Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Can Labour defend River in Medway?

I'm only aware of one by-election this week, and it's for the River Ward on the Medway Unitary Authority in Kent. The vacancy arose because the Labour Councillor Bill Esterson was successfully elected as an MP in Merseyside. On paper this looks like a close battle between Labour and the Conservatives. In 2007 they shared the two seats allocated to this ward between them, and the difference between their candidates' combined totals was the odd 75 votes in almost 3000. It's worth remembering though that this election took place in the twilight of Blair's reign, and Labour's council numbers were close to rock bottom. The party have been rallying in Council by-elections this summer and they'll be confident of a hold tomorrow. Ed Miliband even stopped by to give John Jones a welcome photo-op, which shows the Leadership contender is aware of how important towns like these in the South are if Labour are to win the next General Election. The reds lost all six of their seats in Kent to the Tories this year, including all three constituencies in the Medway area.

The Conservatives can also point to two by-election wins in the Authority since 2007, including a gain from Labour by a margin of 4 votes. David Crabbs is the Conservative candidate hoping to gain a seat for his party, and he shouldn't be too far away. Although the result won't affect the Tories' comfortable majority on the Council, it will be a good marker for the local parties' ahead of next year's full council elections. With a new leader, and a low starting point, Labour will be looking to make gains across the country next May. A solid hold here for Labour will make the Conservatives grip on Medway look a lot weaker. Whatever the result, I hope to bring it to you on Friday.

River (Medway)



John Jones (LAB)


David Craggs (CON)


Garry Harrison (LD)




N/C (Medway IND)


Steven Keevil (GRN)


Brian Ravenscroft (BNP)


Ron Sands (ED)



  1. The Conservatives gained River from Labour on a 3.2% swing. A good win for the Tories, and Labour must be slightly worried about their appeal in the South. BlogPost (hopefully) tomorrow...

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