Archive for the 'By elections' Category


Freedom for Tooting – the by-election to fill Sadiq’s seat could be tight

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Wolfie Smith

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons

Alastair Meeks assesses the chances

Zac Goldsmith’s father once said that when a man married his mistress, that created a vacancy.  In the same way, his successful opponent for the Mayor of London contest can be expected shortly to be standing down as MP for Tooting, giving rise to a fascinating by-election.

Tooting has long been a Labour stronghold.  It has been held by the party ever since its creation in 1974.  The closest that the Conservatives have got to Labour was in 1987, when they got to within 3% of the Labour MP.  So it should be a safe Labour hold?

Perhaps.  The area has undergone substantial demographic change.  While most of London is trending to Labour, Tooting is an exception.  In February 1974, the Conservatives took 32.6% of the vote.  In 1992, the Conservatives took 40.1% of the vote.  In 2015, the Conservatives took 41.9% of the vote, their highest vote share ever in this seat.  For comparison, the national vote shares for the Conservatives over those three elections were 46%, 42% and 37%, so it has gone from being a considerably worse than average seat for the Conservatives to being a considerably better than average seat for them.  Admittedly the boundaries have changed twice in that time, but this is a seat that is gentrifying.  This is not the gentrification of hipster beards and radical art movements but of loft extensions and Maclaren buggies.  The Conservatives will be taking aim at this seat.

The result in 2015 was a close two horse race.  Sadiq Khan had a majority of just under 3,000 (5.3%) over his Conservative opponent Dan Watkins.  Everyone else lost their deposit.  Turnout at 69.7% was above the national average (again showing that Tooting is not a typical London constituency).

So we can expect another two horse race.  National opinion polls vary according to their methodology and taken overall suggest that Labour might have improved slightly relative to the Conservatives over the last year.  So that might give Labour a bit more of a cushion.

What of the candidates?  The rumour mill suggested that Jeremy Corbyn originally wanted Ken Livingstone to run for this seat for Labour.  We can safely assume that’s not going to happen now.  So Labour will have a selection battle ahead.

The Conservatives too will need to select a candidate.  Dan Watkins has been looking ahead.  Far from abandoning the seat he did not win at the general election, he has been assiduously working it.  Here’s his news page on his campaign website.

As you can see, he’s been keeping himself busy.  If as seems very likely Dan Watkins is selected to refight the seat, the Conservatives will have a familiar face with good local knowledge. It looks like the Conservatives have stolen a march on Labour already here.  (As an aside, Conservative localism, clearly borrowed from the Lib Dems’ decades-old strategy, seems to be here to stay.  Labour are going to have to adopt similar tactics much more systematically.)

So to sum up, the by-election is going to be a two horse race in a seat that Labour has held since its formation but where the Conservatives are going to have a relatively familiar candidate, where Labour are struggling in the polls far more than most mid-term opposition parties in an area that has been trending towards the Conservatives for two generations.

The last time that a government gained a seat at a by-election was in 1982 in neighbouring Mitcham & Morden.  Could history repeat itself?  This could be intense.

Alastair Meeks


Elections update as LAB looks set to move to third in Scotland but did better than expected elsewhere

Friday, May 6th, 2016

In London the Tory aftermath starts even before any results are in


Today’s forgotten Westminster by-elections – Ogmore and Sheffield?

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Westmster from Dales office

Two heartland seats: two more Oldhams?

There are two parliamentary by-elections tomorrow. Normally, this would be cause for a good deal of media interest: it’s rare for two or more by-elections to take place on the same day (only the tenth occasion since 1997). However, the sheer quantity of other contests occurring has relegated what ought to be routine holds for Labour in Ogmore and in Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough so far down the pecking order as to be near-invisible.

And they ought to be very comfortable holds. These are the epitome of heartland seats. Not only has Ogmore returned Labour MPs at every election since the constituency was created in 1918 but never has the Labour candidate received less than half the vote (other than the four occasions when no vote took place because Labour was returned unopposed, between the wars). The Sheffield seat is of more recent vintage but both it and its predecessors have also returned Labour MPs since 1935, with Harry Harpham winning 56.6% in 2015.

