With the big Westminster by-election in 2017 set to be the Cumbrian seat of Copeland currently held by Labour it is worth looking at another recent election in the area to get a sense of the voting patterns in the area.
Back on general election day in the part of the constituency covered by Copeland non-metropolitan district council voters had for the first time a directly elected mayoral election. Copeland is just one of three such councils in England which as a result of the local referendum opted to have such a system of local government.
The voting system used is not first past the post but a form of AV known as the supplementary vote. With this voters get to choose both a first and a second choice the latter being distributed if no candidate secures 50% on the first round.
In Copeland, as the table above shows, the LAB contender came on top in the first round beating not the Tory but the independent Mike Starkie. The CON vote second preferences came into play and Starkie ended as the winner. There was no Lib Dem, UKIP or Green candidate. What is striking is how poorly Labour did on the second preferences.
The by-election, of course, is by FPTP but the mayoral outcome suggests that voters there can be swayed heaviliy by their view of candidates themselves.
So who the parties choose for the coming by election could be critical. This will be about personalities as well as party labels. Don’t rule out either an independent candidature.