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


Local By-Election Preview: February 27th 2014

Thursday, February 27th, 2014


Scotter on West Lindsey (Con Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 21, Lib Dem 11, Ind 3, Lab 2 (Conservative overall majority of 5)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,164, 934
Independent 623
Liberal Democrats 332

Result of by-election held on December 19th 2013: Non Party Independent 529 (51%), Conservative 219 (21%), Liberal Democrats 148 (14%), United Kingdom Independence Party 138 (13%) (Non Party Independent GAIN from Conservative)

Candidates duly nominated: Pat Mewis (Conservative), Keith Panter (Liberal Democrats)

Harry Hayfield


By-Election Preview : January 23rd 2014

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Motherwell North on North Lanarkshire (Lab Defence)
Result of last election to council (2012): Labour 41, SNP 26, Independents 2, Cumbernauld Independents 1 (Labour overall majority of 12)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,548, 941, 897 (68%)
Scottish Nationalists 689, 572 (25%)
Conservatives 217 (5%)
Liberal Democrats 109 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Bob Burgess (Con), Jordan Linden (Scottish Nationalists), Pat O’Rouke (Lab), Neil Wilson (UKIP)

For details on the background to this election, please visit Scottish Elections at

West Leigh on Southend on Sea (Con Defence)
Result of last election to council (2012): Conservative 25, Liberal Democrats 10, Independents 10, Labour 6 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 1)
Result of ward in last electoral cycle:
2010: Con 2,541 (47%), Lib Dem 2,060 (38%), Lab 377 (7%), BNP 185 (3%), Greens 170 (3%), Independents 123 (2%)
2011: Con 1,769 (50%), Lib Dem 1,157 (33%), Lab 400 (11%), UKIP 214 (6%)
2012: Con 1,307 (50%), Lib Dem 803 (31%), Independents 278 (11%), Lab 240 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: Christopher Bailey (Lib Dem), Tino Callaghan (UKIP), Jane Norman (Lab), Georgina Phillips (Con)

Southend on Sea should be a rock solid Conservative council (especially as Southend’s parliamentary electoral history reads as a who’s who’s of famous Conservatives) however at the local level the Independents have been a right thorn in their side (in fact it was their performance in 2012 that robbed the Conservatives of overall control at the last elections), plus in European elections UKIP have also caused the Conservatives trouble (polling 10% in 1999, 22% in 2004 and at the last elections 22% as well) so given the dreadful start that the Conservatives have had this year losing all of their defences, you do have to think that the momentum is with UKIP.

Cowdenbeath Scottish Parliamentary By-Election (Lab Defence)
Result of last election to Parliament (2011): SNP 69, Labour 37, Conservatives 15, Liberal Democrats 5, Greens 2, Independent 1 (SNP overall majority of 9)
Result of constituency at last election (2011):
Helen Eadie (Lab) 11,926 (46%), Ian Chisholm (SNP) 10,679 (42%), Belinda Clare Don (Con) 1,792 (7%), Keith Legg (Lib Dem) 997 (4%), Mick Heenan (Land) 276 (1%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 1,247 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: Denise Baykal (UKIP), Dave Dempsey (Con), Stuart Graham (Victim’s Rights), Jade Holden (Lib Dem), Natalie Mcgarry (SNP), Alex Rowley (Lab), James Trolland (Scottish Democratic Alliance)

It will not come as any huge surprise to read that Labour won here in 2011, despite suffering a 5% swing from Lab to the SNP, when you hear that this seat is the same part of the country represented at Westminster by a certain Gordon Brown MP. When Helen Eadie was elected back in 1999, she had a majority of 8,699 (29%) over the SNP and aside from the intervention of a local hospital candidate in 2003, the direction of travel was always to the SNP but it was the collapse in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat vote in 2011 that allowed Labour to hold on in 2011 and given that in the past two by-elections to the Parliament the average swing to Labour has been 8%, any chance the SNP had of adding this constituency (the only one in Scotland Mid and Fife that they failed to win) must surely have gone.


Local By-Election Preview: November 28th 2013

Thursday, November 28th, 2013


Winkfield and Cranbourne on Bracknell Forest (Con Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 40, Lab 2 (Conservative overall majority of 38)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected

Conservatives 1,308, 1,250
Green 269
Labour 255, 252

Candidates duly nominated: Paul Birchall (Lib Dem), Janet Keene (Lab), Ken La Garde (UKIP), Susie Phillips (Con)

When people think of “one party states” in local elections, they often think of the Labour heartlands such as Knowsley (Lab 63, Opposition 0), Sandwell (Lab 68, Opposition 4) and Rotherham (Lab 58, Opposition 5). However the Conservatives are just as capable of producing one party states and Bracknell Forest is a classic example of a Conservative one party state.

In 2003, there were seven opposition councillors against the Conservative grouping of 35 but over the years that opposition has been slowly wittled away. In 2007, the sole Liberal Democrat and three Labour councillors lost their seats and in 2011, Labour lost another seat meaning that technically speaking although there are two councillors elected under the Labour party banner, there is not a Labour grouping on the council.

Therefore, this is the sort of area where UKIP might expect a breakthrough but will they be able to muster enough anti Conservative feeling and attract non voters, well, we’ll find out soon enough.

Caddington on Central Bedfordshire (Con Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 48, Lib Dem 5, Ind 4, Lab 1 (Con overall majority of 38)

Result at last election (2011): (Emboldened denotes elected)

Conservative 2,215, 2,134
Labour 711, 424
Liberal Democrats 404, 213

Candidates duly nominated: Kevin Collins (Con), Ian Lowery (Lab), Christine Smith (Ind), Steven Wildman (UKIP), Alan Winter (Lib Dem)

A lot has changed since Mike was a councillor in this neck of the woods. For starters, the district councils of Mid Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire have been replaced by a unitary authority called Central Bedfordshire (and as you might expect, it’s another Conservative heartland). But as in Bracknell Forest, there is an anti Conservative opposition force, however unlike in Bracknell Forest it is split between UKIP and an Independent.

With thoughts rapidly turning to the next general election and the small matter of the constituency of Mid Bedfordshire, will UKIP realise that perhaps an electoral alliance with Independents would give them the best chance of winning at that election?

