Congratulations to my new council colleague Helen Lynch who won a tightly-fought by-election in Watford's Central ward last night (see here for details). This has historically been a Lib Dem versus Labour marginal ward and any by-election caused by the resignation of a Lib Dem councillor is going to be tricky. Nonetheless after a hard and at times bitterly-contested campaign, we came through, however, narrowly, making this five by-election wins on the trot for Watford Lib Dems over eight years (and more wins and years if you include the wards of Three Rivers District that are in the Watford constituency).
The morning after polling day is not perhaps the moment for detailed reflections on the election campaign, the final week of which took place against the backdrop of a national row over tuition fees. However, one point is immediately apparent. All governments suffer periods of unpopularity, those that have to take difficult decisions about public spending more so, and left-of-centre parties taking said difficult public spending decisions more so still. Therefore over the next few years at local government level we will stand or fall on our local reputation.
In this case, we have a positive story to tell at council level, we had an excellent local candidate with a strong track record and a vigorous local campaign, yet it still wasn't easy. For those of us fighting the ground war, in the next few years winning elections is going to be tough. But not perhaps impossible.