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Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Election Preview: August 28th 2014

August 28th, 2014

Yes, we all know that the media is focusing on Clacton this evening but let us not forget that Clacton is not the only show in town!

North Jesmond on Newcastle upon Tyne (Lib Dem Defence)
Result of last election to council (2014): Labour 52, Liberal Democrats 24, Independents 2 (Labour majority of 26)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Liberal Democrats 870 (37%), Labour 770 (33%), Conservatives 419 (18%), Greens 273 (12%0
Candidates duly nominated: Duncan Crute (Con), Gerard Keating (Lib Dem), Shehla Naqvi (Green), Peter Smith (Lab), Daniel Thompson (UKIP)

Newcastle upon Tyne has been a very interesting reflection of Labour over the years. When Tony Blair became leader of Labour in 1994, Labour had a majority of 40 on the council winning 59 out of the 70 seats, this figure peaked at 65 the year after the general election that saw Labour come within a whisker of wiping out the Conservatives from the North East of England (missing out on Hexham by just 222 votes). Labour, now in government, suffered a bit of a wobble in it’s first first term but it was the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that really put the skids under the party especially in Labour heartlands like Newcastle as in the 2004 local elections, the Liberal Democrats gained a staggering 24 seats (in other words only three seats being elected in that year’s election didn’t change hands) and in doing so gained overall control of the council for the first time ever and unlike other Lib Dem gains in the past, they held it, not just for one set of elections but four sets of elections. However at the local elections of 2010, the writing started to appear on the wall as the Lib Dems made seven losses and in 2011, Labour regained control racking up the current majority of 26 in just three sets of elections and so therefore the question will be, has Labour been able to gain on those elections or is that it for the Lib Dem to Lab swing? If Labour can gain this ward, then the misery facing the Lib Dems could well get worse (and Ed Milliband’s dream of Number 10 becomes a certainty), but if the Lib Dems hold on (especially with Labour only needing a 2% swing to gain this ward) then that means all the Lib Dem to Lab switching that has remained at 25% of all Lib Dem voters in 2010 is the maximum that Labour can expect and the next election is most certainly not a foregone conclusion.