Archive for the 'By elections' Category


REWRITE: What will be the party of the next MP to join TIG

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

5/4 CON
36/1 DUP
32/1 GREEN
23/20 LAB
71/5 LD
32/1 PC
20/1 SNP
68/1 Sinn Fein

I have just made an awful cockup and misread the name of the market. This is about from which party will the next defector to TIG come.


Still I think my initial reading of what the market was is a good idea for a bet.

I’ve just come across this intriguing market from Smarkets on what will be the party of the next MP . The options listed on OddsChecker are featured above.

Note that UKIP, the Brexit Party nor Change UK are NOT on the list.

Working this one out you have to think where is the next vacancy going to occur and which party is most likely to win it.

A fortnight tomorrow evening we should get the outcome of the recall petition in Peterborough. If 10% of the voters there have supported the recall move that would trigger a by-election. If that is the case then it is hard to see it being other than a LAB versus CON dogfight.

This is a seat that flips between the two main parties and was taken by LAB at GE17. My guess, given the blue team’s dismal polling position at the moment, that this will be a LAB hold.

Of course it is always possible that a vacancy could happen at any time but Peterborough is the one where at least a process is in place.

Mike Smithson


What does Newport West tell us?

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Newport West was the 28th by-election to be held in Wales since the 1950 General Election. Of those 28, twenty have been defended by Labour with only one loss (Carmarthen in 1966) so therefore a Labour hold was pretty much a given. However, that doesn’t mask the fact that Labour should be worried.

Labour’s vote fell by 13% on the general election, the fourth biggest drop in the Labour vote share in a Labour defence since 1950 (Caerphilly 1967 -29%, Rhondda West 1968 -27%, Carmarthen 1966 -13%), the turnout was down 30% (on a par with Islwyn in 1995) and the 2.4% swing to Con was the first swing to Con in a Lab defence where the Conservatives came second since Abertillery in 1965 which means that the Conservatives would be rubbing their hands with glee, right?

Wrong! The Conservative vote fell by 8% (2% worse than the average change in every Welsh by-election since 1950) and their worst performance in a Con target since the 1956 Newport by-election (which only needed a 3.71% swing to gain).

So, if Labour’s vote was falling and the Conservatives were not picking it up, then who was you might ask? Well, UKIP gained an extra 6%, breaking their rather lacklustre performances in Welsh by-elections since Islwyn in 1995, the Greens gained 3% (just a fraction behind their increase in Cardiff South in 2012) and Plaid picked up 3% as well (although that is by far one of their smallest increases in recent times and will bring some to wonder whether Adam Price is having the effect in the Labour heartlands that they hoped for).

The main people who gained were the myriad of Others who stood, combining to a total increase of 6% (their highest increase in any Welsh by-election ever).

Does this mean that Wales is rejecting the two mass powers of British politics and standing up for those less likely to be represented in Parliament? Well, it’s a bit early to tell, but if Wales was, it would not be the first time. Pontypool in 1958 saw the time that Plaid Cymru polled double digits in the share of the vote, Carmarthen in 1966 was the first seat to elect a Plaid Cymru MP, Blaenau Gwent in 2006 was the first constituency to stay non party at a by-election, and of course what review of Welsh by-elections cocking a snook at the mainstream would there be if reference to Brecon and Radnor in 1985 wasn’t given.

What we need is another by-election in a constituency where all three main parties have an reasonable chance of winning the seat, where the constituency voted LEAVE by roughly the same margin as the United Kingdom as a whole and has a history of giving Westminster what for!. And wouldn’t you know it, such a seat is in the offing, if the sentencing of Chris Davis MP (Con, Brecon and Radnorshire) triggers either a by-election or a recall petition.

Harry Hayfield


If the Tories lost a Brecon and Radnor by-election it could be the end

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

One of the significant constitutional changes that came out of the coalition era was a process for MPs to be recalled. We saw this used for the first time in Northern Ireland last year and we are seeing a recall petition taking place in Peterborough at the moment.

The law lays down specific circumstances in which ia petition can be triggered and one of them is the MP being convicted of parliamentary expenses fraud as has happened in Brecon and Radnor.

At the 2015 general election the Tories took the long-standing Liberal Democrat seat which is the largest constituency by land area in England and Wales. The party retained second place in that election and in 2017 and if there was a by-election would throw absolutely everything into it.

Because it is sheer size and lots of distant remote communities a lot depends on good organisation – things like established delivery networks which can be difficult to organise from scratch.

If a recall petition is held and succeeds then my money would be on the LDs fighting hard to re-take seat in a by-election. That would present Mrs May or whoever is leading the Tory party with an even bigger headache and reduce the Conservatives effective majority with the DUP by 2.

So you can expect a battle royale with both the blue and yellow teams throwing absolutely everything into it.

Is it going to happen? I’d say yes to the recall petition the question being whether the required 10% of the electorate threshold would be reached.

Mike Smithson


If we get to a Peterborough by-election it’s going to be a corker of a battle

Friday, April 5th, 2019

Currently, as I’m sure we are all aware, there is a recall petition taking place in Peterborough seeking to get a by-election following the conviction and jailing of the incumbent MP who won the seat for LAB from the Tories at the last general election.

