Archive for the 'Coalition' Category

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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)

Evenwood
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



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Local By-Election Preview : October 23rd 2014

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Oban North and Lorn on Argyll and Bute (Ind Defence)
Result of last election to council (2012): Independents 15, Scottish National Party 13, Conservatives 4, Liberal Democrats 4 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 3)
Result of last election to ward (2014): Scottish National Party 595 (25%), Independent 548 (23%), Labour 526 (22%), Conservatives 445 (18%), Independent 301 (12%).
Candidates duly nominated: Kieron Green (Lab), Stephanie Irvine (Ind), Iain Maclean (SNP), Andrew Vennard (Con)

The SNP will be hoping that the opinion poll rises in the wake of the Scottish referendum (which in some cases project no less than fifteen MP’s at Westminster and another majority at Holywrood) will manage to overturn the problems that they have been having in Scotland of late. So far this year, the SNP have lost three seats in local by-elections (this is in comparsion with Plaid being unchanged and the Greens gaining three) and the last by-election here in July wasn’t that encouraging either.

Rogate on Chichester (Con Defence)
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 27, Liberal Democrats 5, Independents 4, Labour 2 (Conservative majority of 16)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Conservative 990 (91%), Labour 97 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: Gillian Keegan (Con), Elena McCloskey (UKIP)

First of all I can completely sympathise with the Labour candidate in 2011. I have stood twice for local elections in Ceredigion and both times got completely hammered. In 2008, I stood in Ciliau Aeron ward and polled 151 votes (19%) compared to the winning Plaid Cymru candidate polling 544 votes (67%) and in 2012, I stood in Llansantffraed against the sitting Independent and polled 141 votes (14%) which as the total poll was 983 votes gives you an idea of the stuffing I recieved. So maybe it is no real suprise that Labour aren’t contesting this ward at this by-election but what it does offer us is the classic question that pollsters have been asking ever since 2013. “What happens in a straight fight between Conservative and UKIP?”.

Burnopfield and Dipton (Derwentside Independents Defence) and Evenwood (Lab Defence) on Durham
Result of last election to council (2013): Labour 94, Independents 9, Liberal Democrats 9, Derwentside Independents 8, Conservatives 4, Spennymoor Independent 1, Wear Valley Independent 1 (Labour majority of 62)
Result of wards at last election (2013)

Burnopfield and Dipton : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 701, 688 (38%)
Derwentside Independents 760, 510 (35%)
Independents 381, 328, 257 (26%)
Candidates duly nominated: Alan Booth (Con), Gill Burnett (Derwentside Independents), Joanne Carr (Lab), Melanie Howd (Green)

Evenwood : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 870, 655 (52%)
Conservatives 529, 362 (31%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 491 (17%)
Candidates duly nominated: Lee Carnighan (Ind), Ben Casey (UKIP), Stephen Hugill (Con), Greg Robinson (Green), Heather Smith (Lab)

Durham, that rock solid bastion of Labour support in the North East, does have a slight chink in it’s armour and that chink is the Derwentside Independents (who are more than a little miffed at seeing Derwentside simply disappear off the face of the electoral map). When the council disappeared in 2007, Labour only had a majority of three on the council (having lost 9 seats in those elections, eight going to said Derwentside Independents and one to the Liberal Democrats) and were probably very glad indeed to see the council merged with the other authorities in Durham to create the new Durham County Council. Indeed, if you add up the votes and seats in Derwentside, you find that although Labour won 11 of the 21 seats in the former council area, the Derwentside Independents won 8 and that Labour’s score of 49% was only ahead of the Derwentside Independents by a matter of 16% (in other words not the bastion that you might think of when thinking about Durham)

Newnham and Westbury on Forest of Dean (Ind Defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 19, Labour 17, Independents 11, Liberal Democrats 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 6)
Result of wards at last election (2011): Emboldened denoates elected
Independent 790
Conservatives 606, 196
Greens 318
Labour 256, 171
Candidates duly nominated: Richard Boyles (Con), Peter Foster (UKIP), Ian King (Lib Dem), Sid Phelps (Green), Simon Phelps (Ind), Jenny Shaw (Lab)

