Archive for the 'Harry Hayfield’s local election preview' Category


Local By-Election Preview : October 29th 2015 – 3 Con, 2 Lab and 1 Lib Dem defences

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Risedale on Barrow in Furness (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 27, Conservative 9 (Labour majority of 18)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,474, 1,361, 1,310 (77%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 438, 348 (23%)
Candidates duly elected: Michael Cassells (Lab), Carole Friend (Con), Colin Rudd (UKIP)

For such a Labour heartland, Barrow and Furness’ constituency results have been, of late, anything but a heartland. At the 1992 general election John Hutton won the seat with a majority of 3,578 (6%) which as a result of the Labour landslide in 1997 rocketed up to nearly 15,000 (30%) and it only slowly started to fall as Labour’s popularity waned and then came the kicker.

The Boundary Commission said that Barrow and Furness should increase it’s land area and that meant taking in land from Westmorland and Lonsdale (a Conservative / Liberal Democrat battleground), in order words let in more Conservative voters and whilst in 2010 the new Labour MP John Woodcock held on with a majority of 5,208 (12%) the introduction of bits of Westmorland and the collapse in the Lib Dem vote meant that in 2015 he only just scraped home with a majority of 795 (2%) meaning that whilst Barrow district will elect Labour councillors forever and a day, Barrow constituency is back into it’s usual pattern of a Conservative / Labour battleground

Shenfield on Brentwood (Lib Dem defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 23, Liberal Democrats 10, Labour 2, Independents 2 (Conservative majority of 9)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Liberal Democrat 892 (44%), Conservative 783 (38%), United Kingdom Independence Party 282 (14%), Labour 81 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Cameron Ball (Lab), Alison Fulcher (Lib Dem), John Hamilton (Green), Jan Pound (Con), Peter Sceats (UKIP)

Since 2003, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have been involved in what might be deemed an unruly brawl over this Essex council. First the Lib Dems were the largest party, then the Conservatives gained control and built up a very impressive majority of 19 in 2008 but then the Lib Dems started to make their presence felt and in 2014 (against the national trend) managed to force the council into a state of No Overall Control (helped by the Independents making four gains).

Sadly for the Lib Dems that was a one off as this year the Conservative took back control but in an age of Lib Dems fighting back and as we have seen twice this week threatening to expose the lack of a Conservative majority in the Lords, how long will it be before Brentwood goes back to No Overall Control and Tim Farron is able to travel to Essex after a set of local elections and announce (for the first time in nearly 11 years) “Liberal Democrats : Winning Here”

Congleton East on Cheshire East (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 53, Labour 16, Independents 11, Liberal Democrats 2 (Conservative majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 2,969, 2,603, 2,361(39%)
Labour 1,506, 1,438, 1,340 (20%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 1,290, 1,055 (17%)
Independent 1,067 (14%)
Liberal Democrats 736, 666, 658 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Dawn Allen (UKIP), Geoff Baggott (Con), Robert Boston (Lab), Denis Murphy (Lib Dem)

Cheshire East is rather a strange beast of a council. Created by the merger of Crewe and Nantwich, Congleton and Macclesfield, you would expect it to be a Conservative heartland and yet in some parts of the council, the results are a lot closer than you might think (and this is one of them). I admit that a 9% swing from Con to Lab to gain this ward is a little unlikely, but when you consider that to win Congleton constituency Labour need a 16% swing and to gain Macclesfield a 15% swing, 9% seems very easy in comparison but that’s because there was an Independent polling 14% who is not contesting this by-election which poses the question: “Can UKIP pick up those Independents?” If not, Con hold with a stonking swing from Lab, but if they can, then Lab gain Congleton East?

Euxton North on Chorley (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 31, Conservatives 14, Independents 2 (Labour majority of 15)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Labour 692 (45%), Conservative 570 (37%), United Kingdom Independence Party 289 (19%)
Candidates duly nominated: Tommy Gray (Lab), Alan Platt (Con), Christopher Stuart (UKIP)

I know that being made Deputy Speaker is a great honour and I am sure that he will carry on being Deputy Speaker until he stands down from Parliament, but I miss Lindsay Hoyle popping up every so often in that broad Lancastrian accent and bringing the Government of the day to account but I dare say that the borough of Chorley quite likes have a Deputy Speaker as it’s member of Parliament and if the recent elections in Chorley are anything to go by, the electors of Chorley don’t seem to mind either.