The petition closes on May 1st and we should know within a couple of days of that whether 10% of the electors in the constituency have demanded that their MP be recalled.

If it does then there will be a by-election at which she can, if she wants to, be a candidate. What makes this very interesting is the closeness of the result at the last general election and the fact that this is a seat that flips between Labour and the Conservatives.

Generally the Westminster by-elections that we’ve had in recent times have not been in in super-marginals and this will, if it does take place, be very much the exception.

Based on the 2.5% LAB to CON swing that we saw in Newport West overnight it is conceivable that the Tories could retake the seat. But who knows?

And of course this could all be premature. The recall petition might end up like the only other one to take place, in Northern Ireland last year, with the signature total falling short of the threshold.

The law, passed during the coalition, is very restrictive about what can be reported when a petition is under way and things like opinion polls are banned.

Mike Smithson


As we wait for the Newport result an interesting chart on the rise Pete Buttigieg for the WH2020 Democratic nomination

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

There ‘s little doubt that the “story” of the WH2020 Dem race in recent weeks has been the rise and rise of the 37 year old gay mayor of a small city in Indiana to be the Dem nominee.

The latest news is that his fundraising in going well $7m in Q1 which while not in the Sanders’ league is far better than was expected.

I’m on him at 40/1 although I know many PBers have got much longer odds than that.

Meanwhile there’s tonight’s Newport West by-election with result expected about 2am. This looks set to have a very low turnout with a LAB hold seen as almost a certainty. The Tories are favourite for second place. This is how the seat has gone at the past two general elections.

I’m expecting a very low turnout an in that context just about anything can happen. I’ve 100/1 on Renew coming in as best without LAB.

Mike Smithson


PB’s man in Wales, Harry Hayfield, on today’s Newport West by-election

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Only the second GB by-election of the parliament

The Newport West by-election caused by the death of Paul Flynn, who gained the seat in 1987 from the Conservatives, was always going to be held in the shadow of Brexit. Chris Hanratty’s estimates shows that the constituency voted LEAVE by 53% to 47% and the council area voted LEAVE by 56% to 44%, but there is more, much more to Newport than how it voted in the referendum, so let’s take a look at the constituency and see if we can garner some clues as to what will happen today.

There is a great deal of personal pride in the whole of the city, with people stating “I’ll be Port forever” with the connections to Craig Bellamy and the traditional snack of the South Wales valleys (despite being a coastal constituency) Welsh rarebit (usually done with Caerphilly cheese).

The constituency is more than just Newport itself with the more rural parts of the area covered as well, for instance Caerleon, home of the castle and for a long time the source of much consternation about the location of the border between England and Wales, indeed this consternation was demonstrated during the referendum to create the Assembly in 1997 as Newport voted NO by 63% to 37%, but when the law making referendum came around in 2011 Newport swung behind the YES camp on a swing of 17% (greater than the national swing of 13%) despite the English Democrats standing at the 2007 Assembly elections proclaiming that Monmouthshire (which Newport used to be part of) was part of England and whilst 3% of those who voted agreed with that statement, there was not another test of that opinion as the English Democrats didn’t contest the 2011 elections.

It has been stated that Newport is a concrete jumble with nothing in order, but my belief is that with a diet of chips, cheese, curry and the occasional Special Brew, this doesn’t really matter all that much but one of those buildings is of course the famed Transporter Bridge. It’s a bridge, yes, but not in the conventional sense of the word. It’s actually an aerial ferry which is made of a platform suspended by a pulley mechanism and it literally carries you across the river Usk from Newport West to Newport East and vice versa. But why not a normal bridge, you may ask? Well, the approach road in order to meet the requirements would have been too long. A tunnel under the Usk? Too technically difficult. So who came up with the clever wheeze? Well, it was a bit of a joint effort actually between Ferdinand Arnodin (who built the bridge) and Robert Hayes (who commissioned it) but now nearly 113 years after it was first opened it is still going strong, in operation every day from April to September, except when the winds get above a certain speed, and is a highlight of the constituency and the city.

There are, as with most constituencies across the UK some rather surprising connections. For instance, not only is it twinned with the Guangxi province in China, but did you know that one of it’s most famous residents is Josie D’Arby (formerly of CBBC and then various dramas)? No, well, if it is any consolation I didn’t know either and therefore must give the customary hat tip to Wikipedia for that one. However, it does share one other connection and it is one that could well be an issue on the doorsteps and that is infrastructure. Due to the rather excessive number of bends in the roads not only in Newport but also the environs there is an unwritten rule for the taxi drivers of Newport, namely if you throw up in the taxi there is an instant fifty pound surcharge added to the fare. Whether that will make it into the discussions remains to be seen, but at the least when the result is announced later tonight, the presenters won’t have to their tongue around Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwrndrobwllantysiliogogogoch (although that said in the Ynys Môn by-election to the Assembly in 2013, they did)!

