The Liberal Democrats have hailed what they called their ‘remarkable victory’ in the Bradford West byelection, claiming that “By the grace of God, we have won the most sensational victory in British political history” by not losing anywhere near as many votes as Labour or the Conservatives.
The Liberal Democrat candidate, Jeanette Sunderland, who came fourth and lost her deposit, claimed her party’s 7.08% reduction in share of the votes since the last election was ‘a big victory’ over the other two parties, who both lost over 20% of their votes:
It has been a major surprise to everyone, not least ourselves, that after selling out all our principles to the Tories for a few cabinet seats, as many as 1,505 people still turned out to vote for us.
The result marks an extraordinary personal and political comeback for the controversial party, confounding expectations that the remainder of most Liberal Democrat politicians’ careers would lie in broadcasting and third-rate celebrity programmes such as Celebrity Big Brother.
But in the final 48 hours, the Liberal Democrat vote started to surge, climbing from an expected 4 or 5 votes made up mainly of the candidate’s immediate family, to include more distant relatives and even some of her friends.
The result raises wider questions over whether the result is a simple one-off reflecting the size of this particular Liberal Democrat candidate’s circle of family and friends, or whether other Liberal Democrat candidates could rely on friends and friends of friends as well.
A Liberal Democrat spokesperson explained:
This fantastic and surprise result reflects the immense effort our candidate put into getting her family out to vote and the fact she worked tirelessly within the constituency to get some of her friends out to vote for her too. But we are still concerned that at the next election our other candidates would find it hard to attract many votes from their friends in the same way, mainly because most Liberal Democrats don’t have any friends.
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Nick Clegg announces £126m scheme to encourage employers to take on unemployed Lib Dem politicians after next election
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