After all, back in 1992 this was a notional Conservative seat and although not as safe as it was when Lindsay Hoyle gained the seat in 1997, the fact that he recorded a Con to Lab swing of 1.78% (when Lancashire as a whole recorded a 1% Con to Lab swing) does suggest that Labour should be fairly confident of holding what is a marginal on the council.

Peterborough West on Peterborough (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 27, Labour 12, Independents 7, Liberal Democrats 4, United Kingdom Independence Party 4, Liberals 3 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 2)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,553, 1,482 (42%)
Labour 1,137, 1,050 (31%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 702 (19%)
Liberal Democrats 290 (8%)
Candidates duly nominated: Alex Airey (Green), Lynne Ayres (Con), John Myles (UKIP), Malcolm Pollack (Lib Dem), Mohammed Sabir (Lab)

Peterborough at the general election was a disaster for Labour. They only needed a swing of 5.41% to gain the seat (not impossible given some of the pre-election polls) and what happened? They only managed a 3.37% swing. And yet in 2014, when this ward was last contested Labour came within 4% of winning the popular vote (Con 33%, Lab 29%, UKIP 16%) so what happened? Well, I don’t have a clue but if Labour cannot figure out what happened (and fast) when Peterborough votes next year (when they are defending six seats and were 8% behind the Conservatives in the popular vote) then the Conservatives could well be celebrating a rather unexpected gain in the East of England.

Hellingly on Wealden (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 50, Independents 5 (Conservative majority of 45)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,722, 1,599 (48%)
Liberal Democrats 1,253, 1,145 (35%)
Independent 608 (17%)
Candidates duly nominated: Paul Soane (Ind), David White (Lib Dem), Alex Willis (Con)

Wealden, in the rolling countryside of East Sussex, has been slowly changing from a council with an effective opposition to a Conservative one party state. Back in 2003, there were 15 Liberal Democrat councillors but every four years that figure declined. They lost three in 2007, nine in 2011 and were wiped out in this year’s local elections.

If ever a Lib Dem fightback was needed it was here and interestingly, we have (for the first time in quite a while) a complete match with the last election (no additional parties, no parties taking a breather) meaning that if the Liberal Democrats do fightback to win a seat here we shall be able to see exactly where that support has come from (and give a clue to potential Liberal Democrat gains across the south coast next year).

Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Preview : October 22nd 2015 – 4 Con and 2 Lab defences

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Tottington on Bury (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 35, Conservatives 12, Independents 2, Liberal Democrats 2 (Labour majority of 19)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Labour 1,085 (42%), Conservative 965 (38%), United Kingdom Independence Party 379 (15%), Liberal Democrat 135 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: David Foss (Lib Dem), Martin Hayes (Lab), Ian Henderson (UKIP), Greg Keeley (Con), John Southworth (Green)

Bury is that sort of council that can either be a battleground council (as it was between 1990 – 1994 and 2006 – 2011) or it can be as safe as houses (as it was between 1995 – 2003 and 2012 – today) but when it does become safe as houses, it’s always Labour who control it. The best the Conservatives have ever done is a majority of one in 2008 (leading to the suspicion that Bury naturally trends Labour) which makes this by-election of a Labour marginal in a council area that trends Labour very interesting indeed and with polls suggesting that the “Corbyn bounce” is coming to an end and past evidence that when UKIP contest an election after appearing for the first time, their vote falls, could the Conservatives buck the trend?

