Archive for the 'By elections' Category

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Lib Dems can do it on a drizzly Thursday in February – but what about on 3 May?

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

By-election gains may well be yet another false dawn

Up until last year, Sunderland had carved out for itself one, and only one, niche in British political life: it counted its votes at general elections faster than anywhere else. For six successive elections from 1992 to 2015, the southern Sunderland seat was the first to declare in the country. Other than that, the city was politically unremarkable: it’s returned two Labour MPs ever since the 1960s and the Red team is similarly dominant at local level.

2017 saw a bit of a turnaround on both scores. Local rivals Newcastle won the race to be the first to declare at the general election, while five months previously the Lib Dems gained a local by-election on a massive 36% swing. That was admittedly back at a time when Labour was very much struggling for support nationally, polling in only the upper-twenties, but it was still an extraordinary result.

Nor was it a one-off. In the first two months of the year, the Lib Dems gained two seats from Labour and no fewer than six from the Conservatives, despite the national polling showing the Tories up in the 40s while the Lib Dems remained marooned on around 10% with most firms. Against that, they lost just the one seat (to an Independent). They’d had similar success in 2016 by-elections, gaining 30 councillors that way and losing just four.

And yet come the local elections in May, Tim Farron’s party lost a net 42 seats, with net losses in each of England, Scotland and Wales. The tremendous by-election successes were simply not replicated when there were a large number of simultaneous elections, when voters’ attention was focussed more nationally, and when there was a larger turnout. The fact that the general election campaign was already underway no doubt played a part in the Lib Dems’ relative failure there but only a part. After all, activists will still work where they are most effective and given the relatively small number of target seats, in many areas, those priorities would be local rather than national.

So what of this year? Well, in a carbon copy election, the Lib Dems once again pulled off a Sunderland spectacular, gaining Pallion ward on a 33% swing, and followed that up this Thursday with three very impressive gains from the Conservatives (two in Teignbridge borough, proving that it’s not all down to targeting).

And yet. The national polls are worse for Vince Cable’s party than they were in May last year, and while the Tories are off even more (they were in the high-forties in early May 2017), Labour is far better off.

Not that that’s the best comparator. Local elections run on a four-year cycle and those being contested this time were last fought in 2014, give or take the odd boundary review. Back then, Ed Miliband’s Labour held about a two-point lead over David Cameron’s Tories, with Nigel Farage’s UKIP in the mid-teens and Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems around 8-9%. The local elections were no doubt affected by the simultaneous Europoll, contributing to the election of 166 UKIP councillors. The Westminster VI polls translated directly to the local election NEV, with the Labour gaining a 2-point lead in the NEV, UKIP on 17% and the Lib Dems as usual outscoring their Westminster share, taking 13%.

What can we expect this time? The battlefield in this round has thrown up the curious possibility of all the main parties doing well and badly at the same time.

UKIP is not a main party any more and will be annihilated at the election. They may well lose every single seat, though there’s the possibility of isolated exceptions clinging on due to a local profile. That means that the other parties effectively start off with net gains of over 150.

Labour will be most pleased about London being the main battleground. More votes might be cast elsewhere but the capital always attracts disproportionate media attention, which will suit Labour very nicely given how they gained a swing in the multicultural, pro-Remain world-city three times that of the national average at the general election.

By contrast, while the Tories might worry about their prospects in London, the rest of the country (that country being England – there are no Scottish or Welsh elections), looks more fertile ground given the direct windfall from UKIP and the polls showing a small swing from Lab to Con and a larger one from LD to Con since May 2014. The Blue Team should reasonably expect to make net gains – something which a government party has only achieved once since the 1980s, and that previous exception (2011) being mainly at the expense of a different governing party.

As for the Lib Dems, they, like Labour, have opportunities in London – albeit in far more restricted areas – but after that can expect a tougher fight. They do, however, have one of their two mayoralties to defend in Watford, where Dorothy Thornhill is seeking, and should comfortably win, a fifth term. But that should be one of the few high points. The Sunderland or Teignbridge results remain much more likely to be another false dawn than a yellow sun rising.

