July 30, 2015

Conservative 286 [40.1%; -19.2%]
Hykeham Independents 180 [25.2%; +25.2%]
Labour 161 [22.6%; +22.6%]
Green 64 [9%; +9%]
LD Candidate Diana Catton 22 [3.1%; +3.1%]
[Lincolnshire Independents [0.0%; -40.7%]]
Majority: 106
Turnout: 19.1%
Conservative gain from Lincolnshire Independents
Percentage change from 2013

The North Kesteven where the Conservatives won a formerly Lib Dem held seat illustrates some of the issues for the party in local elections which do not seem to have been recognised

One of the factors which does not appear to have been recognised is that during the Clegg era Liberal Democrat councillors in rural areas were standing down as Liberal Democrats are winning their seats again as Independents. The North Hykeham Mill by-election brought this issue into focus because the candidate who was a LIb Dem in 2007. Thus when the party was reporting huge losses in the period 2010 – 2015 what was not being recorded was that some of these seats were being won by former Lib Dems standing as Independent, and therefore the losses were not as great as might be thought.

The reasons are not clear and each candidate made their own decision, however one possibility could be that candidates felt that the Clegg leadership had made them unelectable as Lib Dems. It could simply be that they felt that the party was no longer one they could support. Readers will need to draw their own conclusion. The scale of this has not been assessed, and should be, because a concerted effort to reach out to Independents could be a way for the party to harness support in these areas. The experience of the reporting on this site indicates that it is quite significant, including in Wales, and that it represents an opportunity for the party.

The England Elects website provides the following

“Caused by the resignation of Lincolnshire Independents councillor Jill Wilson on health grounds.  First elected to the district council here in 2007 as a Liberal Democrat candidate, she retired in 2011 but returned to the council in May’s ordinary election.

“The Conservatives have consistently held one, but only one, of the two district council seats in this ward.  In 2007 the other seat went to Jill Wilson, the single Liberal Democrat candidate, who topped the poll.  Wilson stood down in 2011 and her seat was won by independent candidate Helen Clark in a close three-way result.  The 2015 election saw the Tory slate opposed only by Jill Wilson, standing for the Lincolnshire Independents, who defeated the second Tory candidate by eight votes.  At county level almost all of the ward is within the Skellingthorpe and Hykeham South division, which has been Lib Dem-held since 2009…..

There is an independent candidacy in the shape of John Bishop, a former Lib Dem district councillor for another North Hykeham ward who lost his seat in May; he is standing under the “Hykeham Independents” label. ”

This local election result appears as a poor one, with only 22 votes, however Lib Dem Future had a report last week from the by-election and there was a campaign in operation on the ground run by excellent and committed party members. This seat is unquestionably within the grasp of the party, however it will take some effort to show that the party can reach out to former Lib Dems who now have experience winning as Independents.

Below is the candidate list for the 2015 local election.

2015 May Election

CLARKE Andrea Louise 50 Heather Gardens, North Hykeham, Lincoln, LN6 8RQ Conservative Party Candidate

CLARKE Mike 35 Wellhead Lane, Nocton, Lincoln, LN4 2BW Conservative Party Candidate

WILSON Jill Marie 7 Perney Crescent, North Hykeham, Lincoln, LN6 9RJ Lincolnshire Independents

BATHORY-PORTER, Elizabeth Saffron Green Party 64

BISHOP, John Hykeham Independents 180

CATTON, Diana (Full Name: Diana Elizabeth Catton) Liberal Democrats 22 CLARKE, Mike (Full Name: Michael Roger Clarke) Conservative Party Candidate 286 Elected

DOOLEY, Terence Peter Labour Party 161

May 2015 result C 1478/1005 Lincs Ind 1013
May 2011 result C 495/314 Ind 463 Lincs Ind 458
May 2007 result LD 396 C 315/304 UKIP 157