Election setback for Tories in Liz Truss's backyard

Mac MacDonald and Terry Land

Newly elected Thetford town councillor Mac MacDonald (left) and Breckland district councillor Terry Land (right) - Credit: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

She might be focused on the Tory leadership race, but Liz Truss has suffered an electoral setback in her own constituency.

A twin set of council by-elections in Thetford - which lies within the MP's South West Norfolk constituency - has produced a mixed result, with the Conservatives holding on to one seat but narrowly losing another to Labour. 

Liz Truss at the launch of her campaign to be Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, at King'

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss is running to be leader of the Conservative party - and by extension, prime minister - Credit: PA

The votes were held to elect a new town councillor and a district councillor in Thetford’s Boudica ward. 

Both seats were formerly held by Conservative Mark Robinson, who resigned from the posts due to “personal reasons” in May.

The Annexe is officially opened at the Riversdale Centre in Hertford. The new facilities will be av

Former Conservative councillor Mark Robinson - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Conservative candidate Mac MacDonald was successfully elected on to the town council, defeating Labour candidate Stuart Terry.

At the district level, Labour’s Terry Land was meanwhile elected by a margin of just 15 votes over Mr MacDonald, who had been standing in both elections. 

Mr MacDonald said: “I’m delighted by the town council result… a bit disappointed with the district (result), however it was very close.

Mac MacDonald

Mac MacDonald, newly elected Conservative town councillor for Thetford Boudica - Credit: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

“I’m very pleased with the way our campaign went, particularly with the national backdrop.”

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He added that some voters were disappointed that Boris Johnson was no longer prime minister, but just as many were “delighted” he had been forced out. 

He said he hopes to use his new position to encourage more voluntary work in the community. 

And he said he is "of course" supporting Ms Truss in the Conservative leadership race.

Commenting on his victory for Labour, Mr Land said: “It’s the product of a lot of hard work from a lot of people.

“We’ve knocked on an awful lot of doors, and what has really struck me has been the warmth of Thetford’s people - how lovely they’ve been to me, how ready they’ve been to tell me what it is they want.

Terry L

Terry Land, newly elected Labour district councillor for Thetford Boudica - Credit: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

“Thetford’s a lovely town and I’m very proud to be their councillor.”

Mr Land admitted that his campaign had “profited from” the national political situation, but that Johnson’s resignation had also brought some Conservatives out to vote who would not have done so if he’d stayed as PM. 

He said the mixed results were due to the district ward covering a larger area, giving his campaign a more favourable demographic in that contest. 

Across the whole of South West Norfolk in the 2019 general election, Ms Truss received 69pc, with her Labour opponent only achieving 18.1pc. 

The results were:

Thetford Boudica - Town Council:
Stuart Terry (Lab) - 274 (45.7pc)
Mac MacDonald (Con) - 326 (54.3pc)
Turnout: 22.6pc

Thetford Boudica - Breckland Council:
Terry Land (Lab) - 398 (51pc)
Mac MacDonald (Con) - 383 (49pc)
Turnout: 21.7pc