Mitcheldean on Gloucestershire (Ind Defence)
Result of last election to council (2013): Conservatives 23, Liberal Democrats 14, Labour 9, United Kingdom Independence Party 3, Independents 2, People against Bureaucracy 1, Green 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Independent 1,152 (36%), Conservatives 772 (24%), United Kingdom Independence Party 612 (19%), Labour 328 (10%), Liberal Democrats 179 (6%), Greens 120 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Malcolm Berry (UKIP), Jackie Fraser (Lab), Sue Henchley (Lib Dem), Ken Power (Green), Brian Robinson (Con), Ian Whitburn (Ind)

When the UKIP breakthrough occured in 2013, Gloucestershire was one of the first areas to experience it when UKIP won three seats on the county. Now, I agree that compared to now when UKIP seem to be winning seats on all manner of local authorities in such numbers as in Essex, three might seem a little disappointing, but it’s where those three were won that was the more intersting fact. The wins were in Blakeney and Bream, Drybrook and Lydbrook and Lydney (and all three were in the Forest of Dean district council area) and if you add up all the votes in that district area, the prospects become even more interesting for UKIP. UKIP polled 6,247 votes (28%) and won 3 seats with Labour second on 5,292 votes (24%) and 2 seats, the Conservatives third on 5,257 votes (24%) and 2 seats and the Independents on 3,055 votes (14%) and 1 seat. Therefore if UKIP can pull this double off (and as we saw in South Tyneside not that long ago, there is a precedent for Independents voting UKIP) then it will mean that Forest of Dean constituency (a traditional Con / Lab battleground) can be added to that list that seems to be ever expanding of UKIP prime targets.

Haywards Heath, Lucastes on Mid Sussex (Con Defence)
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 45, Liberal Democrats 8, Labour 1
Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,168, 1,143
Liberal Democrats 551, 499
Greens 390
United Kingdom Independence Party 157
Candidates duly nominated: Nicholas Chapman (Lib Dem), Henry Fowler (Lab), Marc Montgomery (UKIP), Geoffrey Rawlinson (Con)

Folkestone, Harvey West on Shepway (Con Defence)
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 44, Independents 2
Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 883, 870
Labour 374, 353
Liberal Democrats 342
Candidates duly nominated: Helen Barker (Con), Jasmine Heywood (Green), Stephen Jardine (UKIP), Nicola Keen Lab), Hugh Robertson-Ritchie (Lib Dem)

UKIP must be rubbing their hands with glee this week. Occasionally they may pick up one, maybe two gains on a good night. This evening could see them walk away with as many as four gains and in Shepway they have previous. Just six weeks ago, they gained Harvey Central in Folkestone on Shepway with a 6% majority in a ward that in 2011 didn’t even have a UKIP candidate, so with four potential gains this week, the small matter of a PCC by-election next week and in a month’s time the Rochester and Strood parliamentary by-election, the other parties need to ask themselves “Is there anything we can do to stop UKIP?” and if they do find an answer, they need to implement it fast as there are now less than two hundred days until the next election (which makes the debate in Parliament today about a possible repeal of the Fixed Term Parliaments act very interesting indeed).



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After the ComRes Rochester poll UKIP becomes an even firmer betting favourite

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Next we’ll see polls with the candidates named

Amazing to recall that two and a half weeks ago the Tories had a brief spell as favourite on the Rochester betting markets. Then came the first poll from Survation which had a 9% UKIP lead and now we have the ComRes 13% one.

It’s a brave punter who in these circumstances bets against the polling and inevitably the UKIP price has tightened.

The only things that will budge this are developments that’ll point to the battle being tighter than is currently seen.

This evening we’ll get news of the Tory all postal primary. If the turnout is reasonable then it might give the blues a boost. What they will have from this evening is a candidate that they will claim has a mandate because of the way she’s been selected.

