Local By-Election Results : December 14th 2017 and December Summary

December 15th, 2017

Bradwell on Newcastle under Lyme (Lab defence)
Result: Con 360 (46% +22% on last time), Lab 396 (51% +5% on last time), Lib Dem 25 (3% unchanged on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -23%, No Green candidate this time -3%, No Independent candidate this time -1%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 36 (5%) on a swing of 8.5% from Lab to Con

Newchapel on Newcastle under Lyme (Lab defence)
Result: Con 216 (43% -7% on last time), Lab 197 (39% -11% on last time), Ind 86 (17%, no candidate last time)
Conservative GAIN from Labour with a majority of 19 (4%) on a swing of 2% from Lab to Con

Shevington with Lower Ground on Wigan (Lab defence)
Result: Con 183 (12% +1% on last time), Lab 601 (38% -2% on last time), Lib Dem 125 (8% no candidate last time), Green 72 (5% +1% on last time), Ind 55 (3% -23% on last time), Local Ind 552 (35% no candidate last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -19%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 49 (3%) on a notional swing of 18.5% from Lab to Shevington Independents (actual swing 10.5% from Ind to Lab)

Langworthy on Salford (Lab defence)
Result: Con 402 (33% +27% on last time), Lab 765 (63% +14% on last time), Lib Dem 15 (1% no candidate last time), Green 30 (2% -4% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -25%, No Independent candidate this time -11%, No Other Parties candidate this time -2%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 363 (30%) on a swing of 6.5% from Lab to Con

Rockingham on Barnsley (Lab defence)
Result: Con 272 (19% +11% on last time), Lab 938 (67% +15% on last time), Lib Dem 199 (14% no candidate last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -32%, No Other Parties candidate this time -8%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 666 (48%) on a swing of 2% from Con to Lab (swing of 23.5% from UKIP to Lab)

Handside on Welwyn Hatfield (Lib Dem defence)
Result: Con 691 (33% -9% on last time), Lab 260 (12% -4% on last time), Lib Dem 1,105 (52% +16% on last time), Green 51 (2% -4% on last time)
Liberal Democrat HOLD with a majority of 414 (19%) on a swing of 12.5% from Con to Lib Dem

Watcombe on Torbay (Lib Dem defence)
Result: Con 355 (31% +8% on last time), Lab 121 (11% -8% on last time), Lib Dem 655 (57% +14% on last time), Green 9 (1% -5% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -9%)
Liberal Democrat HOLD with a majority of 300 (26%) on a swing of 3% from Con to Lib Dem

Westward Ho! on Torridge (Con defence)
Result: Con 128 (19% -21% on last time), Lab 35 (5% no candidate last time), Lib Dem 63 (9% no candidate last time), UKIP 90 (13% no candidate last time), Ind (Laws) 321 (47%), Ind (Mason) 47 (7%) (No Green candidate this time -24%)
Independent GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 193 (28%)
Total Independent vote: 368 (54% +18% on last time)
Swing: 19.5% from Con to Ind

December 2017 Monthly Summary
Labour 6,210 votes (40.43% +6.42% on last time) winning 6 seats (-1 seat on last time)
Conservatives 4,358 votes (28.38% +3.10% on last time) winning 1 seat (-2 seats on last time)
Liberal Democrats 3,022 votes (19.68% +8.72% on last time) winning 4 seats (+2 seats on last time)
Green Party 577 votes (3.76% -4.25% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Local Independent candidates 552 votes (3.59% +3.59% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Independent Candidates 509 votes (3.31% -1.56% on last time) winning 1 seat (+1 seat on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 130 votes (0.85% -12.58% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Labour lead of 1,852 votes (12.05%) on a swing of 1.66% from Con to Lab

Lib Dem GAIN Newport on North Devon from Con, Lib Dem GAIN Godalming Central and Ockford on Waverley from Con, Con GAIN Newchapel on Newcastle under Lyme from Lab, Independent GAIN Westward Ho! on Torridge from Con

On December 22nd, I shall be publishing my review of the year in local by-elections (of which there have been no fewer than 311, therefore would like to ask for member’s thoughts on the following topic: “Of all the local by-elections held in 2017, which was your favourite and why?”. The local by-elections that receive the most mentions will be summarised in detail, therefore please make your submissions either in the comments below to on Twitter with the hashtag #FaveLocals2017 to @harryhayfield by December 20th.

Harry Hayfield


To get the tone right it has to come from the top

December 15th, 2017

Cyclefree on why this is so important

During the 1983 campaign, Saatchi suggested a poster showing Michael Foot on Hampstead Heath with his walking stick looking like a scruffy old man and the caption “Even Pensioners are Better Off under the Conservatives”. Thatcher was furious, refusing to use it, calling it disrespectful and undignified.

Similarly, in 2005 Labour withdrew two proposed posters which were criticised for recycling, whether intentionally or not, anti-Semitic tropes in the way they portrayed Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin. (Darkly ironic this in light of the current Labour party’s difficulties with the same issue.) Both parties’ leaderships realised that while winning is the most important thing in politics, how one wins also matters. Tone matters, not just for the campaign but, more importantly, for how the winner governs in the years long after the details of the campaign have been forgotten.

And so, alas, to the referendum campaign. Whatever the arguments about Farage’s posters about Turkey or queues of migrants, even those in the official Leave campaign felt uncomfortable about them, and not simply because of factual inaccuracies (most election campaigns are full of statements which would hardly win the George Washington Prize for Truthfulness) but rather because of the unpleasantly chauvinistic message, all too horribly reminiscent of the way certain groups have been picked on in the past as the source of a country’s problems, without whom all would be sweetness and light.

Wishing to control immigration into a country is a respectable position which does not – and, critically, should not – depend on saying hateful things about those you wish to exclude. Indeed, doing the latter, as Farage did, coarsened and debased an argument which, more than many others, needs to be made from first principles rather than in ad hominem and abusive way. Equally, those who deplore how Farage made his arguments would do well not to give the impression that seeking to control immigration, ipso facto, makes a person racist or fascist or a Nazi. All countries (and associations of them, including the EU) have some form of control over who is let in, however unevenly enforced.

Even so, these posters might have been forgotten or implicitly repudiated if May’s government had in its first few weeks and months consciously sought to adopt a conciliatory, friendly and welcoming approach to those left bewildered (at the very least) by the result. And chief among these were the EU citizens who had come here, legally, in good faith, to work and contribute and their families, spouses, friends, colleagues.

Not to mention those who felt that there was no existential conflict between their identity as British citizens and as EU citizens and resented being forced to choose. As well as others from immigrant communities, who worried that they too might, if the wind changed, be picked on. In truth, everyone is in some way part of some minority. So when politicians start adopting a hard-line “us and them” tone it creates a nervousness in more voters than just those being explicitly targeted.

It should not need saying but the vote was, for many, a difficult and finely balanced decision. Calling those who voted to Remain “traitors” or “saboteurs” or implying that they had no loyalty to Britain by voting to Remain in an organisation, membership of which had been British policy for decades and was supported by every major political party, was not calculated to heal the divisions caused or exposed by the referendum. And even if some of those who voted Remain wanted to find a way to ignore or reverse the referendum result, it would still have been better to remember Churchill’s dictum: “In victory, magnanimity”. Or, ironically enough, the prayer that Thatcher quoted when first elected PM.

The referendum brought a fair amount of discord. There has been little attempt to bring harmony in its wake. Indeed, there has not been much realisation that this should even be attempted. Easy to blame this on the government’s small majority or on May’s fear of her ultra-hard Brexit wing or on the annoyance caused by those who disapproved of or wished to subvert the result or on the stupidly triumphalist tone of some of the winners. But the government should have been bigger than its opponents. It should have realised that implementation of a difficult decision in an almost equally divided country would require enormous goodwill from as many people as possible, both in Britain and abroad.

It should have sought to preserve the reality of Britain as a country which, for all its faults, has generally rejected nativist, race-based “blood and soil” concepts of belonging, rather than appear to give succour to those who seem to want to turn back to an era when there was an “Aliens” passport queue at British ports. It should have realised that its own long-term self-interest, let alone the country’s, required it to reach out to the voters of the future.

Perhaps Conservatives need to be reminded of what Burke told them – that society is a partnership not only between those who are living – let alone only those living who support your particular view of the world – but between those who are living, those who are dead and those who are to be born. The Tories may have forgotten this but the young, who turned away from them at the election, did not and are making their voices heard as loud as any newborn.

So, what now? It may be too late for May to do this. She has enough to do trying to implement Brexit. What of her obvious (at least in their own minds) successors? I will stick my neck out and say that none of them will do. They are already yesterday’s men and will be even more so at the time of the next election, leadership or general.

The next successful Tory leader, the next successful PM (the two are not necessarily the same) should – maybe ( if we’re lucky) even will – be the person who realises that reaching out to those who feel left behind by the referendum result is necessary, as necessary as implementing the wishes of those who voted to leave because they felt left behind. A person who can find a way of defining what a successful post-Brexit Britain might look like, who realises that the young will be those largely creating that Britain and can find a way to help them do so successfully.

A person who finds the right tone to speak to all the country and not merely those who vote for his/her party, who finds a way to answer peoples’ concerns about immigration, change, globalisation and all the rest without doing a bad impersonation of failed or toxic politicians of the past or nostalgically wishing life would go back to how it used to be.

A person who perhaps in themselves and their experiences until now embodies what a successful, prosperous Britain less divided than now might be like.

Perhaps something for ambitious politicians to ponder over their holidays?



How Brexit means different things to different groups and people

December 15th, 2017

This has always been the challenge for TMay

Mike Smithson


The real problem for TMay from last night’s vote could be when the Brexit bill goes to the Lords

December 14th, 2017

The revolt could give their Lordships more confidence to make their own amendments

James Forsyth’s latest Spectator podcast makes a very good point about one consequence of last night’s Commons rebellion – it will make it much harder for the bill to get through the Upper House unamended.

It is clear that there is a fairly strong majority amongst against Brexit amongst peers but the government always felt that if Lords received the bill which had not been altered against its will it would be harder for the unelected peers to overrule what MPs had decided.

