Archive for the 'By elections' Category


The Tories’ current odds-on status in Copeland doesn’t square with the party’s rubbish performances since GE2015

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

How the main two have done in LAB defences since GE2015

The CON performance in seats its defended since BREXIT

And the local by election performance since last May’s elections

Latest Betfair odds

This latest betting move has been sparked off by press reports of LAB party canvas data. That, if true, came presumably from information gleaned before the candidate, was selected. Now that a local doctor and anti-Corbynite has been given the job then things could be different.

    One factor that could impact on Tory organisation in a very remote part of England is that the party will be extremely cautious about sending professional organisers from outside given the continuing investigation into election spending following the Michael Crick investigations.

The Tories could also be hit by the expected high-octane Lib Dem campaign aimed at REMAINERS. This seat is next door to Tim Farron’s and he’s a well known figure in the county and his party are going to fight hard to keep its by-election momentum going.

I am reminded by how the pundits were telling us just over a year ago that LAB was vulnerable to UKIP in Oldham West. Then we had Tooting where pundits were saying that the Tories had a chance in Sadiq Khan’s old seat. What happened – the LAB vote went up in each case.

Many pundits also had Richmond Park totally wrong and the view was that Zac/CON was going to hold on. He lost badly.

Holding a seat for a party of government used to be a real struggle. Taking one from the main opposition party is an even bigger ask. Yes of course the Tories have chance in Copeland but not a 61% one.

Mike Smithson


Labour chooses a Corbyn critic to fight Copeland and this and the Stoke Central by-elections could be next month

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Big developments tonight in the two by-elections where LAB is defending seats where the sitting MPs are standing down to pursue other careers.

According to Kevin Schofield of PoiticsHome Labour is planning to hold the two contests on the same day – something that always seemed likely.

It had been thought that the party would have waited until My 4th – when elections are taking place in many parts of the country and we have the first mayoral elections for George Osbornes’s new combined authorities. According to the report that plan has now been ruled out.

“ strategists now believe they have a better chance of holding both seats if they mount short campaigns.

Copeland MP Mr Reed will formally stand down on 31 January to take up a job in the nuclear industry, while Mr Hunt will quit before the weekend to become the new director of the Victoria and Albert Museum…”

The other development is that the Corbyn-supporter on the LAB Copeland short-list has not been chosen – instead the job of seeking to become the seat’s next MP has gone to Councillor Gillian Troughton some of whose Tweets on her leader are featured above.

    Her selection means that every single by-election LAB nominee in a seat being defended since Corbyn got the job has gone to a non-Corbyn supporter.

Clearly in Copeland there is going to be an issue with the LAB leader’s widely reported position on nuclear power which the Tories have already got their teeth into.

The husband of the Lib Dem choice in Copeland, Rebecca Benson, is a nuclear engineer.

The worry for Labour is that it is under severe pressure in both Stoke and Copeland. UKIP’s new leader, Paul Nuttall is running on Stoke Central where the party came 2nd in 2015.

Mike Smithson


Just one council by-election tonight – a CON defence in the midlands

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Norton on Bromsgrove (caused by the death of the sitting Conservative councillor)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 18, Labour 7, Independents 3, Wythall Ratepayers 3 (Conservative majority of 5)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 943 (60%), Labour 467 (30%), Green 166 (11%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 26,252 (45%) LEAVE 32,563 (55%) on a turnout of 79%
Candidates duly nominated: Michelle Baker (Green), Rory Shannon (Lab), Adrian Smart (UKIP), Michael Webb (Con)
Weather at the close of poll: Clear, 1°C
Estimate: Con HOLD

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


Paul Nuttall’s doing the right thing by seeking to join Carswell in the Commons at the first opportunity

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017


This could be a tight 4 way contest

The main non-BREXIT UK political news during the day has been that UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall, looks all set to become candidate in the Stoke Central by-election – the seat being made vacant by the Tristram Hunt departure. On Betfair the development has caused UKIP chances to move from 29% to 31%

At GE2015 the purples beat the Tories by 33 votes into second place there and look to be in a reasonable position to contest it. There’s no doubt that with the leader flying the flag UKIP would put absolutely everything into it.

