Analysis: Blue wall starts to crack as Liberal Democrats beat the odds

The Liberal Democrats have won a seat, this is not a drill, the Liberal Democrats have won a seat.

Sir Ed Davey will be toasting a historic win today as the Lib Dems won in Chesham and Amersham.
Sir Ed Davey will be toasting a historic win today as the Lib Dems won in Chesham and Amersham.

Last night saw Sir Ed Davey’s party pull off one of the most shocking results in memory after taking the Buckinghamshire constituency of Chesham and Amersham from the Tories.

A formerly safe seat, the Lib Dems enjoyed a 25 point swing to see Sarah Green elected with 21,517 votes, compared to the Conservative Peter Fleet on just 13,489. The majority is bigger than the total votes they got at the seat in 2017.

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For a Liberal Democrat party who managed to lose seats in the Scottish election and continue to slump in the polls, the result is not so much a surprise as an out and out miracle, albeit one built on months of campaigning and a relentless party message.

This was not the Tories taking the seat lightly, with visits from the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and a host of other big names.

Instead it shows the growing realignment in UK politics. While Boris Johnson has found a message to appeal to red wall voters, telling the softer conservative vote how tough you are and promising to level up just doesn’t cut it.

The Tory message of cutting overseas aid to focus on your own might appeal further north, but in more traditional blue seats they just don’t want more people moving in.

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Liberal Democrats capitalised on this by speaking to local issues, specifically opposing HS2 and embracing Nimbyism.

This combined with a strong Remain vote saw the Tory vote collapse, prompting the never knowingly understated Sir Ed to literally smash a blue wall with an orange mallet in a photo op that would make Willie Rennie proud.

Mr Johnson’s blue wall has begun to crumble, raising the possibility that other seats in the home counties or even in the south-west, former Lib Dem strongholds, could now be back in play.

The Labour vote completely collapsed, winning just 622 votes.

For so long the argument has been that Labour cannot win without Scotland. However, last night’s result suggests seats so long taken for granted could now be in contention, and ultimately none of us have any idea what’s going to happen next.

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