conservative since the constituency was formed, so the result was widely characterised as an upset win for the Lib Dems.
This by-election was called following the death of incumbent Cheryl Gillan. The constituency voted 55 per cent to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.
Liberal Democrat Ed Davey marked his party’s win by smashing down a prop blue wall – symbolising the collapse of the Tory vote.
The by-election also saw the Green Party receive more votes than Labour, albeit both with low numbers. The two parties got 3.9 per cent (1,480 votes) and 1.6 per cent (622 votes) respectively – with neither achieving the five per cent needed to reclaim the deposit.
A total of eight parties were on the ballot paper, with a few smaller parties scooping a handful of votes each.
Polling in last place, the single-issue Rejoin EU Party achieved 101 votes.
Their candidate Brendan Donnelly previously told Redaction Report that the party had faced both positive and negative feedback on the campaign trail, adding, “we don’t mind that, because what we’re doing is appealing in the first instance to those people that do want to rejoin.”
Reacting to the result, Richard Hewison, leader of the Rejoin EU Party, told Redaction Report: “I am simply amazed by the scale of the Lib Dems’ victory. I thought they’d do well, but I certainly didn’t expect an 8,000 majority.
“Sarah and her team are to be congratulated on a truly outstanding campaign.
“Whilst the Lib Dems as a whole still have a weaker position than I’d like on EU membership, it is good to see the Conservative Party that has wrecked our country punished in it’s heartland.
“Our original target was ‘any 3-figure vote’ so 101 almost feels like cosmic trolling, but in the context of a by election where so many voters told us on the street they support our ideals but want the Tory out it’s not entirely a surprise.
“I do think that the Labour result is a shock. To go from second place and 11,000 votes in 2017, to 600 and a lost deposit strikes me as more than tactical voting. This is the first big remain constituency by- election in England, and I think the dismal ‘embrace Brexit’ mantra may be at least partially to blame.”
Local socialist candidate Carla Gregory also stood for the recently founded Breakthrough Party.
She scored 197 votes in total, and told Redaction Report: “I’m extremely proud of all the hard work and support we’ve had during the campaign. It’s been an amazing feeling running for MP in my home town and seeing first hand just how many people want to make this area a better place for us all.
“I congratulate Sarah Green for a hard fought victory and promise the supporters of Breakthrough that this is only the beginning of our journey.”
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