Landward, Caithness on Highland (SNP Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Ind 35, SNP 22, Lib Dem 15, Lab 8 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 6)

Result at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected

Non Party Independent 1,015, 638, 244, 42 (55%)
Independent 651 (18%)
Scottish National Party 550 (15%)
Labour 302 (9%)
Conservative 109 (3%)

Candidates duly nominated: Ed Boyter (SNP), Kerensa Carr (Con), Tina Irving (Ind), Matthew Reiss (Ind), Winifred Sutherland (Ind)

For details about this ward, please visit

Vassall on Lambeth (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2010): Lab 44, Lib Dem 15, Con 4 (Labour overall majority of 25)

Result at last election (2010): Emboldened denotes elected

Labour 2,533, 2,308, 2,146
Liberal Democrats 2,193, 1,793, 1,617
Conservatives 706, 593, 525
Greens 542, 477, 476

Candidates duly nominated: Kelly Ben-Maimon (Con), Paul Gadsby (Lab), Elizabeth Jones (UKIP), Danny Lambert (Socialist), Rachel Laurence (Green), Steven Nally (TUSC), Colette Thomas (Lib Dem)

“Anytime you’re Lambeth way, Any evening, Any day, You’ll finding them all voting for Lambeth Lab, OI!” Yes, I know that I have probably committed the act of sacrilege on a song known around the world from the musical “Me and My Girl” but with the exception of the 1994 and 2002 local elections that is precisely what Lambeth has done.

This council is so Labour that when ahead of the 1986 local elections the Labour grouping on the council refused to set a rate and where therefore all sacked they still stood on the ballot and were re-elected with thumping majorities. That’s not to say that the Liberal Democrats (the main challengers) have not been able to stick one to Labour (twenty gains in 1994 and eleven gains in 2002) but with next year’s elections likely to be another drubbing for the Liberal Democrats in London (with even heartlands such as Kingston upon Thames and Sutton under threat) it’s safe to assume that Labour’s domination of Lambeth will continue for sometime yet.

Billinge and Seneley Green on St. Helens (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Lab 40, Lib Dem 5, Con 3 (Labour overall majority of 32)

Result of ward in last electoral cycle:

2010: Lab 2,954 (50%), Con 1,795 (30%), Lib Dem 1,216 (20%)
2011: Lab 1,896 (53%), Con 964 (27%), Ind 556 (16%), Lib Dem 170 (5%)
2012: Lab 1,802 (63%), Con 536 (19%), Ind 371 (13%), Green 140 (5%)

Candidates duly nominated: Laurence Allen (UKIP), Alan Brindle (BNP), John Cunliffe (Con), Noreen Knowles (Lib Dem), Dennis McDonnell (Lab), Sue Rahman (Green)

St. Helens just screams Labour that you might think it was rather on the boring side. Yes, I agree that from 1990 to 2005 Labour racked up so much of a majority that you might as well as crossed it off the list of Labour holds before nominations had even closed however in 2006 something rather odd happened. Labour lost eleven seats and lost overall control.

In 2007, another set of Labour losses and people were given serious credence to the idea that maybe, unbelievable as it may have sounded, the Liberal Democrats (already controlling Sheffield, Rochdale and Stockport at the time) could add St. Helens to their list. Sadly for the Lib Dems it was not to be and since then Labour have been re-establishing their rock solid control of the council.

Horbury and South Ossett on Wakefield (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Lab 52, Con 11 (Labour overall majority of 41)

Result of ward in last electoral cycle:

2010: Con 3,034 (38%), Lab 2,932 (36%), Lib Dem 1,517 (19%), BNP 558 (7%)
2011: Lab 2,433 (47%), Con 2,048 (39%), Lib Dem 473 (9%)
2012: Lab 1,660 (41%), Con 934 (23%), Ind 732 (18%), UKIP 429 (10%), Lib Dem 340 (8%)

Candidates duly nominated: Rory Bickerton (Lab), Mark Goodair (Lib Dem), Angela Holwell (Con), Graham Jesty (UKIP)

Whilst St. Helens was flirting with the concept of changing hands, Wakefield was having none of it. The only time that Wakefield even considered the idea of changing hands was in 2008 when Labour held onto the council by just a single seat (Lab 32, Con 23, Ind 6, Lib Dem 2) but then came the general election and normal Labour service was resumed.

But with all of the councils voting today in England being rock solid councils and unlikely to change hands, will these elections give UKIP and other non aligned Independents a chance to say “The council cannot change hands, vote with your hearts and not your head”


Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Preview : November 21st 2013

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Pontrilas on Herefordshire (Con Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 30, Ind 23, Lib Dem 3, Lab 1, Green 1 (Conservative overall majority of 2)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Con 728 (46%), Ind 515 (33%), IOC 337 (21%)

Candidates duly nominated: Elaine Godding (Ind), Jon Norris (It’s Our County), Elissa Swinglehurst (Con)

For a profile of this county’s past elections, please see my posting for November 7th 2013

Golcar on Kirklees (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Lab 32, Con 18, Lib Dem 10, Green 5, Ind 4 (No Overall Control, Lab short by 3)

Result of ward in last electoral cycle

2010: Lib Dem 3,166 (37%), Lab 2,111 (24%), Con 1,917 (22%), BNP 783 (9%), Green 381 (4%), Ind 289 (3%)
2011: Lab 1,769 (40%), Lib Dem 1,567 (36%), Green 384 (9%), Ind 340 (8%), BNP 292 (7%), TUSC 59 (1%)
2012: Lab 1,729 (40%), Lib Dem 1,584 (36%), Con 548 (13%), Green 490 (11%)
Candidates duly nominated: Gregory Broome (UKIP), Daniel Greenwood (Green), Christine Iredale (Lib Dem), Stephan Jungnitz (Lab), Clinton Simpson (Con)

Kirklees, like most councils in the north of England, fell out of love with Labour. However, it started to fall out of love with Labour just after the 1992 general election. Indeed by 1994, when John Smith was being hailed as the next Prime Minister, Labour actually lost control of Kirklees. They regained control in 1995, but just four years later lost it again and in the millennium suffered the humiliation of losing largest party status to the Liberal Democrats.

They regained it in 2003, and in 2006 found themselves at the heart of a three party battle (Lab 21, Con 20, Lib Dem 20) which carried on until the general election. Then Labour started to make ground but despite all that are still short of an overall majority and whilst the Lib Dems are now just a fraction of their former selves (10 councillors compared to 29 at their peak in the millennium), in this ward they must fancy their chances in pulling off a surprise.

Hillmorton on Rugby (Con Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Con 25, Lab 10, Lib Dem 6, Ind 1 (Conservative overall majority of 8)

Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected

Conservatives 804, 706, 662
Labour 534, 451, 427
Liberal Democrats 334, 255, 207
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 119

Candidates duly nominated: Barbara Brown (Lab), Jim Buckley (Con), Peter Burrows (Green), Tim Douglas (Lib Dem), Roy Harvey (UKIP)

Rugby council has been a tale of how the Conservatives have managed to convince rural independent voters that it is better to have a Conservative than an Independent councillor. This has been seen in other places in the UK (such as West Oxfordshire, for years an Independent bastion now Conservative controlled) and Rugby has followed a very similar pattern.

