The PB Oldham Prediction and this week’s local by-elections

The PB Oldham Prediction and this week’s local by-elections

The average predictions in our prize competition


Ash South and Tongham on Guildford (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 35, Liberal Democrats 9, Guildford Greenbelt 3, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 22)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 2,299, 2,199, 2,104 (43%)
Labour 1,113 (21%)
Guildford Greenbelt 999 (19%)
Liberal Democrats 900, 665 (17%)
Candidates duly nominated: George Dokimakis (Lab), Andrew Gomm (Con), Kyle Greaves (UKIP), Alan Hilliar (Lib Dem), Ramsey Nagaty (Guildford Greenbelt)

It rather says a lot about the performance of the Liberal Democrats whilst in coalition that Guildford (a seat that elected a Liberal Democrat MP in 2001) has seen the number of Liberal Democrat councillors fall by over half and turn a council that was on the cusp of changing hands from Conservative to Liberal Democrat into a Conservative council where an opposition group to greenbelt development often outpoll the Lib Dems (but sadly that is precisely what has happened). Amazing to think that just three elections ago, the Conservative majority on the council was just four and the Liberal Democrats were just three seats away from gaining overall control, but first the 2011 elections saw them lose ten seats (eight to the Conservatives and two to Labour) and then in May they lost another three seats to the Guildford Greenbelt. All of which means that for the Lib Dem #fightback to carry on into 2016, they need to finish a strong second to the Conservatives.

Teme Valley on Malvern Hills (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 22, Independents 7, Liberal Democrats 5, Green Party 3 (Conservative majority of 7)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 797 (72%), United Kingdom Independence Party 306 (28%)
Candidates duly nominated: Andrew Dolan (UKIP), Caroline Palethorpe (Con), Daniel Walton (Lab)

Sadly, such a fightback for the Lib Dems will not be on the cards in Malvern Hills. Like Guildford, back in 2003, the Liberal Democrats were the largest party on the council and in a very strong position but it was 2007 that spelled the end for the party on the council as they lost 14 councillors all to the Conservatives and have failed to recover since. Nowhere was this demonstrated more than in Worcestershire West at the general election, a seat where the Liberal Democrats had the possibility of a gain on a 6% swing, but in the end they finished on 10% of the vote (down 27%) in fourth place and to make matters worse the candidate, almost immediately after the election, announced that he was defecting to the Conservatives. The fightback in Malvern Hills will take some time I think.

Belvoir on South Kesteven (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 44, Independents 6, Labour 3, Lincolnshire Independents 1, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 33)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,749, 1,570 (70%)
Labour 763 (30%)
Candidates duly nominated: Louise Clack (Lab), Laura King (Ind), Mike Taylor (UKIP), Hannah Westropp (Con)

South Kesteven (although a Conservative fiefdom) has always had a slight independence about it. True, the number of Independent councillors has fallen from 12 in 2003 to six now (with a Lincolnshire Independent thrown in for good measure) but you cannot deny that they exist. In the Grantham and Stamford constituency (which covers part of the district) the Independent candidate polled 1.35% and a Lincolnshire Independent polled 1.89% (and across the county as a whole the Lincolnshire Independents polled 1.61% only 1,300 votes behind the Greens) so expect the Independent here to potentially upset the apple cart.

Boleyn on Newham (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 60
Result of ward at last election (2014): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 2,658, 2,505, 2,425 (64%)
Conservative 869, 823, 756 (21%)
Trade Unionist and Socialist 342 (8%)
Christian People’s Alliance 270, 259 (7%)
Candidates duly nominated: Emmanuel Finndoro-Obasi (Con), David Mears (UKIP), Sheree Miller (Lib Dem), Veronica Oakeshott (Lab), Diane Ofori (Ind), Frankie-Rose Taylor (Green)

Newham, now a complete rock solid Labour block in the east of London. did used to have an opposition group. In the first elections in 1964 to the then newly created borough of Newham ten Independent councillors filled the role. The 1968 elections (which were a complete and utter disaster for Labour) saw another eleven Independents being elected as well as six Conservatives and three Liberals (making the council hung), however that only lasted until 1971 when the Conservatives and Liberals were wiped out and the Independents were shrunk back to seven. They made two gains in 1974, but in 1978 very nearly got wiped out themselves with just three serving as the opposition. The 1982 elections saw the Alliance take over the mantle of opposition (with six councillors) but in 1986 Labour achieved their first total lockout of an opposition. By 1990 the Conservatives were now the leaders of the official opposition with a sole Liberal Democrat to keep them company, however by 1994 the opposition was that sole Liberal Democrat and in 1998, lockout number two occurred. Perhaps unimpressed by the mainstream parties being unable to hold any opposition to Labour, the electors in the Canning Town South ward decided to throw a spanner into the works by electing Alan Craig as the Christian People’s Alliance councillor for the ward and for the 2002 – 2006 term he served as the opposition and maybe, just maybe, he had more impact as in 2006 his Christian People’s Alliance colleagues (Denise Stafford and Simeon Ademolake) were also elected along with three Ratepayers in Green Street West. Sadly however, this Labour resistance didn’t last long as the third Labour lockout was achieved in 2010 with the fourth in 2014 making it safe to assume that if you’re not Labour in Newham, you won’t get very far at all.

