Tonight’s Local By-Election Preview with ten separate contests

November 26th, 2015

Carnforth and Millhead (Con defence) on Lancaster
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 29, Conservatives 19, Green Party 9, Independents 3 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 2)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,405, 1,238, 1,184 (48%)
Labour 1,027, 981, 921 (35%)
Green Party 495 (17%)
Candidates duly nominated: George Askew (Con), Christopher Coats (Green), Phillip Dunster (Lib Dem), Paul Gardner (Lab), Michelle Ogden (UKIP)

Morecambe and Lunesdale was a key Labour target at the general election. At the 2010 general election the Conservatives only had a majority of 866 votes (meaning that Labour only needed a swing of 1% to gain the seat) and what happened? A 4% swing to the Conservatives creating a Conservative majority of just over 4,500 and taking the seat deep into the new Labour battleground for the next election. The reason I mention this? Carnforth and Millhead ward is in the heart of this constituency and therefore it stands to reason that if Labour cannot achieve a swing of 6.5% to win this by-election in a seat that absolutely has to go to Labour for Labour to win the next election, then to be perfectly honest Labour might as well give up now on the next election and ensure that they get as many seats as possible at the next election and treat this Parliament like the Conservatives treated the Parliaments of 1997 – 2005 (just sit there and smile)

Rochford (Con defence) on Rochford
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 29, United Kingdom Independence Party 3, Liberal Democrats 2, Independents 2, Green Party 2 (Conservative majority of 20)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Conservative 735 (52%), Labour 690 (48%)
Candidates duly nominated: Nicholas Cooper (UKIP), Daniel Irlam (Lib Dem), Michael Lucas-Gill (Con), Matthew Softly (Lab)

Rochford may look as if it’s a Conservative fiedom and indeed since 2003 the Conservative majority has only dropped by one seat, however that masks a serious shift in the politics of this part of Essex. The changes between 2003 and 2015 speaks volumes. The Conservatives have lost one seat, the Liberal Democrats have lost two seats, Labour have lost three seats (and been wiped off the map), the Independents haven’t changed, the Greens have gained two seats (and appeared in the council chamber) and UKIP have won (gaining) three seats. So whilst in seats where UKIP have stood before, their vote falls, in seats where there has not been a UKIP candidate before they can make all the difference, but where those votes come from will determine the result? From Con, Lab GAIN. From Lab, Con HOLD.

Salisbury, St. Edmund and Milford (Lib Dem defence) on Wiltshire
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 59, Liberal Democrats 27, Independents 8, Labour 4, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 19)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Liberal Democrat 526 (43%), Conservative 281 (23%), Labour 177 (14%), United Kingdom Independence Party 148 (12%), Green Party 92 (8%)
Candidates duly nominated: Greg Condliffe (Lib Dem), Diana Dallimore (Ind), Atiqul Hoque (Con), Michael Pope (Green), Mark Timbrell (Lab)

Wiltshire’s been a very interesting county for the Lib Dems over the years. In 1993, thanks to the Conservative collapse in the local elections, the Liberal Democrats became the largest party on the council and although that position was taken back by the Conservatives in 1997 the Liberal Democrats could still be trusted to be the leaders of the opposition on the council. The biggest change however came in 2009 when Wiltshire County became Wiltshire Unitary and in those first elections won twenty four seats on the new council polling 31% of the vote however by the time of the next elections in 2013, UKIP and the effects of government reduced their vote share to just 20% but despite that they still managed to make two net gains suggesting that there is a core of Liberal Democrat voters who will vote for the party no matter what happens.

Selston (Selston Parish Independent defence) on Nottinghamshire
Result of council at last election (2013): Labour 34, Conservatives 21, Liberal Democrats 8, Mansfield Independents 2, Independent 1, Selston Parish Independent 1 (Labour majority of 1)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Selston Parish Independent 2,427 (72%), Labour 794 (23%), Independent 161 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: Mike Hollis (Lab), David Martin (Selston Parish Independent), Paul Saxelby (Con), Sam Wilson (Ind), Ray Young (UKIP)