The next thing I’m hoping to see is a poll with all the candidates being named.

Too often we look at these thing in terms of party battles alone when in by elections in particular candidates can matter enormously. The government of the country is not at stake and people are voting for an individual.

So far the great single constituency pollster, Lord Ashcroft, has yet to dip his toe into the Rochester water. Surely an early survey from him is not far off?

Mike Smithson



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The afternoon Marf on the dementia bonus for GPs

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

gpdementia (1)

  • If you would like to purchase one of Marf’s prints or originals, please contact her here.


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    The Lib Dems fall into 5th place in this week’s Ashcroft National phone poll

    Monday, October 20th, 2014

    Earlier the Populus had Lab 36 (+1), Con 34 (+1), LD 9 (-1), UKIP 13 (-1) GRN 5 (+1)

    This 3% jump in a single week is a remarkable move by the Greens who now seem to be taking support from across the board but most particularly LAB and the LDs which could conceivably help the Tories in the battlegrounds.

      Like all moves that are out of the ordinary we would have a lot more confidence if it was supported by other surveys and today’s Populus had them on 5% four full points behind the LDs.

    For some reason the Ashcroft poll generally reports the highest figures of all for the Greens.

    My reading is that none of the so-called “major parties” and their leaders are doing well at the moment and inevitably other forces are coming in to fill the vacuum.

    We are in uncharted territory and no one can really predict where this is going. The Lord A data shows that the Greens are now taking more 2010 LD support than UKIP.

    What will worry LAB is that the proportion of 2010 LDs voting LAB appears to have fallen as the GRN share has risen.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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    If Stephen Fisher’s latest GE15 forecast is right LAB could win most seats with just 31.3% of the vote

    Saturday, October 18th, 2014

    CON with 2.7% more votes in the forecast get 7 fewer seats

    We’ve been here before and we’ll be here many times in the next six months – the way that on national vote shares at least the “system” seems to favour LAB so much.

    The latest from Oxford’s Stephen Fisher is in the panel above which illustrates a scenario that could happen.

    This is all because the aggregate national vote shares are irrelevant when determining the outcome. What matters, as I keep on saying, is what happens in the 650 constituency battles each held under first past the post.

    The rise of UKIP as a fourth force means that the aggregate LAB+CON vote share could be lower than ever before and many seats could be won with fewer than 30% of the votes. The key driver in most of the key battlegrounds is the relative position of LAB and CON.

    Much of the apparent bias in the system is down to much reduced vote shares in Labour’s heartlands where the red team finds it difficult getting its supporters out as we saw in the Heywood by-election. Another driver of the bias is that LAB seats have on average smaller electorates than CON or LD ones.

    On top of that there’s the effect of tactical voting which could be higher and more complex than ever before. At previous elections LAB voters have been ready in LD-CON battles to use their vote to stop the Tories thus depressing the national LAB vote share. I don’t rule out at GE15 some LAB switching to CON to stop UKIP in certain seats.

      A LAB “victory” on just 31.3% will surely raise questions about the legitimacy of whatever government emerges.

    Ladbrokes are currently offering 3/1 on LAB securing most seats and CON most votes.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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    Local By-Election Results : October 16th 2014

    Friday, October 17th, 2014

    Harper Green on Bolton (Lab Defence)
    Result: Labour 1,176 (51% -1%), UKIP 777 (33% +15%), Conservative 282 (12% -11%), Greens 38 (2% -2%), Liberal Democrats 28 (1% -3%), Independent 19 (1%)
    Labour HOLD with a majority of 399 (18%) on a swing of 8% from Labour to UKIP

    Towyn on Conwy (Con Defence)
    Result: Conservative 143 (25%), Independent (Smith) 116 (20%), Independent (Johnson) 104 (18%), Labour 98 (17%), Independent (Griffiths) 69 (12%), Independent (Corry) 43 (8%)
    Conservative HOLD with a majority of 27 (5%)
    Total Independent vote: 332 (58%)

