Archive for the 'By elections' Category


Local By-Election Preview : October 30th 2014

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Canvey Island East on Castle Point (Canvey Island Independent Defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 20, Canvey Island Independents 16, United Kingdom Independence Party 5 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 1)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Canvey Island Independent 595 (48%), Conservative 291 (23%), Independent 195 (16%), Labour 158 (13%)
Candidates duly nominated: Colin Letchford (Ind), Chas Mumford (Con), John Payne (Canvey Island Independent), Jackie Reilly (Lab)

Castle Point Conservatives must be scratching their heads wonder “What on earth can we do?”. The reason for this pondering, the council’s electoral history. Back in 2003, Castle Point was a Conservative bastion (39 Conservatives out of a 41 member council) and in 2004 the Canvey Island Independents made their first appearance but didn’t do anything to trouble the Conservative majority. However by 2006, it was clear that they were making advances as they made six gains all at the cost of the Conservatives, however by 2008 they had reached a ceiling and the Conservative majority stayed at nine with both sides involved in a battle of attrition that always resulted in a score draw. And then came UKIP, who in 2014 made five gains all at the expense of the Conservatives and made what was once a Conservative bastion into a hung council which might probably explain why, in a part of the country they should do well in, there is no UKIP candidate.

Sandsfield East on Neath and Port Talbot (Lab Defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 52, Plaid Cymru 8, Independents 3, Social Democrats 1 (Labour majority of 40)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,041, 879, 750 (53%)
Independents 1,116, 622 (34%)
Ratepayers 669 (13%)
Candidates duly nominated: Matthew Crowley (Lab), Richard Minshull (Con), Keith Suter (UKIP)

Neath and Port Talbot is one of those councils that you know the result of even before a single ballot has been cast. The reason? 1995: Labour majority of 37, 1999: Labour majority of 16, 2004: Labour majority of 7, 2008: Labour majority of 10, 2012: Labour majority of 40. Even in the worst times of the Labour disaster, Labour still held on here (with a vote share in 2004 of 47%). So having had one or two disappointments in the last couple of weeks (and in order to prove that they are not just taking votes from Conservatives but Labour as well), UKIP need to finish a very strong second here or even win.

North Coast and Cumbraes on North Ayrshire (SNP defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Scottish National Party 12, Labour 11, Independents 6, Conservative 1 (No Overall Control, SNP short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Scottish National Party 1,705, 1090 (45%)
Labour 1,144 (19%)
Conservative 1,143 (18%)
Independent 1,017 (16%)
Socialist Labour Party 124 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Drew Cochrane (Ind), Toni Dawson (Con), Meilan Henderson (UKIP), Grace McLean (SNP), Valerie Reid (Lab)

When North Ayrshire first came into existence in 1995, the result was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Labour won by a landslide wining 26 out of the 30 seats available, 1999 saw them lose just the one seat, and in 2003 they only lost another four still giving them an overall majority of 12 and the opposition must have begun to think “Well, all we can hope for is a Labour disaster on the scale of 1983 and then perhaps they will lost overall control”, but in 2007, Labour did lose overall control but not because of a disastrous poll rating (in fact in those elections Labour polled 32%, only slightly down on their 2003 score) what happened was that thanks to the previous Holyrood coalition, these elections were now fought under the Single Transferable Vote and as a result Labour won 12 seats (40% of the seats) on a 32% vote share making them the largest party on the council but without an overall majority and following the SNP landslide in 2011 when the 2012 elections were held, that trend continued with Labour losing just the one seat but thanks to the SNP making 4 gains, they became the largest grouping (a position they would love to defend especially given Alex Salmond’s intention to stand for Westminster and North Ayrshire only rejecting independence by less than 2,000 votes)

Ironbridge Gorge (Lab defence) and Newport West (Con defence) on Telford and the Wrekin
Result of council at last election (2011): Labour 33, Conservatives 17, Liberal Democrats 3, Independent 1 (Labour majority of 12)
Result of wards at last election (2011)
Ironbridge Gorge: Labour 589 (53%), Conservative 523 (47%)
Candidates duly nominated: Elizabeth Mollett (Con), Richard Soame (UKIP), Ken Stringer (Lab)

