‘Comeback’? North Shropshire by-election win gives Lib Dems renewed hope in rural mid-Wales
The Liberal Democrat’s big by-election victory in North Shropshire last night shows that the party can win in rural mid-Wales again, their Leader in Wales Jane Dodds has said.
The result of the election on the Welsh border announced early this morning saw the Liberal Democrats jump from third place to take the seat by almost 6,000 votes. The seat previously had a Tory majority of 23,000.
The victory, in a heavy leave-voting seat that was held by the Conservatives for almost 200 years, is likely to be seen as a significant blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The by-election marks the second victory for the Liberal Democrats in less than a year after they secured another historic result in Chesham and Amersham where they achieved a 25 percent swing from the Conservatives to take the seat with a 8,028 majority.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats said that a swing of 34 per cent seen in North Shropshire would comfortably see the Liberal Democrats win the mid-Wales seats of Brecon & Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire if replicated, which would only require swings of 8.6 percent and 17.7 percent respectively.
“The scale of the victory last night, overturning a seat just on the border with Powys that had been solidly Conservative for almost 200 years, shows the Liberal Democrats are back in business and prepared to take on this chaotic Conservative Government,” Senedd Member Jane Dodds said.
“This result only serves to demonstrate that people are absolutely fed up of this incompetent Conservative Government that continuously prioritizes meaningless slogans over tangible actions to improve people’s lives and invest in our communities.
“North Shropshire, like many in Powys, was fed up of being taken advantage of and forgotten about by the Conservatives. Rural communities like Montgomeryshire and Brecon & Radnorshire have gained little from years of Conservative MPs who don’t deliver results for their communities. Unlike areas of South East England, the Conservative Government has shown little interest in leveling-up rural communities.”
Jane Dodds said that while The Conservatives were descending into “chaos” the Liberal Democrats were making a “comeback”.
She pointed to a Farmers’ Weekly survey showing that support for the Liberal Democrats had almost doubled from 9% to 17% over the last year while support for the Tories has fallen from 72% to 57%.
“The refusal of the Conservative UK Government to grant Wales the £5 billion to improve rail infrastructure it is entitled to is just one piece of the mountains of evidence demonstrating this disregard for investment in our communities,” she said.
“Yet this wasn’t just a vote against the Conservatives, it was also a vote for the positive vision the Liberal Democrats offer for the country and in particular our rural communities. The Liberal Democrats have a long and proud history of standing up for rural communities, having done so for hundreds of years.
“Our roots are embedded in standing up for our communities, small local businesses, farms, towns and villages whereas the Conservatives continuously prioritize big business.
“It’s not surprising that this election was won thanks to the help of many farmers returning to supporting the Liberal Democrats after being ignored for years by the Conservatives over concerns regarding the Government’s quick trade deals with the likes of Australia and New Zealand that pose a detrimental risk to family farms across Wales and the UK.
“The County Council elections next spring will mark a key step in sending the Conservatives a message that we won’t stand for their neglect or incompetence anymore and the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be there to provide the alternative strong voice for our community.”