Back in 2003, the council was hung (Con 18, Lab 16, Lib Dem 10, Ind 4), but as the elections rolled on slowly but surely the number of Conservative councillors went up as the number of Independents went down and in 2007 the Conservatives gained overall control as the Independents were wiped out.

The only difference between 2007 and now is six fewer councillors thanks to boundary changes but this does not mean that the independents (and in some cases UKIP) should be ignored. Dunchurch county ward (in the Rugby council area) ditched the sitting Conservative councillor in the recent local elections by 500 votes (18%) with the Conservative vote (that had been static between 2005 and 2009) falling 10% (helped by the Liberal Democrats not fielding a candidate and the Greens falling 7%). Are the Independents or even UKIP on the march in Rugby over HS2?

Eastfield on Scarborough (Lib Dem Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 25, Ind 14, Lab 6, Lib Dem 3, Green 2 (No Overall Control, Conservatives and Opposition tied)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected

Liberal Democrats 468, 358, 356
Labour 272, 260, 240
Independents 107, 97
Conservatives 91, 81

Candidates duly nominated: William Baines (Con), Jonathan Dodds (UKIP), Carole Gerada (Ind), Annette Hudspeth (Green), Dawn Maxwell (Ind), Tony Randerson (Lab)

Comberton on South Cambridgeshire (Lib Dem Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Con 33, Lib Dem 16, Ind 7, Lab 1 (Conservative overall majority of 9)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Lib Dem 558 (53%), Con 397 (37%), Lab 104 (10%)

Candidates duly nominated: Fay Boissieux (Lib Dem), Helen Haugh (Lab), Tim Scott (Con), Elizabeth Smith (UKIP)

South Cambridgeshire is another council where the Conservativation of the Independents has been going along apace. In the early days of the process, Labour were the main victims and by 2006, they had been reduced to a single councillor helping the Conservatives towards gaining the council in 2007 (but only by one).

After that there was a double pronged attack against both the Lib Dems and the Independents so that by 2008, the Conservative majority was up to seven and the Independents on nine were just a shadow of their former selves. However in 2010, the Lib Dems (buoyed by Cleggmania) stole a march and make five net gains (at the expense of both the Conservatives and the Independents), however it was not to last and in 2011 and 2012, the Conservatives gained seats from their coalition partners.

Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Preview: November 7th 2013

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Kingswood on Corby (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Lab 22, Con 4, Lib Dem 3 (Lab overall majority of 15)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected

Labour 1,052, 1,027, 1,015

Conservatives 413, 332

Candidates duly nominated: Elise Elliston (Lab), Phil Ewers (Con), Julie Grant (Lib Dem), Peter McGowan (UKIP)

The electors of Corby district and the electors of Corby constituency may be forgiven for being seen as out of step with each other. Labour won the parliamentary constituency of Corby in 1997, held it in 2001 and 2005, lost it in 2010 and then won it back in a by-election last year.

Whilst all this toing and froing was going on at the constituency level, at the district level things were much more level headed. Between 2003 and 2011, the number of Labour councillors increased by four whilst the number of Conservative councillors fell by five with the Liberal Democrats taking up the slack, gaining one.

So why is the district far more stable than the constituency? Well, the simple reason is that Corby constituency is not just Corby district. When Louise Bagshawe (prior to getting married) became the first Conservative MP in the seat for nearly twenty years and became one of the most famous Conservative tweeters, she made a point of making it known that she was the MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire. East Northamptonshire district is even more stable than Corby district and so the swing in the constituency was reflected by those voters in East Northamptonshire swinging to Labour in 1997 as opposed to Corby itself swinging to Labour.

Bosworth on Harborough (Con Defence)

Result at last election (2011): Con 27, Lib Dem 9, Ind 1 (Con overall majority of 17)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Con 780 (75%) Lab 255 (25%)

Candidates duly nominated: Lesley Bowles (Con), Annette Deacon (Lib Dem), Bill Piper (UKIP)

If Corby is the Conservative’s Agincourt, then Bosworth is the Lib Dems Waterloo (as seen from Napoleon’s side). In 2003, the Lib Dems finally broke through winning 18 councillors and being the largest party on the council (Lib Dem 18, Con 16, Ind 2, Lab 1) and was hoping that like Oadby and Wigston next door at the next elections they would be able to claim that the Lib Dems were “winning here”.

Sadly that was not to be case as in 2007, the Conservatives made ten gains (with seven of them coming from the Lib Dems) and consigning them to opposition where they have been ever since. That is not to say that they can’t spring suprises though as in 2010 where the Lib Dems saw their vote increase by 11% and turn a rock solid Conservative seat into a marginal for the next election

Harrow on the Hill on Harrow (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2010): Lab 34, Con 27, Lib Dem 1, Ind 1

Result of ward at last election (2010): Emboldened denotes elected

Labour 1,948, 1,729, 1630

Conservatives 1,786, 1,651, 1,646

Independents 1,021, 641, 500

Liberal Democrats 973, 899

Candidates duly nominated: Gaye Branch (Lib Dem), Glen Hearnden (Lab), Gajan Idaikkadar (Harrow First), Eileen Kinnear (Ind), Stephen Lewis (Con), Jeremy Zeid (UKIP)

Harrow used to be a straight forward council with the Conservatives holding a majority and both Labour and the Liberal Democrats some way behind. That was until the 1994 local elections when the Liberal Democrats (who had managed to gain 104 seats across the capital) made eighteen gains forcing the Conservatives into second (having lost 19 seats) and leaving Labour one seat ahead of their 1990 performance.

As you can imagine, the Lib Dems were overjoyed by this. For the first time since the days of the Alliance, the Liberal Democrats had broken out of their south western enclaves (Richmond, Kingston and Sutton) and could now truly claim to be the opposition in London to the government. What a shame that it did not last as in the local elections of 1998 Harrow became the scene of what is still talked about in hushed rooms at Lib Dem conferences as “Harrowgate”. Across the whole of London there were just 22 net losses, however of those Harrow contributed 20 losses.

The reason for this? The nominating officer of Harrow Liberal Democrats failed to ensure that the nomination forms were filled in correctly and as a result 20 Liberal Democrat councillors were unable to defend their seats. The net result? Labour gained 18 of those seats and the Conservatives gained three seats (including one from the Ratepayers). And from then on the Liberal Democrats never really recovered suffering six losses in 2002 and being on the verge of wipeout in both 2006 and 2010.