Dedham and Langham on Colchester (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 27, Liberal Democrats 20, Labour 9, Independents 4 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Conservative 596 (71%), Liberal Democrat 81 (10%), Labour 81 (10%), Green 78 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: Anne Brown (Con), Bill Faram (UKIP), George Penny (Lib Dem), John Spademan (Lab)

Colchester has also been a battleground over the years only instead of flipping between Conservative and Labour, it’s the Liberal Democrats who provide the challenge and must one of the few councils in Britain to have remained in a state of No Overall Control since 2003 although you might think looking at the result here in 2012 the Conservatives wouldn’t have a thing to worry about. However, look whose making an appearance? UKIP and with their track record of doing very well in first time apperances, plus the continuing Liberal Democrat flightback will there be enough of a shift for the ward to change hands?

Chandlers Ford on Hampshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 45, Liberal Democrats 17, United Kingdom Independence Party 10, Labour 4, Independent 1, Community Campaign 1 (Conservative majority of 12)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 1,919 (39%), Liberal Democrat 1,557 (32%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,073 (22%), Labour 238 (5%), Green Party 124 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: James Duguid (Lib Dem), John Edwards (UKIP), Judith Grajewski (Con), Sarah Smith (Lab)

And whilst we are on the subject of Lib Dem fightbacks, how’s this for a possible humdinger of an election? This ward, located in Eastleigh borough, recorded a pro Lib Dem swing in 2013 (5% from Con to Lib Dem) when across Hampshire as a whole there was a 0.5% swing to the Conservatives (proving that Eastleigh Liberal Democrats can put up a heck of a fight when they want to) and with the reduction in support for UKIP when they fight again it’s all a question of “Which party will pick up the support?”. By my reckoning if the Liberal Democrats are able to pick up two thirds of the UKIP drop they will gain the ward, but if they can only manage less than half, the Conservatives will hold.

Northfield Brook on City of Oxford (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 33, Liberal Democrats 8, Green Party 6, Independent 1 (Labour majority of 18)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Labour 700 (72%), Conservative 112 (12%), Green 111 (11%), Liberal Democrat 55 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Lucy Ayrton (Green), Gary Dixon (Con), Joe Lawes (UKIP), James Morbin (TUSC), Jennifer Pegg (Lab)

Oxford is one of a new breed of councils that ignores the third rule completely and has elections every even numbered year (just like the American Congress) and as such gives a more hotch potch history than some other councils but despite that one thing is clear in Oxford, Labour have been taking support from both the Lib Dems and the Greens since 2006 (when the Lib Dems were last the largest party on the council).

Since then however Labour have gained 16 seats (11 of which came from the Lib Dems, 2 of which came from the Greens and 3 of which came from the Independents leaving you with a situation as here with a very dominant Labour party and a scattered opposition. But Labour can’t rest on their laurels too much as they have a double threat here, not only from UKIP but from the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (especially when you consider that this ward once elected a true Socialist as recently as 2002)

Sonning Common on South Oxfordshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 33, Labour 1, Liberal Democrat 1, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 30)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 2,444, 2,432 (60%)
Labour 651, 510 (16%)
Green 519 (13%)
Liberal Democrats 431, 424 (11%)
Candidates duly nominated: Will Hall (Con), Susan Cooper (Lib Dem), David Winchester (Lab)

It says a lot about a council when 92% of the seats are won by a single party (mind you when you see that 45% of the vote went to the Conservatives you can understand why) so the fact that UKIP have ignored this ward seems a little bit strange, after all at the local elections in May they polled 7% of the vote and you would think with such a one party state they would certainly influence the result, but they haven’t and so it is safe to say that this will be another romping Conservative hold in a part of the country that clearly votes Conservative until the cows come home.

Bryanston and Dorset Square on City of Westminster (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 44, Labour 16 (Conservative majority of 28)
Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened enotes elected
Conservatives 1,207, 1,180, 1,049 (52%)
Labour 468, 415, 391 (20%)
Green Party 381 (16%)
Liberal Democrats 286, 240 (12%)
Candidates duly nominated: Julia Alexander (Con), Jill Sarah de Quincey (UKIP), Steve Dollond (Baker Street, No Two Ways), Ananthi Paskaralingam (Lab), Hugh Small (Green), Martin Thompson (Lib Dem)

And whilst I am pretty sure there aren’t any cows in Westminster this is another Conservative heartland (mind you in 1986 that dominance looked as it may have come to an end) as the Conservative majority shrank from 26 in 1982 to just four in 1986 but had recovered back to 30 at the 1990 local elections (and presumably Cllr. Boothroyd, Lab, Westbourne) who seems to know Westminster like the back of his hand will be able to explain why this was the case.

