Local By-Election Preview: November 7th 2013

Local By-Election Preview: November 7th 2013

Kingswood on Corby (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Lab 22, Con 4, Lib Dem 3 (Lab overall majority of 15)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected

Labour 1,052, 1,027, 1,015

Conservatives 413, 332

Candidates duly nominated: Elise Elliston (Lab), Phil Ewers (Con), Julie Grant (Lib Dem), Peter McGowan (UKIP)

The electors of Corby district and the electors of Corby constituency may be forgiven for being seen as out of step with each other. Labour won the parliamentary constituency of Corby in 1997, held it in 2001 and 2005, lost it in 2010 and then won it back in a by-election last year.

Whilst all this toing and froing was going on at the constituency level, at the district level things were much more level headed. Between 2003 and 2011, the number of Labour councillors increased by four whilst the number of Conservative councillors fell by five with the Liberal Democrats taking up the slack, gaining one.

So why is the district far more stable than the constituency? Well, the simple reason is that Corby constituency is not just Corby district. When Louise Bagshawe (prior to getting married) became the first Conservative MP in the seat for nearly twenty years and became one of the most famous Conservative tweeters, she made a point of making it known that she was the MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire. East Northamptonshire district is even more stable than Corby district and so the swing in the constituency was reflected by those voters in East Northamptonshire swinging to Labour in 1997 as opposed to Corby itself swinging to Labour.

Bosworth on Harborough (Con Defence)

Result at last election (2011): Con 27, Lib Dem 9, Ind 1 (Con overall majority of 17)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Con 780 (75%) Lab 255 (25%)

Candidates duly nominated: Lesley Bowles (Con), Annette Deacon (Lib Dem), Bill Piper (UKIP)

If Corby is the Conservative’s Agincourt, then Bosworth is the Lib Dems Waterloo (as seen from Napoleon’s side). In 2003, the Lib Dems finally broke through winning 18 councillors and being the largest party on the council (Lib Dem 18, Con 16, Ind 2, Lab 1) and was hoping that like Oadby and Wigston next door at the next elections they would be able to claim that the Lib Dems were “winning here”.

Sadly that was not to be case as in 2007, the Conservatives made ten gains (with seven of them coming from the Lib Dems) and consigning them to opposition where they have been ever since. That is not to say that they can’t spring suprises though as in 2010 where the Lib Dems saw their vote increase by 11% and turn a rock solid Conservative seat into a marginal for the next election

Harrow on the Hill on Harrow (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2010): Lab 34, Con 27, Lib Dem 1, Ind 1

Result of ward at last election (2010): Emboldened denotes elected

Labour 1,948, 1,729, 1630

Conservatives 1,786, 1,651, 1,646

Independents 1,021, 641, 500

Liberal Democrats 973, 899

Candidates duly nominated: Gaye Branch (Lib Dem), Glen Hearnden (Lab), Gajan Idaikkadar (Harrow First), Eileen Kinnear (Ind), Stephen Lewis (Con), Jeremy Zeid (UKIP)

Harrow used to be a straight forward council with the Conservatives holding a majority and both Labour and the Liberal Democrats some way behind. That was until the 1994 local elections when the Liberal Democrats (who had managed to gain 104 seats across the capital) made eighteen gains forcing the Conservatives into second (having lost 19 seats) and leaving Labour one seat ahead of their 1990 performance.

As you can imagine, the Lib Dems were overjoyed by this. For the first time since the days of the Alliance, the Liberal Democrats had broken out of their south western enclaves (Richmond, Kingston and Sutton) and could now truly claim to be the opposition in London to the government. What a shame that it did not last as in the local elections of 1998 Harrow became the scene of what is still talked about in hushed rooms at Lib Dem conferences as “Harrowgate”. Across the whole of London there were just 22 net losses, however of those Harrow contributed 20 losses.

The reason for this? The nominating officer of Harrow Liberal Democrats failed to ensure that the nomination forms were filled in correctly and as a result 20 Liberal Democrat councillors were unable to defend their seats. The net result? Labour gained 18 of those seats and the Conservatives gained three seats (including one from the Ratepayers). And from then on the Liberal Democrats never really recovered suffering six losses in 2002 and being on the verge of wipeout in both 2006 and 2010.