Dales (Lab Defence) and Radford and Park (Lab Defence) on Nottingham

Result of last election (2011): Lab 50, Con 5 (Lab overall majority of 45)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected


Labour 2,456, 2,327, 2,238

Liberal Democrats 949

Conservatives 815, 809, 726

Elvis Loves Pets 322

Radford and Park

Labour 1,717, 1,710, 1,639

Conservatives 940, 932, 866

Green 509

Liberal Democrats 404, 336, 274

Candidates duly nominated:


Tad Jones (Lib Dem), Neghat Khan (Lab), Irenea Marriott (UKIP), Adam McGregor (Green), Cathy Meadows (TUSC), Neale Mittenshaw-Hodge (Con)

Radford and Park

David Bishop (Elvis Loves Pets), Katharina Boettge (Green), Francesco Lari (UKIP), Nicholas Packham (Con), Anne Peach (Lab), Geraint Thomas (TUSC)

Nottingham has, slowly but surely, turned into a true Labour bastion to rank with the Liverpools, Salfords and Glasgows of this world. Back in 2003 they had an overall majority of 17. This increased to 29 in 2007 and thanks to the coalition in 2011 it reached it’s current majority of 45.

So therefore the question is likely to be who will come second in both wards? Well, there’s plenty of choice for those people who cannot bring themselves to vote for a mainstream alternative to Labour but perhaps the electors of Radford and Park have the best chance of being able to vote for someone who is seen as opposition to Labour and a kick in the proverbials to all the other parties and that is the Elvis Loves Pets party candidate.

Yes, Mr. Bishop has certainly done the rounds. He first popped up in Tatton at the 1997 general election where he stood as “Lord Byron vs the Scallywag Tories” candidate. Despite the Conservatives only managing to poll 37% of the vote at that election, he was not elected. But he must have enjoyed standing against Martin Bell (who was elected) because in 2001 he followed him to Brentwood and Ongar, this time standing as the candidate for the Church of the Militant Elvis party.

However, thanks to a split opposition Eric Pickles was elected and Mr. Bishop wasn’t. In 2005, he stood against another celebrity candidate when he was nominated to stand in Erewash constituency for the same party standing against a certain Robert Kilroy-Silk.

Again he was not elected and so in 2010 tried in Kettering, this time standing as the Bus Pass Elvis candidate. No joy there but that hasn’t stopped him since. He stood in Corby (99 votes), Eastleigh (72 votes), Feltham and Heston (93 votes), Oldham East (67 votes) and is clearly trying to emulate the record of the late Screaming Lord Sutch for lost deposits.

Derby on Sefton (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Lab 36, Lib Dem 20, Con 8, Ind 2 (Lab overall majority of 6)

Result of ward in last electoral cycle:

2010: Lab 3,387 (70%), UKIP 724 (15%), Lib Dem 518 (11%), Con 202 (4%)

2011: Lab 2,071 (76%), UKIP 404 (15%), Lib Dem 107 (4%), Con 95 (3%), English Democrats 55 (2%)

2012: Lab 1,809 (81%), UKIP 302 (14%), Con 64 (3%), Lib Dem 56 (3%)

Candidates duly nominated: Janice Blanchard (Ind), Jack Colbert (UKIP), Juliet Edgar (Ind), Laurence Rankin (Green), Anne Thompson (Lab), Graham Woodhouse (TUSC)

For years, Sefton’s election result on local election night was a sure fire certainly. Sefton: NOC HOLD. From 1990 until 2011, the council seemed to be in a permanent state of No Overall Control with the only question mark being over which party would emerge as the largest grouping.

From 1993 until 1999, that responsibility fell to Labour (with their best being three short of a majority in 1996), the Lib Dems took the lead in the millennium, before Labour took over again in 2002, then the Lib Dems had another go in 2006 before Labour short back into the position in 2011. So you can imagine everyone’s surprise when Sefton was actually won by someone (namely Labour) in 2012.

However, whilst this ward will elect another Labour councillor will the council remain Labour next year or will the almost inbuilt state of No Overall Control come back?

Riverside and Laleham on Spelthorne (Con Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 32, Lib Dem 6, Ind 1 (Con overall majority of 25)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected

Conservatives 1,771, 1,585, 1,478

United Kingdom Independence Party 531

Liberal Democrats 529, 435

Candidates duly nominated: Michael Fuller (UKIP), John Johnston (Lab), Denise Saliagopoulos (Con), Susan Vincent (Lib Dem)

If Sefton is an example of keeping people guessing, then Spelthrone is a case of “Yawn, Con HOLD”. In the 2003 local elections, the Conservatives had a majority of 31 on the council (out of 39 seats) and although the Lib Dems managed to double their seats in 2007, that only reduced the majority to 23.

So therefore the question in Spelthorne is will UKIP be able to make hay whilst the sun shines (as the only non mainstream opposition to the Conservatives) or will Labour be able to say “The Liberal Democrats in this council cannot contain the Conservatives, we can!”

Chipping Norton on West Oxfordshire (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Con 41, Lab 4, Lib Dem 4 (Con overall majority of 33)

Result of ward in last electoral cycle:

2010: Con 1,673 (47%), Lab 1,394 (39%), Lib Dem 467 (14%)

2011: Lab 881 (37%), Con 833 (35%), Ind 537 (22%), Green 94 (4%), Lib Dem 59 (3%)

2012: Lab 966 (60%), Con 644 (40%)

Candidates duly nominated: Matthew Clayton (Green), Andrew Crick (Lib Dem), Joe Johnson (Con), Geoff Saul (Lab)

Strange as it may sound, there is actually quite the Labour history on West Oxfordshire (the majority of David Cameron’s Witney constituency). Unlike other councils in the South East of England even during the darkest days of Labour local election disasters, there was always one Labour councillor on the district, so to suddenly make three gains in 2012, Labour must have assumed that all of their West Oxfordshire Christmases had come at once, and given the current battleground I can’t see Labour losing this either.

Crook on County Durham (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2013): Lab 94, Ind 19, Lib Dem 9, Con 4 (Lab overall majority of 62)

Result of ward at last election (2013): Emboldened denotes elected

Independent 771, 630, 594

Labour 719, 691, 642

Wear Valley Independents 559, 476, 450

Liberal Democrats 161, 144, 124

Greens 123, 89, 88

Candidates duly nominated: John Bailey (Wear Valley Independents), Beaty Bainbridge (Con), David English (Lib Dem), Ian Hirst (Ind), Andrea Paterson (Lab), Joanne Yelland (Green)

Now, here’s a Labour bastion worthy of the title. It may now be a unitary authority (first elected in 2008) but when it was a county council, my word, you didn’t just weigh the Labour vote, you weighed it on an industrial scale! Counties 1989: Lab majority of 42 (out of 72 seats), 1993: Lab majority of 40, 1997: Lab majority of 45, 2001: Lab majority of 45, 2005: Lab majority of 43.