Selston (Selston Parish Independent defence) on Ashfield
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 22, Liberal Democrats 5, Conservatives 4, Independents 2, Selston Parish Independents 2 (Labour overall majority of 9)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Selston Parish Independents 1,977, 738 (45%)
Independent 1,427 (32%)
Labour 617, 564 (14%)
Liberal Democrat 306 (7%)
Trade Unionist and Socialist 95 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Donna Gilbert (Lab), Christine Quinn-Wilcox (Selston Parish Independent), Michelle Sims (Con), Anna Wilson (Ind), Ray Young (UKIP)

Local Independents are quite a new situtation in local government (and just occasionally in national as well). Although there have been a couple elected to Westminster over the years (S O Davies in Merthyr Tydfil in 1970, Peter Law in Blaenau Gwent in 2005, Richard Taylor in Wyre Forest in 2005, Dai Davies in Blaenau Gwent in 2006) and just as many to the devolved institutions (Trish Law in 2006 to the Welsh Assembly in Blaenau Gwent, ennis Canavan in Falkirk West in 1999 and Jean Turner in Strathkelvin and Bearsden in 2003 in the Scottish Parliament along with Kieran Deeney in Tyrone West in 2003 in the Northern Ireland Assembly) it’s in local government that local Independents really come to the fore. At the elections held in May across the UK the following Local Independents stood:

Ashford, Ashstead, Billingham, Barnsley, Bournemouth, Bollington, Canvey Island, Castle Point, East Cleveland, Eston, Epsom and Ewell, Farnham, Fylde, Guildford, Hanworth, Henley, Holland on Sea, Halstead, Hucknall, Hinchley Wood, Hykeham, Kidderminster, Bristol, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire Moorelands, Morecambe Bay, Morley, Middlewich, Mansfield, Molesley, North East Cheshire, Nantwich, Nork, North Somerset, It’s Our County (Herefordshire), Our West Lancashire, Old Windsor, Cuddington, Ramsgate, Uttlesford, Richmondshire, Rochdale, Swanscombe, Selston, Spelthorne, Stafford, Stoneleigh, Staffordshire, Stamford, St. George’s Hill, Suffolk, South Woodham, Tendring, Tattenhams, Thames Ditton, Tewkesbury, Thornaby, West Suffolk, Wigan, Whitnash, Whitwell, Wythall, Yorkshire and Yarm.

As as we can see in the last elections, those local Independents had a very high personal vote suggesting that if the major parties want to win the seat, they would do best to ditch their national labels and call themselves “(Party) for (location)”.

Dunfermline North (SNP defence) and Rosyth (SNP defence) on Fife
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 35, Scottish National Party 26, Liberal Democrats 10, Conservatives 3, Independents 3, Non Party Independent 1 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 5)

Dunfermline North ward result (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 997, 844 (48%)
Scottish National Party 1,204 (31%)
Liberal Democrats 518 (14%)
Conservatives 253 (7%)
Candidates duly nominated: James Calder (Lib Dem), Lewis Campbell (Green), Chloanne Dodds (UKIP), Ian Ferguson (SNP), Joe Long (Lab), James Reekie (Con)

Rosyth ward result (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 794, 1,049 (48%)
Scottish National Party 1,076, 306 (36%)
Liberal Democrats 275 (7%)
Conservatives 223 (6%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 101 (2%)
Non Party Independent 41 (1%)
Candidates duly nominated: Vikki Fairweather (Lab), Matthew Hall (Lib Dem), Cairinne MacDonald (Green), Alastair MacIntyre (Ind), Colin Mitchelson (UKIP), David Ross (Con), Sharon Wilson (SNP)

So far, since the general election, the SNP have clocked up 46% of the popular vote in all the Scottish by-elections held and with only a couple of exceptions (Aird and Loch Ness in Highland, and Huntly in Aberdeenshire) come out on top gaining two seats overall in the process. Therefore I think it is fair to say that we are looking at another two SNP holds here and with attention now focusing on the Scottish Parliament next year, it is fair to say that those elections are for the SNP to lose.