And whilst it is true that we have UKIP standing for the first time, UKIP have a definite “London problem” which means that the candidate to watch may be Mr. Dollond who (as you may have guessed) is not entirely convinced by the merits of turning Baker Street (made famous by a resident by the name of Sherlock Holmes and the piece of music by Gerry Rafferty) into a one way street and whilst it is a little unlikely that he will be able to win, his influence could turn a rock solid Conservative seat into a very tight marginal.

Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Preview : 2 Con, SNP, Lab and 1 Green Defences

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Leith Walk on Edinburgh (SNP and Green defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 20, Scottish National Party 18, Conservatives 11, Greens 6, Liberal Democrats 3 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 10)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,674 , 937 (33%)
Scottish National Party 1,735, 502 (29%)
Green Party 1,593 (20%)
Conservatives 637 (8%)
Liberal Democrats 400 (5%)
Independents 109, 91 (3%)
Trade Unionist and Socialist 109 (1%)
Liberal Party 69 (1%)
Candidates duly nominated: Marion Donaldson (Lab), Mo Hussain (Lib Dem), Tom Laird (Libertarian), Alan Melville (UKIP), Gordon Murdie (Con), Susan Rae (Green), Natalie Reid (SSP), John Ritchie (SNP), John Scott (Ind), Bruce Whitehead (Left Unity)

When Edinburgh first became unitary in 1995, Labour had a very good election indeed polling 41% of the vote across the city and winning an overall majority of 10. Things however very quickly turned sour for Labour as by 2003 they came within 405 votes of losing the popular vote in the city (to the Liberal Democrats) and whilst they managed to retain control it was only by two seats. So the introduction of STV in 2007 couldn’t come fast enough for Labour and sure enough Edinburgh’s split political personality was revealed. In those elections Labour polled 22.93% of the vote, the Conservatives 22.08%, the Liberal Democrats 21.99% and the Scottish National Party 20.33% with the Greens on 8.23%.

Thanks to the proportional system used the Conservatives won 15 seats, Labour and the SNP 14 seats, the Liberal Democrats 12 seats and the Greens got their first ever seats on Edinburgh council winning 3 leaving the council completely hung. So what happened at the 2012 elections to make Labour the largest party? Answer, a collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote. Compared with 2007 the Labour vote rose 5%, the SNP vote rose 7%, the Conservative vote fell by 1% and the Liberal Democrat vote collapsed to just 9% with the Greens overtaking them on 11%. Of course since then the SNP have been on an absolute tear but unlike in Glasgow (where the Green vote in 2015 was just 3% compared to 2%) the Greens polled 6% of the vote in Edinburgh East and a very respectable 5% in Edinburgh North and Leith (where this ward is located) so do the Greens have a chance of sharing in the spoils of the SNP surge? I think it’s very likely indeed.

Midlothian West on Midlothian (SNP defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 8, Scottish National Party 8, Greens 1, Independent 1 (No Overall Control, Labour and Scottish National Party short by 2)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Scottish National Party 930 , 789 (40%)
Labour 762, 776 (35%)
Conservatives 462 (11%)
Liberal Democrats 246 (6%)
Green Party 226 (5%)
Independents 103 (2%)
Trade Unionist and Socialist 41 (1%)
Candidates duly nominated: Jane Davidson (Lib Dem), Daya Feldwick (Green), Ian Miller (Lab), Kelly Parry (SNP), David Tedford (Non Party Independent), Pauline Winchester (Con)

If Edinburgh is remarkably cosmopolitan in it’s politics, Midlothian is quite boring by comparison. Before the introduction of STV it as a Labour heartland but following the introduction of the electoral system it’s become a true Labour / SNP battleground which naturally poses the question “If the SNP surge continues, will the SNP gain Midlothian in 2017?” and I think it’s almost certain to (especially when you consider that in 2011 the constituency of Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale which this ward is a part recorded an increase of 11% in the SNP vote and at the general election in Midlothian, the SNP achieved a 23% swing from Labour)