In 2008 there was a tiny hiccup I grant you (Lab 67, Lib Dem 27, Ind 22, Con 10) which produced a Lab majority of 8 out of 126 seats, but this May normal service was resumed with a whomping 62 seat majority. However, with the Independents and the Wear Valley Independents running close and coming within a whisker of taking the third seat in this ward, could we be looking at an upset?

Tupsley on Herefordshire (It’s Our County Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 30, Ind 23, Lib Dem 3, Lab 1, Green 1 (Con overall majority of 2)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected

It’s Our County 1,808, 1,588, 1,296

Conservatives 757, 736, 699

Liberal Democrats 652, 521, 404

Labour 425

Candidates duly nominated: Duncan Fraser (Lib Dem), Jason Kay (Con), Cath North (It’s Our County)

And when it comes to upsets, It’s Our County are past masters! In 2003, Herefordshire was a hung council (Con 21, Ind 17, Lib Dem 16, Lab 4) representing a sparsely populated county with the Conservative and Liberal Democrats battling for the hearts and minds of Hereford constituency and the Independents ruling the roost elsewhere.

However in 2007 things changed, the Conservatives gained control (mostly from the Independents and Liberal Democrats) and it was clear that the Independents were not as powerful as they first thought. Enter on the stage “It’s Our County” and given their strength in Tupsley, I can’t see that ward changing hands anytime soon.

Bronglais on Aberystwyth Town Council (Plaid Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Plaid 10, Lib Dem 5, Ind 3 (Plaid overall majority of 2)

Result of last election in ward (2012): Emboldened denotes elected

Plaid Cymru 382, 336, 277, 241

Liberal Democrats 144

Candidates duly nominated: Bryony Davies (Lib Dem), Huw Fox (Independent), Lucy Huws (Plaid Cymru)

Which makes what is happening in Aberystwyth even more interesting. Now, generally speaking I don’t cover town council by-elections (but this first by-election in Ceredigion since the local elections is rapidly turning into a referendum on the Plaid / Independent leadership of the county council).

The Bronglais ward (formerly called Aberystwyth East at both town and county level) has not elected anyone bar Plaid Cymru since 1974. In 1999, a certain Simon Thomas was elected as the district and town councillor (who went to win Ceredigion in the February 2000 by-election and is now one of Plaid’s AM’s for Mid and West Wales) and in 2012, the Plaid vote of 89% was the highest in the entire council.

So the fact a recent tweet by none other than the former Conservative Assembly member for Mid and West Wales (Lisa Francis) advocating the Liberal Democrat candidate in the ward could suggest that Plaid’s dominance is about to end (and possibly in the most spectacular manner possible).

Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Preview : September 26th 2013

Thursday, September 26th, 2013


Wombwell on Barnsley (Lab Defence)

Last Election (2012): Lab 52, Ind 6, Con 5 (Lab overall majority of 41)

Last Election Results in electoral cycle

2010: Lab 2,617 (58%), Con 764 (17%), British National Party 738 (16%), Barnsley Independents 419 (9%)
2011: Lab 1,887 (65%), Barnsley Independents 440 (15%), Con 323 (11%), British National Party 218 (8%)
2012: Lab 1,769 (73%), Barnsley Independents 329 (14%), English Democrats 192 (8%), Con 124 (5%)

Candidates duly nominated: Robert Frost (Lab), Kevin Riddiough (English Democrats), Neil Robinson (UKIP), Clive Watkinson (Con)

When you have a Labour vote that ranks in the high 70′s % then the question becomes not so much “Will Labour win?” as “Will the opposition split?” and in recent elections that is precisely what has happened. Labour’s vote has increased by 15% since the local elections in 2010 and in that same timescale the Conservative vote has fallen by 12% and been divided between the Barnsley Independents, British National Party and the English Democrats.

So with the Barnsley Independents not standing, but UKIP standing in their place will the electors of this ward who cannot bring themselves to vote Labour go for the mainstream option (Con), the non mainstream option (UKIP) or cast “a pox on all your houses” (English Democrats)

Highfield on Blackpool (Lab Defence)

Last Election (2011): Lab 27, Con 14, Lib Dem 1 (Lab overall majority of 12)

Last Election Result (2011):

Conservatives 868, 777
Labour 849, 701
Independent 345
Liberal Democrats 99

Candidates duly nominated: Stephen Flanigan (UKIP), Bill Greene (Lib Dem), Peter Hunter (Lab), Christ Maher (Ind), Rob Mottershead (Ind), Shereen Reedman (Green), Sue Ridyard (Con)

Blackpool, one of the great seaside towns of Britain, is a case study in how Labour came and went in their battleground seats. At the 2003 local elections Labour had an overall majority of 8 on the council (reflected in their wins of 1997 and 2001 of both Blackpool seats) and although Labour held both seats in 2005 (with fairly comfortable majorities) by 2007 there was a change in the bracing sea air that regularly batters the Tower.

And that sea change resulted in 12 Labour losses and 13 Conservative gains turning the council on it’s head and giving the Conservatives a majority of 10. So it must have come as quite a disappointment for the Conservatives when they only managed to gain Blackpool North at the last election (by 2,100 votes) and lost Blackpool South by some 1,900 votes, and then the sea air changed direction again as in 2011, Labour made 14 gains (12 from the Conservatives and 2 from the Liberal Democrats) and retake control and with polls suggesting that trend is continuing then who is to say that Highfield will elect a second Labour councillor.

Banbury, Ruscote on Cherwell (Lab Defence)

Last Election (2012): Con 41, Lab 6, Lib Dem 3 (Con overall majority of 32)

Last Election Results in electoral cycle
2010: Lab 1,525 (52%), Con 958 (33%), Lib Dem 463 (15%)
2011: Lab 1,058 (54%), Con 762 (39%), Lib Dem 125 (7%)
2012: Lab 898 (62%), Con 469 (32%), Lib Dem 92 (6%)

Candidates duly nominated: Mark Cherry (Lab), Christian Miller (UKIP), Pat Thompson (Con)

Cherwell is the council that covers the northern part of Oxfordshire and as such is about as Conservative an area you can possibly get. But that is not to say that it did not have any Labour in it at all, back in 2003 there were 12 Labour councillors but as the Conservative tide swept through the south so that number whittled away until in 2008 there were just two left (and had to cede the opposition status to the Liberal Democrats on four).