    Medworth on Fenland (Con Defence)
    Result: Conservatives 257 (45% -14%), UKIP 201 (35%), Labour 79 (14% -17%), Liberal Democrats 24 (4% -5%), Independent 15 (3%)
    Conservative HOLD with a majority of 56 (10%) on a swing of 25% from Conservative to UKIP

    Tudor on Kingston upon Thames (Con Defence)
    Result: Conservatives 1,062 (41%), Liberal Democrats 725 (28%), Labour 314 (12%), UKIP 269 (10%), Greens 219 (8%)
    Conservative HOLD with a majority of 337 (13%)

    Helmshore on Rossendale (Con Defence)
    Result: Conservatives 771 (48% -10%), Labour 444 (28% -14%), UKIP 364 (24%)
    Conservative HOLD with a majority of 327 (20%) on a swing of 2% from Labour to Conservative

    Oakham South West (Con Defence) and Whissendine (Ind Defence) on Rutland
    Oakham South West
    Result: Conservatives 240 (52%), Independent 177 (38%), Liberal Democrats 43 (9%)
    Conservative HOLD with a majority of 63 (14%)

    Whissendine
    Result: Liberal Democrats 192 (52%), Conservatives 179 (48% +6%)
    Liberal Democrat GAIN from Independent with a majority of 13 (4%)

    Sheppey Central on Swale (Con Defence)
    Result: UKIP 831 (58%), Conservatives 324 (23%), Labour 240 (17%), Loonies 27 (2%)
    UKIP GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 507 (35%)

    West Thurrock and South Stifford on Thurrock (Lab Defence)
    Result: Labour 903 (50% +3%), UKIP 621 (35% +1%), Conservatives 270 (15% unchanged)
    Labour HOLD with a majority of 282 (15%) on a swing of 1% from UKIP to Labour

    Westfield on City of York (Lib Dem defence from Labour defection)
    Result: Liberal Democrats 1,804 (60%), Labour 588 (20%), UKIP 398 (13%), Conservatives 113 (4%), Greens 87 (3%), English Democrats 5 (0%)
    Liberal Democrat HOLD with a majority of 1,546 (40%)



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    Tonight’s Local By-Election Preview by Harry Hayfield

    Thursday, October 16th, 2014

    Harper Green on Bolton (Lab Defence)
    Result of last election to council (2014): Labour 40, Conservatives 15, Liberal Democrats 3, United Kingdom Independence Party 2 (Labour majority of 20)
    Result of ward at last election (2013): Labour 744 (52%), Conservative 325 (23%), UKIP 252 (18%), Greens 60 (4%), Liberal Democrats 53 (4%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Jeff Armstrong (UKIP), Rebekah Fairhurst (Lib Dem), Susan Haworth (Lab), Joseph Holt (Ind), James Tomkinson (Green), Robert Tyler (Con)

    If a week is a long time in politics, then twenty five years must seem like a millennium and yet, however, in those 25 years places like Bolton haven’t changed that much. Back in 1990, Bolton was a Labour controlled council with 43 of the 60 members elected belonging to Labour and they had an overall majority of 26. However, that lack of change masks a great deal. The first big change came in 2003 when Labour lost overall control, and in 2006 all three main parties were pretty much neck and neck (Lab 22, Con 21, Lib Dem 17), but following that election the tide began to swing towards Labour as they gained control again in 2011, and in 2014 the furst UKIP councillors were elected. So no change on the surface over the last quarter of a century or so, but a lot of changes on the ground.