Fant on Maidstone (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 25, Liberal Democrats 20, Independents 6, Labour 2, United Kingdom Independence Party 2 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 1,255 (30%), Liberal Democrats 930 (22%), Labour 860 (20%), United Kingdom Independence Party 742 (18%), Green Party 434 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Keith Adkinson (Lab), Matt Broughton (Con), Mike Hogg (Ind), Rosaline Janko (Lib Dem), Stuart Jeffery (Green), Colin Taylor (UKIP)

If the Lib Dem #fightback (which has seen the party gain four seats since the election of Tim Farron as leader) is going to make a real impact in local government, then this is the council. Despite everything the Lib Dems endured whilst in coalition, Maidstone’s electors never rejected them in the same way that other councils did as the Lib Dems only lost three councillors net during the elections between 2010 and 2015 and as they only need a 4% swing to gain this ward, there’s a very strong chance that could well happen.

Blackheath on Sandwell (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 72, no opposition
Result of ward at last election (2014): Labour 1,090 (39%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,003 (36%), Conservative 573 (21%), Green Party 111 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Shirley Ching (Con), Ben Groom (Green), Ian Keeling (UKIP), Danny Millard (Lab)

And if the Lib Dems are enjoying a fightback in Maidstone, then UKIP need to take a leaf out of their books. Since the general election only Rush Green on Tendring (in Clacton constituency) has returned a UKIP councillor and with only a 1.5% swing needed to gain, if UKIP cannot gain a seat on a council without any opposition then perhaps Nigel Farage should not only un-unresign as UKIP leader, but also as an MEP and as a party member. Then, perhaps, the UKIP party structure may finally realise that in order to capitalise on their 13% of the vote at the general election, they need someone who doesn’t polarise opinion in the way that Mr. Farage does.

Southborough North on Tunbridge Wells (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 42, Liberal Democrats 3, Labour 2, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 36)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Conservative 790 (59%), Labour 233 (17%), United Kingdom Independence Party 219 (16%), Liberal Democrat 181 (13%)
Candidates duly nominated: William O’Shea (UKIP), Trevor Poile (Lib Dem), Joe Simmons (Con)

The phrase “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” has often been coined to describe someone who believes that everything is wrong with the world, to which I would reply that (at the local level anyway) it appears to be the Conservatives who benefit from this view. Although they did suffer a downward trend from their peak in 2008, the Conservatives are still miles and away the most favoured party in the district (never falling below 33 councillors since 2003).

That’s not to suggest though that there isn’t an opposition and with Labour not fielding a candidate in this by-election, that opposition to the Conservatives comes from the Lib Dems and UKIP (but can either of them manage to defeat the Conservatives?)

West Thurrock and South Stifford on Thurrock (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 18, Conservatives 17, United Kingdom Independence Party 13, Independent 1 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 7)
Result of ward at last election (October 2014 by-election): Labour 903 (50%), United Kingdom Independence Party 621 (35%), Conservative 270 (15%)
Candidates duly nominated: Helen Adams (UKIP), Tony Coughlin (Con), Cliff Holloway (Lab)

The general election for UKIP was nothing short of a triumph. They polled just under four million votes, gained 120 second places and although they only managed to get one MP (Douglas Carswell in Clacton) they managed to create two marginals and a very tasty looking three way marginal. That three way marginal was Thurrock where the Conservatives polled 34% (-3% on 2010), Labour polled 33% (-4% on 2010) and UKIP polled 32% (+25% on 2010) and as Thurrock is a council that votes every year you can see why this by-election is being fought just as keenly.

All UKIP needs between now and the next general election is a mere 12 gains (four each year in 2016, 2018 and 2019) and they gain control and with one third of the council up for election next year (8 Labour, 7 Conservative, 1 Independent and 1 UKIP) the right combination of four gains would see UKIP become the largest party on the council (and allow them to claim that they now are able to run two councils in the UK, Thanet and Thurrock). But will this enthusiasm be able to dispel a problem that UKIP have consistently had. Yes, they can gain council seats at elections and by-elections, but they have a very poor track record of holding them.

