NEW: By-election breakdown 12/04/18
PoliticsHome looks at this week's local council by-elections and predicts who's in, who's out, who's lost the plot.
We are now three weeks’ away from the local elections on Thursday 3rd May. Consequently we are only six by-elections away from those same local elections with three seats being contested today and a further three on 19th April.
Whilst most political observers won’t waste too much time pondering tonight’s three results in Chichester, Bury St Edmunds and South Northants, and will be waiting for the fallout to the elections for the 4,375 seats on 3rd May, we nonetheless have assessed the contests for our dedicated readers.
CHICHESTER, Rogate (Con Resigned, 4 candidates: Labour, Green, LD, Conservative)
2015: Con 1003; Grn 293; UKIP 192
Oct 2014 by: Con 342; UKIP 138
2011: Con 990; Lab 97
Jun 2010 by: Con unopposed
Whilst on paper this is a very safe Conservative seat in the city of Chichester in West Sussex, we note that the Liberal Democrat candidate is also a West Sussex County Councillor having narrowly won her seat last year. Her country division includes Rogate. Whilst a Conservative hold is probably the most likely outcome here, we predict a Lib Dem gain.
Vince Cable has referred to his party, perhaps worrying in the run up to a set of local elections, as the ‘well-kept secret of British politics’ given their trend-bucking gains of seats like this which is currently running at a net gain of 17 seats over the last year. We may well have egg on our faces, but we think this will be another Lib Dem gain.
Prediction: LIB DEM GAIN
ST EDMUNDSBURY, St Olave’s (Lab resigned; 4 candidates: Ind, Lab, LD, Conservative)
2015: Ind 835; Lab 699, 462; Con 677;
2011: Lab 461, 314; Ind 421; Grn 372
This is an interesting contest in a council which as the map suggests, is a sea of Conservative blue with a few individual exceptions of independents, and UKIP, Labour and Green. This is a Labour defence with Labour gaining the seat in 2015.
This will be a tough defence for Labour but on balance we suspect they will hold this seat. The concern for Labour is the tendency this ward has to elect Independents and also the fact the Conservative candidate narrowly failed to get elected here in 2015 and also the Green candidate is a former councillor for this ward too having been elected here one a Labour ticket in 2007
Labour’s Alex Mayer MEP has tweeted to wish the local team good luck. We wonder if she will be hitting the doorsteps or the phones tonight to get the vote out.
Prediction: Labour Hold
SOUTH NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, (Con resigned; 4 candidates: LD, Conservative, Green, Labour)
2015: Con 1527, 1151; Ind 868
2011: 2 Con unopposed
2007: Con and Ind unopposed
South Northamptonshire really is a Conservative heartland! Given the recent troubles with Northampton County Council this could prove to be a more difficult hold for the Tories than they would like, but nonetheless we can't really conceive of how they would lose this ward.
As is clear from the history of elections in Middleton Cheney, two of the last 3 elections this ward was not even contested!
At least tonight it is with the Lib Dems, Labour and the Greens running as well.
The Conservatives it seems did their standard ‘dawn raid’ of leafleting it heavily to remind voters to vote in the by-election. Given they apparently had help from as far away as Hull, it seems they ought to be ok here!
Prediction: CON HOLD
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 77 out of 98 results correctly.