So nothing to worry about for Labour then? You would assume not given the complete lack of noise from any potential insurgent party. UKIP, who might be best placed to mount a challenge, have their hands full at the moment focussing on the Welsh Assembly, the EU Referendum and internal conflict. UKIP were a clear second in Sheffield B&H in 2015 with slightly more than double the Conservative share, but still more than 30% back. Their starting point in Ogmore – third, just behind the Conservatives and close to 40% behind Labour – is even less prospitious.

Oldham West & Royton has no doubt tempered thoughts of a shock. There, UKIP was talked up only for Labour to then romp home. Despite Labour’s bad week, and the concerns of Corbyn’s Labour not necessarily being those of industrial Yorkshire or the Valleys of Wales, the red flag should continue to fly high there.

What of the other parties? The Lib Dems lost their deposit in both seats in 2015 and must be at risk of doing so again given the state of the opinion polls. The Conservatives shouldn’t fall that low but with no government at stake and with a potential pro-UKIP tactical squeeze it would be a surprise if either seat returned a double-digit vote share. UKIP will hope to finish second in both, and should do so. The unremarkableness of that expectation is a measure of how far they’ve progressed in five years.

But just as the campaigns have gone unnoticed, so, in all probability, will the results be blotted out by much more dramatic results elsewhere in the UK. Probably.

David Herdson


Super Thursday 2016 : 24 hours until polls close

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Some of the more choice local by-elections being held tomorrow

Tormohun on Torbay (Con defence)
Main Election: Mayoral Referendum
Result of council at last election (2015): Con 25, Lib Dem 7, Ind 3, UKIP 1 (Con majority of 14)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Liberal Democrats 1,304, 1,067, 933 (25%)
Conservatives 1,289, 1,154, 1,125 (25%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 971, 909 (19%)
Labour 944, 662, 588 (18%)
Green Party 620, 511, 416 (12%)
Candidates duly nominated: Darren Cowell (Lab), Michelle Goodman (TUSC), Stephen Morley (Green), Nick Pentney (Lib Dem), Jackie Wakeham (Con), Steve Walsh (UKIP)

Up until 1997, Torbay could always be relied upon to elect a Conservative MP whether it was Charles Williams or Rupert Allason (aka Nigel West) but that all collapsed in 1997 when the Liberal Democrats gained the seat with a majority of just 12 votes and held it until the last election when naturally the Conservatives must have thought “Ah, normal service has been resumed”. Sadly though for the Conservatives that does not appear to have been the case, as demonstrated at the Clifton with Maidenway by-election last November when said defeated Lib Dem MP (Adrian Sanders) held the seat for the Liberal Democrats on a massive 27% swing from Conservative to Liberal Democrat and whilst clearly the Conservatives would still control the council, if the referendum were to pass and the Liberal Democrats nominated Mr. Sanders as their mayoral candidate I think a large number of Conservatives would wish the referendum had failed.

Mynyddbach on Swansea (Lab defence)
Main Election: Swansea East Assembly Constituency
Result of council at last election (2012): Lab 49, Lib Dem 12, Con 4, Swansea Ind 3, Ind 3, Rates 1 (Lab majority of 26)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,348, 1,321, 1,190 (62%)
Swansea Independents 683, 476 (19%)
Independent 699 (11%)
Conservatives 199, 135 (5%)
Liberal Democrat 215 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: Shan Couch (Plaid), Mike Lewis (Lab), Patrick Morgan (Con), Ashley Wakeling (Ind), Charlene Webster (Lib Dem), Noel West (Swansea Independents)

