I recently posted an article looking at the swing between the Lib Dems and Labour in local elections in recent years. Here’s an update showing the swing in this year’s vote. Without further ado, here’s the graph:
While the results on the night were undoubtedly a triumph for Labour – they won seven of the 11 seats that the Lib Dems were defending, plus the three that they already held themselves – the ward-by-ward swings show a distinctly mixed set of changes since last year. This partly reflects where the parties were concentrating their campaigning efforts.
Labour’s biggest swing on the night was in Romsey, where Dave Baigent took the seat from Lib Dem mayor Paul Saunders. They also gained ground on the Lib Dems in East Chesterton, Market, Newnham, as well as Castle (though this is a bit of a statistical oddity). Meanwhile the Lib Dems improved their position relative to Labour in all the other nine wards, though this was only enough to win three of them. Their biggest swing was in Petersfield, where they lost by a narrower margin than last year’s drubbing, but still never really threatening to hold on.
The “safe” seats, where no party is campaigning very hard, often give the best indication of how opinion is moving when it’s not being battered by a torrent of leafleting and door-knocking. These all showed a drift to the Lib Dems, but only by about 3-5%. A small crumb of comfort for them on what was one of their worst-ever election nights in Cambridge.