Harry Hayfield


Just one by-election tonight – a Labour defence in Wales

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen on Caerphilly (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 50, Plaid Cymru 20, Independent 3 (Labour majority of 27)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,854, 1,574, 1,282, 1,181 (61%)
Non Party Independents 508, 484, 409, 254 (17%)
Independents 438, 389, 378 (12%)
Plaid Cymru 664, 258 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Ray Davies (Ind), Ron Davies (Plaid), John Dew (Ind), Bobby Douglas (Ind, was UKIP), Lisa Jones (Lab), Rita Lukins (Con)

The natural assumption of most people to Caerphilly would be “Yawn, Labour hold, next council please!” but to disregard Caerphilly would be most unkind as this council has actually been very surprising since it’s creation in 1995. Admittedly those first elections were as predictable as ever. Labour 56 councillors out of 68 with a 63% vote share but then things “turned on a dime” in 1999.

Not only did Plaid Cymru manage to win Islwyn in the Assembly elections but as the local elections were held on the same day, Plaid did what many thought to be impossible. They won control of their first council in the South Wales valleys polling 45% of the vote and winning 39 councillors. This shocked Labour so much that one of the first actions of the 1999 – 2003 Assembly was a rule that local elections and Assembly elections would never be held on the same day ever again.

And so having regained Islwyn in 2003, Labour regained Caerphilly in 2004 and vowed never to mention 1999 again. However, the electors of Caerphilly didn’t get the memo as in 2008 Labour lost control again and although they were the largest party Plaid sprang at the chance and combining their 32 councillors with the nine Independents elected Labour were knocked out of power for the second time in fifteen years.

Added to which in Bedwas in 2012, there was more than one type of Independent, as there is in this by-election (including Bobby Douglas was who nominated as the UKIP candidate but then made a comment, that some people may class as “this is the true UKIP”, that saw UKIP sack him as their candidate and therefore we now have three Independents standing). Another reason why I use terms such as Independent, Non Party Independents and Independent Independents when dealing with Welsh local elections.

Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Preview: July 2nd 2015

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Grantham, Barrowby on Lincolnshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 36, United Kingdom Independence Party 16, Labour 12, Lincolnshire Independents 8, Liberal Democrats 3, Independents 2 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservatives 558 (38%), Independent 476 (32%), Labour 442 (30%)
Candidates duly nominated: Rob Shorrock (Lab), Maureen Simon (UKIP), Mark Whittington (Con)

Lincolnshire, on the face of it, looks rather boring. Since 1989 it’s only gone NOC twice (1993 as part of the Conservative post Black Wednesday disaster, 2013 as part of the UKIP surge) but underneath that boringness there have been some interesting changes particularly in Grantham (ancestral home of Lady Thatcher).

There are five county wards that make up the town (Barrowby, East, North, North West, South) and in 2005 those wards reflected the closeness of the general election with the Conservatives on 41%, Labour on 40%, the Independents on 10% and the Lib Dems on 9% with the Conservatives winning two of the seats and Labour winning three.

Then came the disaster of 2009 for Labour, as their vote collapsed to just 16% allowing the Conservatives to win all five seats on a swing of nearly 15% from Labour to Conservative and although Labour did manage to make a gain in Grantham in 2013, they only managed to poll 30% with the Conservative vote virtually unchanged as UKIP polled 11%, the Independents 10% and the Liberal Democrats on 2% which therefore poses the question “How will the electors of Barrowby see this by-election?”.

If they see it as “Well, excuse me, I’m not the person who was elected as a new county councillor in 2013 and then goes swanning off to Westminster as the new MP for Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk I may point out!” then UKIP (with their past track record of taking votes from Independents and Conservatives) could make yet another gain in the county. However, if they take the attitude “Jo has made a principled stand. She cannot be an MP and a county councillor at the same time” then the Conservatives should be able to hold this marginal and Labour could be the ones to suffer from UKIP.

