Local By-Elections: January 22nd 2014 – Harry Hayfield

Local By-Elections: January 22nd 2014 – Harry Hayfield

This was Harry’s ward description before the result.

Kirkcaldy East on Fife (SNP defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 35, Scottish Nationalists 26, Liberal Democrats 10, Conservatives 3, Independents 3, Non Party Independent 1 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 5)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,111, 745 (50%)
Scottish National Party 610, 742 (36%)
Conservatives 224 (6%)
Pensioner’s Party 180 (5%)
Liberal Democrats 104 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: Peter ADAMS (UKIP), Edgar COOK (Con), Liz EASTON (Lab), Ronald HUNTER (Ind), Callum LESLIE (Lib Dem), Alastair MACINTYRE (Ind), Marie PENMAN (SNP), Claire REID (Green)

Fife, along with the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Highland and the island councils, came through the reorganisation of Scottish local government in 1995 remarkably intact in fact it doubled in terms of membership of the council increasing from 46 members at the 1994 elections to 92 in the first unitary elections in 1995. At the local elections in 1990, Fife was a literal Labour fiedom as they won 30 seats and an overall majority of 14, the majority fell to 10 in 1994 as the Liberal Democrats made two gains but everyone knew that when the unitary authority was elected the following year if Labour failed to get a majority it would be a shock. As it happened Labour won 54 seats in the new enlarged council chamber and won with an overall majority of 16. By the time of the 1999 local elections, it had become clear that Fife was too big and so for those elections 14 councillors were given the heave ho, but Labour still won an overall majority on the new reduced Fife of 8 but the Liberal Democrats were by now becoming the clear challengers to Labour and in 2003, when they gained Inverclyde from Labour, they managed to knock Labour out of control in Fife but Labour were still the largest party on the council and were able to carry on in control, that was until 2004 when thanks to the Labour / Liberal Democrat coalition STV for local government was introduced and when the wards for the next elections in 2007 where formalised, the notional calculations for Fife shook Labour to it’s core. Labour would have won 31 seats, the Liberal Democrats 19 seats, the SNP 17 seats, the Conservatives 7 seats, with the Independents winning 4 seats. In other words, the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Independents would have enough seats to control the council and when all the votes were counted and seats allocated the effect of STV was clear. Labour only won 24 seats (-7 on the notional calculation), the SNP were on 23 (+6), the Liberal Democrats on 21 (+2), the Conservatives on 5 (-2) and the Independents on 5 (+1). In the five years between that election and the next in 2012, the SNP won and then gained an overall majority in Holyrood and everyone was thinking that time was up for Labour in Fife, so you can imagine the suprised faces when Labour actually gained seats (nine to be precise) in those local elections with the SNP only gaining three. For the Liberal Democrats those elections were a disaster as they lost eleven seats. The Conservatives lost two and the Independents lost one. This ward is part of the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency, that in May will not have Gordon Brown as the Labour candidate, but Labour know that they if they can gain this ward from the SNP, then Alex Salmond’s plan to lead the Westminster contingent of SNP MP’s into government might come a cropper.

Crowborough West on Wealden (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 47, Independents 5, Liberal Democrats 3 (Conservative majority of 39)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,387, 1,225 (83%)
Labour 517 (17%)
Candidates duly nominated: Simon STAVELEY (UKIP), Jeannette TOWEY (Con)

Wealden council covers most, if of all, of the Wealden parliamentary constituency and like the seat that has voted Conservative all of it’s history the council is the same clocking up 34 Conservatives out of 55 in 2003, the same in 2007, and 47 in 2011 and thus creating a virtual one party state and as we have seen in past local by-elections, virtual one party states are a prime area for UKIP to make a statement and whilst UKIP did indeed win Wealden in the Euros, they only did so by 3% (on a 9% swing from Con to UKIP) inline with the regional swing in the South East a good deal less than the swing in neighbouring Lewes, Eastbourne and Rother suggesting that UKIP’s best hope here is to inflict a swing of 30% from Con to UKIP.

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