The Uxbridge Ultra-low emissions zone: “People want support and help to go green, not feel they’re being forced into it before they’re financially able.” [Jack Richardson of UK Onward: Washington Post]
“The Lib Dems’ historic heartlands were in agricultural Celtic fringe areas and to make a comeback there they need to appeal to those traditional Liberal voters.” [Prof Andrew Russell]
“But the hard work now begins to ensure they are truly ‘back in the West Country’ to stay, rather than just a glorified protest vote. This may be the start of an ‘orange wave’, but further victories are not guaranteed.” [Daniel Mumby, WMN]
To what extent would the results of the three byelections yesterday impact on this corner of the country?
Selby and Ainsty: staying at home and AI as the future
One issue – probably matched across all the byelections – was that “result was driven largely by Conservative voters, previous Conservative voters, staying home.” Selby and Ainsty By-election: Greg Hands explains Conservative defeat | York Press
The question, then, is to what extent that will be repeated during next year’s general election: By-elections: Double defeat for Tories but Sunak says general election ‘not a done deal’ | ITV News
An interesting ‘side issue’ is the use of AI during the Selby byelection: “By highlighting what most people can agree on, Gray thinks AI can help Britain overcome what he sees as a political system out of touch with citizens’ views, dominated by empty politicking and fueling divisions…” Meet Britain’s first AI-powered candidate – POLITICO
Uxbridge and South Ruislip: the Ulez, questioning emissions and net zero
The issue that lost the seat for Labour was that of the Ultra-low emissions zone – as featured here yesterday: Electric Vehicles, Net Zero and Not Zero – Vision Group for Sidmouth
And such is the backlash, that some are talking of it going further: How Ulez backlash could kill off Net Zero polices | telegraph.co.uk (paywall) and Voters rejected Ulez – and it could spell the end of Net Zero policies
Craig Mackinlay, the Tory chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, told The Telegraph: “We need to get the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars overturned at least until 2035, which is where most of the developed world is going. It is pre madness to saddle ourselves with this deadline.” By-election results: Scrap 2030 petrol car ban, Tories urge Sunak
It’s been picked up by the media beyond the UK as the issue: The main controversy is around Khan’s plan to enlarge the area covered by ULEZ, extending it to the entirety of greater London on Aug. 29 this year. It means the zone will also cover London’s leafier boroughs and villages beyond the central urban sprawl, where more residents use cars, and public transport alternatives are scarcer. The London mayor says the move is needed to tackle toxic air. His critics say it’s wrong to impose extra charges on motorists during a cost-of-living crisis. While the climate and the environment are among the top five issues for voters, “people want support and help to go green, not feel they’re being forced into it before they’re financially able,” said Jack Richardson of think tank UK Onward. Why London’s ULEZ Emissions Charge Became a Political Football – The Washington Post
Somerton and Frome: housing, rural issues and and an ‘orange wave’
The Farmers Weekly seem moderately impressed by a graduate of agricultural college winning the byelection: Ms Dyke is a Somerset County Council councillor for Blackmoor Vale and is lead member for environment and climate change. She previously studied agriculture and business studies at Harper Adams University in Shropshire. Ex-Harper Adams student wins Somerton and Frome by-election – Farmers Weekly
The FT looks to the wider implications for the South West – with the issues resonating throughout the area:
Key issues in Somerton and Frome — which has experienced a surge in arrivals from London since the pandemic — are availability and affordability of housing and the rising cost of living. In the more rural enclaves outside Frome and Bruton, voters’ major concerns centre around farming subsidies, environmental regulation and water quality...
Andrew Russell, professor of politics at Liverpool university who is currently working on a book about the Lib Dems, noted that it was part of the party’s “campaign for competence” to try to show they have more than an anti-Brexit ticket. They have instead been talking up local issues, such as NHS waiting times and farming subsidies… “The Lib Dems’ historic heartlands were in agricultural Celtic fringe areas that were particularly strong Leave constituencies and to make a comeback there they need to appeal to those traditional Liberal voters,” he says.
Daniel Mumby writing in today’s WMN gives a similar longer view into next year: As an orange sun rises once more over this part of Somerset, the Lib Dems will enjoy their well-earned celebrations and their equally well-earned rest. But the hard work now begins to ensure they are truly “back in the West Country” to stay, rather than just a glorified protest vote. This may be the start of an ‘orange wave’, but further victories are not guaranteed. Western Morning News Daily Briefing: Inside the Conservatives’ by-election meltdown – Daniel Mumby – Cornwall Live and Lib Dems “are back” in westcountry – Radio Exe