Dales (Lab Defence) and Radford and Park (Lab Defence) on Nottingham

Result of last election (2011): Lab 50, Con 5 (Lab overall majority of 45)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected


Labour 2,456, 2,327, 2,238

Liberal Democrats 949

Conservatives 815, 809, 726

Elvis Loves Pets 322

Radford and Park

Labour 1,717, 1,710, 1,639

Conservatives 940, 932, 866

Green 509

Liberal Democrats 404, 336, 274

Candidates duly nominated:


Tad Jones (Lib Dem), Neghat Khan (Lab), Irenea Marriott (UKIP), Adam McGregor (Green), Cathy Meadows (TUSC), Neale Mittenshaw-Hodge (Con)

Radford and Park

David Bishop (Elvis Loves Pets), Katharina Boettge (Green), Francesco Lari (UKIP), Nicholas Packham (Con), Anne Peach (Lab), Geraint Thomas (TUSC)

Nottingham has, slowly but surely, turned into a true Labour bastion to rank with the Liverpools, Salfords and Glasgows of this world. Back in 2003 they had an overall majority of 17. This increased to 29 in 2007 and thanks to the coalition in 2011 it reached it’s current majority of 45.

So therefore the question is likely to be who will come second in both wards? Well, there’s plenty of choice for those people who cannot bring themselves to vote for a mainstream alternative to Labour but perhaps the electors of Radford and Park have the best chance of being able to vote for someone who is seen as opposition to Labour and a kick in the proverbials to all the other parties and that is the Elvis Loves Pets party candidate.

Yes, Mr. Bishop has certainly done the rounds. He first popped up in Tatton at the 1997 general election where he stood as “Lord Byron vs the Scallywag Tories” candidate. Despite the Conservatives only managing to poll 37% of the vote at that election, he was not elected. But he must have enjoyed standing against Martin Bell (who was elected) because in 2001 he followed him to Brentwood and Ongar, this time standing as the candidate for the Church of the Militant Elvis party.

However, thanks to a split opposition Eric Pickles was elected and Mr. Bishop wasn’t. In 2005, he stood against another celebrity candidate when he was nominated to stand in Erewash constituency for the same party standing against a certain Robert Kilroy-Silk.

Again he was not elected and so in 2010 tried in Kettering, this time standing as the Bus Pass Elvis candidate. No joy there but that hasn’t stopped him since. He stood in Corby (99 votes), Eastleigh (72 votes), Feltham and Heston (93 votes), Oldham East (67 votes) and is clearly trying to emulate the record of the late Screaming Lord Sutch for lost deposits.

Derby on Sefton (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Lab 36, Lib Dem 20, Con 8, Ind 2 (Lab overall majority of 6)

Result of ward in last electoral cycle:

2010: Lab 3,387 (70%), UKIP 724 (15%), Lib Dem 518 (11%), Con 202 (4%)

2011: Lab 2,071 (76%), UKIP 404 (15%), Lib Dem 107 (4%), Con 95 (3%), English Democrats 55 (2%)

2012: Lab 1,809 (81%), UKIP 302 (14%), Con 64 (3%), Lib Dem 56 (3%)

Candidates duly nominated: Janice Blanchard (Ind), Jack Colbert (UKIP), Juliet Edgar (Ind), Laurence Rankin (Green), Anne Thompson (Lab), Graham Woodhouse (TUSC)

For years, Sefton’s election result on local election night was a sure fire certainly. Sefton: NOC HOLD. From 1990 until 2011, the council seemed to be in a permanent state of No Overall Control with the only question mark being over which party would emerge as the largest grouping.

From 1993 until 1999, that responsibility fell to Labour (with their best being three short of a majority in 1996), the Lib Dems took the lead in the millennium, before Labour took over again in 2002, then the Lib Dems had another go in 2006 before Labour short back into the position in 2011. So you can imagine everyone’s surprise when Sefton was actually won by someone (namely Labour) in 2012.

However, whilst this ward will elect another Labour councillor will the council remain Labour next year or will the almost inbuilt state of No Overall Control come back?

Riverside and Laleham on Spelthorne (Con Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 32, Lib Dem 6, Ind 1 (Con overall majority of 25)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected

Conservatives 1,771, 1,585, 1,478

United Kingdom Independence Party 531

Liberal Democrats 529, 435

Candidates duly nominated: Michael Fuller (UKIP), John Johnston (Lab), Denise Saliagopoulos (Con), Susan Vincent (Lib Dem)

If Sefton is an example of keeping people guessing, then Spelthrone is a case of “Yawn, Con HOLD”. In the 2003 local elections, the Conservatives had a majority of 31 on the council (out of 39 seats) and although the Lib Dems managed to double their seats in 2007, that only reduced the majority to 23.

So therefore the question in Spelthorne is will UKIP be able to make hay whilst the sun shines (as the only non mainstream opposition to the Conservatives) or will Labour be able to say “The Liberal Democrats in this council cannot contain the Conservatives, we can!”