    Towyn on Conwy (Con Defence)
    Result of last election to council (2012): Independents 19, Conservatives 13, Plaid Cymru 12, Labour 10, Liberal Democrats 5
    Result of ward at last election (2008): Conservatives 411 (59%), Independent 120 (17%), Green 101 (15%), British National Party 60 (9%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Geoff Corry (Ind), Barry Griffiths (Ind), David Johnson (Ind), Laura Knightly (Con), Beverley Pickard-Jones (Lab), Michael Smith (Ind)

    There are a number of councils across the UK where it is simply impossible to create an overall majority, most of these places are areas with large number of Independents and Conwy is one of these councils. It’s been around since 1995 (created when Colwyn and Aberconwy were merged) and ever since no one has been able to get a majority on the council. In 1995, Labour and the Liberal Democrats were tied on 18 councillors each (with the Lib Dems having a 3% popular vote lead), in 1999 Labour had the most councillors (18 again), in 2004 the Independents took the lead with 19 seats, then the Conservatives stormed into the lead with 22 seats in 2008, before the Independents reclaimed the lead with 19 again but everytime way, way less than the 31 needed for an overall majority. So no matter what happens in Towyn, nothing is going to happen to change the fact that Conwy will always be a hung council for the rest of it’s days even if it does merge, or is forced to merge, with Denbighshire (Con 30%, Ind 28%, Lab 23%, Plaid 11%, Lib Dem 7%, Green 0%, Others 1%)

    Medworth on Fenland (Con Defence)
    Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 34, Independents 4, Liberal Democrast 2 (Conservative majority of 28)
    Result of ward at last election (2011): Conservative 364 (59%), Labour 194 (31%), Liberal Democrats 58 (9%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Kathy Dougall (Lab), Andrew Hunt (UKIP), Erbie Murat (Ind), Josephine Radcliffe (Lib Dem), Steve Tierney (Con)

    Ah, Fenland, that rural part of eastern Cambridgeshire that just screams rural idyll and Conservative councillors elected with majorities over Independents that would make even grown men cry at the state of local democracy. So what a good thing we have UKIP to keep people on their toes (and with entire justification as well). In the Euros in Fenland, UKIP not only won the local count area (with 47% of the vote) but thanks to a 23% increase in the UKIP vote managed to clock up a 14% swing from Con to UKIP so now that everyone expects UKIP to win all Conservative seats where there is a whopping Conservative majority on the council, for UKIP NOT to win this (or indeed any other seat where the same rules apply) will be seen as a case for reasoning that maybe the UKIP surge is not all it is cracked up to be.

    Tudor on Kingston upon Thames (Con Defence)
    Result of last election to council (2014): Conservatives 28, Liberal Democrats 18, Labour 2 (Conservative majority of 8)
    Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened denotes elected
    Conservatives 1,617, 1,437, 1,378
    Liberal Democrats 701, 698, 554
    Green 629
    Labour 561, 511, 455
    United Kingdom Independence Party 445
    Candidates duly nominated: Ryan Coley (Green), Marilyn Mason (Lib Dem), Maria Netley (Con), Chris Priest (Lab), Ben Roberts (UKIP)

    For a council with such an imposing name (the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames) it is perhaps only fitting that the battle for the council has been a battle royal. In 1990, when my records begin, the council was hung (Con 25, Lib Dem 18, Lab 7), but in 1994 the Lib Dems gained control only for the Conservatives to bring it back to being hung in 1998, the Lib Dems gained it for the second time in three elections in 2002 but again in 2006, the Conservatives made a charge but this time it wasn’t enough and the Lib Dems held on with a majority of 2. Up went the Lib Dem majority in 2010 to 6 but (as sure as night follows day) along came the Conservatives in 2014 and managed to gain overall control for the first time in over 25 years. So who’s going to win this by-election? Well, don’t look at me I haven’t got a clue!

    Helmshore on Rossendale (Con Defence)
    Result of last election to council (2014): Labour 24, Conservatives 10, Independents 2 (Labour majority of 12)
    Result of ward at last election (2011): Conservatives 1,167 (58%), Labour 846 (42%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Granville Barker (UKIP), Emma Harding (Lab), Tony Haworth (Con)

    Rossendale (the core of the Rossendale and Darwen constituency, so often mentioned on election night as a key Conservative / Labour battleground constituency) is just as marginal as the constituency it creates. Hung in 2003, it was one of the many Conservative GAINS in 2004 and stayed that way until 2011 when Labour gained it and the result in 2011 proves that, so here’s a good question for the experts pondering the effect of UKIP on Conservative / Labour marginals. Can UKIP help Labour get an 8% swing to gain the seat, or are UKIP just as capable of gaining as many Labour votes as they gain Conservative votes?

