Archive for the 'By elections' Category


The main lesson from the Brecon result: Demonstrating the effectiveness of Remain parties working together

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

A model for the next General Election?

Reflecting on the Brecon outcome the most striking feature which hasn’t really been commented on is that in a seat in Wales that PC felt able to step aside in order  to help defeat the pro-Brexit Tories.

Given the relative closeness of the outcome it’s clear that this decision and that of the Green Party played a crucial part in this election and no doubt lessons will be learnt .

We have a first past the post voting system that almost helps the Tories and Labour at the expense of smaller parties. Here, in this by election, there was only one option for voters who wanted to express their choice for a Remain party and that was the Lib Dems. My guess is this decision of the Greens and PC made it easier for for Labour supporters to vote tactically.

There is little doubt that this lesson will be noted and acted upon. You can see situations where the Lib Dems step aside  in seats where the Greens look as though they have the best chance of winning and, of course, there might be other seats in Wales where similar decisions can be taken by PC.

It also shows the impact of the referendum result on British politics and how it can be impacting on the traditional party system.

There had been many rumours that a number of those MPs who switched from the Tories and LAB earlier in the year might be ready to move to the yellows. This has many practical consequences particularly where you have a sitting LD parliamentary candidate in a seat where the CON or LAB MP switched to TIG or whatever it is called now.

The Brecon result demonstrates that collaboration can work.

Mike Smithson





It should be between 2am and 4am that we get the Brecon result

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

For reference the result from GE2017

How other new PMs fared


A week on from Johnson being called to the Palace and so far so good

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

How much of the bounce will be seen in Brecon?

It is just a week ago that TMay went to the Palace to step down as PM and for the new Tory leader, BJohnson, to be invited to succeed her.

Going back over the years new prime ministers’ taking over between general elections almost always see a boost in their party’s position in the voting intention polls. This happened with with John Major in 1990, Gordon Brown in 2007 and of course Theresa May in 2016. So the trends in the table above are not unexpected. Perhaps the biggest aspect for Johnson is that the Tories are taking votes back from the Brexit party.

Boris appears to have approached his new job in the same manner as Gordon Brown. A huge number of announcements, an impression of a lot of activity and of course seeking to maintain the media’s attention with something new every day. The polling has been good both the voting intention and the best prime minister numbers and you get the sense, just like Brown in 2007, that he is looking towards an early general election.

The only cloud on horizon is the Brecon and Radnorshire by election tomorrow where the Tories are defending a majority of 19.5%.

The big challenge here, leaving aside the fact that they Tory candidate has a criminal record, is that there is only one clear anti-Brexit party but there are two very clear options for those who are for Brexit. If Farage’s party didn’t exist or had not been in the race than the prospects for the Tories to hold the seat would have been substantially greater. But they’re not and the pro Brexit vote tomorrow will be split.

The seat is one which at the referendum in June 2016 voting went very much in line with the national split of 52 to 48.

It just might be given the publicity that that always Johnson’s been getting that that the Tories could perform better than expected and run the Lib Dems very close.

One of the factors, though, is postal voting. There are about 10,000 in the constituency and the ballot packs went out 12 days ago and most of them will, if normal patterns are being followed, would have been returned pretty quickly. That means that quite a number of voters will have made their decisions before the Boris bounce.

My guess is that both CON and the LDs will take 40%+ of the votes.

On Betfair the Tories are rated as having a 13% chance of winning a figure that has gone up markedly in the past two days.

Mike Smithson


Farage and Johnson slug it out to be the top party on Brexit in Brecon

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Both quote the Peterborough by-election to make their case


Could the Tories just hang on in Brecon & Radnorshire?

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

PM Johnson has been in Wales today and spent an hour or so in ‘Brecon and Radnorshire where the Tories are defending a 19.5% majority in the by-election on Thursday. This is a critical one for him and his government  because losing the seat would cuts down the effective CON majority with the DUP to just one.

Being beaten in a by-election with a majority this size just eight days after entering Number 10 would undermine the generally positive narrative Boris has created.

The vacancy was caused by a successful recall petition on the Tory who won it at GE2015, Chris Davies. This followed his criminal conviction for expense fraud.

The Greens and Plaid have both stood aside for the LDs to ensure that there is only one pro-Remain contender. The seat voted roughly 52-48 for leave at the referendum. As per usual the LDs are working hard to squeeze the LAB vote which was 17.7% last time.

