Mon, 22 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
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Lib Dems Sweep Through 'Blue Wall' With Best Results In More Than 100 Years

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey hailed a "historic" result for the party (Alamy)

2 min read

The Liberal Democrats won a huge number of seats in former Conservative stronghold areas, particularly across the south of England, where voters were determined to vote for the party that was best-placed to kick the Tories out.

In this General Election campaign, the Lib Dems launched what they termed 'Operation 1997' to smash down the so-called 'Blue Wall' and end the Tory government. With the Conservatives suffering their worst election defeat ever on Thursday, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has celebrated a "historic" performance. 

The party won 71 seats, securing more MPs than when they were in coalition government with the Conservatives between 2010 and 2015.

Many of the most senior Conservative figures who lost their seats were ousted by the Lib Dems, including Education Secretary Gillian Keegan in Chichester, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk in Cheltenham, and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan in Melksham and Devizes. The Lib Dems also won the seats of former Conservative leaders David Cameron, Boris Johnson, and Theresa May: an indication of just how badly the Tories performed in areas where they previously enjoyed strong support for decades.

Many senior Lib Dems managed to increase their majorities, including Davey himself, deputy leader Daisy Cooper and Layla Morgan.

The Lib Dems are likely to have benefitted from widespread tactical voting in their target seats, with many voters switching to the party with the aim of kicking out their local Tory MP. PoliticsHome previously reported that in seats such as North Norfolk – which the Lib Dems have now won from the Tories – some Labour supporters were actively canvassing for the Davey's party.

In the run-up to the election, Davey told PoliticsHome that it was sometimes necessary for voters to "work out for themselves, whether it's through their own research or tactical voting websites, what the relative strength of different parties are".

After the results, Davey thanked voters for "trusting us again", with the party having only won 11 seats in the 2019 General Election.

"Trust is a very precious commodity. It's hard won, and sometimes you've lost it, you lose it, and you'll have to work very hard to win it back," Davey said in a speech in a room packed full of supporters.

"And I want to thank people for trusting us again. We will not let you down. We will honour your trust, and we will keep working so you keep putting your trust in us."

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