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Local By-Election Preview : January 28th 2016

January 28th, 2016

Parkfield and Oxbridge (Lab defence) on Stockton-on Tees
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 32, Conservatives 13, Independents 10, Liberal Democrat 1 (Labour majority of 8)
Result of ward at last election : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,608, 1,501 (46%)
Conservative 950, 887 (27%)
Independent 419 (12%)
Green Party 285 (8%)
Liberal Democrats 192, 179 (6%)
Libertarian 58 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Peter Braney (UKIP), Drew Durning (Lib Dem), Allan Mitchell (Lab), Stephen Richardson (Con)

Stockton on Tees really has had a quite turbulent electoral history. It’s always had two constituencies (Stockton North and Stockton South) but those two constituencies have had quite different histories with North being consistently Labour and South following the trend of being Alliance, then Conservative, Labour and now back with the Conservatives, but what’s interesting to note is how the whole borough has voted at Westminster. In 1983 the Conservatives had a lead of less than 1,800 votes (1.69%) and despite the Conservatives gaining Stockton South from the Alliance Labour overtook the Conservatives by nearly 7,000 votes in 1987 and only fractionally increased that lead in 1992. Then came the Labour landslide in 1997 and Labour stormed to victory in Stockton South (on a 16% swing) and notched up a 34% lead over the Conservatives in the borough, but as the shine started to come off Labour, it was places that Stockton that the shine came off the fastest. In 2001, the majority was down to 30%, in 2005 it was down again to 23% and in 2010 (when Stockton South voted Conservative for the first time since 1992) the Labour majority slumped to just 7% and when you hear that in 2015, although Labour had a lead of 4% in the borough, the fact there had been another 1.5% swing to the Conservatives gives you an idea of just how bad things are for Labour at the parliamentary level (a 15% swing from Lab to Con over 18 years) and with an average swing of 1.2% from Lab to Con at all the by-elections since the general election (and a 2.5% swing from Lab to Con since Corbyn’s election compared to last time) you do begin to wonder whether any seat that Labour has to defend can be truly called “safe”