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17 December 2021

How the Liberal Democrats won their third biggest by-election swing ever

Helen Morgan won the Leave-voting North Shropshire seat with a 34-point swing – the largest the party has achieved this century.

By Ben Walker

On a 34-point swing, the Liberal Democrats have won the North Shropshire by-election. A Leave-voting seat with increasing levels of rural deprivation and few graduates, this shouldn’t have been a Liberal Democrat target, but the anti-politics mood that has swept the country found representation in the residents of Oswestry, Wem, Market Drayton and its countryside surroundings.

The swing to the Liberal Democrats in North Shropshire is the third biggest they or their ancestor party, the Liberals, have ever achieved. It is the biggest this century. The party needed a 26-point swing for the Liberal Democrat candidate Helen Morgan to win the seat and they surpassed that, achieving a 10-point majority.

Whether the Liberal Democrats are likely to hold this seat at a general election, however, is very much yet to be seen. The demographics aren't favourable, and their local government presence in the area is next to non-existent. In time, the party may make this locale their own but at present this would be an incredibly difficult seat to hold at a general election in two years time, particularly if the anti-Tory sentiment that won the Liberal Democrats the seat dissipates.

[See also: The Liberal Democrats had little to offer in North Shropshire. That is why their victory is so significant]

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