Newport West: Conservative 606 (64%), Labour 341 (36%)
Candidates duly nominated: Warwick McKenzie (UKIP), Phil Norton (Lab), Rodney Pitt (Con), Peter Scott (Ind)

Telford and the Wrekin (named after the latest of the new towns and the mountain not that far from it) is one of these councils that has retained it’s name, but very little besides. Back in 2003, it was part of Shropshire county and was the only council to be controlled by Labour in the whole county, if only by a majority of 4. However in 2007, that control went out of the window as the Conservatives forced it into No Overall Control with 12 gains (ten of which came from Labour). But by 2011, when Labour regained control of the council, Shropshire as a county was no more. It had become a unitary authority (so gone was Shrewsbury and Atcham, North Shropshire, South Shropshire and Bridgnorth) leaving Telford as a unitary authority in it’s own right and being the only Labour controlled council west of Wolverhampton.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (Lab Defence)
Result of last election (2012): Labour 74,615 (51%), English Democrats 22,608 (16%), Conservative 21,075 (15%), United Kingdom Independence Party 16,773 (12%), Liberal Democrats 10,223 (7%)
Labour elected on the first round with a majority of 52,007 (36%)

Local Area Results:
Barnsley: Lab 12,393 (56%), Eng Dems 2,996 (14%), Con 2,940 (13%), UKIP 2,400 (11%), Lib Dems 1,325 (6%)
Doncaster: Lab 17,017 (49%), Eng Dems 7,321 (21%), Con 5,433 (16%), UKIP 3,232 (9%), Lib Dems 1,694 (5%)
Rotherham: Lab 16,374 (51%), Eng Dems 5,034 (16%), UKIP 4,737 (15%), Con 4,660 (15%), Lib Dems 1,211 (4%)
Sheffield: Lab 28,831 (51%), Con 8,042 (14%), Eng Dems 7,257 (13%), UKIP 6,404 (11%), Lib Dems 5,933 (11%)
Candidates duly nominated: David Allen (Eng Dems), Alan Billings (Lab), Jack Clarkson (UKIP), Ian Walker (Con)

So far this Parliament there have been 18 by-elections (excluding Northern Ireland) and of those 18, 14 have been in Labour seats. Of those 14, Labour have held 13 and in those 13, UKIP have come second in six of them (in choronological order Barnsley Central (March 2011), Middlesborough (November 2012), Rotherham (November 2012), South Shields (May 2013), Wythenshawe and Sale East (February 2014) and Heywood and Middleton (October 2014)), two of which lie inside the area covered by the South Yorkshire Police Force, so you can see why Labour are very much scared of either being forced into a runoff with UKIP or, in the worst case scenario, seeing their second preference votes deciding between UKIP and the English Democrats.


Predict Thursday’s South Yorkshire PCC by-election and win the political book that everybody’s talking about

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Which party will win and what’ll be the winning percentage margin?

Last night I attended a splendid book launch for the book by the academic duo of Phil Cowley and Rob Rord featured above. Extracts have received a fair bit of coverage in the past couple of days particularly on the sexual traits of different party supporters.

The book is a compendium if fascinating political tales aimed, I’d suggest, at the political geek audience, I was given a few copies for PB competition prizes and our first will be on Thursday’s S Yorks PCC by election.

Just to note that like all PB competitions my rulings are absolute.

Entries on the thread after 2359 tonight will not be valid. Entries can be with up to two decimal points.

