Local By-Election Preview : October 8th 2015

Local By-Election Preview : October 8th 2015

Bolsover South on Bolsover (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 32, Independents 5 (Labour majority of 27)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Two Labour HOLDS elected unopposed
Candidates duly nominated: Juliet Armstrong (Con), John Bagshaw (UKIP), Pat Cooper (Lab), Jon Dale (TUSC)

Dennis Skinner, the Labour member for Bolsover since 1970, has often been referred to as “the Beast of Bolsover” due to the comments he has made on several occasions during Black Rod’s command to “attend Her Majesty in the House of Peers” although that said it should be noted that this year after the general election, he was silent. The council has also been similarly Labour dominated and only once (in 2007) did the number of Labour councillors fall below 30 as in that election Labour lost four seats (one to the Independents, two to Ratepayers and one to Respect) and although Labour recovered those seats in 2011 the Greens made an appearance (sadly for them not long lived) which means that over the space of twelve years in Bolsover’s electoral history there has been one net Labour gain at the expense of the Independents suggesting that UKIP may have designs on the council.

Aird and Loch Ness on Highland (SNP defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Independents 33, Scottish National Party 22, Liberal Democrats 15, Labour 8, Non Party Independents 2 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 8)
Result of ward last last election (2012) : Emboldened denotes elected
Independents 659, 1,194 (46%)
Scottish National Party 840, 287 (28%)
Liberal Democrats 498 (12%)
Conservatives 279 (7%)
Labour 221 (5%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 66 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: George Cruickshank (Con), Jean Davis (Lib Dem), Zofia Fraser (Ind), Emma Knox (SNP), Vikki Trelfer (Green)

The Scottish Highlands are a strange electoral beast (rather like Nessie who is said to live in Loch Ness which this ward covers). On the face of it, it’s an Independent heartland (68% of the wards elected an Independent in 1995, 63% in 1999, 71% in 2003, 44% in 2007 and 44% in 2012) and yet behind that you had the Liberal Democrats winning every Westminster constituency in the Highlands with the exception of Inverness until 2005 when Danny Alexander won but all were swept aside in the SNP landslide of 2015 (a move pre-empted by the SNP winning Inverness in the 1999 Holyrood Parliament elections and then sweeping the other two seats in 2011) but as we saw last week the SNP versus the Independents is not the pushover that the SNP has been having against the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats and in an area with a very strong Independent vote, will the SNP be able to hold their 17th by-election in a row (the majority caused by SNP councillors being elected to Westminster)

Totnes on South Hams (Green defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 25, Greens 3, Liberal Democrats 2, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 19)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Green Party 2,215, 1,839 (33%)
Labour 1,265, 1,111, 928 (19%)
Liberal Democrats 1,150 (17%)
Conservatives 1,137, 815, 754 (17%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 693 (10%)
Trade Unionist and Socialist 349 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: John Birch (Lib Dem), Ralph Clark (Con), Eleanor Cohen (Lab), John Green (Green), Peter Pirnie (Ind)

The Liberal Democrat collapse at the general election was felt nowhere more keenly than in the South West of England. At the 2010 general election the Liberal Democrats were the clear opposition to the Conservatives winning 15 seats and polling 35% to the Conservative’s 36 seats and 43%. However, that came to a crashing halt on May 7th as the Conservatives polled 47% of the vote and won 51 seats to the Liberal Democrats 15% of the vote and no MP’s (for the first time since 1959) losing 14 of those seats to the Conservatives and in local government it was even worse as demonstrated by the result in Totnes. At the last local elections in 2011 five Liberal Democrats were elected and they were the official opposition (a position that the Greens now find themselves in). Since then of course the Liberal Democrats have announced they are in fightback mode and so with three mainstream parties breathing down their necks (7% swing for Labour to gain and 8% for Liberal Democrats and Conservatives) as well as UKIP the Greens will be putting every single party member in the ward on the campaign trail.

Sandford and the Whittenhams on South Oxfordshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 33, Labour 1, Liberal Democrat 1, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 30)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 1,030 (47%), Liberal Democrat 445 (20%), Labour 367 (17%), Green Party 343 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated: Sam Casey-Rerhaye (Green), Sue Lawson (Con), Jim Merritt (Lab), Simon Thompson (Lib Dem)

Goldsworth East (Lib Dem defence) and Goldsworth West (Lib Dem defence) on Woking
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 24, Liberal Democrats 9, Labour 2, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 12)

Result of wards at last election
Goldsworth East (2012)
Liberal Democrat 783 (40%), Conservative 680 (34%), Labour 350 (18%), United Kingdom Independence Party 168 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: Jay Butcher (Lab), Sonia Elbaraka (Con), Tim Read (UKIP), James Sanderson (Lib Dem)

Goldsworth West (2014)
Liberal Democrat 467 (38%), Conservative 409 (33%), United Kingdom Independence Party 238 (19%), Labour 126 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Troy de Leon (UKIP), Tina Liddington (Lib Dem), Chitra Rana (Con), Robina Shaheen (Lab)

And whilst we are on the subject of a Lib Dem fightback these three wards are wards where the Liberal Democrats have to prove themselves against the Conservatives. In South Oxfordshire can they take a seat off the Conservatives (on a swing of 13.5%) and in Woking can they defend seats against the Conservatives (who need swings of less than 3%). If they gain Sandford but lose Goldsworth then the fightback may need a little investigating.

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