Chipping Norton on West Oxfordshire (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Con 41, Lab 4, Lib Dem 4 (Con overall majority of 33)

Result of ward in last electoral cycle:

2010: Con 1,673 (47%), Lab 1,394 (39%), Lib Dem 467 (14%)

2011: Lab 881 (37%), Con 833 (35%), Ind 537 (22%), Green 94 (4%), Lib Dem 59 (3%)

2012: Lab 966 (60%), Con 644 (40%)

Candidates duly nominated: Matthew Clayton (Green), Andrew Crick (Lib Dem), Joe Johnson (Con), Geoff Saul (Lab)

Strange as it may sound, there is actually quite the Labour history on West Oxfordshire (the majority of David Cameron’s Witney constituency). Unlike other councils in the South East of England even during the darkest days of Labour local election disasters, there was always one Labour councillor on the district, so to suddenly make three gains in 2012, Labour must have assumed that all of their West Oxfordshire Christmases had come at once, and given the current battleground I can’t see Labour losing this either.

Crook on County Durham (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2013): Lab 94, Ind 19, Lib Dem 9, Con 4 (Lab overall majority of 62)

Result of ward at last election (2013): Emboldened denotes elected

Independent 771, 630, 594

Labour 719, 691, 642

Wear Valley Independents 559, 476, 450

Liberal Democrats 161, 144, 124

Greens 123, 89, 88

Candidates duly nominated: John Bailey (Wear Valley Independents), Beaty Bainbridge (Con), David English (Lib Dem), Ian Hirst (Ind), Andrea Paterson (Lab), Joanne Yelland (Green)

Now, here’s a Labour bastion worthy of the title. It may now be a unitary authority (first elected in 2008) but when it was a county council, my word, you didn’t just weigh the Labour vote, you weighed it on an industrial scale! Counties 1989: Lab majority of 42 (out of 72 seats), 1993: Lab majority of 40, 1997: Lab majority of 45, 2001: Lab majority of 45, 2005: Lab majority of 43.

In 2008 there was a tiny hiccup I grant you (Lab 67, Lib Dem 27, Ind 22, Con 10) which produced a Lab majority of 8 out of 126 seats, but this May normal service was resumed with a whomping 62 seat majority. However, with the Independents and the Wear Valley Independents running close and coming within a whisker of taking the third seat in this ward, could we be looking at an upset?

Tupsley on Herefordshire (It’s Our County Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 30, Ind 23, Lib Dem 3, Lab 1, Green 1 (Con overall majority of 2)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected

It’s Our County 1,808, 1,588, 1,296

Conservatives 757, 736, 699

Liberal Democrats 652, 521, 404

Labour 425

Candidates duly nominated: Duncan Fraser (Lib Dem), Jason Kay (Con), Cath North (It’s Our County)

And when it comes to upsets, It’s Our County are past masters! In 2003, Herefordshire was a hung council (Con 21, Ind 17, Lib Dem 16, Lab 4) representing a sparsely populated county with the Conservative and Liberal Democrats battling for the hearts and minds of Hereford constituency and the Independents ruling the roost elsewhere.

However in 2007 things changed, the Conservatives gained control (mostly from the Independents and Liberal Democrats) and it was clear that the Independents were not as powerful as they first thought. Enter on the stage “It’s Our County” and given their strength in Tupsley, I can’t see that ward changing hands anytime soon.

Bronglais on Aberystwyth Town Council (Plaid Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Plaid 10, Lib Dem 5, Ind 3 (Plaid overall majority of 2)

Result of last election in ward (2012): Emboldened denotes elected

Plaid Cymru 382, 336, 277, 241

Liberal Democrats 144

Candidates duly nominated: Bryony Davies (Lib Dem), Huw Fox (Independent), Lucy Huws (Plaid Cymru)

Which makes what is happening in Aberystwyth even more interesting. Now, generally speaking I don’t cover town council by-elections (but this first by-election in Ceredigion since the local elections is rapidly turning into a referendum on the Plaid / Independent leadership of the county council).

The Bronglais ward (formerly called Aberystwyth East at both town and county level) has not elected anyone bar Plaid Cymru since 1974. In 1999, a certain Simon Thomas was elected as the district and town councillor (who went to win Ceredigion in the February 2000 by-election and is now one of Plaid’s AM’s for Mid and West Wales) and in 2012, the Plaid vote of 89% was the highest in the entire council.

So the fact a recent tweet by none other than the former Conservative Assembly member for Mid and West Wales (Lisa Francis) advocating the Liberal Democrat candidate in the ward could suggest that Plaid’s dominance is about to end (and possibly in the most spectacular manner possible).

Harry Hayfield

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