Local By-Election Preview: July 25th 2013

Local By-Election Preview: July 25th 2013

Braintree East on Braintree (Lab Defence)
Last Local Election (2011): Con 47, Lab 9, Greens 2, Ind 2 (Conservative overall majority of 34)
Ward Result: (Emboldened denotes elected)
Elwyn Bishop Lab 762 41.9%
David Messer C 759 41.7%
Collette Gibson Lab 756

Eric Lynch Lab 710
Luke Harrington C 691
Rikki Williams C 668
Wendy Partridge Grn 297 16.3%

“The Only Way is Essex” could be a by word for how to win a general election. At the 1997 general election, the county was full of marginals that Labour had to win. Harlow (1.58% swing to gain) and Basildon (2.19% swing to gain) would have seen a small Labour majority (and both seats did indeed vote Labour) but when Braintree went Labour (11.55% swing to gain), Harwich (13.47% swing to gain) and Castle Point (15.73% swing to gain) also went to Labour, the Labour landslide was a foregone conculsion (and the same happened in reverse in 2010). Thurrock was a Con gain on a 7% swing, Harlow 6% swing, South Basildon 7% swing and the recent history of Braintree council reflects this. Back in 2003 the council was hung (with the Conservatives four short of an overall majority) but that was no problem as part of the 2007 Conservative sweep that saw them gain 15 seats (11 from Labour) and take overall control with a 24 seat majority, a position confirmed in 2011 by more Conservative gains (this time from the Ratepayers) but as Braintree East shows, just because the Conservatives won a seat, it does not mean that they won them with a massive ward majority.

Weybridge South on Elmbridge (Con Defence)
Last Local Election (2012): Con 31, Rates 21, Lib Dem 6, Ind 1 (Conservative overall majority of 3)
Ward Results (in current electoral cycle)
2010: Con 1,434 (64%), Lib Dem 649 (29%), Lab 152 (7%)
2011: No Election
2012: Con 638 (69%), Lib Dem 173 (19%), Lab 107 (12%)

Elmbridge is a bit like Ceredigion in that for ages it never read the normal electoral rulebook. Back in 2003, in a world that saw the Conservative and Liberal Democrats battle it out in the leafy shires, Elmbridge yawned and said “Nah, not our style” and demonstrated this by elected a majority Ratepayers council (albeit with a majority of two) and in the 2004 local elections they held on. However, by 2006 the Conservatives started to make inroads as they robbed the Ratepayers of their overall majority and in 2008 gained an overall majority themselves. “Not so fast” said the Ratepayers as since 2010 they have slowly been crawling their way back into contention.

Beverley on Kingston upon Thames (Lib Dem Defence)
Last Local Election (2010): Lib Dem 27, Con 21 (Liberal Democrat majority of 6)
Ward Result (Embolden denotes Elected)
Derek Osbourne LD 2138 40.6%
Trevor Heap LD 2081
Simon James LD 2044

Caroline Bowis C 1738 33.0%
Darren Spraggs C 1591
Mike Head C 1530
Duncan Braithwaite Lab 657 12.5%
Chris Walker Grn 581 11.0%
Roger Price Lab 566
Dyan Sellayah Lab 474
Valerie Hancock CPA 158 3.0%
David Campanale CPA 139
Mark Riley CPA 139

Kingston upon Thames (or to give it formal title, the ROYAL Borough of Kingston upon Thames) has been that strange event of a place where the Liberals have always had local election success (even when the rest of London has been voting against them in spades) this was proved without a shadow of a doubt when Kingston and Sutton were the only two councils where the Lib Dems had been the largest party in the 2006 local elections to record an increase in the number of Lib Dem councillors (Sutton saw an increase of 11 and Kingston and increase of two) and yet on that same election day, in the constituencies that cover that part of London (Carshalton, Kingston, Richmond Park, Sutton and Twickenham) there was a 1% swing to the Conservatives. Does this suggest that Liberal Democrat local voters do not vote Liberal Democrat at general elections (and given that the Liberal Democrat vote has collapsed since those elections, is any Liberal Democrat seat in London where the Conservatives are challenging truly safe?)