But since the election they have been coming back, winning two seats at every election since (which means that by 2023 the Conservatives will lose overall control and by 2033 Labour will control the council) but until then they will have to content themselves with the seats they have at the moment and wait until next May to win some more.

Coleford East (Lab Defence) and Redmarley (Con Defence) on Forest of Dean

Last Local Election (2011): Con 19, Lab 17, Ind 11, Lib Dem 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 6 of an overall majority)

Last Election (2011)
Coleford East
Labour 738, 574
Independent 525
Conservatives 496, 474, 405
Liberal Democrats 332

Candidates duly nominated: Keith Aburrow (Ind), Alan Grant (UKIP), Harry Ives (Con), Heather Lusty (Lib Dem) Tanya Palmer (Lab)

Redmarley: Con 587 (80%), Lab 147 (20%)

Candidates duly nominated: Andy Hewlett (Lab), Alec Tritton (UKIP), Clayton Williams (Con)

For decades the Forest of Dean has been a Conservative / Labour battleground of the highest regard. As Gloucestershire West it was a key target for Labour at the February 1974 general election and as the Forest of Dean it was a Labour target in 1997 and a Conservative target in 2005 and so everyone thought it would continue that way.

Until County Council Election day when UKIP came from almost nowhere to, not only win three seats on the county in the district council area (Blakeney and Bream, Drybrook and Lydbrook and Lydney) but also managed to “win” the district by polling 28% of the vote to Labour’s 24%, the Conservatives 24% and the Independents on 13%. And at the same time they also won the Bromsberrow and Dymock district by-election from the Conservatives with a lead of 9% serving notice that the Forest of Dean is no longer a two party battleground, it’s a three party battleground.

Way on Mid Devon (Con Defence)

Last Local Election (2011): Con 24, Ind 12, Lib Dem 6 (Con overall majority of 6)
Last Election (2011): Con 513 (74%), Lab 181 (26%)

Candidates duly nominated: Judi Binks (Lib Dem), Bob Edwards (UKIP), Cathryn Heal (Con), John Jordan (Ind)

Mid Devon has turned from a major party battleground into a more relaxed battleground. Back in 2003, you had all manner of parties on the council. You had the Independents with 21 seats and as such tied with the opposition (made up of 11 Conservatives, 8 Liberal Democrats, a Labour and a Green). Now clearly that situation could not survive and thanks to the local elections in 2007 a process of rationalisation was undertaken.

Out went Labour and the Greens and in came 17 Conservatives, 15 Independents and 10 Liberal Democrats and whilst the council was still hung with the Conservatives being short of an overall majority by 5 at least making a coalition was a lot easier than it had been in 2003. And clearly that coalition must have worked because in 2011 the Conservatives made seven gains (four from the Liberal Democrats and three from the Independents) and were able to take overall control of the council.

But, just as in the Forest of Dean, UKIP made their presence felt in the county elections polling some 2,800 votes across the district (compared to 3,300 for the Liberal Democrats) and coming second in three of the wards.

Mickelham, Westhumble and Pixham on Mole Valley (Lib Dem Defence)

Last Local Election (2011): Lib Dem 18, Con 17, Ind 6 (No Overall Control, Liberal Democrats short by 3 of an overall majority)

Last Election (2011): Lib Dem 483 (51%), Con 391 (42%), UKIP 65 (7%)

Candidates duly nominated: Adrian Daniels (UKIP), Roger Hurst (Lib Dem), Duncan Irvine (Con)

When you read a ward name like that, you are instantly transported to the rolling fields of Southern England. Where you can take an afternoon stroll and bump into any number of characters from the books written about the South of England. Politically however, those fields are a battleground. Back in 2003, the Conservatives (although short of an overall majority) had the most councillors with 19, the Liberal Democrats had 15 and with six Independents and a Labour it was clear there the firepower would be levelled at.

And as the Conservatives gained control in 2007 Labour were wiped out from the council chamber, and the Independents were halved. And yet out the rubble of three Conservative gains, the Liberal Democrats had also made a gain. Clearly the Liberal Democrats were not going to be counted out just yet and this was proven in 2011 when, in a local election that was described by experts as a Lib Dem disaster area, the Lib Dems made two net gains on the council and managed to knock the Conservatives out of control (who suffered five net losses). Is this a trend that will continue in this by-election? We shall have to wait to see.

Crockenhill and Well Hill on Sevenoaks (Lab Defence)

Last Local Election (2011): Con 47, Lab 4, Lib Dem 2, Ind 1 (Con overall majority of 40)

The poor electors of Crockenhill must wonder what they have done to anger the electoral gods. Last local elections in 2011, there was only one valid nomination (that of an Independent) and so that Independent was duly elected. Less than a year later, they were asked to vote in a by-election. “Okay” said the electors and voted in a Labour councillor who scored 304 votes (58%) and had a healthy 127 vote (24%) majority over the Conservative candidate who polled 177 votes (34%) with UKIP trailing in a distant third on just 40 votes (8%).

Having done their civic duty they thought that the next election would be the county council elections in May of this and then the Euros next year. But no, because here we are again, just over two years after the district council elections and the electors of Crockenhill are being asked to elect a new district councillor for the second time in 18 months. No doubt, turnout will be down on the March 2012 by-election and therefore, perhaps, the result will be known quite a bit before 11.00pm this evening

Candidates duly nominated: Allrik Birch (Con), Phillip Hobson (Lib Dem), Steve Lindsay (UKIP), Rachel Waterson (Lab)

St. James on Tendring (Con Defence)

Last Local Election (2011): Con 33, Tendring First 16, Lab 9, Lib Dem 2 (Con overall majority of 6)

Last Election (2011):

Conservatives 766, 718
Tendring First 276, 191
Labour 256, 207
Green 87
Liberal Democrats 79, 44

Candidates duly nominated: Dave Bolton (Lab), Amanda Peters (Lib Dem), Susan Shearing (UKIP), Mark Stephenson (Tendring First), Andy Wood (Con)

Tendring is one of the councils where a strong local independent grouping has managed to put pay to a party seeking outright control of that council. In 2003, the Conservatives had 25 councillors on the council and were by far the lagrest grouping on the council however thanks to a combination of 13 Liberal Democrats, 11 Labour, 4 Independents, 3 Ratepayers and four members of a community group based in Tendring the council was well and truly in a state of no overall control.

