Local By-Election Preview: All Hallow’s Eve 2013

October 31st, 2013

Pillgwenlly on Newport (Lab Defence)
Result of last council election (2012): Lab 37, Con 10, Ind 2, Lib Dem 1 (Labour overall majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 756, 703 (64%)
Conservative 306 (14%)
Plaid Cymru 277 (12%)
Liberal Democrats 150, 71 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Omar Ali (Lab), Paul Haliday (Lib Dem), Tony Ismail (Con), Khalilur Rahman (Plaid)

Newpoort came into existence as a unitary authority in 1995, following the abolition of the Welsh counties and the reorganisation of the districts into unitary authorities by John Redwood. In those first elections, Labour ruled the roost polling 72% of the vote and winnning 46 out of the 47 councillors on the council. The next elections, held at the same time as the National Assembly elections reflected the loss of Labour support all across Wales as Labour only managed to poll 51% of the vote but despite that still managed to notch up a very impressive 40 councillors. For the 2004 local elections, boundary changes came into play increasing the number of seats on the council to 50, but Labour it appeared was on a downward spiral. Polling just 41% they managed to win 31 seats and in 2008, the inveitable happened, Labour lost overall control of the council (winning just 22 seats) and came within 132 votes of not winning the popular vote across the council area. In the space of just 13 years, Labour had lost half it’s support and half of it’s councillors. Then along came the Westminster general election and the coalition agreement and everything suddenly came up roses for Labour. In Newport Labour polled a staggering 53% (up 17% on the 2008 local elections) and made 15 gains to retake control of the council on a swing of 12% from Con to Lab, but the real casulaties in that election were the Liberal Democrats. They fell from 24% in 2008 to just 11% and suffered eight losses, suggesting that Labour are more than likely to win this by-election and making the real question “Can any of the opposition parties mount an effective challenge?”