The first local election night of the Corbyn era with two LAB defences in London

The first local election night of the Corbyn era with two LAB defences in London

Harry Hayfield’s weekly preview

Noel Park (Lab defence) and Woodside (Lab defence) on Haringey
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 48, Liberal Democrats 9 (Labour majority of 39)
Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened denotes elected

Noel Park
Labour 1,897, 1,807, 1,782 (55%)
Green Party 503, 332, 309 (15%)
Liberal Democrats 492, 491, 437 (14%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 220 (6%)
Conservatives 213, 210, 163 (6%)
Independent 128 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Derin Adebiyi (Lib Dem), Mike Burgess (Con), Paul Burnham (Trade Unionist and Socialist), Stephen Mann (Lab), Mike McGowan (Green), Neville Watson (UKIP)

Labour 2,018, 1,947, 1,865 (57%)
Liberal Democrats 418, 393, 361 (12%)
Green Party 406, 342, 254 (12%)
Conservatives 271, 244, 207 (8%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 259 (7%)
Trade Unionist and Socialist 100 (3%)
Independent 61 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Annette Baker (Green), Robert Broadhurst (Con), Jenni Hollis (Lib Dem), Peter Mitchell (Lab), Andrew Price (UKIP)

Since the general election, the Liberal Democrats have seen their vote share increase by 3% in local by-elections. This, in conjunction with the surge of new members after the general election, could be seen as evidence of a fightback by the Liberal Democrats, however apart from gaining Llay on Wrexham from Labour, most of the gains have been from the Conservatives. These two by-elections in Haringey will be an ever bigger test for the party as the Liberal Democrats in 2006 came within two seats of gaining control of the council.

This was the peak of a Liberal Democrat surge in the council area that in 2001 saw the Liberal Democrats gain second place in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency (on a swing of 13% from Lab to Lib Dem) which increased to 15% in 2005 enabling the Liberal Democrats to gain the seat at that election and despite the Liberal Democrats losing support in the council elections of 2010, there was another 4% swing from Labour to Liberal Democrat at that general election. If they can manage a similar performance against Labour in an area they used to perform so well in, then yes, there is indeed a Liberal Democrat fightback in England and Wales

Ayr East on South Ayrshire (SNP defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Conservatives 10, Scottish National Party 9, Labour 9, Independents 2 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 6)
Result of ward at last election (2012) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,135, 554 (33%)
Scottish National Party 371, 1,238 (32%)
Labour 1,199 (23%)
Independents 331, 291 (12%)
Candidates duly nominated: Andrew Bryden (Ind), Dan McCroskrie (Con), Boyd Murdoch (Green), John Wallace (SNP), Susan Wilson (Lab)

Scotland, however, is a different kettle of fish for the Liberal Democrats (demonstrated by the lack of a candidate in this by-election). South Ayrshire was one of the councils most affected by the introduction of the Single Transferable Vote in 2007. In 1999, the council was a Labour heartland but in 1999 (at the same time as the Conservatives gained the Scottish constituency of Ayr) the Conservatives had a field day making 8 net gains (all from Labour) and in 2003 they forced a tie with Labour and in the first STV elections.

The Conservatives became the largest party (but still short of a majority) and then in 2012 came the SNP surge as they made nine net gains (five from Conservative and five from Labour and losing one to the Independents) so despite the sudden drop in swing from Labour to the SNP in the by-elections last week, it will be interesting to see if there is a Conservative to SNP swing in an area that is traditionally strongly Conservative.

Bourn on South Cambridgeshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 38, Liberal Democrats 11, Independents 7, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 19)*-
Result of ward at last election (2014): Conservative 677 (25%), Independent 527 (20%), Labour 427 (16%), United Kingdom Independence Party 383 (14%), Independent 327 (12%), Green Party 186 (7%), Liberal Democrats 148 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Gavin Clayton (Lab), Simon Crocker (Con), Helene Green (UKIP), Marcus Pitcaithly (Green), Jeni Sawford (Lib Dem)

South Cambridgeshire is another area that the Liberal Democrat fightback should be able to show progress. Although the Liberal Democrats have never controlled the council, since 2010 the Liberal Democrats have lost nine councillors so a Liberal Democrat gain here (on roughly a 9.5% swing) would certainly make the Conservatives concerned for the 2016 elections, but in 2016 there will be Independents standing so the question is “Do Independents when they don’t have a candidate vote Liberal Democrat?” If so, then with 32% of the vote going to the Independents in 2014, then the Lib Dems could be on track for one of their best elections in nearly eight years.

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