NEW By-election Breakdown 19/04/2018
PoliticsHome looks at this week's local by-elections and predicts who's in, who's out, who's lost the plot.
The last set of by-elections before May 3rd sees three Conservative defences around the country. The Tories will be hoping to keep morale up with a set of strong results - but with scandals gripping the major parties, and good weather sure to drive up turn-out, anything could happen!
Perth & Kinross UA, Highland (Conservative died, 7 candidates: Con, Lab, LD, SNP, Green, 2 Ind)
2017: Con 1927; SNP 815, 734: Ind 449; Grn 168; LD 148 (IND gain 1 from SNP)
2012: SNP 1141, 527; Con 825; Ind 313, 286; LD 215; Lab 141
2011 by: SNP 1449; Con 596; LD 321; Ind 269, 27 (SNP hold)
Our first Tory defence takes place in the notoriously swingy Perth and Kinross region. The area has become a bit of a Conservative/SNP battleground, and the previous vote tallies show some wild swings in recent years.
The large ward is nestled within John Swinney’s Holyrood constituency, and Pete Wishart’s SNP seat and both have come out to bat pretty hard for their candidate. The ever meek and mild Wishart has taken to twitter to blast the “school closing, bin tax imposing, bus service stopping, care home disposing, pothole ignoring, waste of space callous Tories”.
And in what could be viewed as a fairly overt sign of desperation, John Swinney has taken to writing to local constituents to remind them that even if the Conservative candidate is a nice man, he is still a Tory and they shouldn’t vote for him. Nice that.
Ferrier is once again on the frontlines of a by-election battle - her constant presence in contests spanning every corner of Scotland is really quite commendable.
However, a fairly decent Tory ground campaign and a stonking majority last time around should see them cling onto this seat. It is worth noting that the recent trend up north has been for the Scottish Conservatives to pick up votes in seats where they are challenging, and lose them in seats where they are incumbent.
Labour is also standing in the ward for the first time since 2008 - and while they don’t have a chance at winning, they may drag out some voters whose second preferences could go to the Conservatives.
We aren’t totally counting the SNP out of this one, but our prediction is for a blue hold on this first contest.
Prediction: CON HOLD
Warrington UA, Lymm South (Conservative died, 5 candidates: Con, Lab, LD, Green, UKIP)
2016: Con 925, 879; LD 780, 668: Lab 466; UKIP 233
This contest in the Cheshire village of Lymm, in the Warrington South constituency, follows the death of a long-serving Conservative councillor who had served on Warrington Council since 1983.
We understand that this contest is likely to be close between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems who were narrowly beaten in this ward in 2016. The result was: 30% Conservative, 32% Lib Dem and 19% Labour.
We are including a tweet from UKIP too which appear to be taking this seat seriously. We wonder if the trend of UKIP haemorrhaging votes to other parties will continue or if they can manage to retain their vote share ahead of the local elections in a fortnight’s time, when UKIP is defending 154 seats across England.
We suspect that despite the strong defence put up here by the Conservatives, who have even drafted in help from former Conservative MP Graham Evans, that the Liberal Democrats can gain this seat.
Prediction: LIB DEM GAIN
West Berkshire UA, Thatcham West (Conservative disqualified for non-attendance - 5 candidates: Con, Lab, LD, Green, UKIP)
2015: Con 1493, 1455; LD 1208, 1133; Lab 423, 251
2011: LD 932, 891; Con 771, 698; Lab 207; Ind 137
This ward is in the seat of Newbury, which has been held by the Conservatives and Richard Benyon since 2005. Previously it was held by the David Rendel and the Liberal Democrats who gained it in a famous 1993 by-election, on a swing of 28.4%.
Paddy Ashdown on hearing over the phone that the Lib Dems had not just won the seat, but gained a majority of 22,055 votes, asked repeatedly “No, I don’t want the total number of votes, I want to know the majority”.
He had to be told again the Lib Dems had won 37,590 votes in the by-election on a turnout of 71.3% (when was the last time a parliamentary by-election saw a turnout of anything approaching this?) compared with 15,535 votes for the Conservatives, so the majority was 22,055!
Thatcham West should provide a boost for the Lib Dems tonight, not least noting the reason for the by-election is a Conservative disqualification for non-attendance. Labour appear to be campaigning in this ward, but we cannot see them winning looking at previous results alone. The Lib Dems are even using a quote from a Newbury Labour activist: “We aren't deluded enough to think we can make such a big gain”. The Lib Dem candidate is also a former councillor from 2003 to 2015.
Prediction: LIB DEM 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 80 out of 101 results correctly.