Archive for the 'By elections' Category


Can Labour really sleepwalk another 3 and a half years into disaster?

Saturday, December 10th, 2016


Their position continues to get worse, gradually

Lincolnshire has a habit of producing earthquakes. One in 1185 was powerful enough to badly damage Lincoln Cathedral. A more recent example, centred near Market Rasen at about 1am on 27 Feb 2008, was strong enough to wake people across large parts of the North and Midlands. To go by the reporting, the Sleaford & North Hykeham by-election didn’t generate similar tremors. The reporting is wrong; politics’ tectonic plates continue to move.

The reason why the reporters have it wrong is simple enough: there was no great drama to the election result. The Conservatives held a safe seat with a comfortable margin. No euphoric insurgents; no distraught losers. After the close call of Witney and the loss of Richmond Park to the Lib Dems, there’d be no third Tories in Trouble story. Quite the reverse.

And it’s in that reverse that the true scale of how extraordinary the result was can be seen. It was the smallest loss of vote share in any Con defence while in government since 1991. More, it was the largest Con share of the vote in a by-election during a Tory government since 1982 and the largest majority and largest percentage lead in those circumstances since 1971. This wasn’t just a hold, it was an absolute monster.

At the same time, Labour dropped back from second to fourth, losing 7% in the process (a net swing of 2.2% from Lab to Con). In fact, it was the sixth consecutive by-election where Labour has lost vote share when the Conservatives have been defending. In five of the six, Labour started in second place.

To compound the bad news for the Red team yesterday, YouGov published a poll for The Times which gave the Conservatives a 17% lead and Labour a share of just 25%. By any objective reckoning, those are appalling figures for Labour. To be recording them with the Tories 19 months into their term in government, divided and appearing a little rudderless on Brexit, is nothing short of catastrophic. Not since 1983 has Labour scored so poorly in opposition (and those came either side of a landslide defeat, not in mid-term).

Yet it’s the nature of slow decline that we rapidly accept and normalise each occasion when the boundaries are pushed that little bit further. If it feels bad for Labour, it’s only that bit more so than it was last month. After all, Labour recorded three 26’s in September/October; what’s another 1%? That could simply be sampling or methodology couldn’t it?

It could, and to some extent sampling probably is a part of it. The extremes in any polling sequence may well be outliers and are highly likely to have some sampling error. Even so, now that one 25 has been published, the next one – should there be a next one – won’t be quite as shocking, and the next one will be less likely to be an outlier if there is still an overall downward trend. Psychologically, there are only so many times you can hear ‘another bad poll’ before they all start to sound the same.

That’s an attitude Labour can’t afford to develop. If it does, then apart from the shock of the loss of real elections – a by-election defeat, local election losses in May – there won’t be any action taken to remedy the problem and the party will continue to sleepwalk towards the cliff-edge while wishing for a Tory collapse (which isn’t entirely impossible given the strains of the Brexit debate and process but which would, nonetheless, disguise Labour’s failings). Without action, there’s little chance of recovery.

Then there’s the other side of the pincer. UKIP didn’t have a great Sleaford by-election considering the size of the Leave vote and the extent to which the Lib Dems’ attention was on Richmond Park. That, however, might simply be more evidence to Paul Nuttall as to why UKIP should primarily target the working class wavering- or ex-Labour Leave voters ahead of Tories. Nuttall himself is clearly lining himself up for the expected Leigh by-election next year. If UKIP can make serious inroads into Labour’s 34% lead over them there (or even win – a swing on the scale that they managed in nearby Heywood & Middleton in 2014 would deliver the seat), that might well determine UKIP’s strategic targeting decisions for 2020 in favour of Red over Blue. The Tories would be well-advised to soft-pedal that election, should it come.

Which returns us to the question, what will Labour do about it? It’s not inevitable that they’ll follow their Scottish colleagues into disaster. They themselves remain best-placed to do something about it in the 3½ years before May 2020. After the experience of this summer though, can they summon the willpower and the support that’ll be needed to provide leadership, a challenge to the Tories and a coherent and attractive policy platform? If they can, someone will be worthy of the prize that awaits at the end.

David Herdson


Positives for CON, UKIP and the LDs in Sleaford & Hykehem N but another bad by-election for LAB

Friday, December 9th, 2016


This might be reading it all wrong but the LAB vote share is the big interest tomorrow in Sleaford and Hykeham N

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016


Thurday’s Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election – A certain CON hold or could we see a surprise?

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016


An opportunity for UKIP’s Doctor Nuttall?

While there’s been a huge amount of focus on Richmond Park the by-election in Sleaford and North Hykeham has received far less attention – both from the parties themselves and the media.

The result from last time makes it difficult to see other than a CON hold on a very much reduced turnout. The fact that it is happening in December so close to Christmas is surely going to depress the number of voters who will bother to vote and this, just conceivably, could lead to a shock. The UKIP betting price has moved in although Betfair makes the Tories a 1/9 shot. UKIP latest are 21/2 while the LD are 44/1.

Surprisingly LAB, second last time, are right out of it in the betting.

The LDs, flush from their Richmond Park gain, have been active but nothing on the scale of their operation for last Thursday’s contest. UKIP have been working hard too in what will be the first electoral test under Dr. Nuttall’s leadership. On paper this should be ideal territory.

