Roberts and Olney bask in Lib Dems’ Richmond results

Council leader Gareth Roberts and Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney struggled to contain their astonishment and delight as they reflected on the Lib Dems’ superb results in Richmond.

The Lib Dems won eight out of the nine seats available in the borough, and were victorious in every one of the 48 seats they contested on Thursday night.

Roberts was cautiously optimistic ahead of results that his party were in for a good night, but was still flabbergasted by the extent of the victory.

He said: “We expected to hold the majority of our seats, but we had no idea we’d make such significant gains in wards which we’d not held for the last 20 years. It’s been an astonishing result and we’re delighted.

“Even if we’d maintained our previous result, we’d still have been able to drive our agenda forward, but this majority means we now have confidence and new councillors who can give us fresh ideas, new thoughts and thinking, and possibly challenge what we’re doing and make us do it better.

“Additionally we need to make sure we’re not just governing for the people that voted for us, we want to hear from everybody and we want to do our best for them.”

Olney credited a strong council performance over the last four years as making a difference as she listed several of their achievements, but as an MP it was always likely she would turn her attention to the national issues too and the difference they made.

She believes that a strong dislike for the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been key in turning people in Richmond against the Conservatives, as she was as equally stunned with the result as Roberts.

She said: “I thought we would do well, we’ve had a really good campaign, a really positive response on the doors but I wasn’t expecting that.

“I’ve been asked a lot today, was the key local or national factors? Locally, people have appreciated what the Lib Dem council has done and come out to support that, but I think over the top of that there have definitely been national factors coming up on the doorstep.

“I’ve spoken to lifelong Conservative supporters who are just sick to death of Boris basically, this is a borough that voted remain and doesn’t like the way that he’s approaching Brexit, and all the things that have happened since then too.

“As far as the people of Richmond are concerned, he’s just not someone to be trusted. The Tories have been talking about these local elections for a while, effectively saying ‘if you don’t like Boris, vote against us,’ and that’s what people have done.”

Looking to the future, Olney reflects that although this success won’t last forever, the short term future is one that they can look to with real optimism.

She added: “Nothing is permanent in politics, there will be cycles. We’re having an extremely good day today, but the cycle will turn.

“I hope our good progress across the country will change the conversation a bit, because today we’re the ones taking seats off the the Tories, and we’re also taking seats off Labour.

“We’re absolute going to be using Richmond and Kingston as a springboard to move out into other areas, with the key thing take being that we are showing people that Liberal Democrats can win.”

For full results of Thursday’s vote and the Lib Dems’ win in Richmond, click here.

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