Local By-Election Preview : October 3rd 2013

Local By-Election Preview : October 3rd 2013

Oakfield on Aylesbury Vale (Lib Dem Defence)
Last Local Election (2011): Con 38, Lib Dem 17, Lab 2, UKIP 2 (Con overall majority of 17)
Last Election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Liberal Democrats 475, 437
Conservatives 432, 419
Labour 336, 246
Independent 288
UKIP 205, 164
Candidates duly nominated:
Phil Gomm (UKIP), Alison Harrison (Lib Dem), Patrick Martin (Ind), Roy McNickle (Lab), Edward Sims (Con)

When you consider how strong the Conservatives are in Aylesbury constituency (Con majority of 12,000 votes or so with a 12% swing to the Lib Dems needed to gain), it might come as a surprise to hear that Aylesbury Vale has actually been a bit of a battleground over the years. In 2003, the Conservatives only had a one seat majority on the council (Con 30, Lib Dem 25, Ind 4) and before that the council actually had a Liberal Democrat administration. But as the Conservatives gained support during the decade so that Liberal Democrat influence started to wain. In 2007, it resulted in seven Conservative gains (four from the Lib Dems and three from the Independents) and post coalition the Liberal Democrats suffered four losses (with the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP all making gains at their expense). So does this mean that this ward is an almost certain Con gain? Well, on the face of it yes, but as we have seen UKIP do have a tendency to muck things up.

Chapel, St. Leonards on East Lindsey (Ind Defence)
Last Local Election (2011): Con 30, Ind 18, Lab 10, Lib Dem 2 (No Overall Control, Conservatives and Opposition tied)
Last Election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Independents 781, 716
Conservative 473
Candidates duly nominated:
Fiona Brown (Lab), Giles Crust (UKIP), Richard Enderby (Ind), Kevin Sharpe (Con), Mel Turton-Leivers (Ind)

East Lindsey has undergone a politicisation in recent years that suggests most Independents are in fact Conservatives. In 2003, East Lindsey was a hung council with 26 Independent councillors, 15 Conservatives, 12 Labour, 6 Liberal Democrats and a Green. At the next election in 2007 (the year that marked the end of the Blair era), the Conservatives made 13 gains (five from Ind, four from Lab, three from the LibDems and wiped out the Greens), a trend that continued in 2011 with the Conservatives making two net gains and the Independents three net losses. So with two different Independents will the Conservatives continue to make gains or will UKIP put a brake on the blueing of Lincolnshire at the district level?

Abbeygate on St. Edmundsbury (Con Defence)
Last Local Election (2011): Con 38, Ind 4, Lab 3 (Con overall majority of 31)
Last Election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,007, 744
Green 448
Liberal Democrat 317
Labour 282, 259
Candidates duly nominated:
Quentin Cornish (Lab), Mark Ereira-Guyer (Green), Chris Lale (Lib Dem), Joana Rayner (Con), Clive Reason (UKIP)

It has been said “there’s an awful lot of coffee in Brazil” to which I would counter “there are awful lot of gates in St. Edmundsbury”. In fact to be precise there are six gates (Westgate, Southgate, Risbygate, Northgate, Eastgate and Abbeygate) and the reason for this is that Bury St. Edmunds is a market town with (as the history of market towns dictates) several ways of entering the town that, in the times of the Middle Ages, needed to be protected and manned to ensure fair play and the payment of taxes. This will br the second “gate” to have a by-election (the first one Risbygate back in November saw the Greens take a seat off the Conservatives and give them their first representation on the council). Will the Greens make it a double or will UKIP who managed to clock up a 6% swing to them in the Bardwell by-election about a month ago be able to overtake everyone and get their first seat on the council?

Taunton, Halcon on Taunton Deane (Lib Dem Defence)
Last Local Election (2011): Con 28, Lib Dem 23, Lab 3, Ind 2 (No Overall Control, Conservatives and Opposition tied)
Last Election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Liberal Democrats 694, 539, 529
Conservatives 475
Labour 420
Candidates duly nominated: Dorothy Baker (UKIP), Anna Lynch (Lab), Marcus Palmer (Con), Federica Smith (Lib Dem)

What can you say about Taunton Deane that has not already been said. It is an absolute Con / Lib Dem battleground but with the trend seeming to be going in opposite directions. At the local level it’s the Conservatives who appear to be having the worst of it. In 2003, the Conservatives had a nice and healthy eight seat majority (out of a total of 54 seats) with the Liberal Democrats a full twelve seats behind the winning line. However in 2007, that safety net disappeared as the Liberal Democrats made eleven gains (six of which came from the Conservatives) and were three short of an overall majority. Come 2011 and although the Conservatives retook the lead there was only a three seat straight swap between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. In that same time scale however, it’s been the Liberal Democrats on have been on the advance in the parliamentary seat. At the 2001 general election, the Conservatives won back Taunton (as was) from the Liberal Democrats but only by 235 votes (0.43%), so it was perhaps not that surprising given the national increase in the Lib Dem vote in 2005 that the Liberal Democrats won it back by 573 votes (0.96%). Along came the boundary changes and that suggested that the seat (now known as Taunton Deane) would have remained Liberal Democrat with a majority of 1,868 votes (3.30%) but with a national swing at that election of 1.39% from Lib Dem to Con surely it would have be an easy Conservative gain (albeit still very marginal). And what happened? A Liberal Democrat HOLD with a majority of 3,993 (6.87%) on a swing of 1.79% from Con to Lib Dem! So who’s going to win this ward, well you would have to say that the advantage would be with the Liberal Democrats, but then again UKIP are the great unknown. They polled 4% in the constituency in 2010 (when UKIP were polling 3% nationally) so with UKIP polling now 10% could the flow of votes to UKIP throw a spanner in the workd and allow Labour to win?

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