By the 2007 local elections, the various Independents and Ratepayers had merged with the community group and become known as Tendring First and managed to win 20 seats denying the Conservatives an overall majority again (despite the Labour and Liberal Democrats making twelve losses between them).

It wasn’t until 2011 that the Conservatives got their majority (thanks in part to the Liberal Democrats losing four seats) but with UKIP entering the fray anything could and can happen (especially as UKIP came within a whisker of winning Tendring in the 2004 European Elections and in 2009).

Storrington on West Sussex (Con Defence)

Last Local Election (2013): Con 46, UKIP 10, Lib Dem 8, Lab 6, Ind 1 (Con overall majority of 21)

Last Election (2013): Con 1,580 (48%), UKIP 1,252 (38%), Lib Dem 464 (14%)

Candidates duly nominated: Phillip Circus (Con), James Doyle (Green), Nick Hopkinson (Lib Dem), John Wallace (UKIP)

Storrington finds itself at the centre of a perfect storm where a couple of elements have come together to make this result very interesting. The first element is Mr. James Doyle, standing for the Greens. In 2005 the county ward of Worthing Pier was a Con / Lib Dem marginal (Con 40%, Lib Dem 34%) and in 2009 the Liberal Democrats gained the ward by 3% on a swing of 4.5% to the Lib Dems. However, following the formation of the Coalition, the county councillor for the ward found himself being less and less keen on the way the Liberal Democrats were going and in 2012 announced that he was defecting to the Green Party and would contest his ward as a Green candidate. That county councillor was Mr. Doyle.

In the end he lost (by 146 votes forcing the Liberal Democrats into fourth behind UKIP). The second element of this storm is the key buzzword of the moment, fracking. Mr. Doyle was nominated using a trick used last by the SNP in the Scottish Parliament by adding campaigning words after the party, in this case making it clear to all and sundry that a Green vote was a vote against fracking and whilst Balcombe is not in the same county ward as Storrington, the arrest and charging of Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton, Pavilion) at the site just 24 hours before the polls open will make this election (in the eyes of the Greens anyway) a referendum on “fracking” as will the votes of the Green candidate in Blackpool who is also standing with the same additional title.

Harry Hayfield


Local By-Election Preview: September 5th 2013

Thursday, September 5th, 2013


Fenside on Boston (Eng Dem Defence)
Last Local Election (2011): Con 19, Others 10, Lab 3 (Con overall majority of 6)

Last Election in ward (Emboldened denotes elected)

English Democrats 231, 195

Boston Independents 182, 176

Labour 162, 159

Liberal Democrats 68, 51

Boston in Lincolnshire (part of the Boston and Skegness constituency) seems on the surface to be a perfectly normal Conservative heartland and back at the 2003 local elections it was (Con 12, Lab 11, Lib Dem 4) but something very strange has been happening in Boston and it all centres on one thing. A bypass around Boston itself. Now, in every day elections a bypass would be noted by the local community and generally either commented on in the local papers or in everyday conversation.

In Boston, an entire political party sprung up about the issue and in the 2007 local elections won a staggering 25 seats wiping out the Liberal Democrats and Labour, reducing the Conservatives to just five seats and polling over 50% of the popular vote. This was, of course, the same elections that saw the Independents gain control of West Somerset from the Conservatives.

In 2011, although the Conservatives gained control of the council there is still a defiant little block of “non mainstream” parties who are now benefiting from the general lack of trust of all the main stream parties (as demonstrated in this ward by the election of not one, but two English Democrat councillors).

Is this a trend that is likely to continue, or will the introduction of UKIP into Lincolnshire politics mean there are so many “non mainstream” parties that the main stream parties are able to sneak in on the inside?

Yewdale on Carlisle (Lab Defence)

Last Local Election (2012): Lab 27, Con 20, Lib Dem 2, Ind 2 (Lab overall majority of 3)

Ward Results in last current electoral cycle

2012: Lab 1,222 (59%), Con 730 (35%), Lib Dem 57 (3%), Green 55 (3%)

2011: Lab 1,254 (60%), Con 845 (40%)

2010: Lab 1,653 (49%), Con 1,353 (40%), TUSC 176 (5%), Green 173 (5%)

Carlisle was for many a year a Labour stronghold at Westminster (with every attempt made by the Conservatives to penetrate it doomed to failure). And yet Carlisle, the council, was a regular old battleground which Labour have only managed to break through into control at the last local elections. So why is this you may ask?

Well, the answer is that whilst the council and the constituency share the same name, they do not share the same boundaries. The Carlisle constituency is essentially landlocked by rock solid Conservative Penrith and the Border (with only a tiny connection to Labour Workington next door). Carlisle council on the other hand is a sprawling council that covers the top half of the eastern side of Cumbria (the rest being taken up by Eden council)

Loughborough, Ashby on Charnwood (Lab Defence)

Last Local Election (2011): Con 33, Lab 16, BNP 1, Lib Dem 1, Ind 1 (Con overall majority of 14)

Last Election in ward (Emboldened denotes elected)

Labour 834, 817

Conservative 506, 404

Charnwood (like most English districts and boroughs) was formed as a result of the 1974 local government reorganisations and was granted borough status the same month. Being in the heart of Leicestershire (although some people in Hinckley and Bosworth might disagree with that claim) the fox, an animal historically linked with the county, has been the borough’s symbol since it’s formation.

The district also contains the town of Quorn which has lent its name to the vegetable textured protein product. Being in the heart of England, it is an area that can be safe Conservative (as demonstrated by Charnwood constituency) or highly marginal (as demonstrated by Loughborough constituency). So therefore this ward has the potential to do anything (and perhaps everything).

Ravensthorpe on Daventry (Con Defence)

Last Local Election (2012): Con 29, Lab 6, Lib Dem 1 (Con overall majority of 22)

Last Election in ward:

2012: Con 420 (62%), Eng Dem 136 (20%), Lib Dem 124 (18%)

Daventry takes up the vast chuck of western Northamptonshire and is one of the so called “modern rotten boroughs” having elected a Conservative MP for the best part of 85 years, so it is no huge surprise to see that the Conservatives dominate the local council (and have done for a similar length of time), however just as Labour have problems in seeming one party states, the Conservatives are not immune from that problem either, so although UKIP have been falling in recent months since the locals, a strong vote here could be the start of a fore guard action ahead of the Euros next May.

