Local By-Election Preview : March 5th 2015

Local By-Election Preview : March 5th 2015

Kenton on Brent (Con defence)

Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 56, Conservatives 6, Liberal Democrats 1 (Labour majority of 49)

Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened denotes elected

Conservatives 1,798, 1,796, 1,669 (53%)
Labour 1,139, 1,040, 946 (32%)
Liberal Democrats 221, 153, 125 (5%)
Green 348 (11%)

Candidates duly nominated: Michaela Lichten (Green), Vincent Lo (Lab), Michael Maurice (Con), Bob Wharton (Lib Dem)

Brent (for the most part) has been a Conservative / Labour battleground. In fact the only time that the Liberal Democrats came to prominence in the area was in the 2006 local elections when they managed to win 27 seats (forcing the council into a state of No Overall Control) and becoming the largest party on the council and even that was on an unfair vote share. Labour won 34% of the vote (and won 21 out of 63 seats), the Conservatives won 28% of the vote (and won 15 out of 63 seats) and the Liberal Democrats Labour busting score came on a 27% vote share.

That’s right, the Liberal Democrats became the largest party on the lowest vote share of the parties contesting the election. Needless to say that was put back to rights in 2010 when Labour regained control and won the election with the most votes again. That’s not to say that Labour couldn’t win here (in the heart of Brent North constituency) but when a by-election was held here at almost the same time in the electoral cycle, Labour’s vote only went up by 3%.

St. Pancras and Somers Town on Camden (Lab defence)

Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 40, Conservatives 12, Liberal Democrats 1, Green 1 (Labour majority of 26)

Result of ward at last election (2014): Emboldened denotes elected

Labour 2,511, 2,488, 2,423 (70%)
Green 562, 526, 440 (14%)
Conservatives 368, 351, 295 (10%)
Liberal Democrats 245, 192, 178 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Shahin Ahmed (Con), Zach Polanski (Lib Dem), Tina Swasey (Green), Paul Tomlinson (Lab)

Camden and Brent have a lot in common, politically speaking. The Lib Dems surged here in 2006 (creating another wrong party winner, this time they did manage to come in second in terms of share of the vote) but have since faded away to just a single seat in Fortune Green ward (despite winning 0.8% more votes than Labour) which has allowed the Greens to stand up to the plate as the main non Conservative / non Labour force in the council.

However as the Lib Dems discovered during the 80’s and 90’s you can poll very well indeed and still end up with a ridiculously low number of seats (as demonstrated in 2002 when they polled 23% of the vote and on managed to win 8 seats out of 54) so whilst Labour are confident of a win, they will be concerned if the Greens take more of their support having established themselves as the alternative to Labour (especially in a rock solid constituency like Holborn and St. Pancras)

Selhurst on Croydon (Lab defence)

Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 40, Conservatives 30 (Labour majority of 10)

Result of ward at last election (2014): Emboldened denotes elected

Labour 2,086, 2,079, 1,996 (54%)
Conservatives 546, 515, 471 (13%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 504, 396 (12%)
Green 341, 269, 267 (8%)
Liberal Democrats 240 (6%)
Independent 128 (3%)
Trade Unionist and Socialist 88 (2%)
Communist 77 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Tirena Gunter (Con), Tracey Hague (Green), Geoff Morley (Lib Dem), Annette Reid (UKIP), David Wood (Lab)

Whilst the Liberal Democrats were surging and then collapsing in various other parts of London between 2006 and 2014, Croydon stuck up it’s nose and said “Sorry, old boy, we don’t play that way”. The best Liberal Democrat performance in Croydon was not in 2006 or indeed 2010 but way back in 1986, when the Alliance polled 24% of the vote and yet didn’t get a single councillor elected.

So as a result Croydon has always been a Conservative / Labour battleground that no other party has managed to make an impact on since the 1960’s when six Ratepayers, six Conservative Ratepayers and three Independents managed to hold the balance between twenty one Conservatives and twenty one Labour and although UKIP managed to poll 15% across the borough, that was still not enough to get a councillor elected.

Bocking on Essex (UKIP defence)

Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 42, Labour 9, Liberal Democrats 9, United Kingdom Independence Party 9, Greens 2, Canvey Island Independent 1, Independent 1, Ratespayers 1, Tendring First 1 (Conservative majority of 9)

Result of ward at last election (2013): UKIP 1,340 (33%), Conservative 1,320 (32%), Labour 1,226 (30%), Green 126 (3%), Liberal Democrat 91 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Stephen Canning (Con), Michael Ford (UKIP), John Malam (Green), Peter Sale (Ind), Lynn Watson (Lab)

UKIP need to come to terms with a very big problem and they need to come to terms with it fast. This problem is holding onto seats. In the local by-elections of 2014, UKIP made a net gain of five seats (which on the face of it sounds very good indeed), however drill a little bit down and things aren’t quite so rosy for UKIP.

They made three gains from the Conservatives, two from the Independents, three from Labour, one from the Lib Dems and one from the Social Democrats for a total of 10 which means that UKIP managed to lose five seats (two to the Conservatives and three to Labour) and both the Conservative gains were in seats that UKIP managed to win in 2013 (on Cornwall and Essex).

So it does all rather suggest that UKIP do have a problem with staying power once elected, a problem that has affected parties who have had breakthroughs in the past and unless UKIP do something about it, they could be in for trouble come the general election in Clacton and Rochester.

Harry Hayfield

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