Hampton Wick on Richmond upon Thames (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 39, Liberal Democrats 15 (Conservative majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,870, 1,708, 1,586 (50%)
Green Party 696 (19%)
Liberal Democrats 676, 647, 593 (18%)
Labour 522, 520, 474 (14%)
Candidates: Anthony Breslin (Green), Jon Hollis (Con), Michael Lloyd (Ind), Geraldine Locke (Lib Dem), Sam Naz (UKIP), Paul Tanto (Lab)

“I must admit, it was with more than a little trepidation that I approached my destination” were the opening words to the BBC drama serial that bears this ward’s name. The serial (broadcast in 1971) was written by G. Wiley and a gentlemen. Therefore, people of a certain age will instantly recognise that this was one of the serials produced as part of the “Two Ronnies”. And why was the serial named after a ward in London? Because the lead character was having a post operation fuelled dream at Hampton Wick Cottage Hospital.

And looking at the result in 2014, I rather fear that’s the only way the Liberal Democrats will be able win this ward which poses the question if the Conservatives were to lose, who might gain? Well, we know from past experience that UKIP do have a London problem and Labour aren’t strong in the south west of the capital so how about the Greens? Well, 19% at the last elections from just a single candidate does suggest that Richmond may be turning over a Green leaf and then there’s the Independent who didn’t contest in 2014, but all in all I think that the former Conservative councillor (now a Conservative MP) will be very confident in congratulating his new Conservative successor in a few hours time.

Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Preview : June 30th 2015

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Pentyrch on Cardiff (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 46, Liberal Democrats 16, Conservatives 7, Independents 4, Plaid Cymru 2 (Labour majority of 17)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Conservative 772 (54%), Labour 413 (29%), Plaid Cymru 171 (12%), Green 40 (3%), Liberal Democrat 22 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Cadan ap Tomos (Lib Dem), Paul Fisher (Lab), Gavin Hill (Con), Munawar Mughal (Ind), Ruth Osner (Green), Hywel Wigley (Plaid)

Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, has always had a local council and it has followed the twists and turns of Welsh politics over the years in more or less the same way as the national picture. When the council was created in 1973, during the oil crisis and the lack of confidence in Edward Heath’s administration, Labour won control of the new council, however not by the margin you might think.

They only had a 3% popular vote lead and a majority of nine in the council chamber so it should come as no suprise that in 1976, the Conservatives romped house with a popular vote lead of 24% (on a 13.5% swing) and getting an overall majority of 13.

But, as we have seen in recent elections held on general election day, Labour voters always come back and in 1979, Labour regained control (despite losing the popular vote by 3%) but it’s the council members that matter and with 41 to the Conservatives 34, Labour were back in charge but it all flipped around in 1983 when the Conservative regained control with a majority of 3 (helped by the newly found Alliance who polled 19% of the vote and causing the Labour vote to fall by 10%) but even that didn’t last long as in 1987, Cardiff became hung.

The Conservatives won 25 councillors (36% vote share), Labour won 29 councillors (35% vote share) and the Alliance won 11 councillors (27% vote share) but in 1991 it was Labour who had the smiles and the majority as they polled 44% of the vote and won an overall majority of 16 as the Conservatives plunged and Labour became confident of winning every seat in Cardiff in 1992.

Sadly for them that didn’t happen, and in 1993 John Redwood announced that Cardiff would become a unitary authority with the first elections being held in 1995. And my word, talk about a landslide. Labour polled 57% of the vote and won 56 out of 67 seats with the Liberal Democrats taking their position as the first ever non Conservative opposition on the council.

And what of the Conservatives you ask? 16% vote share and just one lowly councillor. In 1999, it was clear that the Liberal Democrats were the party making inroads. In those Assembly elections they won Cardiff Central and in the locals polled 28% of the vote (higher than in 1987) and won 17 councillors and they sensed that take off was happening, confirmed in 2004 when the unthinkable happened.

