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The first PB Local Election night

January 17th, 2013

Harry Hayfield’s previews the day’s contests

We have four by-elections this week (with two in the same local authority). They are Leashowe and Moreton East, Heswall, Brixton Hill and Hill. Leashew and Heswall are both on the Wirral, Brixton Hill is in Lambeth and Hill is in Fenland, Cambridgeshire. For each by-election, I will post the results over the most recent electoral term, that means where a ward has multiple elections (as in the case of the Wirral) I will post the result since the general election (i.e 2010, 2011 and 2012), where a ward has multiple members elected at a single election (such as in the case of Brixton Hill and Hill) I will post all the votes cast (as I shall be honest and admit I have never fully understood how to calculate vote shares with multiple candidates and have heard plenty of suggestions but no definite answer).

Leashowe and Moreton East (Wirral)

Last Local Election Result (2012): Labour 37, Conservatives 22, Liberal Democrats 7 (Labour overall majority of 8)
2012: Lab 2,094 Con 1,776 UKIP 144 Green 89 (Lab GAIN from Con)
2011: Lab 2,442 Con 1,564 UKIP 149 Green 143 Lib Dem 111 (Lab HOLD)
2010: Lab 3,404 Con 1,948 Lib Dem 866 UKIP 216 Green 129 (Lab HOLD)

As you can see Leashowe has, since the general election, been a solid Labour ward. The Labour GAIN in 2012 was due to the Conservatives having won that element of it in the 2008 local elections. Looking at the change in the ward since the general election, I am reminded of the two Bolton constituencies between 1950 and 1964 when the Liberals withdrew their candidate and allowed the seat to go Conservative in Bolton East and when the Conservatives withdrew their candidate and allowed Bolton West to go Liberal. The Liberal Democrat vote has gone solidly to the Conservatives here following the non appearance of a Liberal Democrat candidate in the 2011 and 2012 local elections and given the national polls I think it’s safe to say that this part of the Wirral will elect another Labour councillor.

Heswall (Wirral)

2012: Con 2,766 Lab 785 UKIP 413 Green 261 Lib Dem 186 (Con HOLD)
2011: Con 3,745 Lab 1,065 Lib Dem 392 UKIP 290 Green 281 (Con HOLD)
2010: Con 5,000 Lib Dem 1,534 Lab 1,465 Green 251 UKIP 213 (Con HOLD)

Just like in Leashowe, the Liberal Democrats have been hammered in Heswall (going from second place just ahead of Labour in 2010, to last place behind the Greens in 2012). However where as in Leashowe it was the Conservatives who appeared to be gaining, in Heswall it’s actually the smaller parties who are gaining (in this case UKIP) seeing their vote double since 2010. I don’t think given the strength of the Conservative vote here we should expect anything but a Con HOLD, UKIP may still have another chance to gloat over taking second place from Labour (unless that is of course the recent questions raised over what precisely UKIP stands for has damaged their campaign)

Brixton Hill (Lambeth)

Last Local Election Result (2010): Labour 44, Liberal Democrats 15, Conservatives 4 (Labour overall majority of 25)
2010: Lab 2,805 Lab 2,699 Lab 2,648 Lib Dem 2,100 Lib Dem 1,873 Lib Dem 1,560 Green 1,108 Green 1,023 Con 873 Green 850 Con 768 Con 688 (3 Lab HOLDS)

Lambeth in the 2010 local elections was a foretaste of what has happened to the Liberal Democrats since the general election (especially in Labour areas). In the 1990 local elections, Lambeth was a Labour bastion with a majority of 16 and the Liberal Democrats on just 4 councillors. It was the 1994 local elections that saw the Lib Dems break through in Lambeth gaining twenty seats and tying with Labour as the largest party. In 1998, Labour retook the lead (Lab 41, Lib Dem 18, Con 5) only to lose it again in 2002 when the Lib Dems won 29 councillors (leading Labour by 1). In 2006 Labour retook control (making 11 gains) with everyone expecting that come 2010, the Liberal Democrats national surge in the polls would see the council go back to the Lib Dems. It didn’t. In fact Labour made another 5 gains (taking two seats seats off both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and wiping out the Greens). And with the national polls since then showing swings from Lib Dem to Lab of 11% or more, it is safe to say that the days of the Liberal Democrats hoping to gain control of Lambeth are as distant a memory as that famous resident of Lambeth “Red Ted”

Hill (Fenland)

Last Local Election Result (2011): Conservatives 34, Independents 4, Liberal Democrats 2 (Conservative overall majority of 28)
2011: Con 797 Con 677 Lab 366 Lib Dem 202 (2 Con HOLDS)

From the hustle and bustle of Central London, the wilds of the Norfolk fens is about as complete a sea change of political opinion as you can possibly get. Making up part of the North East Cambridgeshire constituency (once represented by Sir Clement Freud), this part of East Anglia is about as solid Conservative as you can possibly get and therefore it should be pretty clear who is going to win here, but that’s not to say that anyone can spring a surprise. In the European Elections of 2009, whilst the Conservatives “won” Fenland at the local level, UKIP polled the second highest number of votes (5,856) beating Labour by well over 4,000 votes.

On Friday, I will post a summary of the results and at the end of each month create a PB average which will not only show the total number of votes cast, but also the crucial three cornered results (between Con, Lab and Lib Dem) which have in the past proved more reliable than opinion polls at forecasting the result of a general election. Will Labour see it’s national poll lead reflected in these local by-elections? Will UKIP be able to trounce the Lib Dems into fourth or will Cameron’s views on Europe to be announced on Friday change the direction of the polls? We shall just have to wait and see.

Note from Mike

A big thank you to Harry for the introduction and to Marf for the cartoon which will become our “logo”