When I started this, I, like most people, believed I would be tallying the local by-elections for October 2019. Now, I find myself publishing the data for every by-election in the 2017 – 2019 Parliament! And, aside from everything happening inside Westminster, what an eventful few years it has been in local by-elections. We’ve had Labour gaining seats from the United Kingdom Independence Party, Local Independents gaining seats from Labour and Conservatives, Greens gaining seats from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrat gains from UKIP, Independent gains from Labour, SNP gains from Liberal Democrat and even some oxymorons in the form of Green gains from Independents, and an Independent gain from a local Independent!
All in all there have been over 500 local by-elections up and down the country since the last general election and how have those local by-elections come out:
Conservatives 278,329 votes (32% -5% on last time) winning 191 seats (-37 seats on last time)
Labour 256,801 votes (29% -1% on last time) winning 166 seats (-5 seats on last time)
Liberal Democrats 164,670 votes (19% +5% on last time) winning 100 seats (+47 seats on last time)
Independent and Local Independents 53,835 votes (6% -1% on last time) winning 44 seats (+6 seats on last time)
Green Party 42,729 votes (5% -2% on last time) winning 5 seats (+3 seats on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 15,655 votes (2% -7% on last time) winning 0 seats (-13 seats on last time)
Scottish National Party 31,400 votes (4% +1% on last time) winning 8 seats (+3 seats on last time)
Plaid Cymru 3,998 votes (0% unchanged on last time) winning 5 seats (+2 seats on last time)
Other Parties 30,242 votes (3% unchanged on last time) winning 15 seats (unchanged on last time)
Conservative lead of 21,528 votes (3%) on a swing of 2% from Con to Lab
Now, before all the Corbynites start chanting “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!” and start posting “LOCAL BY-ELECTIONS PROVE THAT LABOUR CAN WIN”, I feel I must inject a note of caution here. These local by-elections cover the WHOLE of the Parliament from June 2017 to October 2019 and that since the middle of 2018, there has been a distinct drop in Labour support. Case in point, just look at the last few months or so. Since August, the Conservative vote has gone up a tad (+0.82%), the Labour vote has collapsed (-9%) and the Liberal Democrat vote has shot up (+9%), so based on all that, if I was to make an estimate of the general election, I would say the following:
Conservatives 286 seats, Labour 222 seats, Liberal Democrats 66 seats, Scottish National Party 52 seats, Plaid Cymru 3 seats, Independents 2 seats, Green Party 1 seat, Northern Ireland Parties 18.
Which is of course a hung Parliament where both main parties are short of an overall majority (Con short by 40, Lab short by 104) meaning that the statements made by the SNP that they would only support a Labour lead government if they granted Scotland a second independence referendum and that the Liberal Democrats have ruled out any coalition agreement with either party, means that it is not without the realms of possibility that by the time I next do a review of the local by-elections in a Parliament, it would have been the same as reviewing the first quarter local by-elections of 2020.