Well, there's a surprise.
There was a county council by-election yesterday in the St Dogmaels ward, which falls in my county (Pembrokeshire), but not in my constituency. The local party over there have the right idea about long-term campaigning. Where they have a good candidate selected early enough, they have proved that they can win. This was a bit of a different matter as the resignation of our own Liz Campion prompted a very sudden (and technically illegally called) election. There was no chance to do what Liz had done and promote the candidate for over two years before polling day, and no real effort to involve wider support from Welsh Lib Dems who would have been happy to come and help, so I'm not entirely surprised that our candidate Elfyn Rees was pushed into second place.
As Liberal Democrats in West Wales, we have a huge challenge on our hands with local elections in general. The prevailing attitude from the electorate that there is no place for party politics in the council chamber. So they vote for anyone who claims to be 'independent'. Trouble with that is, the 'independents' who run Pembrokeshire County Council are no such thing. They operate as a party group, except with no manifesto or specific mandate, so they can basically pass whatever they like through the chamber. Often whatever provides them with the least work and the most personal benefit. Times ahead are going to be tough for the one councillor in that chamber from our side of the Cleddau. Tony Brinsden has worked hard on the committees he's involved with, and will now lose his say there unless or until another Lib Dem is elected, which may well take until 2012.
Better luck next time, Elfyn. I would have been out yesterday with you, but since every offer of help I made was roundly ignored by a certain insular and arrogant colleague of yours who was co-ordinating the campaign, I finally gave up trying about a week ago.