    Oakham South West (Con Defence) and Whissendine (Ind Defence) on Rutland
    Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 16, Independents 8, Liberal Democrats 2 (Conservative majority of 6)
    Result of wards at last election (2011) : Emboldened denotes elected

    Oakham South West
    Conservatives 285, 277
    Independents 279, 266
    Liberal Democrats 178, 131
    Non Party Independent 139

    Whissendine: Independent 335 (58%), Conservative 247 (42%)

    Candidates duly nominated:
    Oakham South West: Ben Callaghan (Ind), Richard Clifton (Con), Richard Swift (Lib Dem)
    Whissendine: Sam Asplin (Lib Dem), Jonny Baker (Con)

    Rutland is the oldest, yet newest, council on the block. Given unitary authority status back in the 1990′s, it re-created England’s smallest county and since 2003 has been Conservative controlled (which explains why Alan Duncan has such a healthy majority in Rutland and Melton) and also explains why the Independents do so well on the council but as with most Indpendents it’s a very personal vote so will the Independent nominated in Oakham South West manage to hold on to the seat and with no Independent defending in Whissendine, where will their votes go? Conservative or Liberal Democrat?

    Sheppey Central on Swale (Con Defence)
    Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 32, Labour 13, Liberal Democrats 1, Independents 1 (Conservative majority of 17)
    Result of ward at last election (2011) : Emboldened denotes elected
    Conservatives 911, 871, 838
    Labour 664, 618, 557
    United Kingdom Independence Party 326
    Offical Monster Raving Loony Party 171
    Candidates duly nominated: Tina Booth (Con), Alan Henley (Lab), David Jones (UKIP), Mad Mike Young (Loony)

    West Thurrock and South Stifford on Thurrock (Lab Defence)
    Result of last election to council (2014): Labour 24, Conservatives 22, Independents 3 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 1)
    Result of ward at last election (2014): Labour 1,054 (47%), UKIP 760 (34%), Conservatives 340 (15%), Liberal Democrats 73 (3%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Terry Brookes (Lab), Russell Cherry (UKIP), John Rowles (Con)

    If local by-elections were treated like movie trailers, these two would have the following: “From Local Election Productions comes “THE BATTLE OF THE EAST”, where the upstarts of UKIP aim to knock both the Conservatives in Swale and Labour in Thurrock into a cocked hat” and with entirely good reason. Swale is next door to Medway (where a certain Mark Reckless will be defending his Conservative majority for UKIP at the end of November) and Thurrock is a seat that Labour are scared witless that UKIP could gain or enable the Conservatives to gain. Of all the by-elections tonight, these are the ones that will be poured over for the rest of the month

    Westfield on City of York (Lib Dem defence from Labour defection)
    Result of last election to council (2011): Labour 26, Conservatives 10, Liberal Democrats 8, Greens 2, Independent 1 (Labour majority of 5)
    Result of last at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
    Labour 1,767, 1,642, 1,540
    Liberal Democrats 1,401, 1,397, 1,152
    Conservative 561
    Greens 343, 260, 253
    Candidates duly nominated: Jason Brown (Con), Louise Corson (Lab), Sam Kelly (Eng Dems), Judith Morris (UKIP), Andrew Waller (Lib Dem), Alison Webb (Green)

    But, Kent and Essex aren’t the only places where defections happen. The City of York seems on the face of it a normal northern city. Lib Dem controlled in 2003, Lib Dem loss to No Overall Control in 2007, Labour gain in 2011, but over the years since that Labour gain there have been just one or two grumblings from Labour and Cllr. James Alexander (Lab, Holgate) and leader of the council has seen his majority shrink so this by-election, ahead of the general election next year, will be very important indeed. Can Labour protect their majority or will the Lib Dems be able to fight back in an area that looked so promising just a few years ago?