Pwllheli South (Llais Gwynedd defence) on Gwynedd
Result of council at last election (2012): Plaid Cymru 37, Independents 19, Llais Gwynedd 13, Labour 4, Liberal Democrats 2 (No Overall Control, Plaid short by 1)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Llais Gwynedd 374 (60%), Plaid Cymru 252 (40%)
Candidates duly nominated: Michael Parry (Ind), Peta Pollitt (Llais Gwynedd), Hefin Underwood (Non Party Independent), Alan Williams (Plaid Cymru)

If the collection of English local Independents is enough to confuse anyone, then the Welsh Independents (as I mentioned last week) would be the end of it but when you add varying degrees of Welsh nationalism to the equation then you can see why most people just give up. Take Llais Gwynedd for instance, established in 2007 with the avowed intent to oppose the closing of Welsh medium schools in Gwynedd they burst onto the scene in 2008 when they won 13 seats on Gwynedd (including the seat of the then Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Iwan) and although on the face of it nothing changed in 2012, that wasn’t the case. Plaid retook Dafydd Iwan’s seat (along with three others seats from Llais) but Llais managed to gain two seats from Plaid and three seats from the Independents. However as we saw last week, their power may be starting to wane, but could the introduction of two Independents into the equation help Llais this evening? We shall just have to wait and see.

Bettws (Ind defence) on Newport
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 37, Conservatives 10, Independent 2, Liberal Democrat 1 (Labour overall majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Independents 840, 779, 534 (52%)
Labour 616, 594, 584 (44%)
Christian People’s Alliance 158 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Janet Cleverly (Ind), Glyn Jarvis (Lab), Jason Jordan (Ind), Paul L’Allier (Lib Dem), Peter Varley (Green), Lewis Williams (Con)

And on the subject of Independents, let us not forget the other type of Independent that exists. The disgruntled party Independent. Back in 2004, Bettws was a Labour heartland (Lab 63%, Ind 25%, Con 4%, Lib Dem 4%, Plaid 4%) and in 2008 as well (although Lab did slip a bit and the Lib Dems came into second), but before the 2012 elections something interesting happened. Cllr. Trigg (who topped the poll in 2004 and 2008) switched to be an Independent and knowing how fractious Labour can be on occasions over local issues it would not surprise me at all if it was the same reasons that Peter Law stood as an Independent in 2005 but whatever the cause he still topped the poll in 2012 and managed to bring another Independent councillor on board (inflicting two Labour losses in the ward and bringing their vote share to below 50% for the first time in the ward’s history as part of Newport). But now, with two Independents standing (along with the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Conservatives) will those Labour leaning Independents split or return to Labour?

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


11 weeks of EURef polling and all but two of the surveys online

November 26th, 2015


We urgently need more mode variation

Above is my latest spreadsheet of all the recent EURef polls. As can be seen the battle is quite tight with, by a smidgeon, the edge at the moment being to REMAIN.

In the period covered by the table there have been nine different GE2020 phone polls yet just two of them have included the EURef voting question.

    Why do they go to all the cost and expense of phone polling and don’t seek to test opinion on what looks set to be the defining political event of this parliament?

As can be seen from the table there’s been a huge difference in the numbers coming from the phone polls compared with the online ones. This is not just a feature of the past 11 weeks. It goes back all the way to GE2015.

  • Note that on ORB the DK figures are down as 0%. This is because this isn’t included in their data which looks as though the option of saying don’t know wasn’t included. To me a forced choice like that seems crazy.
  • Mike Smithson


    Corbyn might have to face another tricky electoral test in the New Year

    November 26th, 2015


    A by-election in another LAB stronghold could be in the offing

    Word has reached me from a reliable source that another safe LAB seat where the party might have to fight a by-election. It would take place during the first half of 2016.

    Apparently the sitting MP might have to stand down for an innocuous personal reason. It’s suggested that the contest would take place on the same day in May as next year’s Welsh/Scottish/London elections.

    I don’t know the seat or the MP but my understanding is that, unlike Oldham West and Royton, this is not natural UKIP territory.

    If by any chance LAB does fail a week today then there’d be much extra focus on the new contest and pressure of the red team.

    Mike Smithson


    This week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast: The 2016 White House race with Stan Greenberg

    November 25th, 2015


    On this week’s episode of the PB / Polling Matters podcast Keiran discusses the 2016 US Presidential race with Democratic pollster and strategist Stan Greenberg.

    Stan talks about his new book ‘America Ascendant’ where he outlines the profound demographic and cultural changes that have taken place in the U.S. and why they make the Democrats most likely to triumph in 2016 (and beyond). Stan also picks his three GOP candidates to watch and predicts an unlikely eventual nominee. Finally, the podcast turns to Labour and Stan gives his thoughts on the current state of the UK Labour Party.

