Archive for the 'By elections' Category


Yes Witney saw a sharp decline in turnout compared with GE2015 but it impacted on the parties differently

Friday, October 21st, 2016


CON hold Witney with a much reduced majority & the LDs coming 2nd securing a 19.3% CON to LD swing

Friday, October 21st, 2016

GRN & UKIP lose deposits with the purples coming 5th

In the end the Witney by-election ended up very much as predicted. The numbers above are pretty close to what Shadsy of Ladbrokes had projected in the Tweet I’d highlighted in the previous thread.

    For a party with double digit leads in all the national polls the Tory vote drop in Witney was poor & hardly vote of confidence in Mrs. May or her approach to BREXIT

The CON vote collapse was surely not helped by having a leaver as candidate. The area voted REMAIN on June 23rd. It raises questions on the government’s EU extraction strategy.

This was always going to be a huge challenge for the LDs but after years of by election misery they’ll be delighted with an outcome that looks like progress and is in line with the big successes they’ve been having in local by-elections. In fact they picked up another council seat from the Tories last night.

Labour put a lot into this and managed to avoid being squeezed too much. But Labour started in a second place and the main opposition party should have been doing much better.

UKIP and the Greens did poorly both losing their deposits. The fifth place for the purples doesn’t auger well and it is not clear where they fit in this post BREXIT world.

The Green hope of having the brother of Bernie Sanders as their candidate. didn’t produce anything like the benefit they’d hope for.

Mike Smithson


The by-election thread with Witney the main focus

Thursday, October 20th, 2016


A crossroads for all parties

This was a by-election that appeared so boring when Cameron stepped down as an MP that Shadsy of Ladbroke opened the betting with the Tories at 1/500. This meant a £1,000 winning bet would have produced a profit of just £2.

So anything other than a Tory win by a clear margin must still be the likely outcome. The LDs, who’ve been doing exceptionally well in local council elections of late, have thrown everything into the Oxfordshire and really need a substantial increase on the GE2015 7% to justify the effort.

This is the first CON defence since TMay became leader and she needs a good result particularly as she’s also played a part in the campaign.

Labour were on 17% in second place in 2015 and are hoping to retain as much as that as possible. Slipping to third behind the yellows won’t be good.

My view is that Shadsy of Ladbrokes is probably in the right territory with this.

Mike Smithson


Is Witney saving all its love for EU?

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

This by-election could be pivotal to the type of Brexit Mrs May’s government tries and obtains, and if she decides to hold an early general election.

If the Lib Dems do pull off a victory in Witney this Thursday the implications will be felt outside West Oxfordshire. It might determine the type of Brexit Mrs May’s government chooses to pursue, additionally with Theresa May transferring into Theresa Maybe over Heathrow expansion and becoming the second Tory Prime Minister this year to suspend collective cabinet responsibility the Tory majority of 12 looks incompatible with good, stable governance, though Mrs May’s approach as Prime Minister may also be exacerbating those problems.

Theresa May and her team must look at the opinion polls and think with the double digit leads she enjoys an early election is tempting. For the record, I expect a Tory hold with a fall in the Tory share of the vote, because

  • i) It is a by election and we generally see swings against the sitting government in by-elections
  • ii) David Cameron by virtue of first being party leader and then Prime Minister built up an impressive share of the vote, that should unwind as he is no longer the Tory candidate

Though I suspect many will try and spin it as a vote against ‘hard’ Brexit and Mrs May, though I thought it was a sign of Tory nervousness that both Mrs May and David Cameron campaigned in Witney last weekend, usually sitting Prime Ministers don’t go campaigning like this in by-elections.

Not since Oxford housed the King Charles I after his expulsion from London during the civil war has the politics of Oxfordshire been so important in a fractured country.




Get ready for another CON by-election defence if the Heathrow expansion is given the go-ahead

Monday, October 17th, 2016


Zac’s 23k majority looks strong

One of the most predicted by-elections of this parliament, at Zac Goldsmith’s Richmond Park, looks set to come about if the government, as expected very shortly, announces that it is going ahead with the expansion at Heathrow.

Zac, of course, was the Tory candidate in May’s London Mayoral election and would likely have resigned his seat then if he’d beaten Sadiq Khan. That wasn’t to be but Zac’s long-standing threat to resign if LHR3 goes ahead remains. He reiterated it again over the weekend and there can be little doubt about his intentions.

Such has been the high possibility of a by-election there that the Lib Dems already have a candidate in place and much groundwork has been done for a campaign. Other parties the same.

What we don’t know is whether Zac himself would fight the seat as an independent. He’s said to be hugely popular locally and saw a huge increase in his vote at GE2015. His majority was 38.9% which looks impregnable.

Large parts of his seat used to be in Lib Dem hands and the party has a strong organisation. So we could have a three way fight with Zac facing the reinvigorated Lib Dems and an official Conservative candidate. This could be very hard to call.

I’d think that the official Tory would be third.