Ladbrokes have a 2nd place market up offering:-

2/5 UKIP
4/1 LD
8/1 CON

Labour being pushed to fourth would be bad news for Corbyn’s party.

Mike Smithson


Tonight’s local by-election

Monday, December 5th, 2016


Carnoustie and District (SNP defence) on Angus
Result of council at last election (2012): Scottish National Party 15, Independents 8, Conservatives 4, Labour 1, Liberal Democrat 1 (Scottish National Party majority of 1)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Independents 483, 1,750 (51%)
Scottish National Party 582, 1,029 (36%)
Labour 274 (6%)
Conservatives 271 (6%)
Liberal Democrat 41 (1%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 32,747 (55%) LEAVE 26,511 (45%) on a turnout of 68%
Candidates duly nominated: David Cheap (Ind), Mark McDonald (SNP), Beth Morrison (Lib Dem), Derek Shaw (Con), Ray Strachen (Lab)


UKIP has ceased to be a serious player and the BBC should stop pandering to them

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Last night we had Radio 4’s Any Questions in town. It was a good evening except for the fact that there was no Lib Dem on the panel. Instead we had as well as the statutory LAB & CON rep an SNP MP and the barely coherent deputy UKIP leader, Peter Whittle.

You’d have thought that the BBC planners would have figured out that the Richmond by-election was taking place the day before and would likely feature a Lib Dem or made provisions just in case they had a good result. Without one on the panel they were unable to take direct questions on the election outcome.

Many were furious by this and the presence, yet again by the BBC, of a Kipper – a party that is struggling in all the elections it is fighting at the moment and didn’t even field a candidate in Richmond.

The chart above graphically illustrates how poorly UKIP has been doing in Westminster by elections this year. The BBC should take notice.

Mike Smithson


Labour has many things to worry about at the moment – losing its deposit in Richmond isn’t one of them

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Like in previous tight CON-LD fights LAB got squeezed. So what?

A lot of tosh has been written today about Labour’s loss of deposit for coming in under 5% in Richmond Park. That its vote total of 1,515 was lower than the 1,600 party members it has in the constituency has provided fuel for those wanting to attack the leadership on this.

What people haven’t appreciated are the sheer dynamics of a by-election like this. Once it becomes in that over-used cliche “a Two horse race” then the other contenders are going to be squeezed and many Labour activists and members found themselves voting for the one most likely to beat Goldsmith.

The hugely intensive leaflet and post board campaigns with lots of visible on the ground activity were all designed to highlight to LAB voters that the only way to use their ballot effectively was to go with the Lib Dem.

The Yellows were helped to a degree by the nature of Zac’s Mayoral campaign in the Spring. This made beating him even more important than just getting one over on the Tories. LAB voters were also prepared to hold their noises and ignore the coalition ears which is still held against Farron’s party.

The Richmond Park result is as worrying for LAB as Christchurch was in the 1992-1997 parliament where the red team was squeezed even more than overnight – it means nothing.

Mike Smithson


By-Election Results both local and Westminster: December 1st 2016

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

It wasn’t just in Richmond Park where the yellows had success

Richmond Park (Ind defence, elected as Conservative) to Westminster Parliament
Result: Liberal Democrat 20,510 (50% +31%), Independent 18,638 (45% -13% on Conservative), Labour 1,515 (4% -8%), Loony Party 184 (0%, no candidate in 2015), Independent Conservative 173 (0%, no candidate in 2015), Christian People’s Alliance 164 (0%, no candidate in 2015), One Love Party 67 (0%, no candidate in 2015), Non Party Independent 32 (0%, no candidate in 2015)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Independent with a majority of 1,872 (5%) on a swing of 22% from Ind to Lib Dem

Southbourne (Con defence) on Chichester
Result: Liberal Democrat 646 (58% +16%), Conservative 289 (26% -22%), United Kingdom Independence Party 132 (12%, no candidate in 2015), Labour 53 (5%, no candidate in 2015)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 357 (32%) on a swing of 19% from Con to Lib Dem

Ferndown (UKIP defence) on Dorset
Result: Conservative 2,046 (57% +12%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,092 (30% -14%), Liberal Democrats 260 (7%. no candidate in 2013), Labour 190 (5% -6%)
Conservative GAIN from United Kingdom Independence Party with a majority of 954 (27%) on a swing of 13% from UKIP to Con

Grange Park (Con defence) on South Northamptonshire
Result: Conservative 244 (58% -13%), Labour 105 (25% -4%), United Kingdom Independence Party 49 (12%, no candidate in 2015), Green Party 20 (5%, no candidate in 2015)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 139 (33%) on a swing of 4.5% from Con to Lab

Whitechapel (Ind defence, elected as Tower Hamlets First) on Tower Hamlets
Result: Independent 1,147 (45% +5% on Tower Hamlets First), Labour 823 (32% +6%) , Conservative 217 (8% unchanged), Liberal Democrat 173 (7% unchanged), Green Party 170 (7% -6%), United Kingdom Independence Party 34 (1% -3%)
Independent HOLD with a majority of 324 (13%) on a swing of 0.5% from Ind to Lab

Myton and Heathcote (Con defence) on Warwick
Result: Conservative 488 (54% +10%), Liberal Democrat 228 (25% +10%), Labour 194 (21%, no candidate in 2015)
Conservative HOLD with a majoruty of 260 (29%) on no swing between Con and Lib Dem

Compiled by Harry Hayfield