    You can follow Stan Greenberg at @StanGreenberg and find out more about ‘America Ascendant‘ below
    America Ascendant:

    You can follow Keiran on twitter at @keiranpedley


    Alex Salmond tells the Commons about this morning’s PB Osborne betting tip

    November 25th, 2015


    Generally on days like this George Osborne improves his Betfair “Next PM” chances

    November 25th, 2015


    Why my money’s gone on the Chancellor this morning

    Today’s the chancellor’s autumn statement – the second big set piece of Mr. Osborne’s parliamentary year. Usually, the “Omnishambles” budget of 2012 apart, he gets a good initial reaction and the betting markets respond accordingly.

    So I’ve developed a little trading procedure to try to profit. I back Osbo on Betfair’s next PM markets before speeches and lay him in the months ahead when things often don’t look as good. In July I was on George at an average of 5.8 (that 4.8/1 in conventional odds) on Betfair’s next PM market and got out completely in September/October at an average 3.02 (just over 2/1). That produced a nice profit.

    Clearly the market have downgraded his chances quite sharply and this morning I was back betting the Chancellor once again – this time at 3.8 or 2.8/1.

    I’m in for the short term. I don’t know whether George will make it in the end but my guess is that perceptions will improve.

    Back in the heady days of June and July Osbo moved to a 50% “next PM” chance on Betfair. Then he could do no wrong. Since then the tax credits saga has taken its toll and my bet was at a level that rates his chances at 26%.

    One thing about Osborne is that he learns from past mistakes. There’ve been no more 2012-type budgets.

    Mike Smithson


    The good people of Oldham West could also be electing a future LAB leader possibly the next one

    November 25th, 2015

    Expect big things for Jim McMahon OBE if he wins the by-election

    One thing that’s puzzled me about the Oldham by-election is why the leader of Oldham council put himself forward as candidate. He’s already a big figure within the party and, indeed, was being widely tipped as a serious contender for the second biggest elected post in England after the Mayor of London.

    This is, of course, the elected mayoralty of new greater Manchester authority – the heart of George Osborne’s so called Northern Powerhouse. Whoever gets that will have a massive job and a huge amount of personal power. By comparison the role of a back bench opposition MP will seem rather small.

    I cannot believe that the bright and resourceful Mr McMahon has not thought that one through and that he’s seen an opportunity for himself in moving his ambition from a regional to a national level.

    It is not as though the current crop of LAB MPs contains many really talented people with leadership potential. That was, after all, the reason why Corbyn stood out in the summer contest. The pool of available top level talent in the party is so small.

    One thing that those who’ve observed him during this campaign have commented on is how able he is and what a good candidate LAB has. He’s personable, articulate and engaging. He’s also said to have a real presence and he’s still in his mid-30s.

    He could be a good long shot bet as Corbyn’s successor.

    Mike Smithson


    Statement’s like McCluskey’s on Premier League managers are usually the sign of trouble

    November 24th, 2015

    Union acion could be what does for Corbyn in the end

    It’s been another day dominated by Mr. Corbyn and the Tories are getting an easy ride over the bullying scandal that has been developing.

    Earlier UNITE boss, McCluskey, was reported as saying that the LAB leader would have to improve. Tonight there’s been a statement of support.

    It mightn’t be that those who backed Corbyn in last September’s election don’t care too much about Labour winning back power but I’d guess that the unions realise that life for them will be tougher if the Tories stay in power.

      Leaders have both to deliver electorally as well as articulate a policy portfolio that satisfies their internal audience.

    Whatever the YouGov LAB selectorate polling might say the union bosses are going to get mighty restless if as we get closer to the general election Labour looks as far from power as it does at the moment.

    I agree with those pointing to next May’s local London, Holyrood and Welsh Assembly elections. There needs to be signs of progress because really poor performances will be used by the leader’s opponents, of whom there are many, to seek to undermine. In Scotland, where LAB dominated for so long, it is not being fanciful to talk in terms of them coming third in the Scottish Parliament election.

    Oldham, a week on Thursday, looks tight but a victory is a victory however slim the margin.

    Mike Smithson