So how will the constituency go? Well, the long term trend suggests a bit of dead heat actually. When the constituency was created in 1983, the notional calculations suggested that Labour had won the constituency by some three thousand or so votes, so when the Conservatives gained the seat by 581 votes the Alliance were quickly adjudged to have been the guilty party and with good reason as the Conservative vote fell 2%, Labour fell by 11% and the Alliance increased by 13%, but as the Alliance waned Labour took full advantage gaining the seat in 1987 (Labour +10, Alliance -11%) and clocking up another 6% swing in 1992 before reaching a peak in 1997 when Labour’s majority was 14,537 (36%) making it one of the safest seats in Wales, but as the new century dawned Labour’s tide, like the Usk, went into reverse until in 2015 it became a viable Conservative target again (needing only a 4.35% swing to gain) but after the referendum and the collapse of UKIP it was clear what had happened, as the UKIP vote fell 12% and that vote split 61% Lab and 39% Con putting it back to where it was in 1979, so could the Conservatives pull off the double (gaining Copeland before the last election and gaining Newport West before the next one) well, it’s plausible, but since then we have seen new parties and an eroding for the 83% two party vote to just 65% in recent polls, but I think it is more likely than not that Labour will hold the seat, the real interest will be to see who comes third and with what level of support.

Candidates duly nominated:
Jonathan Clark (Plaid Cymru), June Davies (Renew), Matthew Evans (Conservative), Neil Hamilton (United Kingdom Independence Party), Ruth Jones (Labour), Ryan Jones (Liberal Democrats), Ian Mclean (Social Democrats), Hugh Nicklin (For Britain), Richard Suchorzwski (Abolish the Welsh Assembly), Phillip Taylor (Democrats and Veterans), Amelia Womacj (Green Party)

Harry Hayfield


Meanwhile what’s been happening in the local elections

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Harry Hayfield’s March 2019 Local By-Election Summary
Labour 6,624 votes (32% unchanged on last time) winning 6 seats (unchanged on last time)
Conservatives 5,024 votes (24% -1% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
Liberal Democrats 3,626 votes (17% +4% on last time) winning 2 seats (unchanged on last time)
Green Party 1,641 votes (8% +1% on last time) winning 1 seat (+1 on last time)
Independents 1,154 votes (6% -3% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
Local Independents 875 votes (4% unchanged on last time) winning 0 seats (-1 on last time)
Scottish National Party 865 votes (4% +1% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 490 votes (2% -5% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Other Parties 508 votes (2% +2% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Labour lead of 1,600 votes (8%) on a swing of 0.5% from Lab to Con

Green Party GAIN Haddenham and Stone on Aylesbury Vale from Conservative
Labour GAIN Coxford on Southampton from Independent
Independent GAIN Holditch and Chesterton on Newcastle-under-Lyme from Labour
Conservatives GAIN Aveley and Uplands on Thurrock from Thurrock Independents


Since the referendum  there have been 739 local by-elections across the United Kingdom and I wondered what the REMAIN / LEAVE split was when those wards last voted and now the split is now, therefore using the excellent exit poll data produced by Lord Ashcroft after the referendum I have come up with the following estimate.

In those 739 wards, the vote at the time of the referendum was LEAVE 926,249 (50.16%) REMAIN 920,489 (49.84%). Assuming, and this is the leap of faith that I must beg people to endure, that the splits in voting have remained unchanged since the referendum, those 739 wards now split REMAIN 655,448 (54.49%) LEAVE 547,449 (45.51%) suggesting at least a 4% swing to REMAIN since the referendum (which if applied nationally would see REMAIN poll 52% and LEAVE poll 48%).

Another way of looking at the changes is to see which party is doing best in terms of seat changes in councils that voted LEAVE or REMAIN and there the answer is very clear cut indeed.

REMAIN councils change: Con -10, Lab -7, Lib Dem +12, Ind +2, Local Ind +1, Plaid +2
LEAVE councils change: Con -23, Lab -13, Lib Dem +42, UKIP -22, Green +7, Ind -3, Local Ind +4, Plaid +2


Harry Hayfield



A possible Westminster by-election opportunity for the LDs – Brecon where the MP has just pleaded guilty to fraud

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

It was held by the LDs from GE1997 to GE2015

This morning the MP for Brecon and Radnor, Christopher Davies, pleaded guilty to parliamentary expenses fraud. He awaits sentence. If he receives a custodial sentence of a year or more than he automatically will forfeit his seat in House of Commons.

But if the sentence is any less than a year the new recall procedure, currently in operation in Peterborough, could comes into play and he would have to go if 10% or more of the electorate signed the recall petition.

This is a seat that the Lib Dems first won in 1997 and lost at the 2015 general election when they took a battering nationally at the end of the coalition.

In areas where the Lib Dems have been traditionally strong they are usually well placed to fight by-elections and particularly so in the supercharged political atmosphere that we now have with Brexit. That’s not going to go away whatever happens in the next couple of months.

Everything now is dependent on the sentence that Davis is given. At the referendum in June 2016 Brecon and Radnor voted 52% to 48% to leave almost exactly in line with the national average.

By land area the constituency is the largest in England and Wales.

Mike Smithson