The Liberal Democrats became the largest party on the council with 32 seats and a 33% vote share and although all the parties were equal in the 2008 local elections (Con 28%, Lab 27%, Lib Dem 26%) the Lib Dems remained the largest party just three short of an overall majority. Then came 2012. Labour 40%, Conservatives 18%, Liberal Democrats 18% electing a Labour majority suggesting that Cardiff had come full circle once again and was now as perhaps it always had been a Labour heartland.

Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Preview : June 25th 2015

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Market and West Deeping on South Kesteven (Deferred Election: One Conservative Defence and Two Independent Defences from 2011)
Result of council at last full election (2011): Conservatives 39, Independents 12, Labour 6, Liberal Democrats 1 (Conservative majority of 20)
Result of ward at last full election (2011) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives: 959, 766 (40%)
Independents: 847, 844, 533 (35%)
Green Party: 622, 330, 302 (26%)
Candidates duly nominated:
Conservative: Nick Neilson
Liberal Democrats: Adam Brookes
Independents: Ashley Baxter, Bob Broughton, David Shelton
United Kingdom Independence Party: William Learoyd, Robert O’Farrell, Roger Woodbridge

South Kesteven has always had a Conservative history but like the rest of rural Lincolnshire the Independents have always been a strong force. In 2003, there were twelve of them, in 2007 they increased to fifteen before falling back to twelve again in 2011.

However, in the local elections in the other parts of the county the Indepenents had a new opposition in the form of UKIP with a total of 33 district councillors being elected compared to just 18 Independents. There is already a UKIP councillor on South Kesteven so could UKIP take those two Independent seats or as we saw last week have UKIP peaked already?

Romsey on Cambridgeshire (Liberal Democrat defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 32, Liberal Democrats 14, United Kingdom Independence Party 12, Labour 7, Independents 4 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Liberal Democrat 1,118 (48%), Labour 741 (32%), Green Party 138 (6%), Cambridge Socialists 118 (5%), United Kingdom Independence Party 118 (5%), Conservatives 103 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Debbie Aitchison (Green), Richard Jeffs (UKIP), Nichola Martin (Lib Dem), Zoe Moghadas (Lab), Raja Rahatul (Con)

Cambridgeshire can be a rather confusing county. Not only does it have two wards that sound the same (RAMSEY and ROMSEY) but because it’s the districts that deal with the elections not the county, you need to know what part of the county is up for election before making an assessment. For instance RAMSEY is in Huntingdonshire (Con / UKIP battleground) where as ROMSEY is in Cambridge (Lab / Lib Dem battleground) and so as a result you might think the Liberal Democrats are looking at this by-election and thinking “Oh dear, here we go again!”.

Yes, Labour did indeed gain Cambridge at the general election but only on an 8% swing from Lib Dem to Lab (2% lower than the national swing) but the Liberal Democrat vote only fell from 39% to 35% (thanks in part to the Conservative vote collapsing from 26% to 16%) in other words clear tactical voting by Conservatives to keep the Liberal Democrat in. Now, I realise that in Romsey with only 4% of the vote that probably won’t happen but could another party come to the Lib Dems aid or indeed could Labour voters think that this election is not worth coming out to vote for?

Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Results : June 18th 2015

Friday, June 19th, 2015

North Highcliffe and Walkford on Christchurch (Deferred Election, Two Conservative Defences)
Result: Emboldened denotes elected
Labour: Donald Barr 143, Gareth Walls 132
Conservatives: Sally Derham-Wilkes 793 , Nick Geary 775
United Kingdom Independence Party: Robin Grey 315, Janet Hatton 288
Two Conservative HOLDS

Holmwoods on Mole Valley (Deferred Election, One Liberal Democrat Defence from 2011, one UKIP defence from 2014)
Result: Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives: James Baird 492, Emma Whittinger 458
United Kingdom Independence Party: Michael Foulston 201, Stephen Morgan 180
Liberal Democrats: Clare Malcolmson 804 , Clayton Wellman 768
Green Party: Michael Suggett 78, Jeff Zie 105
One Liberal Democrat HOLD, One Liberal Democrat GAIN from UKIP

Harry Hayfield