Good luck.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Gains for LAB, CON and SNP in this week’s council by-elections

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Oban North and Lorn on Argyll and Bute (Ind Defence)
Result: Scottish National Party 1,090 (41% +16%), Independent 629 (24% +1%), Labour 530 (20% -2%), Conservative 415 (16% -2%)
SNP lead of 461 (17%) on the first count on a swing of 8% from Independent to SNP, SNP GAIN from Independent on the fourth count

Rogate on Chichester (Con Defence)
Result: Conservatives 342 (71% -20%), UKIP 138 (29%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 204 (42%) on a swing of 25% from Conservative to UKIP

Burnopfield and Dipton (Derwentside Independents Defence) and Evenwood (Lab Defence) on Durham
Burnopfield and Dipton
Result: Labour 656 (45% +7%), Derwentside Independent 655 (45% +10%), Conservative 86 (6%), Green 63 (4%)
Labour GAIN from Derwentside Independent with a majority of 1 (0%) on a swing of 1.5% from Labour to Derwentside Independent (True Swing: 17% from Independent to Labour)

Result: Labour 546 (38% -14%), Conservatives 396 (28% -3%), UKIP 309 (22% +5%), Independent 108 (8%), Green 72 (5%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 150 (10%) on a swing of 6% from Labour to Conservative

Newnham and Westbury on Forest of Dean (Ind Defence)
Result: Independent 321 (39%), Conservatives 216 (26%), UKIP 102 (12%), Labour 100 (12%), Greens 70 (8%), Liberal Democrats 25 (3%)
Independent HOLD with a majority of 105 (13%)

Mitcheldean on Gloucestershire (Ind Defence)
Result: Conservatives 959 (38% +14%), UKIP 550 (22% +3%), Independent 455 (18% -18%), Labour 278 (11% +1%), Liberal Democrats 150 (6% unchanged), Greens 106 (4% unchanged)
Conservative GAIN from Independent with a majority of 409 (16%) on a swing of 6% from UKIP to Conservative

Haywards Heath, Lucastes on Mid Sussex (Con Defence)
Result: Conservatives 524 (56%), UKIP 203 (22%), Liberal Democrat 112 (12%), Labour 90 (10%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority 321 (34%)

Folkestone, Harvey West on Shepway (Con Defence)
Result: Conservatives 385 (39%), UKIP 293 (29%), Liberal Democrats 262 (26%), Labour 57 (6%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 92 (10%)

The main headline has to be four UKIP MISSES including two in prime UKIP areas

Harry Hayfield


The great CON Rochester primary mystery – how the reported turnout of 4,000 became 5,688

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Why aren’t we getting the full numbers like in Totnes in 2009?

The first news that all was not well with the CON Rochester primary was this report, now not on the Spectator site, from the usually well informed Isabel Hardman.

An hour or so later were told that “Kelly Tolhurst wins Tories’ postal primary Rochester & Strood with 50.44% to Anna Firth’s 49.56%. 5,688 ballots returned.”

That was an odd way to present the figures. Why not , as in the 2009 primaries, give the full numbers with the total of spoilt papers? The fact that we are not getting this detail raises my suspicions.

    Could it be that Hardman’s original 4,000 figure was the correct number of valid votes and that it was decided to present the outcome as being a little bit better for the party by talking of the number of ballots returned with the actual candidate totals presented as percentages.

If the turnout is based on number of valid votes then 4,000 would make it about 5.3% not the 7.5% that talking about ballots returned suggests.

Given the controversy surrounding the whole election and the primary itself it would not be surprising if Rochester voters hostile to the Tories spoilt their ballots before popping them in the return paid envelopes and posting them.

It would have been far better for the party to have come clean about the actual numbers last night rather than allow these questions to be raised.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


UPDATED: Just 5,688 of Rochester’s 70k+ electors took part in the Tory primary and the winner got it by less than 1%

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

The earlier Spectator report proved to an underestimate

I said beforehand that a 15% participation rate would be good given the time pressure. So to fall short of that by such a margin does not bode well for the Blue Team.

It really shows the lack of interest that voters there have in the party and doesn’t bode well for CON prospects in the election proper on November 20th.

I just wonder whether this will be the spur for LAB to take Rochester seriously.


