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Local By-Election Review 2015 : Part One

December 30th, 2015

Running before the Storm : Before the General Election (24 local by-elections)

It was fairly obvious as soon as Big Ben chimed midnight ushering in the arrival of 2015 that everyone’s mind would instantly focus on the general election (indeed some of the parties started campaigning almost immediately the Christmas decorations came down) but local by-elections are no respecter of national campaigns and within days of those decorations coming down the local by-election circus started up again in Bolsover where Labour were seeking to defend Bolsover North West. And whilst they did, they got an awful scare from UKIP who polled 40% of the vote and came within 21 of creating the first UKIP gain of 2015 but there in settled a pattern of UKIP polling very well in heartland areas, a pattern that continued in Crowbrough West on Wealden when from a standing start they polled 41% of the vote against a solitary Conservative. But they were not the only ones making ground ahead of the election, the SNP were also making their presence felt. Kirkcaldy East (in the heart of the constituency soon to be vacated by Gordon Brown) the SNP held the seat on a 13% swing, Armadale and Blackridge on West Lothian was an SNP hold in March on a 5% swing to the SNP, Buckie in Moray SNP gain from Independent on a 17% swing to the SNP from the Independents and perhaps the biggest kick for Scottish Labour in Glenrothes West a 9% swing to the SNP from Labour in a seat they hadn’t win in a by-election just a few months earlier. Whilst this was all going on north of border, in the rest of the country it was pretty much steady as you go. Labour gained a seat from UKIP on Harlow, the Conservatives did the same on Essex, and even the Liberal Democrats got into the mix by gaining Whyteleafe on Tandridge from their coalition partners. As the general election appeared on the horizon Labour won the last local by-election before the general election holding their seat of Walney South on Cumbria on a 3.5% swing from Conservative to Labour and went into the election knowing that that same swing nationwide would enable Ed Milliband to claim that he had the mandate to govern.

% Votes Cast: Labour 33%, Conservative 22%, SNP 18%, United Kingdom Independence Party 8%, Independents 6%, Liberal Democrats 5%, Green Party 4%, Plaid Cymru 2%, Other Parties 3%
Seats Won and change on last time: Labour 9 (unchanged), Conservative 8 (+1), SNP 4 (+2), United Kingdom Independence Party 0 (-2), Independents 2 (unchanged), Liberal Democrats 1 (+1), Green Party 0 (unchanged), Plaid Cymru 0 (-1), Other Parties 0 (-1)

GAINS
Mark Hall on Harlow: Labour GAIN from UKIP
Bocking on Essex: Conservative GAIN from UKIP
Buckie on Moray: Scottish National Party GAIN from Independent
Glenrothes West and Kinglassie on Fife : Scottish National Party GAIN from Labour
Llantwit Major on the Vale of Glamorgan : Conservative GAIN from Llantwit First Independents
Beinn na Foghla agus Uibhist a Tuath ar Eilean Siar / Benbecula and North Uist on the Western Isles: Independent GAIN from Labour
Cadnant on Gwynedd: Labour GAIN from Plaid Cymru
Whyteleafe on Tandridge: Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative

Compiled by Harry Hayfield