Tulse Hill on Lambeth (Lab Defence)
Last Local Election (2010): Lab 44, Lib Dem 15, Con 4 (Labour overall majority of 25)
Ward Result (Embolden denotes Elected)
Marcia Cameron Lab 3232 50.8%
Adedamola Aminu Lab 3186
Toren Smith Lab 3160

Oliver Clifford-Mobley LD 1764 27.7%
Nicholas Wright LD 1748
Lule Tekeste LD 1668
Bernard Atwell Grn 759 11.9%
Kate Whitehead Grn 698
Jane Hersey Grn 656
Hugh Bennett C 608 9.6%
Joanna Hindley C 556
Gail Thompson C 503

This is a problem that Lambeth Liberal Democrats know only too well. In the 1986 local elections, Lambeth was a Lib Dem no go area with just three councillors and with just one gain in the 1990 local elections things were looking bleak but after a series of problems that plagued the council the Lib Dems made twenty net gains (sixteen of which were from Labour) to force the council into a state of No Overall Control. Sadly that state did not last long and Labour regained control in 1998 but in 2002 the national vote against Labour saw the Lib Dems surge this time making eleven gains and becoming the largest party but just as in 1998, Labour recovered in 2006 (bucking the national trend) and regained control and in 2010 cemented that result. But as we have seen just because the Lib Dems are able to make gains from Labour in major urban areas does not rule out Labour losing a seat to another party.

North Worle on North Somerset (Con Defence)
Last Local Elections (2011): Con 42, Ind 7, Lib Dem 6, Lab 5, Green 1 (Conservative overall majority of 23)
Ward Result: (Emboldened denotes elected)
Philip John JUDD (Conservative) 1293 votes
Marcia Louise PEPPERALL (Conservative) 1183 votes
Sonia RUSSE (Conservative) 1101 votes

Peter James HARDAWAY (Liberal Democrat) 686 votes
Ronald Charles MOON (Liberal Democrat) 671 votes
Richard Geoffrey SKINNER (Liberal Democrat) 609 votes
Jacqueline SCHOLES (Labour and Cooperative) 600 votes
Darius FOSTER (Labour and Cooperative) 596 votes
Andrew HUGHES (Labour and Cooperative) 559 votes

North Somerset (although given as the new name for Woodspring, the constituency of the former Defence Secretary Liam Fox) has had an electoral history that would make Liam slightly embarrassed. Between the 2001 and 2010 general elections, the constituency returned Mr. Fox with stonking majorities and yet the council was anything but. Back in 2003, the council was actually hung (Con 24, Lib Dem 23, Lab 10, Ind 3, Green 1) which might explain why at the previous election the Conservatives failed to gain Weston Super Mare (having lost it in 1997) but gain it they did in 2005 and so the 2007 local elections were perhaps a little expected (Con 43, Ind 6, Lib Dem 5, Lab 3, Green 1) on the back of a Conservative lead of 20% in the council area. And given that Labour do not have much in the way of support in the South West of England, perhaps that fact that in the 2011 elections there were only three gains across the whole council gives an idea of why the Conservatives must start as favourites to hold this ward.

Felsted on Uttlesford (Con Defence)
Last Local Election Result (2011): Con 34, Lib Dem 8, Ind 2 (Conservative overall majority of 24)
Ward Result: (Emboldened denotes elected)
David Crome C 1204 79.0%
Stephanie Favell C 1113

Brian Flynn LD 320 21.0%
David Richardson LD 314

If Braintree represents the Conservative / Labour battleground in Essex, then Uttlesford (the only council in Britain to start with the letter U) is a classic Conservative / Liberal Democrat battleground. In 2003, the Lib Dems ruled the roost (Lib Dem 31, Con 10, Ind 3) and yet despite this domination at local government, the Liberal Democrats could only record a tiny swing in their favour in the Saffron Walden constituency (which combines both Braintree and Uttlesford), so it should come as no surprise that in 2007 it was all change (Con 26, Lib Dem 15, Ind 3) with the Liberal Democrats being beaten back again in 2011.

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