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NEW: PoliticsHome By-election Breakdown 30/11/17

John Johnston | PoliticsHome

6 min read Partner content

PoliticsHome looks at this week's local by-elections and predicts who's in, who's out, who's lost the plot.

Gosport BC, Bridgemary Ward (Labour died - 3 candidates: Con, Lab, LD)
May 2016 result Lab 796 C 310
May 2014 result Lab 829 C 331


Having seen ten local council by-elections in each of the previous two Thursday’s, today we see only four contests. This is largely due to the ‘Six Month Rule’ which prevents by-elections taking place to councils where there are other local elections taking place within six months (in May 2018). Consequently these weekly contests are reducing in number with only 16 left this year.

On paper the Bridgemary by-election above is a traditionally safe Labour ward in an authority the Conservatives have controlled since 2010. However we have done some top snooping here and understand the Lib Dem candidate has a decent track record of community action in this ward. Given recent Lib Dem gains on the south coast which have come out of nowhere in both Fareham and Arun we predict they could again spring a surprise here and take this seat off Labour.

The Lib Dems have decided to show off this impressive record by collating a large number of newsletters touting his achievements. Unfortunately, they are in 0.5 point font, and only legible to those lucky Bridgemary voters who are in possession of a microscope….



As in those other contests we believe the local party here will have had support from elsewhere including Portsmouth and we think Labour will struggle to hold onto this seat.

Prediction: Lib Dem Gain

Maidstone BC, North Ward (Conservative resigned - 4 candidates: Con, Lab, LD, Green)
Election results 2014: LD 949/597, UKIP 529/479, Con 380/334, Lab 206, Green 199
Election results 2015: Con 1255, LD 1230, UKIP 783, Lab 465,Green 215
Election results 2016: LD 851, Con 473, UKIP  328,  Lab 261, Green 68

The county town of Kent sees a tightly fought contest which could well decide the largest council group, going into the local elections here in May 2018. Whilst this area is safe Conservative on paper the local Council has been under no overall control (NOC) since 2014.

We suspect that Nick Clegg’s best efforts to secure at least one Lib Dem gain from the Conservatives at the 2015 election, saw huge resources piled into this constituency (Maidstone and the Weald) to try and unseat Ann Widdecombe’s successor, former minister Helen Clark. Whilst the Lib Dems spectacularly failed to gain the seat in 2015 and saw the Tory majority rise by nearly 5,000 votes, they have steadily increased their grip on the borough council.

This by-election in North ward is in a historically strong ward for the Lib Dems but it is the Conservatives defending a seat they very narrowly gained in 2015. Current make-up of the Council shows how closely fought this contest is as the Lib Dems only run this authority with the support of Independents, Labour and UKIP.

Lib Dems 22
Conservatives 22
Ukip 4
Independents 4
Labour 2
North Ward Vacancy - 1

Sources on the ground tell us the Conservatives are taking this seriously and have a well organised campaign machine here so we can’t discount them. Also Labour, having leap-frogged the Lib Dems to second place in the parliamentary seat at June’s General election, are working hard to build up data in a ward they haven’t previously worked. We suspect the Lib Dems will come through and take this but lack of UKIP will undoubtedly bolster the Tory chances of holding on.

In an attempt to boost their candidates profile, the local Labour party have stuck the boot in with accusations of carpet-bagging.

Given we are literally hours from the start of December and flurries of snow have already been spotted from PoliticsHome Towers as we write this, the weather and turnout will be decisive.

Talking about turnout, we have our #ToryDigital fail of the week from the Maidstone Tories who’s egg profile has sent out this inspirational Get Out the Vote tweet. No, really, that is their account. We checked.


Prediction: Lib Dem Gain​

Tandridge DC, Westway Ward (Liberal Democrat resigned - 4 candidates: Con, Lab, LD, UKIP)

May 2016 result LD 416 C 335 UKIP 220 Lab 183
May 2014 result C 358 LD 265 UKIP 243 Lab 155

A slobberknocker between the Tories and the Lib Dems. This ward should see a Liberal Democrat hold after one of its councillors has resigned. Given the result here in 2016, we suspect they will hold on to this seat in Tandridge.

Prediction: Lib Dem Hold

Torridge DC, Torrington Ward (UKIP sitting as Independent resigned - 5 candidates: Con, LD, Green, UKIP, Ind)
May 2015 result Ind 986 Grn 901/627 UKIP 841/659 C 786/736 Lab 496

The final contest here does see the possibility of a clean sweep for the Lib Dems in a seat which byelection geeks will recall shares its name with a famous by-election in 1958! Torrington in 1958 saw the first Liberal gain in a parliamentary by-election since 1929 so marked something of a revival for the party which was followed by Orpington in 1962 which arguably brought a premature end to the Macmillan Government.

We wouldn't rule out a Lib Dem victory in this Torridge District Council seat, but will predict a gain for the Independent candidate, Di Davey, given the strong support for the Independent candidate the last time this seat was contested.

Prediction: Independent Gain

A massive credit goes to our fellow council by-election fanatics on the Vote UK Forum where we got our previous vote totals from.​

So far we have predicted 31 out of 38 results correctly.

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