Mike Smithson


Mrs May must be hoping that the Tories do better in Thursday’s Witney contest than in recent local by elections

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

The blue team’s performance is “less than optimal”

This weekend is a massive one in the Witney Westminster by-election campaign the first such contest since 2014. There are only four days left and each of the parties have been throwing everything into it to ensure they get the best possible result.

Defending Cameron’s 43% majority at GE2015 the Tories have quite a big comfort blanket and it is hard to see anything other than CON hold.

The LDs are at full by-election strength and must be hoping at the mimimum for a clear second place ahead of LAB/UKIP. This is one of the way the yellows are trying to secure CON voters worried about BREXIT.

Mike Smithson


Nine days to go to the by-election and a report from on the ground in Witney

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

William Hill latest prices

Do the betting odds have it right?

Witney is a safe Tory seat was made ultra safe by the relatively equal division between Reds and Yellows plus the bonus of having the PM as MP. Last time out Labour thumped Lib Dems in the undercard. In the referendum Remain won 54-46.

The constituency can be divided into three rough blocks

Witney and Chipping Norton – Con v Lab

The fringe of Oxford (Woodstock, Charlbury) Con v LD

Carterton (Armed Services) and the villages – solid Tory

This geographical division partly explains why neither Labour or Liberal Democrats have successfully squeezed the other’s vote. Labour has recovered in Witney since 2010, bucking the trend and holding 2 council seats with increased majorities earlier this year.

One of these councillors, Duncan Enright is Labour candidate having stood in 2015. He has a good reputation locally for campaigning. Liz Leffman for the Yellows stood in Witney in 2005 and in a target seat in 2010. She also has a good reputation for dogged persistence and getting results once she adopts a cause.

With such strong local campaigners standing the Tories responded by also fielding a local councillor, barrister Robert Court. All his predecessors had been head office apparatchiks – Douglas Hurd, Shaun Woodward and Cameron. The Green candidate is Larry Sanders, brother of Bernie. UKIP are very weak and were unable to get their candidate to the one hustings being held.

The Lib Dems have drafted in the full election team and have been helped by not being distracted by national conferences. Labour are relying on a local effort. Duncan Enright’s Twitter feed shows mainly friends and family out with him whereas the Lib Dems have come from all over the country. The Tories seem to be doing their usual thing – apparently unimpressive and yet still the clear favourites.

The scale of the Lib Dem effort means they are likely to regain second place. After years of not being heard, it is clear they are being listened to once again by the voters. However, they have not gained ownership of the key local issues – the closing of a surgery in Witney, Doctor’s waiting times and traffic on the A40. They are doing the playbook but it lacks emotional connection.

Witney is not posh, much of the constituency and the town itself is lower middle class Tory. The Chipping Norton set don’t live in Chipping Norton, but in the villages, where it is very select – plenty of celebs, too many to list.

The likely outcome? The Tories remain clear favourites. The Lib Dems by virtue of the scale of their effort are likely to regain the silver medal spot, but will be prevented from making a major challenge by the residual strength of Labour’s support in Witney town itself. Duncan Enright is a strong local candidate and it is difficult to win the constituency without winning the town of Witney where the Lib Dems are historically weak.

John Wheatley who has been a regular poster to in the past and lives there


TMay needs a sizeable CON majority in Witney to deal with the “unelected PM” taunts

Monday, October 3rd, 2016


A good by-election result will also reinforce her BREXIT strategy

It is not TMay’s fault that she ended up as CON leader and PM without having to go through a membership ballot. Once Andrea Leadsom pulled out on that memorable Monday morning there was no further obstacle and she was assured of the leadership and the keys of Number 10.

She just avoided several weeks of hustings, TV debates and campaigning which would allowed a much greater scrutiny of her ideas and plans and, at the same time, made her a better campaigner. I always thought that Gordon Brown missed a lot by his 2007 coronation and that he would have been a better campaigner at the general election if he’d had to undergo a proper leadership fight. I’d argue that Corbyn’s political skills have been enhanced by having to go through a second leadership election.

But we are where we are and we are seeing increasing use of terms like “the unelected PM”.

Although she’s had a polling honeymoon this hasn’t been echoed in local elections where her party has lost the equivalent of a third of the seats its defended since TMay took the helm. But local elections are just that local elections. While as Ralling & Thrasher over the years have shown they can be a pointer TMay needs to prove herself in a more substantial electoral test.

Postal voting starts later this week in Witney in the Westminster by-election to fill the vacancy created by Cameron decision to quit parliament. UKIP, LAB and the LDs are fighting hard though facing a CON majority at GE2015 of 43% it is a big ask for any of the opposition parties.

Just as last year’s Oldham by-election increased LAB majority reinforced Corbyn’s position the same is even more so of Witney. At the EURef the area voted REMAIN and no doubt the outcome will also be interpreted as being a judgement on the PM’s BREXIT strategy. The Tories have to win Witney and win big.

Latest William Hill betting.


Mike Smithson