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Chris Galley

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Thursday 8 October – midnight in Penrith Town Hall

Not a good time for the Conservatives, not a good time for our man, David Whipp, though he managed to hide his disappointment. The by-election votes were swiftly and efficiently counted by the staff of Eden Council, who got the result declared around 11:15 pm.

Liberal Democrats 387 – elected
Conservatives 157
BNP 102
Independent 58
Labour 26
Green 18.

The turn out was 31.8%, which was significantly up from the last time, in 2007 it was only 22.6% – normally by-elections go south in terms of turn-out. The breakdown in 2007 was:

Independent 324 (adjusted: 237)
Conservative 276 (adjusted: 202)
Labour 116 (adjusted: 85)

Adjusted means my attempt at making a comparison between 2007 and 2009 – in 2007 residents could vote for two candidates, and 192 voters in 2007 availed themselves of that facility. My adjustment is not scientific for a number of reasons.

The clear winners were the LibDems, and their worthy candidate Elissa Robinson deserves congratulations for fighting a clean, effective and highly organised campaign. The Herald described the result as a “landslide” for the LibDems and they are not wrong.

The BNP will doubtless take heart from the result, though I think they wanted 15% of the vote and they fell just short of that (13.7%).

The two big losers were the Independent group (whose long term future must now be in question) and the Labour Party whose vote evaporated, in what is actually a working class ward.

A long Thursday for me, but I feel really sorry for David Whipp - he worked far harder than any other candidate and would make a fantastic councillor. His day will come.

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