Sunday, 6 March 2011

And here’s another one…!

Just three days after the last Parliamentary by-election in Barnsley Central preparations are underway for yet another. As had been expected the Leicester South MP Sir Peter Soulsby was selected as Labour's candidate for the forthcoming Mayoral contest in the city. In line with the comments he made when announcing he candidature Soulsby is set to resign as an MP, triggering a by-election for his seat. On winning the selection Soulsby said:

"Being Leicester's Mayor is a full time job and over the next few weeks I want to spend my time talking to people across Leicester about their hopes for the future of our City…Which is why I have one further announcement - today I am making clear my intention to resign from Parliament in order to focus solely on becoming the first elected Mayor of Leicester."

So, what is the situation in Leicester South? Soulsby won quite comfortably at the General Election:




Liberal Democrats










A resounding 8808 vote majority would suggest that the most important vote in this by-election will take place at the Labour selection meeting. However, Labour briefly lost this seat in the mid-noughties to the Liberal Democrats following a shock by-election result. Parmjit Singh Gill won the seat in a 2004 by-election on a 21.5% swing at a time the Lib Dems were doing extremely well in the polls, largely due to their opposition the Iraq war. Soulsby was the defeated Labour candidate in that by-election but he got his revenge just 10 months later at the 2005 General Election. Last May this was one of the few seats in England to produce any significant movement towards Labour as Soulsby increased his majority on a 5% swing.

What this really means for the this by-election is that if the Liberal Democrats have another huge collapse they will not be able to claim, a la Barnsley, that this is a safe Labour seat which the other parties may as well not bother with. They do have an, albeit small, presence here as four of their six Leicester Councillors represent wards in this constituency. The Lib Dems did have a much larger group on the Council before the 2007 but they lost eleven seats in the full Council election that year. Labour were the biggest benefactors as they gained 18 seats to take control of the Council amidst a generally poor night of local council results for them. In short, the Liberal Democrats should have the local infrastructure here to put up a better fight than in Barnsley, although the chances are they'll struggle to hold second place against the Conservatives. Another 13% drop isn't really an option.

As for the date of this by-election the strong rumour is 5th May, to coincide with the Council and Mayoral elections taking place that day. Although that will mean even more work for us that day there is logic to combining the three elections, and the AV referendum, because of cost. Politically, this may help who ever does poorly (the Lib Dems?) as news of this election will be smothered by the devolved assembly elections and the national referendum.


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