I admire Nuttall’s decision because he’s ready to take a gamble. I always thought that Farage made a mistake in 2013 not being candidate in Eastleigh where he had stood previously.

But there’s no question that he has a major challenge on his hands. Labour will be working very hard to defend the seat; the Lib Dems, who were runners-up in 2005 and 2010 are on a roll when it comes to by-elections and carry the pro EU message, and of course, the Tories might fancy their chances.

Another risk is that it is almost certain that there’ll be a big stop UKIP move with one or two of the other parties trying to argue that only they can stop the purples  from advancing. The fact that UKIP will be running a high profile campaign could increase turnout across the board.

UKIP do have a councillor  on Stoke City Council which suggests that they have some form of organisation.

A lot is going to depend on the timing and, of course, how BREXIT  looks at the time of the vote.


Mike Smithson


Punters rate UKIP as a 29% chance in Stoke Central. A chance for Paul Nuttall?

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Betting interest in the Copeland and Stoke by elections is starting to grow even though the sitting MPs have yet to resign.

The Copeland man, is off to join the Sellafield nuclear Centre and that’s expected to take place at the end of this month.

My guess is that Labour strategists will try to hold both by elections on May the 4th when there are the local elections as well as the string of contests for the elected mayors in the new English combined authorities. This will mean that many activists of other parties will be tied up on their home patches thus, LAB will hope, decreasing their campaigning capabilities in the Westminster by-elections.

On the face of it the Tories stand a good chance in Copeland and, indeed, are odds on betting favourite. In Stoke Central UKIP came second last time and there is a lot of hope within the purples that they can do it.

The Lib Dems, flush with their successes in recent Westminster and local by elections, are fired up and my sense that they’ll making Stoke the priority rather than Copeland if they are held on the same day. They have the benefit of having been in second place in 2005 and 2010 and also have held Council seats in the CITY.

Interestingly one of the Lib Dems’ leading campaigners, the man who masterminded the Sleaford and Hykeham north effort in which the yellows pushed  Labour into 4th place, is from Stoke, was a councillor there and was the candidate at GE2005 when he came second.

This would seem to be ideal seat for the new UKIP leader, Paul  Nuttall who clearly is hoping that under his leadership UKIP can pull up pull off a first past the post by-election victory for the first time without a defector/incumbent.

I’m waiting to see who the candidates are before placing any more bets.

Mike Smithson


Copeland is still the better bet for the Lib Dems

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

But will they be distracted by Stoke Central?

The Tories love governing, Labour loves protesting and the Lib Dem love winning elections. With the return to form of the Lib Dems in gaining by-elections, all is now once again well with the world. They might still be languishing in fourth place in the national polls but in actual elections, Farron’s party has been performing admirably well over the last year and in particular over the last few months.

Thursday produced two more spectacular examples in local by-elections, where they gained one seat from the Conservatives on a 23% swing in Hertfordshire, and another from Labour in Sunderland (from fourth) on a swing of no less than 35%. This ties in with a tweet I saw this week from Glen O’Hara that traditionally Labour voters are very much considering the Lib Dems as an alternative. Obviously, we should be wary of reading too much into two by-elections, never mind a single tweet, particularly when the national polls indicate only a modest Lib Dem recovery. Even so, the runes are there to be read.

Which begs the question: can they follow up on their gain in Richmond Park with another Westminster gain? Neither upcoming contest looks particularly fertile ground on the face of it. The Lib Dems lost their deposit in both seats, finishing fourth in Copeland and fifth in Stoke. Only twice in British history has a party won a by-election from fourth or lower (the SNP in Glasgow Govan in 1988 and George Galloway for Respect in Bradford West in 2012). However, these are strange times and both seats do offer opportunities.

In Stoke, the Lib Dems have the stronger history to fall back on. They finished second in 2005 and 2010, and although they lost most of their votes in 2015, they lost them to Labour. If a substantial Lab-LD swing is now taking place or at least there to be won, then unless Labour can recover the votes they themselves lost to UKIP, they could easily be vulnerable to whichever party established itself as the main challenger. However, their second places were not particularly strong: their best vote share was 21.7% in 2010, which was still 17% behind Labour and below their national average that year.