The eastern side of Swansea has always been as safe as houses for Labour (having been represented by the party since 1922) so you might naturally think “Yawn, Lab HOLD, next!” however given the right set of circumstances some very strange things can happen in Swansea. In 2004, for instance Labour actually lost control of the council and in 2008 managed to lose even more support resulting in the Liberal Democrats offering a viable alternative coalition to the Labour administration that the Swansea Independents (with their eight councillors) could support, so don’t rule anything in or out when it comes to Swansea

Churchdown on Gloucestershire (Lib Dem defence)
Main Election: Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner
Result of council at last election (2013): Con 23, Lib Dem 14, Lab 9, UKIP 3, Ind 2, Green 1, People Against Bureaucracy 1
Result of ward at last election (2013): Lib Dem 1,439 (49%), Con 873 (30%), Lab 414 (14%), Green 227 (8%)
Candidates duly nominated: Graham Bocking (Con), Ed Buxton (Lab), Jack Williams (Lib Dem)

St. Paul’s on Tendring (UKIP defence)
Main Election: Essex Police and Crime Commissioner
Result of council at last election (2015): Con 23, UKIP 22, Ind 6, Lab 4, Rates 3, Lib Dem 1, Tendring First 1 (No Overall Control, Con short by 8)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
United Kingdom Independence Party 944, 760 (37%)
Conservatives 838, 611 (33%)
Tendring First 766, 754 (30%)
Candidates duly nominated: Chris Bird (Lab), William Hones (Ind), Danny Mayzes (Con), Jack Parsons (UKIP)

St. Neot’s, Eaton Socon and Eynesbury on Cambridgeshire (Ind defence)
Main Election: Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Result of council at last election (2013): Con 32, Lib Dem 14, UKIP 12, Lab 7, Ind 4 (No Overall Control, Con short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Emboldened denotes elected
Independents 1,311 , 1,141 (42%)
Conservatives 728, 710 (25%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 692, 470 (20%)
Labour 250, 209 (8%)
Liberal Democrats 162 (3%)
Green Party 126 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: James Corley (Ind), Doctor Johnson (Lab), Simone Taylor (Ind), Karl Wainwright (Con)

The last PCC elections were a triumph for the “Do we have to?” party as turnout across the country was a staggeringly low 14.67% with the range of turnouts at the local areas from as low as 8.14% in Barrow and Furness to as high as 34.52% in Corby (but then the small matter of a parliamentary by-election did help matters) and who won those elections, well in a manner of speaking nobody. Both the Conservatives and Labour tied on 111 local area wins each and in terms of actual PCC’s elected with 16 Conservatives, 13 Labour and 12 Independents of various hues no one could claim to have a majority of them. This time however things are bound to change with everyone taking part (Con, Lab, Lib Dem, Plaid, Green, UKIP and the myriad of Independents) which means that the poor electors of these three by-elections will have to deal with two different methods of voting on the same day. So what effect could this have? For instance could we see in Churchdown the number of rejected ballots exceed not only the majority for the winner but the winning candidates actual tally? In St. Paul’s (in one of the most Eurosceptic parts of the country) will the Independent gain the seat from UKIP because people mark the wrong ballot paper? And in St. Neot’s, with two Independents standing could there be such a mix-up that the returning officer announces that to be sure everyone knows what actually happened, they’ll do it all over again in a few weeks time. Oh, what a wonder the polls in May can be!


The final round of Local By-elections before the May 5th elections

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Menhendiot (Con defence) and Wadebridge West (Con defence) on Cornwall
Result of council at last election (2013): Independents 37, Liberal Democrats 36, Conservatives 31, Labour 8, UKIP 6, Mebyon Kernow 4, Green 1 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 25)
Result of wards at last election (2013):

Conservative 549 (38%), UKIP 450 (31%), Liberal Democrat 352 (24%), Green 93 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Charles Boney (Lib Dem), Martin Menear (Lab), Duncan Odgers (UKIP), Richard Sedgley (Green), Phil Seeva (Con)

