Wednesday, 24 November 2010

By-Election Preview (25th November)

After a few busy weeks on the by-election front we've dropped to just four this week and they should all be held by the defending parties'. There will be one Metropolitan, one County and two District vacancies filled on Thursday with the Conservatives defending three and the Liberal Democrats one. After some strong performances recently Labour only have a realistic chance of winning one this week.

I'll start in Bradford (West Yorkshire) where there is a by-election in the Worth Valley ward. The vacancy has arisen because the sitting Conservative Kris Hopkins gained the Keighley Westminster seat for his party in May, and has subsequently resigned from his Council duties. Hopkins easily won his seat in 2008, but the Conservatives' vote share dropped by 15% in May, with roughly 10% heading to the Liberal Democrats and 5% to Labour. Although this can be mostly attributed to General Election, Labour have managed impressive swings against the Tories this year in seats contested in the spring. The figure they require this week is 7.5% and in the last two CON/LAB by-elections for top-tier Councils the reds have managed swings of 16.4% (Sandwell, West Midlands) and 7.5% (Walsall, West Midlands). Although the Conservatives should hold on, Labour have selected the same candidate as May and they are certainly capable of producing a surprise. Labour currently run the Council as a minority so an extra seat would come in handy.

Worth Valley (Bradford)





Russell Brown (CON)




Mark Curtis (LAB)




Sharon Purvis (LD)








Robert Swindells (GRN)








The Conservatives will have an easier task defending the Bowbrook ward, Worcestershire County Council. The by-election will be held following the death of Cllr. Ted Sheldon at the age of 83. In 2009 Sheldon easily won his seat with 60% of the vote with the Liberal Democrats quite a way back in second. Although the Lib Dems have been doing much better in rural by-elections against the Conservatives than in urban by-elections against Labour a 20% swing if probably beyond their reach. Besides, the Tories have a solid grip on the County. They will hold 41 of the 57 if they hold this and the vacant Alvechurch ward, which will be contested in three weeks time.

Bowbrook (Worc'shire)



Tony Miller (CON)


Margaret Rowley (LD)




Chris Barton (LAB)


The final seat the Conservatives are defending on Thursday is for the Chichester District Council (West Sussex). For the third time since the full Council elections in 2007 the good folk who reside in the Plaistow ward will head to their polling stations to elect their District Councillor. The two Conservatives who were elected three and a half years ago have both since resigned. The winner of the first by-election in 2009, Cllr. John Andrews, has kept up the ward's tradition by vacating his seat just weeks before the six month cut off, and less than 18 months since his victory. As the Conservatives easily won the first two contests, albeit with slightly reduced majorities compared to their 2007 result, they are likely to hang on again. The Tories also enjoy a handsome majority in Chichester so they could cope with a shock loss.

The final by-election this week is for the Blaby South ward on the Blaby District Council (Leicestershire). The Liberal Democrats are the defending party following the resignation of Cllr. David Pollard. The Lib Dems managed roughly two thirds of the vote in 2007 with the Conservatives as their sole challengers, so they should hold the seat. However, Labour and the BNP are fielding candidates this time which could complicate matters. A couple of months ago there was a similar by-election in Balby where Labour polled 18% from nowhere. The Conservatives were a lot further behind in that ward so the Liberal Democrats still held the seat comfortably. If Labour manage to repeat their performance then it might be a little closer than the Lib Dems would like.

There is some pleasing news with regards to the weekly by-election live tweeting. I have moved extraordinarily low paid jobs from one involving unpredictable shift work to a solid 10-5. So there isn't any foreseeable reason why I will miss any Thursday nights! Also, next week there is a rare Tuesday by-election taking place in Wales. I'll post a preview on Sunday but put the result in with Friday's round up. I'll also be around Tuesday night to spot the result, but I doubt it'll be the most interesting night of the year for by-election watchers!

1 comment:

  1. The Tories held Worth Valley quite comfortably and the Liberal Democrats held on to Blaby South, despite a large drop in their vote share. Have to wait until tonight for the Bowbrook, Worcestershire and the Plaistow, Chichester results. BlogPost will be up tomorrow morning.