David Herdson





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UK Special Elections Super Thursday 1 : February 15th 2018

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Higham Ferrers on Northamptonshire (Con defence)
Result: Con 1,414 (57% -3% on last time), Lab 557 (22% +3% on last time), Lib Dem 336 (13% +2% on last time), UKIP 109 (4% -6% on last time), Green 81 (3%, no candidate last time)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 857 (35%) on a swing of 3% from Con to Lab

Higham Ferrers, Lancaster on East Northamptonshire (Con defence)
Result: Con 611 (56%), Lib Dem 244 (22%), Lab 189 (17%), Green 33 (3%), UKIP 22 (2%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 367 (34%), no swing due to unopposed return last time

Worstead on North Norfolk (Con defence)
Result: Lib Dem 509 (73% +40% on last time), Con 118 (17% -25% on last time), Lab 73 (10% -2% on last time) (No Green candidate this time -13%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 391 (56%) on a swing of 32.5% from Con to Lib Dem

St. Pauls on Tendring (UKIP defence)
Result: Con 378 (38% +11% on last time), Ind 160 (16%), Ind 134 (13%), Lab 114 (11% -2% on last time), Lib Dem 79 (8% no candidate last time), UKIP 71 (7% -30% on last time), Green 70 (7% no candidate last time)
Conservative GAIN from UKIP with a majority of 218 (22%)
Total Independent vote: 294 (29% +7% on last time)
Swing: 2% from Ind to Con (20.5% from UKIP to Con)

Ruxley on Epsom and Ewell (Residents defence)
Result: Residents 398 (37% -8% on last time), Con 340 (32% unchanged on last time), Lab 264 (25% +11% on last time), Lib Dem 67 (6% -3% on last time)
Residents HOLD with a majority of 58 (5%) on a swing of 4% from Residents to Con

Carterton South on West Oxfordshire (Con defence)
Result: Con 388 (63% +1% on last time), Lib Dem 146 (24% +18% on last time), Lab 83 (13% +2% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -15%, No Green candidate this time -6%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 242 (39%) on a swing of 8.5% from Con to Lib Dem (8% from UKIP to Con)

Chudleigh on Teignbridge (Con defence)
Result: Lib Dem 575 (41% +28% on last time), Con 564 (40% +7% on last time), Lab 262 (19% +4% on last time) (No Green candidate this time -15%, No Independent candidate this time -25%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 11 (1%) on a swing of 10.5% from Con to Lib Dem (26.5% from Ind to Lib Dem)

Dawlish Central and North East on Teignbridge (Con defence)
Result: Lib Dem 1,287 (71% +48% on last time), Con 535 (29% -1% on last time) (No Labour candidate this time -15%, No Green candidate this time -15%, No Independent candidate this time -17%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 752 (42%) on a swing of 24.5% from Con to Lib Dem

Grassmoor on North East Derbyshire (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 459 (49% -10% on last time), Con 368 (39% +22% on last time), Lib Dem 111 (12% no candidate last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -24%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 91 (10%) on a swing of 16% from Lab to Con (7% from UKIP to Lab)

Armthorpe on Doncaster (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 1,431 (75% +34% on last time), Ind 466 (25%, no candidate last time) (No Conservative candidate this time -22%, No UKIP candidate this time -29%, No Green candidate this time -9%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 965 (50%) on a notional swing of 4.5% from Ind to Lab (actual swing: 31.5% from UKIP to Lab)

Holgate on City of York (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 1,521 (50% +23% on last time), Lib Dem 982 (32% +19% on last time), Con 334 (11% -8% on last time), Green 203 (7% -9% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -12%, No Independent candidate this time -9%, no other party candidate this time -4%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 539 (18%) on a swing of 2% from Lib Dem to Lab (15.5% from Con to Lab)

