The Liberal Democrats are back, and we are back with a bang.
This year’s elections saw success after success, with 224 gains across the UK – 194 in England, 10 in Wales and 20 in Scotland.
I had the great pleasure of spending election day in Salford, Greater Manchester, helping my friend Chris Twells win a seat and the group return to the city council after an absence of more than a decade.
The elections saw Liberal Democrats gain seats against Labour in places such as Croydon, after an absence of 20 years, and in Lambeth, where we are now the official opposition. More seats fell to us in Sunderland and Birmingham.
“The icing on the cake was seeing my Somerset neighbours storm home to take control of the new unitary council”
We saw a stunning win in Hull to take control, and we won every council seat in former party leader Tim Farron’s parliamentary constituency in Cumbria, to take control of the new Westmorland and Furness Council.
Woking fell to us, and it was an especial delight to see Gosport go Liberal Democrat – even better, they will be rejoining the LGA.
Peter Taylor was returned as Mayor of Watford, romping home with 54 per cent of first-preference votes.
And while I am no fan of our first-past-the-post voting system, I couldn’t help smiling at the massive Liberal Democrat majorities in Richmond, Kingston, South Cambridgeshire and St Albans, where the Tories were nearly wiped out.
Colchester saw its Tory leader ousted, resulting in a Liberal Democrat-led, cross-party administration, along with West Oxfordshire and Huntingdonshire. And Tunbridge Wells, a classic ‘blue wall’ seat, will now have a Liberal Democrat-led council.
The icing on the cake for me was seeing my Somerset neighbours storm home to take control of the new unitary council, building on the great work that the Liberal Democrat-led districts have been doing.
Well done team! Communities Secretary Michael Gove and the Tories might be regretting their push for local government reorganisation now.
Commiserations to those who didn’t get re-elected or just missed out: we are on our way back, your chance will soon come again.