There’s little doubt that the Tories have been throwing everything into the defence and I am less confident than I was that the LDs will win back the seat.

Someone I know was canvassing for the Tories at the weekend and told me that Davies is remarkably popular. There’s also a very high level of interest and I’d expect good turnout by by-election standards.

I think TSE’s bet, rating this as about a 4% chance for the Tories, is value.

Mike Smithson



Now betting opens on a by-election that has not yet been called and indeed might never happen

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

One of the biggest shocks at the last general election was the former LD leader and deputy PM, Nick Clegg, losing his seat at Sheffield Hallam to LAB.

Since then the news about this constituency has focused on the man who replaced him, Jared O’Mara, and things don’t look good with one negative story after another and questions about his health. It now look as though he’s planning to quit parliament which, of course, could open up a by-election.

In many ways this would be an intriguing contest because since the late 1980s the area has returned Conservative, LD and LAB MPs. It is also where PB’s TSE lives and votes.

Whether O’Mara goes ahead with his resignation we’ll have to wait and see and also there is the possibility of an intervening general election.

So it is far from certain that there will be a contest and it is in this context that Ladbrokes have opened a by-election market featured in the Tweet above. Note that if there is no by-election this year punters will get their money back.

The big negative for LAB if there is a by-election is O’Mara himself and how such a person could have been selected to fight a key marginal. It does not say a lot about Labour’s due diligence.

Having said that the 1/3 on the LDs looks a value bet. If the party can overcome the Tory 19.5% majority in Brecon and Radnorshire on Thursday then these Hallam odds will look even better.

Mike Smithson



The July local by-elections see the LD surge continuing

Friday, July 26th, 2019

(And that’s not just party political boasting either!)

Local By-Election Review : July 2019

Votes Cast
Liberal Democrats 8,096 votes (38% +18% on last time) winning 8 seats (+5 on last time)
Conservatives 6,018 votes (28% -10% on last time) winning 2 seats (-4 on last time)
Labour 2,672 votes (12% -9% on last time) winning 1 seat (-2 on last time)
Independent candidates 1,622 votes (8% +3% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
Plaid Cymru 742 votes (3% +1% on last time) winning 2 seats (+1 on last time)
Local Independent candidates 690 votes (3% -1% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
Other Parties 623 votes (3% +3% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Green Party 474 votes (2% -1% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 349 votes (2% -5% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Brexit Party 263 votes (1% +1% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Liberal Democrat lead of 2,078 votes (10%) on a swing of 14% from Con to Lib Dem since last time (0.5% from Con to Lab)

Liberal Democrats GAIN Trowbridge, Drynham on Wiltshire from Conservative (32% swing from Con to Lib Dem)
Plaid Cymru GAIN Rhondda on Rhondda, Cynon Taff from Labour (16% swing from Lab to Plaid)
Liberal Democrats GAIN Bridlington North on the East Riding of Yorkshire from Conservative (44% swing from Con to Lib Dem)
Liberal Democrats GAIN Brixworth on Daventry from Conservative (28% swing from Con to Lib Dem)
Liberal Democrats GAIN Barnwood on Gloucester from Conservative (11% swing from Con to Lib Dem)
Liberal Democrats GAIN Podsmead on Gloucester from Labour (32% swing from Lab to Lib Dem)

Harry Hayfield


PM Johnson’s first front pages after the day when he was most powerful

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Team Boris will be very pleased with the way the papers are treating his arrival at number 10 and and his new cabinet. They reflect that he has made a massive impact.

In one sense he is fortunate that the parliamentary summer holiday starts today day and and MPs won’t be back until early September. It was all designed like this to prevent an early vote of confidence.

One of the things about taking over as prime minister is that on your first day or two you at your most powerful. Remember how it was for TMay  just 3 years ago. She could do no wrong and got a massive boost in the polls.

She had a honeymoon that that lasted until 2200 on June 8th 2007 when the exit poll came out. My guess is that for Boris it will be much shorter.

A week today there is the Brecon and Radnorshire by election and the other new party leader elected this week, Jo Swinson, is heading there today.

Losing a seat just 8 days after becoming Prime Minister would not be a good electoral start for Mr Johnson whose appeal was that he could reach voters, apparently, that others couldn’t get to.

Mike Smithson