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Local By-Election Preview: August 21st 2014

August 21st, 2014

Wroxham on Broadland (Lib Dem defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 34, Liberal Democrats 11, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 21)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Liberal Democrats 985, 829
Conservatives 741, 537
Labour 227
Greens 197
Candidates duly nominated: Malcolm Kemp (Lab), Malcolm Springall (Lib Dem), Fran Whymark (Con)

Broadland, the council that seperates the urbanness of Norwich from the coastal Norfolk North, has been a right old Conservative heartland from the get go but unlike other Conservative heartlands it’s not been Labour or the Liberal Democrats who have been coming off the worse from the Conservative advance, it’s been the Independents. Back in 2003, there were eight of them, that tally fell to three in 2007 and at the 2011 elections they were completely wiped out whilst in that same time scale, the Conservatives made seven net gains, the Lib Dems made one net loss and Labour made one net loss suggesting as as this by-election doesn’t have an Independent (nor a UKIP candidate which in the current climate seems a little strange) it might well be a case of “Which coalition partner is stronger less than a year from a general election?”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (Lab Defence)
Result of last election (2012): Labour 100,130 (42%), Conservative 44,130 (19%), Independent 30,778 (13%), UKIP 17,563 (7%), Independent 17,488 (7%), Liberal Democrats 15,413 (6%), Independent 12,882 (5%). Labour lead of 56,000 (23%). No candidate polled more than 50% of the vote plus one so second preferences counted. Labour gained 17,258 second preferences polling 117,388 votes (68%), Conservatives gained 11,555 second preferences polling 55,685 votes (32%). Labour WIN with a majority of 61,703 (34%).
Candidates duly nominated: David Jamieson (Lab), Les Jones (Con), Ayoub Khan (Lib Dem), Keith Rowe (UKIP)

To describe the PCC elections of November 2012 as “a triumph for local democracy” would be akin to calling the European Elections a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. The reason for this? Well, in the West Midlands in November 2012, a total of 238,394 voters cast a ballot (which on the face of it doesn’t sound too bad) until you put it in the context of an electorate of just shy of 2 million (a turnout of 12%) and as by-elections (generally speaking) see a turnout half that of the general election, the prospects of a new British record for the worst turnout in a by-election (currently held by the South Poplar by-election held in August 1942 where just 9.3% of the electorate voted) is almost bound to happen.

So if the turnout is as bad as it could be, who could come out on top? Well, we are able to make a fairly educated guess because we have had this election before (in the form of the European Elections, which were held on the same local areas). In those elections, Labour topped the poll with 35% of the vote, UKIP came second with 29%, the Conservatives on 19% and the Liberal Democrats on 5%. Now, as there are no other candidates (who in the Euros clocked up 12%), we can estimate that in this situation Labour would have won 40%, UKIP 33%, the Conservatives 22% and the Liberal Democrats 6%, therefore as no candidate would have crossed the 50% +1 line, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat second preferences would come into play and here’s where it gets interesting. In a large number of by-elections of late where UKIP have the potential to win they do not because of clear tactical voting against UKIP, so I think there is a very strong chance that just as we have seen in Newark and Rotherham, UKIP fail at the final hurdle.