That has now changed thanks to the success of the rebellion last night and we could see a tricky period as an emboldened Upper House seeks to make its impression on the legislation.

It only requires one amendment opposed by the government to get through the Lords and we get into ping pong between the two houses of Parliament.

This was very much realised in Mrs Mays statement when she called the general election last April.

Another problem that the government might have is that there are now three investigations going on into aspects of the leave campaign. As well as the two into the funding by the Electoral Commission another one is being undertaken by the Information Commissioner relating to the use of data.

If these start to be upheld then you can hear the argument developing that the Leave victory, by 1.9% above the 50% threshold, does not have the same democratic legitimacy as has been suggested.

Mike Smithson


A LD gain from CON and a LAB hold in this week’s local by-election

December 14th, 2017

Newton and St. Leonard’s on Exeter (Lab defence)
Result: Con 512 (27% +4% on last time), Lab 1,044 (55% +5% on last time), Lib Dem 179 (9% +2% on last time), UKIP 40 (2% -3% on last time), Green 137 (7% -5% on last time) (No Independence from Europe candidate this time -3%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 532 (28%) on a swing of 0.5% from Con to Lab

Godalming Central and Ockford on Waverley (Con defence)
Result: Con 246 (35% -6% on last time), Lab 151 (21% -5% on last time), Lib Dem 266 (38% no candidate last time), Green 40 (6% no candidate last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -15%, No Something New candidate this time -17%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 20 (3%) on a notional swing of 22% from Con to Lib Dem (actual swing 0.5% from Con to Lab)

Harry Hayfield


Trump’s approval ratings drop to new low with women voters moving most against him

December 14th, 2017

Bad news for the President from the pollster that got Tuesday most right

There’s a new US national poll just out from Monmouth University – the organisation which did best forecasting this week’s Alabama senate election. Its final survey there had it as a tie which was closest to the outcome. Monmouth uses traditional live phone interviews and calls mobiles as landlines.

It finds that Trump’s current job rating now stands at 32% approve and 56% disapprove. This marks his lowest rating since taking office in January. Prior Monmouth polls conducted over the course of the past year showed his approval rating ranging from 39% to 43% and his disapproval rating ranging from 46% to 53%.

The decline in Trump’s job rating has come much more from women – currently 24% approve to 68% disapprove – than from men – currently 40% to 44%.

To put this into context in September Trump had a 36%-55% rating among women and a 44%-42% rating among men.

What is striking is that the gender gap in the rating crosses party lines. Republican women (67%) are somewhat less likely than Republican men (78%) to give Trump a positive rating. These results are down by 9 points among GOP women since September and by 5 points among GOP men since September.

All this isn’t good for the president as we move to 2018 when of course we see the midterms. The Republicans will be desperately keen to hold on to both the house and the Senate. These will surely be the biggest political betting markets of the coming year.

Mike Smithson


Paying the price of TMay’s GE17 gamble. Tonight the saboteurs struck back and won

December 13th, 2017

We all remember the memorable front page of Dacre’s Daily Mail the day after Theresa May called her snap general election in April.

For the whole point of building up the number of Tory MPs was to give TMay The Commons numbers so that those who were in disagreement, particularly those within the party, were unable to impede what she was doing.

It all seems so easy then. The Tories had a small majority and TMay was expecting that with 20%+ poll leads the size of the Tory Party at Westminster would be enlarged to deal with rebellions on the Brexit bill.

In spite of a heavy whipping operation tonight’s Conservative rebellion, backed by LAB and other opposition parties, overturned the government on a key part of the legislation. Essentially the PM’s hands are being tied and her scope for action is there much more limited. It will be very hard to turn that round.

In spite of being in the minority the progress of the Brexit bill through Parliament has until tonight been relatively easy for the government. They have been lots of votes but prior to this evening these have been dealt with relatively easily .

The difference with the latest measure is that the proposer was Dominic Grieve the respected former Tpry attorney general and they focused on a single issue which ultimately was about the power of parliament.

Parliament is now going to be involved a lot more in the final decision on the deal something that Team Theresa had been trying to avoid.

Mike Smithson


Bookies holding back payment to Alabama punters because the result was tight and there could be a recount

December 13th, 2017

Those punters who backed the Democrats in the Alabama senate race are probably going to have to wait for their winnings. The losing candidate, Roy Moore, has refused to accept the result and it looks as though there might well be a recount. See his comment to supporters in the CNN clip above.

I actually think the bookies are right here even though I’m going to have to wait. Those who been betting on American politics for sometime will recall the Iowa Republican Primary in 2012 when Mitt Romney was declared winner of the Republican contest the result only to be overturned sometime later after a recount. I know that Betfair and some other bookies paid out on Romney and were pressed later by Rick Santorum backers when the final results were counted.

This has been a bitter race in Alabama and the outcome could have huge consequences. If there’s just chance, however slight, that this could be overturned then they are going to take it.

Compared with some of the accusations in the campaign about Moore’s sexual activities when he was in his thirties being seen as a poor loser is no big deal.

Mike Smithson