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Harry Hayfield’s Thursday night by-election review

February 28th, 2013

There are other contests a well as Eastleigh

Wirral MBC, Pensby and Thingwall (Con Defence)

Last Local Election Result (2012): Lab 37, Con 22, Lib Dem 7 (Labour majority of 8)

Local Elections 2010: Lib Dem 5,151 (37%) Con 4,582 (33%) Lab 3,190 (23%) UKIP 518 (4%) Green 448 (3%) (Lib Dem HOLD)

Local Elections 2011: Con 1,881 (37%) Lab 1,636 (32%) Lib Dem 1,209 (24%) UKIP 196 (4%) Green 180 (4%) (Con GAIN from Lib Dem)

Local Elections 2012: Lab 1,406 (33%) Con 1,217 (28%) Lib Dem 1,079 (25%) UKIP 394 (9%) Green 190 (4%) (Lab GAIN from Lib Dem)

 

It gives an idea of the Liberal Democrat collapse in Northern England that a ward won by the Liberal Democrats in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 local elections stays Lib Dem at the general election, goes to the Conservatives in 2011 and to Labour in 2012 (which reflects precisely the trend that has been seen in local elections since 2010 in the UK), so when you have a seat that is a Conservative defence gained from the Liberal Democrats where Labour are the challenging party then pretty much anything can happen (proven very nicely in Leashowe back in January when Labour won the 2010, 2011 and 2012 elections only to lose the 2013 by-election to the Conservatives)

 

Kingston Upon Thames LBC, Berrylands (Lib  Dem Defence)

Last Local Election Result (2010): Lib Dem 27, Con 21 (Liberal Democrat majority of 6)

Last Election Result: Lib Dem 6,346 (46%) Con 5,717 (42%) Lab 1,381 (10%) CPA 265 (2%)

 

Berryfields is in the constituency of a certain Ed Davey (the Energy Minister) who was elected as the member for Kingston and Surbiton back in the 1997 general election and his continued reign in the constituency can be put down to one simple fact. Labour voters would much rather have a Liberal Democrat MP than a Conservative MP. This fact was proven in 2001 when the Labour vote collapsed by 15% with the Liberal Democrat vote climbing 23% and whilst there was a swing back to the Conservatives in 2005, there was another drop in the Labour vote in 2010 that prevented the Conservatives from winning the seat. This pattern is also followed at the local elections. Even as least as 2006, there were Labour councillors on Kingston but at the 2010 local elections those councillors were defeated with them both going to the Liberal Democrats, so the question will be asked “Is Labour still of that same opinion almost three years into a Con / Lib Dem coalition?”. Well in the South Western London Assembly constituency (which in 2008 was a Con / Lib Dem battleground) the answer was a resounding “No”. The Conservative vote fell by 1%, the Labour vote rose by 13% and the Liberal Democrat vote fell by 10% (with the Greens and UKIP polling 10% and 5% respectively). A swing of 5.5% from Lib Dem to Con would be more than enough to see this ward elect a Conservative councillor (and reduce the majority on the council to just 4) which would make next year’s borough elections very interesting indeed

 

North Lanarkshire UA, Coatbridge West (Lab Defence)

Last Local Election Result (2012): Lab 41, SNP 26, Ind 3 (Labour majority of 12)

Last Election Result: Lab 2,865 (75%) SNP 858 (22%) Con 107 (3%)

 

It shows you just how much of a bedrock North Lanarkshire is for the Labour Party when even with the introduction of the Single Transferable Vote and a strengthing SNP, they still managed to win an overall majority in both 2007 and 2012. And as I mentioned last time for Rutherglen South, my esteemed colleague Kristopher Keane profile of the ward will do it much better justice than I, but I will say this, if Labour fail to win more than 60% of the vote I will be very surprised.

 

Ashford BC, Beaver (Lab Defence)

Last Local Election Result (2011): Con 30, Ind 6, Lab 5, Lib Dem 2 (Conservative majority of 17)

Last Election Result: Lab 960 (41%) Con 787 (34%) Ind 569 (25%)

 

To describe Beaver as rare would be a demonstration of how bad a time Labour had in the South of England in the 2006 – 2010 electoral cycle. In 2003, there were 1,105 Labour councillors in the South outside London (and Labour were in control of seven councils). By 2007 however, this figure had almost halved to just 690 councillors and control of just three. And it got even worse. In 2008, they won just 407 (down 200 on the 2004 locals) and in 2009, Labour managed to win a mere 42 councillors (compared to the 143 they had won in 2005). Vast parts of the South were Labour free zones, for instance in the 2008 local elections there were 14 councils in the South outside London with no Labour councillors at all. Despite the national success Labour has had in local elections since then, it’s been a problem for them in the South. In the 2011 local elections they made 90 net gains, and in 2012 they made about 200 net gains but despite all that there are still fourteen councils where there is not a single Labour councillor. Yes, for the Labour Party, the South can still be as barren as anything

 

Eastleigh (Lib Dem Defence)

General Election 1992: Con 38,998 (51%), Lib Dem 21,296 (28%), Lab 15,768 (21%)

By-Election 1994: Lib Dem 24,473 (44% +16%), Lab 15,324 (28% +7%), Con 13,675 (25% -26%), Others 1,880 (3% +3%)

General Election 1997: Lib Dem 19,453 (35% -9%), Con 18,699 (34% +9%), Lab 14,883 (27% -1%), Referendum 2,013 (4%), UKIP 446 (1%)

General Election 2001: Lib Dem 19,630 (41% +6%), Con 16,302 (34% n/c), Lab 10,426 (22% -5%), UKIP 849 (2% +1%), Green 636 (1%)

General Election 2005: Lib  Dem 19,216 (39% -2%), Con 18,648 (37% +3%), Lab 10,238 (21% -1%), UKIP 1,669 (3% +1%)

General Election 2010: Lib Dem 24,966 (47% +8%), Con 21,102 (39% +2%), Lab 5,153 (10% -11%), UKIP 1,933 (4% +1%), Others 496 (1%)

 

Eastleigh first appeared on the parliamentary map at the 1955 general election and at that election the Conservatives won the seat but only by some 600 votes over Labour. Following the pro Conservative swing in 1959 that majority increased by a factor of five. In those elections, one party was noticeable by it’s absence, that party was the Liberals. Their first foray into the seat was in 1964 where they polled 13% of the vote which some Labour supporters claimed allowed the Conservatives to hold the seat against the national swing, a criticism levelled at them again when Labour failed to win the seat in 1966 by 700 votes. The unexpected swing to Conservative in 1970 saw the Conservatives hold the seat with their majority increasing by a factor of ten. At the February 1974 general election, the Liberal revival saw them come within 700 of overtaking Labour as the second placed party in the constituency, but they were unable to capitalise on that in October 1974 and the seat returned to it’s usual Con / Lab battleground status. It was the 1983 election that saw the Alliance finally grab second place which they held at the 1987 general election that lead into perhaps the most dramatic switch around in electoral history when in 1994, on a 21% swing from Con to Lib Dem, the Liberal Democrats broke the Conservative stranglehold on the constituency and despite a couple of scares (in 1997 and 2005) the Liberal Democrats have remained in control. Will the by-election see this trend continue, will the Conservatives regain one of their former heartlands or could UKIP do what, up to a few months ago would have been unthinkable, and win their first parliamentary seat in a by-election?