Meole on Shropshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 48, Liberal Democrats 12, Labour 9, Independents 4, National Health Action 1 (Conservative majority of 22)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 689 (55%), Labour 473 (38%), Liberal Democrat 92 (7%)
Candidates duly nominated: Nat Greene (Lib Dem), Nic Laurens (Con), John Lewis (Lab), David Morgan (UKIP), John Newnham (Green)

When I profiled Belle Vue on Shropshire, I put forward the proposal that in Shropshire, the Conservative are the challengers to Labour which naturally poses the question “Who are the challengers to the Conservatives in Shropshire?”. Well, for many a year it was the Liberal Democrats but in 1997, Labour joined the throng by knocking out the Conservative MP’s for Shrewsbury and the Wrekin leaving the Liberal Democrats with only Ludlow where they challenged the Conservatives, but after that election the mood music began to change in the county. First the Liberal Democrats gained Ludlow (on an 8% swing) and then in 2005 (although they lost Ludlow) they were by far the biggest gainers in Shrewsbury (+11%) and Shropshire North (+7%) and by 2010 they were second in Ludlow, Shropshire North and Shrewsbury. But then came 2015 and the Lib Dem rout. Third in Ludlow (-20%), fourth in Shropshire North (-15%), fourth in Shrewsbury (-21%), fourth in The Wrekin (-13%0 and fifth in Telford (-13% and a lost deposit to boot) replaced by the insurgency of UKIP who polled 16% across the county and came second in Ludlow. But of course, in Belle Vue, the Lib Dems polled 21% from a standing start (with most of that coming from Labour) so could a new Liberal Democrat challenge be resuming?

Oldham West and Royton for Westminster (Lab defence)
Result of Parliament at last election (2015): Conservative 330, Labour 232, Scottish National Party 56, Liberal Democrats 8, Democratic Unionists 8, Sinn Fein 4, Plaid Cymru 3, Social Democratic and Labour Party 3, Ulster Unionists 2, United Kingdom Independence Party 1, Green Party 1, Speaker 1, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 10)
Result of constituency at last election (2015): Labour 23,630 (55%), United Kingdom Independence Party 8,892 (21%), Conservative 8,187 (19%), Liberal Democrat 1,589 (4%), Green Party 839 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Sir Oink-A-Lot (Offical Monster Raving Loony Party), John Bickley (United Kingdom Independence Party), Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrat), James Daly (Conservative), Simeon Hart (Green Party), Jim McMahon (Labour)

The first by-election of a Parliament is rather like a Christmas get together with the relatives. If everything is right, then the party goers have a wonderful time, congratulate the organisers and they get a wonderful gift at Christmas (such as the 17% swing to the Conservatives at Bristol West during the 1950 Parliament or the 17% swing that Labour got in Hayes and Harlington in the 1966 Parliament) or then again it could be a disaster with rows amongst the relatives over that sweater, the kids wanting to watch a film and not take part in party games all ending up in the chaos of the dog knocking over the Christmas tree and breaking all the lights (as happened in Ashfield during the 1974 Parliament when Labour lost the seat on a 21% swing, or Newbury during the 1992 Parliament when the Conservatives lost Newbury and then Christchurch on 28% and 35% swing respectively). So, what are the omens for Oldham West then? Well, the last time that a Conservative government was elected with a majority and the first by-election in that Parliament was a Labour defence was Leeds South East in February 1952, after Churchill’s squeaker of a win in 1951. That result saw an eight thousand Labour majority at the 1951 general election remain an eight thousand majority in the by-election (on a 3% swing to Labour) but of course that was back in the days of Conservative and Labour candidates only. The electors of Oldham West have six candidates to chose from and with Corbynmania seeming to evaporate in the general electorate faster than chocolates in a selection box could Labour be facing more bad news in the morning in the form of a United Kingdom Independence Party GAIN from Labour?

Preview compiled by Harry Hayfield

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