h1

Local By-Election Preview: July 18th 2013

July 18th, 2013

 

Connah’s Quay, Golftyn on Flintshire (Lab Defence)

Last Local Elections (2012): Lab 31, Ind 23, Con 7, Lib Dem 7, Plaid 1 (No Overall Control, Lab short by 4)

Ward Result: Lab 582 + 553 (75%), Ind 382 (25%)

Flintshire (created out of the remains of Clwyd along with Denbighshire and Wrexham) has always been a strongly Labour area (even during the worse times for Labour). This was demonstrated at the 1983 general election when Alyn and Deeside (made up of the old Flint East constituency) returned a Labour MP despite Delyn electing a Conservative MP.

Flintshire (as a local government unit) came back into existence in 1995 and in those elections, Labour romped home winning 47 out of the 72 seats up for grabs and leaving the opposition scrabbling for the remainder (Ind 15, Lib Dem 5, Con 3, Rates 1, Plaid 1). The 1999 local elections were no different as although Labour made five losses, they still raked up a healthy majority, however by 2004, Labour’s popularity was on the wane.

They were returned with an overall majority, yes, but only of 3 winning just 36 seats and only polling 44% of the vote (the lowest in the new council’s history) and in 2008 the end had come as Labour lost control of the council losing 15 seats (to all parties) and seeing their vote share collapse by 15%. As a result of this drop the Independents were now the largest grouping on the council (Ind 26, Lab 21, Lib Dem 12, Con 9, Plaid 1).

However, post coalition, Labour recovered with such speed as to be deemed amazing. In the local elections in 2012, Labour made ten net gains and regained the vote lead in the county by 14% (on a swing on 9%) from the Independents.

Sawton on South Cambridgeshire (Ind Defence)

Last Local Elections (2012): Con 33, Lib Dem 16, Ind 7, Lab 1 (Conservative majority of 9)

Ward result (in past electoral cycle)

Local Elections 2010

Local Elections 2011

Local Elections 2012

Name of Party

Votes Cast

% Share

Votes Cast

% Share

Votes Cast

% Share

Conservative

2,167

62%

1,397

65%

505

35%

Labour

1,304

38%

767

35%

335

23%

Liberal Democrat

66

5%

Independent

535

37%

It might come as a surprise to hear that given how Conservative an area the parliamentary constituency is, the district of South Cambridgeshire has only been Conservative controlled since 2007. Between 2003 and then the council was in a state of No Overall Control thanks in party to a very large Independent grouping.

However, since 2007 that grouping has been shrinking at every local election so the fact that they won this ward in 2012 suggests no so much an Independent resurgence but far more likely a split in the local Conservative party in Sawton. That being the case this by-election will determine if it was just a internal spat between the winning Independent last time and the rest of the Conservatives or something more long lasting (a problem that if not sorted could cause problems in next years local elections, the European Elections and even potentially the general election).

Harry Hayfield