Lewisham East: Five take aways

Lewisham East: Five take aways

Voters tend to avoid avoidable by-elections

The most striking statistic from the overnight result was the turnout which dropped from 69% at the general election just over a year ago to 33% yesterday. This is one of the biggest falls compared with the previous General Election on record and simply underlines what has been observed before. If a vacancy is avoidable, the incumbent MP has not died or become incapacitated, then voters tend to be less keen to participate and also punish the incumbent party. This effect was exacerbated here because the former LAB MP went less than a year after the general election.

The Tory vote is hard to squeeze
The LDs put a lot of effort into trying to persuade Tory voters to vote for them as the party most likely to beat Labour. Although the blue team saw a decline it was nothing like on the scale LAB in Richmond Park in December 2016 when the total Labour vote was fewer than the number of members in the constituency.

The LD canvas projection yet again proved to be remarkably predictive

When the party first issued one of these, before the Richmond by-election, I thought it would undermine their credibility if the result proved it to be wrong. Well Lewisham East has given further credence to this means of working out how the by-election will go. I put this down to the sheer size of the party’s voter contact effort and their skill at processing it.

Getting 50%+ is not too bad for Corbyn

All the talk beforehand was that Labour voters might wish to punish the leadership for having a broadly different view on Brexit to what most of them feel. Well Corbyn’s party vote went down a fair bit but nothing on the scale of that which was predicted and maybe we are overstating the impact on brexit on party allegiances.

The LDs have got their by-election mojo back
Being 65 percentage points behind Labour at the June 2017 election meant that the task facing the party was pretty massive and the chances of a shock victory were really very remote. But they did well pulling up 21 points on GE2017 most of it at the expense of LAB. The campaign A-team was running this election and this will give them a lot of encouragement.

Mike Smithson

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