Wadebridge West
Conservative 830 (66%), Liberal Democrat 308 (24%), Labour 129 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Sally Dunn (Con), Helen Hyland (Ind), Adrian Jones (Lab), Karen McHugh (Lib Dem), Amanda Pennington (Green)

Halcon (Lib Dem defence) on Taunton Deane
Result of last election to council (2015): Conservatives 36, Liberal Democrats 14, Independents 3, Labour 2, UKIP 1 (Conservative majority of 16)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Liberal Democrats 1,012, 1,001, 889 (40%)
Conservatives 891, 851 (36%)
Green Party 605 (24%)
Candidates duly nominated: Robert Bainbridge (UKIP), Chris Booth (Lib Dem), Kieran Canham (Lab), Livvi Grant (Con), Craig Rossiter (Green)

This is the last set of local by-elections ahead of the elections on May 5th, therefore for the next three Thursdays I will be doing profiles of the elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly looking at the prospects for each of the parties


Local By-Election Preview : April 7th 2016

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Ynysddu (Lab defence) on Caerphilly
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 50, Plaid Cymru 20, Independents 3 (Labour majority of 27)
Result of ward at last election : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 719, 559 (64%)
Plaid Cymru 382, 224 (30%)
Conservatives 70, 57 (6%)
Candidates duly nomninated: John Kidner (Lib Dem), Phillipa Marsden (Lab), Marina Pritchard (Plaid), Joe Smyth (UKIP)

Pocklington, Provincial (Con defence) on the East Riding of Yorkshire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 51, Labour 6, Independents 5, United Kingdom Independence Party 3, Liberal Democrats 2 (Conservative majority of 35)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 4,542, 4,426, 4,118 (44%)
Labour 2,054, 2,040, 1,997 (20%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 2,001 (20%)
Liberal Democrat 1,684 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated: Lucie Spadone (Lab), Andy Strangeway (Ind), Neil Tate (UKIP), Paul West (Con)

Almond and Earn (Ind defence) on Perth and Kinross
Result of council at last election (2012): Scottish National Party 18, Conservatives 10, Liberal Democrats 5, Labour 4, Independents 3, Perth Independents 1 (No Overall Control, SNP short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2012) : Emboldened denotes elected
Scottish National Party 892, 628 (41%)
Conservatives 1,112 (30%)
Indpeendent 444 (12%)
Labour 369 (10%)
Liberal Democrat 244 (7%)
Candidates duly nominated: Kathleen Baird (Con), Denise Baykal (UKIP), George Hayton (Lib Dem), Wilma Lumsden (SNP), Dave MacKensie (Lab)


Tonight’s local by-elections saw

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Moriah (Lab defence) on Caerphilly
Result of council at last election (2012) : Labour 50, Plaid Cymru 20, Independents 3 (Labour majority of 27)
Result of ward at last election (2012) : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 698, 543 (54%)
Plaid Cymru 420 (30%)
Independent 363 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated:Peter Bailie (Ind), Mervyn Diggle (Ind), Nigel Godfrey (Con), Ian Gorman (UKIP), David Harse (Lab)

Embasy with Eastby (Con defence) on Craven
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 20, Independents 6, Labour 2, Liberal Democrat 1, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 10)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 598 (57%), Labour 249 (22%), Green 221 (19%)
Candidates duly nominated: Trevor Kent (Con), Brian Shuttleworth (Ind)

Maryfield (SNP defence) on City of Dundee
Result of council at last election (2012): Scottish National Party 16, Labour 10, Conservative 1, Independent 1, Liberal Democrat 1 (Scottish National Party majority of 3)
Result of ward at last election (2012) : Emboldened denotes elected
Scottish National Party 559, 1,187 (51%)
Labour 629, 622(36%)
Conservatives 249 (7%)
Liberal Democrats 126 (4%)
Trade Unionist and Socialist 62 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: James Clancy (Con), Alan Cowan (Lab), Jacob Ellis (Green), Stuart Fairwater (Trade Unionist and Socialist), Christopher McIntyre (Lib Dem), Brian McLeod (Ind), Lynne Short (SNP), Calum Walker (UKIP)