Halton Castle on Halton (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 522 (70% unchanged on last time), Ind 133 (18% no candidate last time), Con 88 (12%, no candidate last time) (No Lib Dem candidate this time -8%, no UKIP candidate this time -17%, no other party candidate this time -5%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 389 (52%) on a notional swing of 9% from Lab to Ind (8.5% from UKIP to Lab)

Morecambe North on Lancashire (Con defence)
Result: Con 1,332 (49% -14% on last time), Lib Dem 809 (30% +22% on last time), Lab 580 (21% -1% on last time) (No Green candidate this time -7%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 523 (19%) on a swing of 18% from Con to Lib Dem (6.5% from Con to Lab)

Bonnybridge and Larbert on Falkirk (SNP defence)
First Preference Vote Count: Con 1,088 (32% +8% on last time), Lab 813 (24% +8% on last time), UKIP 35 (1% no candidate last time), Green 124 (4% unchanged on last time), SNP 1,295 (39% +5% on last time) (No Independent candidates this time -22%)
Swing: 1.5% from SNP to Con
SNP HOLD on the fifth count

Summary of votes cast, share, seats won and change on last time
Conservatives 7,558 (33% unchanged on last time) winning 5 seats (-2 seats on last time)
Labour 6,868 (30% +4% on last time) winning 4 seats (unchanged on last time)
Liberal Democrats 5,145 (22% +12% on last time) winning 3 seats (+3 seats on last time)
Scottish National Party 1,295 (6% +3% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
Independents 893 (4% unchanged on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Green Party 511 (2% -4% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Resident’s Association 398 (2% -3% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
UKIP 237 (1% -10% on last time) winning 0 seats (-1 seat on last time)
Conservative lead of 690 (3%) on a swing of 2% from Con to Lab

Compiled by Harry Hayfield



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Get ready for one of the biggest local by-election nights in years

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Will tonight’s results reinforce polls view of a shift to CON?

The 14 seats in almost all parts of the country feature 7 CON defences; 4 LAB ones + UKIP, SNP & a local Residents’s group a seat apiece. So we are like to get a relatively good picture.

It is highly unusual to have so many contests all on the same night. Between them nearly 90,000 people will have been able to vote today although I’d be surprised if more than a third of them did.

Andrew Teale has written his usual comprehensive preview of each seat which is well worth looking through.

Result should start coming through at about 2300.

Update 0200: Results summary

Mike Smithson




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The LDs appear to be returning to their former role as NOTA – none of the above

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

I’ve just come across the above chart which shows an interesting picture of vote movements in council by-elections since GE17.

Clearly the collapse of UKIP is having a big impact and in almost every segment of seats, based on the defending party, LAB, CON and the LDs have moved forward.

What is striking is that in the former UKIP seats the biggest gainer has been the LDs vote increase which, on the face of it seems counter-intuitive.

My reading is that what is happening I is that as memory of the coalition fades the LDs are returning to their traditional role as “none of the Above”.

Mike Smithson




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Five CON holds & a gain + one LAB hold in this week’s local by-elections

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Hartside on Eden (Con defence)
Result: Con 175 (53% -4% on last time) , Ind 98 (30% -13% on last time) , Green 58 (18%, no candidate last time)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 77 (13%) on a swing of 4.5% from Ind to Con

Codsall on Staffordshire (Con defence)
Result: Con 1,274 (68% -7% on last time), Green 329 (17% +6% on last time), Lab 283 (15% +1% on last time)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 945 (51%) on a swing of 6.5% from Con to Green

Codsall South on South Staffordshire (Con defence)
Result: Con 490 (79%), Lab 82 (13%), Green 50 (8%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 408 (66%). No swing, unopposed return last time

Stretton on East Staffordshire (Con defence)
Result: Con 764 (43% -4% on last time), Save Our Stretton 625 (35% +7% on last time), Lab 347 (19% unchanged on last time), UKIP 47 (3% unchanged on last time), Lib Dem 14 (1% -1% on last time)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 139 (8%) on a swing of 5.5% from Con to Local Independent

