Congratulations to Sarah Green (right) and everyone who contributed to the stunning Liberal Democrat victory in Chesham and Amersham. But let’s not get to carried away. Much as I would love to believe otherwise, one by-election victory in a Tory heartland seat does not signify the beginnings of a great LD revival.
A similar upset was achieved 59 years ago when we, with then Liberal party candidate Eric Lubbock (below), overturned a Conservative majority of 14,760 to achieve our own one of 7,855.
Sarah received 56.7% of the votes cast with a 25.2% swing. In 1962, Eric received 52.9%, with a 26.3% swing.
What was in 1962? The famous Orpington by-election win. Like C&A, it was a true-blue seat that had never before elected an MP of any other colour.
Our Liberal MP held the seat for two general elections in 1964 and 1966 but the Conservatives regained it in 1970 and have held it ever since.
That is just one example of a notable by-election win, and there have been others, that were greeted as a turning point for us but were really the result of local factors including years of community activity and having a good local candidate.
There is no doubt that Chesham and Amersham, like Orpington, is a tremendous result but it needs to be repeated up ad down the country before we can claim it as the start of our fightback.
Historically, we do better in traditional Conservative seats than in Labour ones – the blue wall has been easier for us to undermine. But we need to do both.
Celebrate the victory, enjoy seeing Sarah Green MP taking her seat in the House of Commons, but please do not get carried away. We need to repeat this, again and again. Only then can we claim it to be a revival.