UK Politics

Lib Dems defiant despite Rochester and Strood setback

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Media captionTim Farron, Lib Dem president: Many Liberal Democrats chose to vote tactically

The Liberal Democrats have registered the worst ever performance in a by-election by a governing party.

In Rochester and Strood, the party's candidate Geoff Juby received 349 votes - 0.87% of the total.

Nick Clegg's party were pushed into fifth place by the Greens in the worst by-election result in their history.

Party president Tim Farron said Mr Juby "deserved to do a lot better than he did" and blamed tactical voting for the party's low vote share.

The Lib Dems' previous record low was in Clacton last month, where they took 1.37% of the total vote.

In Thursday's by-election, Mr Juby won just over twice the number of votes given to the Official Monster Raving Loony Party's candidate, Hairy Knorm Davidson.

It is the 11th time during this parliament that the Lib Dems have lost their deposit in a by-election after getting less than 5% of the vote.

Image caption Candidate Geoff Juby is a former leader of the Lib Dems on Medway Council

The total number of votes Mr Juby earned is a fraction more than the 338 Facebook friends an average adult user of the site has.

'Fluid democracy'

Tim Farron told BBC Radio 4's World at One that he spent "quite a bit of time on the doorsteps in Rochester", and added that he "might flippantly say I probably met all of the Liberal Democrat voters".

He said tactical voting to combat UKIP had been the story of the by-election, saying it was his impression from the campaign that there were "more Liberal Democrat and Labour voters who voted Tory than Tories".

Asked if he was now "terrified" at his party's prospects for the general election, Mr Farron said: "Hardly."

He said the UK was now "a very fluid democracy" that made it unlikely Labour or the Conservatives would win a majority.

And he said this made it "essential" that those who are in a position to hold the balance of power are "sensible and moderate".

But UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he thought given the Lib Dems' performance, it was time the media stopped talking about the "three main parties".

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