I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all those voters in the Central Devon constituency that voted for me and supported the Liberal Democrats. Thank you.

Ultimately, we failed to get the support we needed to replace the Conservative MP, Mel Stride. Congratulations to Mr. Stride on being re-elected. I hope that having lost his ministerial role he will now focus on the needs and problems of his constituents.

In this election neither Labour, nor the Liberal Democrats, made much progress in growing our share of the vote. Indeed it was only the fact that large numbers of Conservatives did not vote and even larger numbers turned to Reform that it was so close.

The results across Devon where the Liberal Democrats won 7 seats in rural areas with Labour only winning in Exeter and Plymouth confirm my view that Liberal Democrats were better placed to win in Central Devon. Alas the result was skewed by the ‘projections’ of the tactical voting sites.

I know some feel the Liberal Democrats should not have campaigned and given Labour a ‘clear run’. But that hardly seems democratic. In any case why would we, given there are real differences between the Liberal Democrats and Labour on Europe and on voting reform? It was not our duty to get the Labour vote out. I don’t hear the same criticism being levelled by Labour at the Green Party, nor indeed the independent candidate, both of whom had more than enough votes to get Labour ‘over the line’.

Despite our local disappointment Liberal Democrats made great gains across Devon demonstrating that we are the Party to represent our hamlets, villages and towns. I will continue to call for a rural revival. I will also be getting back to championing the people of Okehampton in our quest to reopen the two dormant wards at their community hospital. I will continue to doing everything I can to support our 20, local, Liberal Democrat Councillors in improving people’s local services.

Thanks again to everyone that supported me. You did me a great honour.

Mark Wooding

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate in Central Devon