East Brighton on Brighton and Hove (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 1,889 (67% +9% on last time), Con 481 (17% -3% on last time), Green 336 (12% +1% on last time), Lib Dem 114 (4% unchanged on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -6%, No Independent candidate this time -1%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 1,408 (50%) on a swing of 6% from Con to Lab

Tophill East on Weymouth and Portland (Ind defence)
Result: Con 364 (47% +17% on last time), Lab 356 (46% +23% on last time), Green 54 (7% -6% on last time) (No Independent candidate this time -34%)
Conservative GAIN from Independent with a majority of 8 (1%) on a notional swing of 3% from Con to Lab

Tophill West on Weymouth and Portland (Con defence)
Result: Con 511 (54% +29% on last time), Lab 356 (38% +15% on last time), Green 82 (9% +2% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -21%, No Independent candidate this time -24%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 155 (16%) on a swing of 7% from Lab to Con

Compiled by Harry Hayfield



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Latest local by elections see a LAB loss to LDs on swing of 35% in strong Leave area

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Falmouth, Smithick on Cornwall (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 643 (60% +20% on last time), Con 184 (17% -7% on last time), Lib Dem 184 (17% -2% on last time), Green 57 (5% -11% on last time)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 459 (43%) on a swing of 13.5% from Con to Lab

Pallion on Sunderland (Lab defence)
Result: Lib Dem 1,251 (54% +50% on last time), Lab 807 (35% -16% on last time), Con 126 (5% -8% on last time), UKIP 97 (4% -25% on last time), Green 39 (2% -1% on last time)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Labour with a majority of 444 (19%) on a swing of 35% from Lab to Lib Dem

Harry Hayfield



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Part 2 of why the Tories should not fear Corbyn becoming PM in the foreseeable future

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

CON MPs are not passing away at anything like the rate they used to

Given the tightness of Mrs. May’s parliamentary position one way that could get Corbyn close to number ten is if LAB could pick up seats off CON in by-elections.

There’s a good precedent. At GE1992 John Major surprised just about everyone by holding onto power with a majority of 20. Unfortunately for him that was not going to be enough and during the period of that Parliament 8 Conservative MPs died resulting in by elections all of which the party lost. Eight seats lost to opposition parties reduced Major’s majority by 16 to a theoretical four but that wasn’t enough to cope wit the EU splits within his own party and he eventually lost his majority.

The following parliament, 1997-2001 saw four by-elections caused by CON MPs dying. Since then, however CON MPs have been a remarkably healthy lot with just one by-election caused by a Tory MP’s death. In the same period well over 20 LAB MPs have died or had to step down because of illness.

Assuming this trend continues then Corbyn’s LAB cannot hope to make inroads at Westminster through gaining CON seats in by-elections. To win by-elections the first requirement is that there are vacancies and, no doubt, the party will do everything in its power to stop other MPs deciding to go for other reasons.

An area where Corbyn’s LAB might be concerned is evidence of eroding support is from the younger age groups. They are still very solidly for LAB but not quite in the same proportions as before. The oldies, meanwhile, remain solidly in Tory hands.

Labour under Corbyn is seen weak on the economy and almost always trails the Tories by several points when these question are asked.

A positive is that Corbyn continues to enjoy better personal ratings than May.

Mike Smithson




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LAB/CON/LDs all see vote shares up, UKIP/GREEN down in January local by elections

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

Local By-Election Summary : January 2018

Votes Cast, Share, Vote Share Change and Seat Change
Conservatives 11,047 votes (47.75% +5.71% on last time) winning 7 seats (+1 seat on last time)
Labour 6,036 votes (26.09% +6.28% on last time) winning 1 seat (-1 seat on last time)
Liberal Democrats 3,538 votes (15.29% +5.62% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
Independent candidates 1,070 votes (4.62% -3.29% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
Green Party 727 votes (3.14% -4.25% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 718 votes (3.10% -9.45% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Conservative lead of 5,011 votes (21.66%) on a swing of 0.29% from Con to Lab

Compiled by Harry Hayfield