Poll gains for Lib Dems as Tories slump

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Liberal Democrats made two gains in the latest council by-elections from Tories, who saw a widespread slump in their vote share.

Andy Boddington won for Lib Dems at Ludlow North, Shropshire County with Michael Sole taking Barham Downs, Canterbury City, Kent for the party.

The contest underlined the long-running trend of Liberal Democrats still doing well where they are in contention but performing disastrously elsewhere.

In four of this week’s by-elections their vote only stretched into two figures.

This raises the prospect of them doing badly overall in next year’s General Election but with most of their MPs retaining their seats.

There were few crumbs of comfort for Tories this week. They did hold on at Chertsey Meads, in Surrey’s Runnymede Borough where the authorities were criticised by residents after the floods earlier this year.

Conservatives did badly against Labour in wards covered by marginal Commons constituencies including Amber Valley, Crewe and Nantwich and Luton South.

Labour easily held on in the four seats it was defending.