Bardswell on St. Edmundsbury (Con Defence)
Last Local Election (2011): Con 38, Ind 4, Lab 3 (Con overall majority of 31)

Last Election in ward:

2011: Con 737 (77%), Con 223 (23%)

Just as Daventry is a virtual one party state in the East Midlands, so St. Edmundsbury is in the Eastern electoral region and it is also an area I know quite well through having a friend who lives in the heart of the district in Bury St. Edmunds itself. Like most rural parts of the world, there is one preoccupation “Who is the most likely person to listen to our community?” so it should come as no surprise to hear that all of the candidates are stressing their local credentials and as a result the issue of rural depravation has come to the fore.

Torrington on Torridge (Lib Dem Defence)

Last Local Election (2011): Con 18, Ind 10, Lib Dem 6, Green 1, Lab 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives and Opposition tied)

Last Election in ward (Emboldened denotes elected)

Conservative 809

Independents 792, 480

Liberal Democrats 641, 209

Labour 312

United Kingdom Independence Party 208

Torridge (part of Devon) is a sort of natural home to the Liberal Democrats. In 1958, the Liberals gained the parliamentary constituency of Torrington from the Conservatives on a swing of 33% in a by-election, in 1996 Emma Nicholson (the MP for the Devon West and Torridge seat) defected to the Liberal Democrats as John Major’s majority crumbled into a minority government (allowing the Liberal Democrats to gain the seat at the 1997 general election)

Despite losing it in 2005 to the Conservatives, the swing to the Conservatives in the seat in the 2010 election was a third the county swing. Which rather suggests that like Ceredigion, the main battleground in a general election is for the hearts and minds of the Independents.

TSE: However the Lib Dems aren’t standing in this election (I’m not sure why, can anyone help?)

Hambleden Valley on Wycombe (Con Defence)

Last Local Election (2011): Con 42, Lib Dem 8, Lab 7, Rates 3 (Con overall majority of 24)

Last Election in ward:

2011: Con 820 (80%), Lib Dem 204 (20%)

Wycombe is yet another Conservative heartland but one that has a very interesting annual tradition. Every year when the new mayor of the borough is installed, they are publicly weighed. The reason for this strange action? When they leave office they are weighed again and if they are discovered to have “grown fat at the public expense” they have to pay a fine based on how much weight they have gained.

Whether or not any of the candidates in this by-election intend to apply that idea to the entire borough, I cannot say, but again a virtual one party state could cause hiccups for the Conservatives.

Wadebridge East on Cornwall (Ind Defence)

Last Local Election (2013): Ind 37, Lib Dem 36, Con 31, Lab 8, UKIP 6, Meb Ker 4, Green 1 (No Overall Control, Ind short by 26)

Last Election in ward:

2013: Ind 335 (25%), Lib Dem 331 (25%), UKIP 208 (16%), Lab 161 (12%), Con 150 (11%), Ind 146 (11%)

Ah, yes, Wadebridge East. A ward which would have gone unnoticed, if it had not been the sitting councillor in the 2009 – 2013 term making some exceptionally unguarded comments. He faced calls to stand down as a councillor before the local elections and didn’t and I am quite sure that if a second Independent and UKIP had not stood in that election, the Lib Dems would have gained the ward.

However they did and he was re-elected and then made the same statement again. Naturally enough that was the last straw and this time he has stood down, so will the Liberal Democrats gain the ward in an area where they managed to hold on to their previous quota of councillors (against a very strong challenge by both Mebyon Kernow and UKIP) or will the Independent seeking to replace him say “I am not that councillor, what he said was completely uncalled for and I disavow everything that he said!”

Middleton, Cheney on Northamptonshire (Con Defence)

Last Local Election (2013): Con 36, Lab 11, Lib Dem 6, UKIP 3, Ind 1 (Con overall majority of 15)

Last Election in ward:

2013: Con 1,165 (43%), UKIP 963 (35%), Lab 357 (13%), Lib Dem 239 (9%)

Northamptonshire was exceptionally disappointing for Labour in the local elections in May. Thanks to boundary changes the Conservative majority of 39 elected in 2009 had been reduced to 31 and therefore only needed 15 net losses to wipe out their majority and what happened? Eight Conservative losses, seven Labour gains, one Lib Dem net loss and three UKIP net gains.

And as seen in this ward it was UKIP who prevented a large number of those potential Labour gains but with UKIP now withering, will Labour be able to recover those UKIP votes or will they go to the Conservatives (as the national polls have been suggesting?)


Harry Hayfield


Winderemere, Bowness North By-Election Preview: August 29th 2013

Thursday, August 29th, 2013


Windermere, Bowness North on South Lakeland (Lib Dem Defence)
Last Local Election (2012): Lib Dem 34, Con 13, Lab 4 (Liberal Democrat majority of 17)

Result of last election in ward (2011): Lib Dem 608 (65%), Con 280 (30%), Lab 47 (5%)

It is very rare to have just a single by-election on one day and this ward in South Lakeland (which covers the Lake District) is one of only three councils in Cumbria that hold elections every year (bar county election years). The others Carlisle and Barrow in Furness are Conservative / Labour battlegrounds with South Lakeland being a Conservative / Liberal Democrat battleground and as a result has been doing perhaps a little better than the national average.

Back in 2003, when Iain Duncan Smith declared “The quiet man is going to turn up the volume”, the council was hung (Lib Dem 23, Con 18, Lab 9, Ind 2). As we know Iain Duncan Smith was unable to turn the volume up enough and was replaced by Michael Howard. Not that change of leader had much impact on the council in 2004 (Con +2, Lab -1, Lib Dem -1).

However, at the general election the following year, the Liberal Democrats sprang a surprise. Westmorland and Lonsdale (for decades a safe Conservative seat) suddenly switched to the Liberal Democrats and saw the election of Tim Farron as the MP (the first Liberal to represent a Cumbrian seat since at least the First World War).

The effect on the local Liberal Democrats was barnstorming as in the 2006 local elections they made a staggering nine gains (six from Labour, two from the Conservatives and one from the Independents) and gained control of the council (adding to their tally of Pendle, Stockport and Liverpool in the north west of England).

In 2007, they increased their majority to 16 (as well as adding Rochdale to their list of north western councils) and in 2008 reached the dizzying heights of a majority of 21 (and gained Burnley at the same time).

After a break for the 2009 county elections, it was all noses back to the grindstone for the 2010 general and local elections and whilst the general election saw Mr. Farron’s majority skyrocket (and make Westmorland a safe Lib Dem seat) and the council remain Lib Dem, they did suffer two losses.

As they did in 2011, but those were reversed in 2012. So it’s safe to assume that the Liberal Democrats must be fairly confident of holding on to this ward on the shores of Lake Windermere (but as we have seen before, big majorities on councils lead to opposition groups doing very well indeed in by-elections)


Harry Hayfield