Local By-Election Preview : March 3rd 2016

Local By-Election Preview : March 3rd 2016

Bloomfield (Lab defence) on Blackpool
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 29, Conservatives 13 (Labour majority of 16)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,045, 902 (45%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 585 (25%)
Conservative 463, 294 (20%)
Green Party 202 (9%)
Independent 37 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Phil Armstrong (Green Party), Neil Close (Lib Dem), Jim Hobson (Lab), Tony Jones (Con), David Shackleton (United Kingdom Independence Party)

If you excuse a flirtation with the Conservatives in 2007, Blackpool has been reliably Labour since 2003 which might go some of the way to explain why Blackpool South (a Labour gain in 1997) has remained Labour ever since that election. But as we have seen in the past, when one party is in charge for a very long time, opposition grows (as demonstrated at the election in 2015 when UKIP polled 17% in Blackpool South, an increase of 13% on 2010, and an increase of although nine times compared with their first candidacy in 2001) but just as there are changes in support between governments, so oppositions suffer from dips and for UKIP their dip since the general election has seen them lose six seats that they were defending all of which suggests that Blackpool is going back to it’s long term Conservative / Labour battleground status.

Alderholt (Con defence) on East Dorset
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 24, Liberal Democrats 3, Independents 2 (Conservative majority of 19)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Conservative 1,133 (63%), United Kingdom Independence Party 338 (19%), Green Party 332 (18%)
Candidates duly nominated: Chris Archibald (Lab), Gina Logan (Con), David Tooke (Lib Dem)

Whilst a lot of attention at general elections is on who wins a seat, sometimes the second placed party hides an interesting story. For instance, at the 1997 general election the Liberal party came second in the Liverpool, West Derby constituency (and today they hold a council ward in that constituency), in 2005 Respect came second in three constituencies (and in the local elections in 2006 won the Sparkbrook ward in the Birmingham, Sparkbrook and Small Heath constituency where they had come second) and in 2010 UKIP (in the guise of Bob Spink) came second in Castle Point leading the way to UKIP winning their first MP in Clacton and controlling Thanet council. So what should we make of East Dorset then? In that constituency at the general election, not only did the Independent come second behind Hugo Swire but polled 24% in the process. Does this mean that the Conservative control of the council (re-established at the election) is under threat or does it mean that Mr. Swire is not as poplar an MP as the result of the election made out? What we can say is that Alderholt will not tell us anything about it this time, but that section of Dorset at the local elections next year might be rather interesting to keep an eye on.

Bondfields (Con defence) on Havant
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 31, Labour 4, United Kingdom Independence Party 2, Liberal Democrat 1 (Conservative majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Conservative 401 (33%), Labour 340 (29%), Green Party 318 (27%), Liberal Democrat 135 (11%)
Candidates duly nominated: Tony Berry (Lab), Catherine Billam (Lib Dem), Lance Quantrill (Con), Geoff Whiffen (United Kingdom Independence Party)

Since the general election, there has been a lot of comment on UKIP’s position. They have managed to lose six of their eight defences, drop 3% in terms of vote share (from 10% to just 7%) and in the case of the Toton by-election on Broxtowe a fortnight ago even failed to nominate a candidate compared to getting 13% last time. But it is a cautionary tale for all parties and in this ward, it is the Greens who have thrown away a very good chance of a gain by not fielding a candidate. The Greens are only down 1% compared with last time (and with the Conservatives down 1% and Labour down 3%) this could have produced a real humdinger of a battle (with perhaps multiple recounts) but no, the Greens have failed to nominate and therefore it’s almost certain that the Conservatives will hold the seat. Remember parties, nominate a candidate or you will never win a seat!

Whissendine (Lib Dem defence) on Rutland
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 17, Independents 7, Liberal Democrat 1 (Conservative majority of 9)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Liberal Democrat 511 (66%), Conservative 265 (34%)
Candidates duly nominated: Christopher Clark (Con), Marietta King (United Kingdom Independence Party), Kevin Thomas (Lib Dem)

When Rutland regained it’s place in local government lore (as the smallest county in England) the Conservatives found themselves with a majority of 4 over the opposition groups (Independents 6 and Liberal Democrats 5) and presumably thought that everything would go their way and generally speaking it has. However, for the electors of Whissendine, they have a new concept, UKIP, and as we all know when UKIP stand for the first time, they poll very strongly and disrupt the result so that anything could happen (from a Conservative GAIN to even a UKIP GAIN).

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