Grantham, Barrowby on Lincolnshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 36, United Kingdom Independence Party 16, Labour 12, Lincolnshire Independents 8, Liberal Democrats 3, Independents 2 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservatives 558 (38%), Independent 476 (32%), Labour 442 (30%)
Candidates duly nominated: Rob Shorrock (Lab), Maureen Simon (UKIP), Mark Whittington (Con)
Lincolnshire, on the face of it, looks rather boring. Since 1989 it’s only gone NOC twice (1993 as part of the Conservative post Black Wednesday disaster, 2013 as part of the UKIP surge) but underneath that boringness there have been some interesting changes particularly in Grantham (ancestral home of Lady Thatcher).
There are five county wards that make up the town (Barrowby, East, North, North West, South) and in 2005 those wards reflected the closeness of the general election with the Conservatives on 41%, Labour on 40%, the Independents on 10% and the Lib Dems on 9% with the Conservatives winning two of the seats and Labour winning three.
Then came the disaster of 2009 for Labour, as their vote collapsed to just 16% allowing the Conservatives to win all five seats on a swing of nearly 15% from Labour to Conservative and although Labour did manage to make a gain in Grantham in 2013, they only managed to poll 30% with the Conservative vote virtually unchanged as UKIP polled 11%, the Independents 10% and the Liberal Democrats on 2% which therefore poses the question “How will the electors of Barrowby see this by-election?”.
If they see it as “Well, excuse me, I’m not the person who was elected as a new county councillor in 2013 and then goes swanning off to Westminster as the new MP for Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk I may point out!” then UKIP (with their past track record of taking votes from Independents and Conservatives) could make yet another gain in the county. However, if they take the attitude “Jo has made a principled stand. She cannot be an MP and a county councillor at the same time” then the Conservatives should be able to hold this marginal and Labour could be the ones to suffer from UKIP.
Hampton Wick on Richmond upon Thames (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 39, Liberal Democrats 15 (Conservative majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,870, 1,708, 1,586 (50%)
Green Party 696 (19%)
Liberal Democrats 676, 647, 593 (18%)
Labour 522, 520, 474 (14%)
Candidates: Anthony Breslin (Green), Jon Hollis (Con), Michael Lloyd (Ind), Geraldine Locke (Lib Dem), Sam Naz (UKIP), Paul Tanto (Lab)
“I must admit, it was with more than a little trepidation that I approached my destination” were the opening words to the BBC drama serial that bears this ward’s name. The serial (broadcast in 1971) was written by G. Wiley and a gentlemen. Therefore, people of a certain age will instantly recognise that this was one of the serials produced as part of the “Two Ronnies”. And why was the serial named after a ward in London? Because the lead character was having a post operation fuelled dream at Hampton Wick Cottage Hospital.
And looking at the result in 2014, I rather fear that’s the only way the Liberal Democrats will be able win this ward which poses the question if the Conservatives were to lose, who might gain? Well, we know from past experience that UKIP do have a London problem and Labour aren’t strong in the south west of the capital so how about the Greens? Well, 19% at the last elections from just a single candidate does suggest that Richmond may be turning over a Green leaf and then there’s the Independent who didn’t contest in 2014, but all in all I think that the former Conservative councillor (now a Conservative MP) will be very confident in congratulating his new Conservative successor in a few hours time.