On Thursday the Lib Dems in Shropshire gained a council seat from the tories. Despite a strong campaign by Labour who hadn't stood in the ward last time, Andrew Bannerman increased his share of the vote to 41.8% with a 5.7% swing.
This is good news for us, not just because of the gain in itself but because of what it tells us.
It tells us that we can still win seats against the tories despite Labour trying to sap away our support and that our vote remains solid where it counts. I don't know what this means for places where our main opponents are Labour but it is very promising for Guildford. Here our main opponents are also the tories and the result in Shropshire shows that, with work, we can gain votes against the tories without losing support. Labour intends to run a stronger campaign in the borough council elections in Guildford this year and the fact that our support held up against a Labour insurgency is a very good sign. If we can pull off the same here we can expect to get the four seats we need to end tory control of the council.
As for why this is, my guess is that people are unwilling to back a party which hasn't bothered to stand in the seat before against an established candidate and party that have been working there for a long time - Labour probably isn't helped by its record in government being still fresh in the memory. This enables us to keep our normal support with only minimal losses whilst being in coalition and a good campaign can win us support from what I might characterise as mild tories - people who vote conservative because they thought they were the more sensible choice and that the Lib Dems were too left wing but are themselves not core conservative supporters.
All this points to us doing well in Guildford and in other council seats up and down the country. We will probably face a challenge against Labour but it should be no mean feat to flip several tory council seats.
As the old party mantra goes, where we fight, we win. If we fight hard in Guildford we are capable of winning and we will win.