Friday, 4 March 2011

Labour HOLD Barnsley Central

Labour have held Barnsley Central with a big increase in their vote share from last May. Dan Jarvis received almost five times as many votes than his nearest challenger and he replaces Eric Illsley as the new Labour MP for this constituency. UKIP are celebrating a surprise second place as they beat both coalition partners comfortably. This by-election was a disaster for the Liberal Democrats as they lost their deposit and slipped into sixth place.

By-Election Candidate


Vote %


Dan Jarvis (LAB)




Jane Collins (UKIP)




James Hockney (CON)




Enis Dalton (BNP)




Tony Devoy (IND)




Dominic Carman (LD)




Kevin Riddiough (ED)




Howling Laud Hope (OMRL)




Michael Val Davies (IND)




Clearly the big news from this by-election is the Liberal Democrats failing to reach the 5% threshold to keep their deposit. Not only did they slip behind the Conservatives but UKIP, the BNP and an Independent candidate as well! It seemed quite clear that the Lib Dems weren't exactly pulling out the stops in this contest but few were predicting a result as poor as this for Clegg's party. They held onto less than a sixth of their voters from last May, which is going to be very hard to spin whichever way you look at it. The only silver lining they can take from this is that in the two Parliamentary by-elections this year their vote held up when they had a chance of winning but dropped sharply when they were clearly also-rans. If this was replicated in a General Election, or even in this May's devolved assemblies and Council elections, they would hold more seats than a uniform swing model would predict.

The Conservatives will not be too pleased with the result either. Getting comfortably beaten to second place by UKIP doesn't look good for Cameron, who is already under pressure from the right wing of his party. Nothing should be taken away from UKIP's performance though as they recorded their best ever Parliamentary by-election result. Whether this is a blip or, as their leader Nigel Farage suggested at the count, they are truly broadening their appeal remains to be seen. It is clear that they are benefiting from the Conservatives leading a coalition Government, and they have an excellent opportunity to make a significant breakthrough in British politics during the next four years.

As for Labour, an 11700 vote majority is clearly cause for celebration, especially considering the turnout was a measly 36.4%. Jarvis' win represents a solid recovery in this constituency from the low point Illsley dragged his party to here last May. Labour's vote share was very similar to what they achieved in 2005 when they recorded a 66 seat majority. I doubt we'll be hearing any suggestions of a snap election anytime soon…!

Of course, when all the dust has settled on this by-election Labour will still have 258 seats, and won't be in power. If anything, the coalition parties will be more inclined to dig in and see out a full term as an early election would not go well for them. As for the more immediate elections in May - things are looking pretty good for Labour!

A Round-Up of the five Council by-elections will be up by Saturday morning. Labour did pretty well in those too, gaining two seats; one from the Conservatives, one from Plaid Cymru. Tune in tomorrow for updates on the Welsh Referendum result with Harry Hayfield.

Looking ahead to more Parliamentary by-elections, there still hasn't been a writ moved for the Belfast West vacancy, caused by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams' resigning to stand in the Republic of Ireland General Election which took last week. We will also find out very soon if Sir Peter Soulsby has been selected as Labour's candidate for the Leicester Mayoral contest this May. If he is there is likely to be a vacancy in his Leicester South constituency. I believe the result for that selection will be known on Saturday…


  1. I am reliably informed this is the biggest fall in Lib Dem voter share since Pontypridd 1989.

  2. A bit worrying for Nick-erless in near-by Sheffield.

  3. Labour winning this seat is irrelevant, as it's a very safe Labour seat and they were always expected to win. The focus was always on where the other parties would finish.

    Although it was expected that the Lib Dems would drop from their 2010 2nd place, where they've ended up is a surprise and I don't think many expected them to fall that far and fast.

    And it's certainly embarrassing for them. Finishing 6th for any one of the major parties is humiliating, especially when they even finish behind the BNP.

    However, people shouldn't overlook what's happened to the Conservatives either - finishing 3rd in this seat isn't bad from their point of view, but it's about who's finished 2nd - UKIP, who are the alternatives to the Conservative. Obviously even Tory supporters aren't a happy bunch at the moment either.