Wednesday, 15 December 2010

By-Election Preview (16th December)

This is the busiest week of the month for by-elections, and I'll make a promise not to use the phrase 'safe Tory ward' after this sentence! On Thursday there are by-elections for two County Councils, one London Borough and three District Councils. The Conservatives have the most to lose as they try to hold five seats this week, with Labour (kind of) defending the other.

I'll start in London where we return to the crazy world of Tower Hamlets. You may recall the controversy surrounding the last election in this London Borough, which made national news. [Briefly] In October, Luther Rahman was elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets as an Independent after initially winning the Labour nomination for the election. The Labour NEC removed Rahman over allegations of voting fraud so he ran against his [ex-]party. The fallout saw 8 further Labour Councillors expelled from the party for publicly supporting Rahman's bid, although Ken Livingstone did not receive the same punishment for his 'endorsement'.

So now we're up to date(ish), this vacancy for the Spitalfield & Banglatown ward is taken place simply because it was Rahman's old ward. He was elected as a Labour candidate in May, topping the poll in this multi-member ward. Labour managed to win all three seats, which included a gain from Respect. Fozol Miah was the Councillor to lose his seat and he is fighting to win it back. In the spring, Miah won more votes than his two running mates put together so he has a personal vote in the ward. In addition, Miah backed Rahman in the Mayoral election, which may well help his campaign. Although the new Mayor has remained neutral in the race for his old seat his supporters could well reject Labour again on Thursday. If Labour lose, and frankly nothing is a surprise in Tower Hamlets, their majority on the Council isn't in danger. An interesting note on this ward; the other two Councillors are Habel Abbas, who replaced Rahman as the Labour Mayoral candidate, and Shelina Akhtar, who is currently on bail for alleged benefit fraud! The crazy world of Tower Hamlets…!

Spital. & Bangla. (Tower H)



Alim Abdul (LAB)


Fozol Miah (RSP)


Ferdy North (LD)


Matt Smith (CON)


Maggie Crosbie (GRN)


Jewel Choudhury (IND)


Four of the remaining five principal authority by-elections this week were caused by just two Councillors. In fact, the death of Conservative Councillor Roger Frayne has opened up vacancies for Dover Town, Kent CC; Lydden & Temple Ewell, Dover DC (Kent) AND Castle, Dover Town Council (…Kent!). All three by-elections are taking place this week, even though the wards do not cover the same area. The marginally more competitive race is for the County seat where Frayne secured 44% of the vote against a split opposition in 2009. I could be said that there was a 'progressive majority' in Dover Town 18 months ago so with the Liberal Democrats current plight Labour might have a sniff. Of course, you don't need to have a degree in Geography to know Dover is in the south and Labour haven't been as strong in by-elections in this region compared to the north. It would be a notable gain if they managed to win this but it wouldn't dent the Tories' huge majority in Kent. Frayne won his Lydden & Temple Ewell seat in 2007 with two thirds of the vote so the Conservatives will be strong favourites to retain this seat too.

Dover Town (Kent)



Pat Sherratt (CON)


Gordon Cowan (LAB)


John Trickey (LD)


Vic Matcham (UKIP)


The other double vacancy is in Worcestershire and, again, the two wards do not match up. The vacancies for Alvechurch, Worcestershire CC and Marlbrook, Bromsgrove DC (Worcestershire) have been caused by the resignation of the Conservative Councillor George Lord following allegations of inappropriate behaviour. The situation has developed further as Lord was apparently arrested earlier this month, with the assumption being that the two incidents are linked. It isn't easy being the defending party when the departing Councillor has a cloud over their head but the Tories do have rather large majorities in both seats. In 2009, Lord secured 41% of the vote in Alvechurch; almost twice as many the UKIP candidate in second place. The Conservatives should survive despite Lord's misdemeanours, and they have a big majority in Worcestershire so they can cope with a loss. Also, they easily held a seat on the County Council just a fortnight ago so they have form. In Marbrook, Lord and his running mate were easily elected in 2007 when Labour provided the only alternative in the ward. This time there will be seven names on the ballot as the Liberal Democrats, Greens, UKIP and two Independents have decided to run. It's unlikely any of them will cause an upset but the Conservatives have big enough majority on the Council to see them through until May whatever the result.

Alvechurch (Worcs)



June Griffiths (CON)


Steven Morson (UKIP)


Howard Allen (LD)


Christopher Bloore (LAB)






Dee Morton (IND)


Kenneth Wheatley (IND)


Finally, the Conservatives are defending Sherwood, Tunbridge Wells BC (Kent) following the death of the incumbent Councillor. In recent years the Tories have enjoyed comfortable victories over the Liberal Democrats here and they'll hold 42 of the 48 seats on the Council if they make a successful defence tomorrow.

In addition to the vacancy in Dover there are a few other Town Council by-elections taking place on Thursday. Labour will be defending Low Spennymoor & Tudhoe Grange, Spennymoor TC (Durham) and Millfield, Braunstone TC (Leicestershire) [H/T Paul Ward]. Tune in on Thursday for the usual results service!


  1. Spitalfields & Banglatown, Tower Hamlets (London Borough)

    Fozal Mioh (Respect) 666,
    Alim Abdul (Labour) 553,
    Matt Smith (Conservative) 135,
    Maggie Crosbie (Green) 52,
    Ferdy North (Liberal Democrat) 33,
    Jewk Choudhury (Independent) 28.

    Respect GAIN from Labour.

    Dover Town, Kent County Council

    Gordon Cowan (Labour) 1491,
    Pat Sherratt (Conservative) 1348,
    Victor Matcham (UKIP) 404,
    John Trickey (Liberal Democrat) 170.

    Labour GAIN from Conservative.

    Lydden & Temple Ewell, Dover District Council

    Geoffrey Lymer (Conservative) 239,
    Peter Walker (Labour) 90,
    Victor Matcham (UKIP) 55.

    Conservative HOLD.

    The Conservatives have also held their seats on the Worcestershire County Council and Bromsgrove District Council. Haven't seen the figures yet though.

  2. Bromsgrove DC Marlbrook:
    Con 284
    Lab 236
    Ind 138
    UKIP 68
    LD 67
    Grn 14
    Ind 4
    Paper reports an 11% swing to Lab since 2007, probably boosted by the Independent and UKIP interventions.

  3. Worcestershire CC Alvechurch:
    Con 637
    Lab 189
    Ind 157
    LD 83
    Ind 79
    UKIP 65
    Looks like a pretty convincing Con hold.

  4. Paul Ward (@PaulVWard)17 December 2010 at 12:11

    Braunstone Town Council
    Election Result
    Election of a Town Councillor for Millfield Ward
    Thursday 16 December

    MAXWELL, Stuart Mason
    The Labour Party Candidate - 256 votes (Elected)

    WHAILING, Iris
    The Conservative Party Candidate - 209 votes

    Electorate: 2238 -
    Ballot Papers Issued: 467
    Turnout: 20.87%

    Uncontested LAB 2007

  5. Thanks for the posts! We've been out all day.


    Robert Backhouse (Conservative) 422,
    Alan Bullion (Liberal Democrat) 174,
    Ian Carvell (Labour) 124,
    Victor Webb (UKIP) 92,
    Joanna Stanley (English Democrats) 75.

    Conservative HOLD.