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Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Elections Preview : July 10th 2014

July 10th, 2014

Penistone West on Barnsley (Lab Defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 53, Independents 5, Conservatives 4 (Labour overall majority of 44)
Result of ward in last electoral cycle
2011: Conservative 1,836 (47%), Labour 1,298 (33%), Independent 558 (14%), British National Party 195 (5%) (Con HOLD)
2012: Labour 1,389 (48%), Conservative 1,337 (46%), Liberal Democrats 190 (7%) (Lab GAIN)
2014: Labour 1,015 (29%), Conservative 973 (28%), UKIP 891 (25%), Independent 635 (18%) (Lab GAIN)
Candidates duly nominated: David Griffin (Lab), Andrew Millner (Con), Steve Webber (Ind), David Wood (UKIP)

Barnsley has always been a bit of a one horse town, even when Labour were deeply unpopular in the country, they still managed to rack up a minimum of thirty councillors and the only effective opposition was the Independents (who reached a peak of 24 in 2008 but have crashed and burned since then), so what about that self proclaimed saviour of one party states, UKIP? In the 2004 European Elections, they polled 14% of the vote but in the local elections, no councillors. In 2009, that vote share went up to 19% with the BNP very close behind on 17%, and the Conservatives on 16% but with no elections, UKIP could win any seats and yet despite coming within 429 votes of topping the poll in Barnsley, still UKIP failed to win any councillors rather suggesting that UKIP are good at coming second (as they have done in numerous by-elections) but in a first past the post electoral system, second is close but no cigar!

Boughton (Lab Defence) and Winnington and Castle (Lab Defence) on Cheshire West and Chester
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 42, Labour 32, Liberal Democrats 1 (Conservative overall majority of 9)
Result of ward at last election (2011):
Boughton: Labour 960 (52%), Conservative 744 (40%), Liberal Democrats 139 (8%)
Candidates duly nominated: Martyn Delaney (Lab), Charles Dodman (UKIP), Mark Gant (Lib Dem), John McNamara (Green), Kate Vaughan (Con)

Winnington and Castle : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,041, 995
Conservatives 744, 704
Liberal Democrats 205
British National Party 151
Candidates duly nominated: Alice Chapman (Lib Dem), Sam Naylor (Lab), Jim Sinar (Con), Amos Wright (UKIP)

Cheshire West and Chester was created by the combination of Crewe and Nantwich (NOC, Con short by 1 in 2007), Congleton (Con maj of 7 in 2007) and Macclesfield (Con maj of 16 in 2007) so the fact that Labour managaed to reduce the Conservative overall majority of just nine in 2011 was a sign of progress but with two Labour defences and the results of the Euros ringing in Labour’s ears (UKIP 23,649, Con 22,239, Lab 19,628) Labour will be putting everything into holding these two seats.

Illogan on Cornwall (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Independents 37, Liberal Democrats 36, Conservatives 31, Labour 8, United Kingdom Independence Party 6, Mebyon Kernow 4, Greens 1 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 25)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 331 (29%), Mebyon Kernow 290 (25%), United Kingdom Independence Party 259 (23%), Liberal Democrats 157 (14%), Labour 113 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Trevor Chalker (Lab), Adam Desmonde (Con), David Ekinsmyth (Lib Dem), Paul Holmes (Lib), Jacqueline Merrick (Green), Clive Polkingthorne (UKIP), Stephen Richardson (Mebynon Kernow)

Cornwall used to a very simple proposition for most people interested in elections. It was Conservative through the 1980′s, with the Liberal Democrats gaining control in 1993, losing control in 1997 but still the dominant force in Cornwall in 2001 and regaining control in 2005. Then it was announced that for the next elections in 2009, Cornwall would become a unitary authority with a staggering 123 members (to put that into context Manchester has 96 councillors and Birmingham has 121 councillors) and when that happened the normal rules went completely out of the window. The Conservatives won 50 councillors (short by 12 of an overall majority) on 34% of the vote, the Liberal Democrats (previously so dominant in Cornwall) could only muster 38 councillors on 28% of the vote with the Independents winning 32 councillors on a 24% vote share but perhaps the most interesting element was the emergence (after a long time in the electoral wilderness) of Britain’s third (and usually unreported) regional nationalist party, Mebynon Kernow who won three councillors and in the 33 seats where they stood polled a very impressive 16% of the vote and in 2013, although they contested fewer seats (26) in those seats they polled 24% of the vote and actually won the election in those seats enabling them to make a gain, so can Mebynon Kernow do it again in Illogan? It’s more than likely, although sadly they did not contest this year’s European elections so we simply cannot tell if UKIP (who polled 37% of the vote in the Cornwall local count area) have peaked or still have more support to garner.

Kenwith on Torridge (Ind (former Con) defence
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 18, Independents 10, Liberal Democrats 6, Labour 1, Green 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives and Opppsition tied)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Conservative 406 (56%), Liberal Democrats 162 (22%), Labour 153 (22%)
Candidates duly nominated: Hugh Bone (Ind), Alison Boyle (Con), David Gale (Ind), Geoff Hastings (Lab), Simon Mathers (Green), Derek Sargent (UKIP)

Torridge, on the north western coast of Devon, may seem a million miles away from the party politics of Westminster and yet since 2003 has actually been very politically cosmopolitian. In 2003, the Independents ruled the roost with an overall majority of 18 (Ind 27, Lib Dem 7, Con 1, Green 1) however the Conservatives, fed up of Independents ruling areas that were naturally Conservative, started to focus their fire on them and in Torridge it worked like a charm with the Independents losing fourteen councillors, the Conservatives gaining twelve with the Liberal Democrats and Greens picking up a seat each) leaving the Independents short by six seats and following the formation of the coalition that trend continued as the Independents lost a further three seats and the Conservatives gained another five. However the Liberal Democrats lost two seats, the Greens lost one and for the first time ever Labour won a councillor, leaving the council in a completely hung situation which makes this by-election critical for all concerned. If the Conservaties win it back, they will be able to minority control the council but if one of the other parties gain it they will be able to brush aside the Conservatives and present a multi party coalition to the electorate for next year’s local elections.

Hitchwood, Offa and Hoo on North Hertfordshire (Con HOLD in 2010)
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 34, Labour 12, Liberal Democrats 3 (Conservative overall majority of 19)
Result of ward at last election (2010): Conservative 2,591 (62%), Liberal Democrats 821 (20%), Labour 522 (12%), Greens 251 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Faye Barnard (Con), Peter Johnson (Lib Dem), Orla Nicholls (Green), Colin Rafferty (UKIP), Simon Watson (Lab)

North Hertforshire has always been rock solid Conservative, it’s been a question of “Who can provide the opposition?” and between 2003 and 2008 the answer was Labour, however their position was slowly being eroded by the Liberal Democrats. In 2003, Labour had a lead of 13 over the Lib Dems, which fell to 7 in 2004, two in 2006 and just one in 2007 before the Lib Dems overtook Labour in 2008 and for three years until 2011 held the opposition’s posts. Then came the coalition and the Liberal Democrat collapse and now for the Lib Dems to even claim that they are a group on the council is probably met with derison, therefore the question is “Will UKIP be able to convince Labour and Liberal Democrat voters that they are the new opposition to a one party state?”

Harry Hayfield