Clacton East (Tendring First defence) on Essex
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 42, Labour 9, Liberal Democrats 9, United Kingdom Independence Party 9, Green Party 2, Canvey Island Independent 1, Independent 1, Ratepayers 1, Tendring First 1 (Conservative majority of 9)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Tendring First 1,528 (34%), Conservative 1,194 (27%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,106 (25%), Labour 477 (11%), Liberal Democrat 77 (2%), Green Party 70 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Christopher Bird (Lab), Richard Bleach (Con), Colin Sargeant (Holland on Sea Residents), Ben Smith (UKIP), Rain Weltham-Cobb (Lib Dem)

Richmond Central (Lib Dem defence) on Richmondshire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 21, Independents 7, Richmondshire Independents 4, Liberal Democrats 2 (Conservative majority of 8)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Liberal Democrats 673, 610 (49%)
Conservatives 411, 409 (30%)
Green Party 298 (22%)
Candidates duly nominated: Nathalie Carter (Con), Lorraine Hodgson (Richmondshire Independents), Anna Jackson (Green), Phillip Knowles (Lib Dem)


Local By-Election Preview : March 24th 2016 (Maundy Thursday)

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Dalton (Con defence) and Moss Bay (Lab defence) on Allerdale
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 29, Conservatives 17, Independents 7, United Kingdom Independence Party 3 (Labour majority of 2)
Result of wards at last election (2015)

Conservative 510 (48%), Liberal Democrat 226 (21%), Green Party 168 (16%), United Kingdom Independence Party 153 (15%)
Candidates duly nominated: Eric Atkinson (United Kingdom Independence Party), Flic Crowley (Green Party), Marion Fitzgerald (Ind), Ross Hayman (Lab), Mike Johnson (Con)

Moss Bay
Three Labour councillors elected unopposed
Candidates duly nominated: Louise Donnelly (Con), Bob Hardon (United Kingdom Independence Party), Frank Johnson (Lab)

Allerdale (despite it’s rather Sherwood Forest sounding name) is not in Nottinghamshire, but is in fact in Cumbria and from it’s shores can be seen (assuming there is not any fog) Dumfries and Galloway so therefore as you might expect, there is a strong Independent streak on the council. In fact it is the Independents on the council that has prevented Labour from winning an overall majority on the council until this time where thanks to a double pronged attack by both the Conservatives and UKIP, the Independents lost nine seats (one to Labour, five to the Conservatives and three to UKIP) thus enabling Labour to gain control bit given how well UKIP do in areas of dominance (and you have to admit three Labour wins unopposed does sound like dominance to me) could Labour be in danger of losing overall control (having spent the best part of thirteen years trying to win a majority)

St. Peter’s (Con defence) on Kettering
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 26, Labour 9, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 16)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,230, 1,038 (40%)
Labour 768 (25%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 563 (18%)
Green Party 501 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated: Kirsty Berry (Green), Eugene Dalton-Ruark (Lab), Mel Gosliga (Lib Dem), Ian Jelley (Con), Kevin Sills (United Kingdom Independence Party)

One of the biggest surprises of Election 1997, on a night of many, was the news that Roger Freeman (the Public Services Minister and MP for Kettering) had been defeated on a swing of 11% but only by 189 votes, and everyone naturally assumed come Election 2001 the Conservatives would win it back again which rather shows how bad that election was for the Conservatives when Labour held the seat by 665 votes (on a 0.45% swing to Lab). In fact it wasn’t until 2005 that the seat elected a Conservative MP again and now of course it has gone back to form with a Conservative majority of 12,590 (just fractionally higher than the 1992 notional majority). What is surprising though is that during all that time (1997 – 2015) just once (1999) did it not return a Conservative majority on the council so given that the Conservatives have a good lead anyway if Labour gain this ward then perhaps Osborne’s Budget woes have managed to trump Corbyn’s political woes.