On the other hand, while the Lib Dems have a much weaker record in Copeland, they have two advantages (one of which may yet also apply to Stoke). Firstly, both Tories and Labour look to be running entirely negative campaigns, with Labour attacking the Conservatives over NHS concerns (which has some local resonance), and the Tories going on Corbyn and his anti-nuclear stance. The problem there is that in a two- (or more) party system, mutual negative campaigning can simply depress the votes of both parties that engage in it, to the benefit of a third party.

And that third party is the Lib Dems. Their toxicity from the Coalition years is clearly declining. They are once again becoming the ‘none of the above’ party in small FPTP elections where they can focus a campaign, which is something UKIP struggles to do. With UKIP having won a referendum and lost a role, with Labour suffering under catastrophic leadership, and with the Tories a little unsteady under a defensive and cautious May, the door has again opened to the Lib Dems everywhere outside of Scotland.

The second and more certain point about Copeland is that it’s very, very remote. It’s a trek for someone living in Greater Manchester, never mind the South. Local resources will matter more than in most by-elections, particularly with Stoke a more accessible alternative for MPs to help out in. Although the Lib Dems have little presence in Copeland itself, they have plenty in neighbouring Westmorland & Lonsdale: Tim Farron’s constituency (though even that isn’t particularly close to most Copeland voters).

What of the Lib Dems’ European stance? Won’t this be a disadvantage in two strongly Leave seats? To an extent, yes, but only to an extent. The reality is that there were plenty of Remain voters too, even in Leave seats. More relevantly, Brexit won’t be the only issue. If the Lib Dems can establish themselves as a clean alternative to the parties throwing mud, they have a chance to do something extraordinary.

But only in one of the seats. By-elections are labour-intensive and expensive (even more so when the MP future-dates his resignation). All parties except Labour have a choice to make about which to prioritise but the Lib Dems most of all. After all, winning by-elections is what they’re about. Copeland, where they’re up to 50/1 should be that choice.

David Herdson


Labour’s challenge in retaining Stoke Central is equal if not greater than in Copeland

Friday, January 13th, 2017

I was one of the lucky ones and managed to get £20 on the LDs at Ladbrokes Stoke Central market when the odds were 50/1. That’s now moved in sharply to 7/1 which I think is still reasonable value.

Labour must be favourite though this could be very challenging. The party is less effective on the ground since JC and his team arrived. The massive increase in members does not appear to have added to the party’s ability to fight elections. Some specifics on Stoke:

TURNOUT: At GE2015 fewer than half the electors in Stoke Central turned out to vote which was the lowest in the entire country. Based on this my reckoning is that the by-election turnout will be in the region of 28%-33% which means that the most effective campaigns can have real advantages. This will be about foot-soldiers on the ground..

BREXIT VOTE. Although Stoke went strongly for LEAVE we cannot assume that those voting in the by-election will split with the same proportions. The lower the by-election turnout, I’d suggest, the greater the proportion of REMAINERS voting in the by-election.

LOCATION Unlike Copeland Stoke is extremely well served by rail and road. It is just off the M6 and A50, only 84 minutes from Euston and 34 minutes from Manchester Piccadilly. This means that all parties will be able to flood activists into the area for the critical 4-5 weeks of the campaign.

Given UKIP’s second place last time Nuttall’s party should be in a position to do well eating into both the CON and LAB support bases. The question is how far the LAB vote will be cut down from the 39% at GE2015. My guess is that there’ll be a real fight between CON and UKIP to establish them as the best choice for leavers.

GE2005 and GE2010 saw the LDs in second place though, like elsewhere, they got smashed at GE2015 following the coalition years. If they scent victory they’ll flood the area and there’ll almost daily deliveries of different leaflets and campaign newspapers. This has the effect of diluting the impact of other campaign’s material.

Mike Smithson


Stoke Central, where MP Tristram Hunt is resigning, could be a tight four-way contest

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Is Hunt going because of the threat of de-selection?