If there’s no immediate General Election then the next big electoral test could be a Buckingham by-election

October 21st, 2019

John Bercow, as we all know, is due to step down as Speaker on October 31st coinciding with the article 50 deadline for Britain’s exit from the EU.

It has become customary, one of those unwritten parts of the constitution, for the outgoing Speaker to be elevated to a peerage and I guess  that will happen with Bercow.

What would make a by-election  hard to call is that the constituency has not seen a proper General Election fight with all the main parties contending it since 2005. The tradition has been that the main parties do not contest the Speaker’s seat which means that Bercow has had an easy time at three general elections he has fought while in the job.

At GE2010 in Buckingham Nigel Farage resigned his leadership of UKIP  to fight against Bercow but ended up finishing in a poor third place on only 17% of the vote. A pro-EU former CON MEP came second. On election day, it will be recalled,  Farage was in a small plane pulling a banner over the area which ended up crashing.

Because there has not been a proper general election contest there since 2005 it is hard to find a a past election result which is a good baseline. Then Bercow was returned with 57.4% of the vote with LAB on 19.9% and the Lib Dems on 19.7%.

Clearly if a general election looks highly likely to be called in early November than that would mean no by-election. But if there is no immediate General Election then my guess is that the writ will be issued almost immediately in early November with the by-election taking place in the week or so before Christmas.

At the referendum Buckingham voted REMAIN with 51.1% so it perhaps would be not good territory for the Brexit party’s Nigel Farage again. Labour did hold the seat with with the controversial publisher Robert Maxwell, as it’s MP from 1964 to 1970.

Assuming that there is no immediate General Election and this could be a very interesting battle.

Mike Smithson