Generally the oldies are the key group for UKIP yet in the ComRes Rochester poll they give Reckless a lead of just 1%

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Looking more closely at the numbers

Let there be no doubt – the UKIP donor funded ComRes Rochester poll was terrible news for the Tories coming as it has just before the party announces the result of its all-postal primary on who should be the candidate.

Looking closely at the ComRes data two demographic segments stand out. Firstly there are the oldies, those of 65 and above, who normally are the biggest supporters of all for Farage’s party. In this poll however, as the extract from the dataset above shows, it is nothing like as clear cut with Mark Reckless just 1% ahead.

As I’ve said many times on PB in a vast range of elections the oldies are crucial. They are most likely to be on the electoral register, most likely to actually vote and least likely to change their mind.

The second positive figure for the Tories from the demographic splits is how well the blues are doing with the AB groups showing a clear cut lead.

The big feature from the poll is how reliant in the ComRes poll UKIP are on non-voters from 2010. This is what the leading political scientist and UKIP expert, Rob Ford, Tweeted last night:-

I’m told that we should be getting the results from the CON Rochester postal primary this evening. The number to look out for is the turnout.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


On the eve of the CON primary result a UKIP donor funded ComRes Rochester poll has the purples 13% ahead

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

UKIP 43: CON 30: LAB 21: LD 3: GRN 2

Th big by-election news tonight which has already been anticipated by the betting markets is a new UKIP donor funded poll of Rochester & Strood in the Daily Express.

The news is not good for the Tories and very good for the purples. The poll has Farage’s party in a better position than it was in the Mail/Survation poll two weeks ago when UKIP had a 9% lead.

Amongst 2010 CON voters ComRes found 57% supporting the blues and 40% Reckless – almost exactly the same proportion as in the earlier Survation poll. Reckless is relying for his support on ex-LAB & LD voters. But the biggest source of new support for UKIP are those who didn’t vote at the last general election with 28% of the UKIP share coming from them.

Some other pollsters would mark the views of this group down sharply because non-voting support from the previous general election is the most flakey of all.

This is how the non-2010 voters split.

Clearly this puts the purples in a strong position just four weeks from polling day and there’ll be a huge amount of pressure on whoever wins the primary to claw some of this back.

With four weeks to go I’m expecting a lot of polling. Eagerly awaited is a survey from Lord Ashcroft.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Rochester and Strood is being presented as solely a CON-UKIP battle – but what about Labour?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Could the Kickboxer kick CON and UKIP ass?

After Labour’s pitiful performances at the Heywood and Newark by-elections it is easy to dismiss their chances entirely in the Rochester and Strood by-election on November 20th. The national party has not given the impression that this is a priority and recent form does not bode well.

But in the only polling that’s been done, the Survation survey, Labour was holding up pretty well and if you strip out of the Reckless vote in that poll the non-GE2010 voters then the red team was within a couple of points. The polling is distorted because a large slab of UKIP voters say they voted that way at GE10 when, of course, there wasn’t a UKIP candidate in the constituency.

What has impressed me is the quality of the LAB candidate there, Naushabah Khan, who comes over more effectively than either Mark Reckless or the two contenders in the Tory primary. She describes herself as a commuter and a “Kickboxer”. In terms of presentation skills she reminds me of UKIP’s Diane James in Eastleigh who, it will be recalled, pushed CON into 3rd place. She also seems to have built up an energetically youthful activist base which is a key part of being a PPC.

Also in its previous form as Medway the seat was a very tight marginal which Bob Marshall-Andrews clung onto by 213 votes at GE05. There’s a history of strong organisation which suggests very good data particularly of its support base in the past. This is a massive asset.

The challenge, of course, is that Labour is up against the very well resourced UKIP and CON machines who are flinging everything at it.

I don’t think that Labour will win but they just might and for betting purposes I’m not ruling it out. If you use the Betfair exchange then lay UKIP or CON. The odds are not that much different from the back price and you’ll be covered if by any chance Naushabah does pull it off.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble