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The return of Marf and tonight’s local by-election review by Harry Hayfield

November 19th, 2015

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Welcome back Marf

Watton (UKIP defence) and South Smallburgh (Lib Dem defence) on Norfolk
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservative 40, United Kingdom Independence Party 15, Labour 14, Liberal Democrats 10, Green Party 4, Independent 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2013):

Watton: United Kingdom Independence Party 808 (34%), Conservative 662 (27%), Independent 569 (24%), Labour 270 (11%), Green Party 102 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Timothy Birt (Green), Claire Bowes (Con), Keith Gilbert (Ind), Joe Sisto (Lab)

South Smallburgh: Liberal Democrat 879 (31%), Conservative 844 (29%), United Kingdom Independence Party 768 (27%), Labour 274 (10%), Green Party 107 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Alison Bradnock (Lib Dem), Anne Filgate (Green), Paul Rice (Con), David Spencer (Lab), Barry Whitehouse (UKIP)

Norfolk has a membership of 84 seats and these will be the sixth and seventh by-elections respectively on that authority since 2013 (in other words a twelfth of the council will have had by-elections since 2013) and of those seven by-elections UKIP have lost three (one to the Conservatives, one to Labour and whichever party gains Watton). And it’s not just seats they are losing either. Comparing the vote in the local elections in 2013 with the by-elections, UKIP have fallen from 26% to 21% (with the Conservatives going from 29% to 28%, Labour from 28% to 33% and the Lib Dems going from 11% to 13%) suggesting therefore, as I have mentioned before, that when UKIP appear on the scene as something fresh and never seen before, people treat them as a “None of the Above” candidate but once they appear on the ballot again (as we will see in Oldham West in a fortnight’s time) they are tainted by the same brush and therefore may not poll anything like as much support as they did.

Epsom West on Surrey (Lib Dem defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 58, Liberal Democrats 9, Ratepayers 7, United Kingdom Independence Party 3, Independents 2, Green Party 1, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 35)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Liberal Democrat 854 (28%), Ratepayers 693 (23%), Labour 616 (20%), United Kingdom Independence Party 494 (16%), Conservative 389 (13%)
Candidates duly nominated: Kate Chinn (Lab), Chris Crook (Green), Neil Dallen (Ratepayers), Robert Leach (UKIP), Julie Morris (Lib Dem), Karan Persand (Con)

Epsom and Ewell is a funny little council. There it is nestled between Conservative Kingston upon Thames and Liberal Democrat Sutton in Greater London and to the south by Conservative Reigate and Banstead and Conservative Mole Valley. And yet what has it been doing since 2003? Ignoring the lot of them, by electing a Ratepayers majority every single time. In 2003, they had a majority of 10 which increased to 12 in 2007, then up to 14 in 2011 and currently stands at 24 making it a beacon for those who think that local councils should not be run by politicos, but by the local community themselves. And this attitude has even spread into the county council as well. Even back in 1993, the Ratepayers won two of the five seats in Epsom and Ewell on Surrey County Council and polled 27% of the vote. In 2005 they had won four county seats polling 32% of the vote, which they held in 2009 polling 50% of the vote and despite boundary changes that saw the number of seats fall to four, they still managed to poll 45% of the vote and win two of them. All of which suggests that the Lib Dem fightback will need to not only see off a Labour and UKIP challenge, but a Ratepayer challenge as well.

Aylesford Green on Ashford (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 34, Labour 4, Independents 3, United Kingdom Independence Party 1, Liberal Democrats 1 (Conservative majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Labour 725 (55%), Conservative 592 (45%)
Candidates duly nominated: Adrian Gee-Turner (Lib Dem), Alex Howard (Con), Christine Kathawick-Smith (Ashford Independent), Gordon Miller (Lab), Thom Pizzey (Green), Harriet Yeo (UKIP)

Now, before you all start complaining and say that I need to brush up on my typing skills, let me assure you that is NOT a typo. At the local elections in Ashford and in the parliamentary constituency of the same name, Labour polled 18% of the popular vote and in the Aylesford Green, Beaver and Stanhope wards topped the poll. Now, I will admit that Ashford and Labour do not go together in quite the same way as Preston and Labour, but at local elections if a councillor is popular enough then anything can happen (which makes this by-election featuring a first time UKIP and a local independent as well rather too tricky to assess.

Kidwelly on Carmarthenshire (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Plaid Cymru 28, Labour 23, Independents 22, People First 1 (No Overall Control, Plaid Cymru short by 10)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Labour 571 (44%), People First 300 (23%), Independent 238 (19%), Non Party Independent 177 (14%)
Candidates duly nominated: Stephen Bowen (People First), Fran Burke-Lloyd (Independent), Stephen Davies (Con), Dilwyn Jones (Plaid), Vivian Summers (NPI), Ryan Thomas (Lab)

Dewi (Plaid Cymru defence) and Llanaelhaern (Llais Gwynedd defence) on Gwynedd
Result of council at last election (2012): Plaid Cymru 37, Independents 19, Llais Gwynedd 13, Labour 4, Liberal Democrats 2 (No Overall Control, Plaid Cymru short by 1)
Result of wards at last election (2012):

Dewi: Plaid Cymru 254 (57%), Labour 154 (35%), Liberal Democrats 35 (8%)
Candidates duly nominated: Andrew Joyce (Lib Dem), Eirian Roberts (Lab), Gareth Roberts (Plaid)

Llanaelhaern: Llais Gwynedd 353 (50%), Non Party Independent 238 (34%), Plaid Cymru 85 (12%), Independent 32 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: Eric Cullen (Ind), Wayne Issac (Llais Gwynedd), Aled Jones (Plaid)

Ah, Welsh local elections. The Marmite of local elections in the UK. You either love them or you hate them mainly due to the varying shades of Independentness you have. Indeed, at the local elections in 2012 there were a total of 282 Independents elected polling 18% of the popular vote be they Independent (candidates nominated as Independent), Non Party Independents (candidates who refused to place a party name in their nomination) or as the People First candidate has been duly nominated “Truly Independent”. Here on Ceredigion we have a group who call them Independent Voice made up of two councillors who were elected as Independents, but refused to have any truck with the ruling Independent group but still joined up with them to form a majority coalition with Plaid Cymru. So, as much as you may like them (or indeed loathe them) Independents will always feature in Welsh local elections from now until well, forever I guess (unless Leighton Andrews decides on a form of local government where the Independent vote is spread so thinly that they can never win)

Compiled by Harry Hayfield