The State of the Parties
The last three monthsâ€™ local by-elections have been the worst, in terms of seat losses, that the Conservatives have suffered for some time. Over that period, the Conservatives have made a net loss of eight seats, Labour a net gain of six, and the Liberal Democrats a net gain of two. However, analysis of changes in each partyâ€™s share of the vote suggests that the Conservatives still enjoy a substantial lead over the other two parties.
Thirty Seven seats have been fought by all of the main parties. In seats which were last contested in May, the Conservative vote share is down by 4.4% on average, the Labour vote share is up by 0.2% on average, and the Liberal Democrat vote share is up by 3.1% on average.
In seats which were last contested in 2006, the Conservative vote share is down by 4.3% on average, the Labour vote share is up by 0.4% on average, and the Liberal Democrat share is down by 0.1% on average.
These results imply that the Conservatives would, if projected nationally, be winning about 36% of the vote, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats winning about 27% each.
Contests in seats which were last contested in 2005 show a rather different picture. There, the Conservatives are down 3.5% on average, Labour are down 7.9% on average, and the Liberal Democrats are up 2% on average. These results should be treated with caution however, as there were only seven such contests, and the Conservative and Labour vote shares have been depressed by candidates from minor parties, particularly the BNP, standing for the first time.
Were these vote shares to be repeated in next yearâ€™s local elections, then Labour and the Liberal Democrats could expect to make modest gains from the Conservatives.
During this period, the BNP have fought eighteen seats in total, winning an average vote share of 14.9%. The Greens have fought fourteen, winning 6.7% on average.
Yesterday, a total of six seats were contested, all of them seats which were last contested in May. No seat was lost by any of the parties defending it.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough – Whitchurch: Lib Dem 858, Conservative 709, Labour 58. Lib Dem hold, with a small swing to the Conservatives.
Congleton Borough – Sandbach West: Conservative 445, Lib Dem 382, Labour 160. Conservative hold. This was a good result for the Conservatives, as the Liberal Democrats won this seat by four votes in May.
Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough – Rossmore: Lab 504, Conservative 325, Lib Dem 60, English Dem 30. Labour hold.
South Derbyshire District – Church Gresley: Labour 639, BNP 516, C 304. Labour hold. The BNP were contesting this ward for the first time, and came close to winning it from Labour, with 35% of the vote.
Wellingborough Borough – Croyland: Conservative 698, Laboru 448, Independent 125, Green 55. Conservative hold.
Wigan Borough – Wigan Central: Conservative 1013, Lab 827, Community Action Party 262. Conservative hold, with a small swing to Labour, compared to May.
Sean Fear is a London Conservative