Voters in Chesham and Amersham showed why we need a progressive alliance, campaigners say

The Liberal Democrats overturned a 16,000 Tory majority to win the Chesham and Amersham by-election

Few had predicted it, but the Liberal Democrats have overturned a 16,000 Tory majority to win the Chesham and Amersham by-election, in a seat that has always voted Tory.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has hailed it as a result that has sent ‘shockwaves through British politics’, with the party’s candidate Sarah Green winning by 8,028 votes from the Tories, with the Green Party in third place.

It proved to be another difficult night for the Labour Party, who suffered the worst by-election result in the party’s history, with just 622 votes.

Some campaigners have said the result is yet more proof that the Labour Party cannot go it alone and that only a progressive alliance can defeat the Tories.

Neal Lawson, Director of Compass, the organisation campaigning for a Progressive Alliance, told LFF that voters on the ground were already ahead of the politicians and had worked on cross party collaboration to oust the Tories. All that was needed now was for the parties themselves to catch up.

He said: “When the Lib Dems throw the whole kitchen sink at one seat and mobilise all their members which they’re good at, they can pull off these results. 

“How replicable is that at a general election? That’s why we need a bigger, broader progressive alliance.”

Compass has been calling for progressive parties to form an alliance in local areas in a bid to oust the Tories. 

Neal added: “The result shows Labour voters will now vote Lib Dem probably in ways that they haven’t done since the coalition years, so I think that’s a big shift.

“As ever, the voters are a long way ahead of the politicians in that they know what to do and they did it last night.”

He hailed the ‘massive tactical voting’ which had taken place which he said ‘bodes well for cross party collaboration’.

The result will also mean more questions for Keir Starmer, with the party gaining just a 1.6% share of the vote, despite bringing in heavy hitters like Angela Rayner to campaign in the seat.

“People would rather vote for a candidate that they mostly agree with that can win than vote for a party that they might wholly agree with but know they’re going to lose,” said Neal.

He added that the biggest lesson for the Labour Party to learn is that it cannot afford to ‘go it alone’, so therefore needs to ask itself what it is going to do. 

Labour Party peer Andrew Adonis also backed the idea of a progressive alliance, tweeting: “Congratulations to @SarahGreenLD on her success last night.

“Great for the pro-European cause & it’s obvious we now need a progressive alliance.”

Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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