Could I take this opportunity to thank the almost 22,000 people who voted Labour in Watford on December 12. They were denied a Labour MP by a national tide in favour of the Conservatives and because of the disgraceful campaign run by the local Liberal Democrats.

The swing from Labour to the Conservatives in Watford was just two per cent compared to the national average of 6.9 per cent. Labour remains in pole position to challenge the Tories here at the next General Election.

This relatively good performance by Labour here was due in part to Chris Ostrowski being the standout candidate at all the hustings and due to the hundreds of mostly young supporters who flocked to help our campaign.

The total vote for the Tory party actually went down compared to 2017 and on a bigger voter turnout this time. The Liberal Democrats’ primary role in this campaign was to secure a victory for the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems’ disgraceful and unprincipled campaign of misinformation clearly had its effect, particularly among the early postal voters of whom there were nearly 16,000 in Watford. The Lib Dems produced a flurry of leaflets saying they were in second place.

To support their fallacious assertion, the Lib Dems published a video advertisement saying Labour had lost a seat in the May election which was completely untrue. They then tried to run a personal campaign against the Labour candidate saying he was not from Watford when he actually has a Watford postal address and lives here.

Then there was the Mike Smithson letter to voters delivered by the Lib Dems. Mike Smithson described himself as an ‘Polling Analyst’ and conveniently failed to mention he’d been elected three times as a Lib Dem councillor. He wrongly stated that a tactical voting site recommended voting Lib Dem in Watford.

But worst of all were the Liberal Democrats’ dodgy bar charts designed to show them in second place when they were thousands of votes behind in third place. In fact they were 21,000 behind on the 2017 result. No party has ever won from that position and even if they had equalled the biggest ever swing, they would still have been third.

The Liberal Democrats had no chance of winning but they used their campaign to try and fool voters into voting for them when in fact by voting for Remain supporting Chris Ostrowski, they would have defeated Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit candidate.

The election result has been heartbreaking for those who worked so hard for a Labour victory but also for the tens of thousands of local residents who care about our NHS, our public services, and about the obscene inequalities in our society for which the Tories bear responsibility. Watford Labour may have lost this battle but we are not defeated and we will remain strong in the face of the most right wing Tory government since Thatcher.

Mike Jackson

Chair, Watford Labour Party