Fishwick — losses and lessons

Previous post [Fishwick by-election]

Result (1 October, 2009)

Jennifer MEIN [Labour] 656 (55.69 +13.24)
Sharon RILEY [Conservative] 283 (24.02 +3.90 )
Luke BOSMAN [Liberal Democrat] 239 (20.29 +1.31)


By-election tales can often – if spun by the losing side – focus on the trivia and minutiae of the day rather than any theories as to the result. It would be far easier for me, maybe even far more “in character”, to tell of the man asking if we were bringing back hanging, the Scouse comedian on his way to the bookies, the Labour car with a taxi-cab style illuminated ‘Vote Labour’ light on the roof, (“Does it have in imprint?”).

Fishwick is a savvy little place, with a fiercely proud and independent community spirit. The ward takes in housing estates, neat suburbia, and even isolated farm-style houses within a stroll of the Ribble. In recent years its electoral history would produce very confusing graphs for the outsider to analyse: Conservative gain for the first time in living memory, a fleeting moment of Respect-assisted marginality, and a return to healthy Labour majority. Explaining this movement brings in a number of different reasons – a population not too attracted to being treated as after-thoughts by an arrogant and distant Labour party, perceived indifference towards the Muslim population, a certain desire for a change in representation which would produce results for the regeneration of the Fishwick Bottoms and Farringdon park alike.

Our campaign for Luke Bosman was without any serious fault. The result was somewhat deflating after a whirlwind campaign with some very positive reactions on the doorstep. There seems to be a genuine wish for Town Hall to have a positive alternative to Labour, a feeling which did not ultimately lead to enough votes for Luke despite our best efforts. Attention has been drawn to matters which really concern Fishwick residents, be it the speed on the main roads, the future of Jalgos club, or the future of the number 16 bus (which clogged up the road directly outside the Tudor Avenue polling station every time it passed).

Fishwick has elected its current County Councillor. I wish her well, while hoping that she can now maintain representing her electors wearing two different hats. We have until May or June next year to keep her, and the local Labour party, under scrutiny.

The local Liberal Democrats may appear to have come out of this election the most bruised. I have to say the loss has only strengthened our resolve to fight for people who have long since given up waiting for an alternative to the Labour party in their area. We are attracting members and voters in far greater numbers than I can recall. Labour now have to prove themselves worthy of Fishwick voters trust.

There will come a very interesting, tough, fight in Preston as we make the run-up to the elections in 2010.