In addition to the Inverclyde by-election there are only two local Council by-elections taking place today. They are in Broxbourne (Hertfordshire) and Wandsworth (London) and the Conservatives are the defending party in both of them. Unfortunately both vacant seats are in safe wards on safe Councils so we'll be relying on the Westminster by-election to provide the entertainment this week.
I'll start in Broxbourne where the reason for the vacancy is interesting. The sitting Conservative Councillor Jason Brimson was arrested for fraud and subsequently resigned from his seat in the Cheshunt Central ward. The matter relates to Brimson's company which provides insurance for businesses. He easily won his seat in 2010 with just under 65% of the vote and as the Conservatives held this ward with similar vote shares in 2008 and 2011 it's safe to say they are unlikely to lose this, despite Brimson's actions.
A few extra candidates are standing in this by-election compared to previous elections in Cheshunt Central which could have an affect on the result. The Independent candidate Joanne Welch is a former Tory Councillor who defected last winter and subsequently lost her Cheshunt North seat this May when she sought re-election. She may draw votes from the Conservatives in this contest but as she came a very poor third in her own ward last month it's hard to see her preventing a Tory hold today. In any case, the Conservatives have a large majority on the Council so they can cope with an upset.
Chesthunt Central (Broxbourne)
Tony Siracusa (Con)
Richard Greenhill (Lab)
Peter Huse (LD)
David Platt (UKIP)
Joanne Welch (Ind)
The other by-election today is in a slightly less safe Conservative ward and is also taking place following a resignation. Following the untimely death of the London Mayor's Chief of Staff, the highly valued Simon Milton, Wandsworth's Council leader Edward Lister was named as his replacement. Whilst Lister goes on to bigger and better things (he has just received a knighthood!) his constituents in the Thamesfield ward have a by-election to look forward to.
The contest has managed to make a bizarre splash in the blogosphere following LabourList's 'exposé' on a Liberal Democrat leaflet. Their complaint was that Lisa Smart didn't draw that much attention the fact she was a Lib Dem and speculated as to why that might be. The article drew a peculiar rant from the Labour campaign manager in the by-election complaining that LabourList hadn't made enough effort to promote his candidate's campaign.
Back to the leaflet itself, the attack on the 'secret Lib Dem' would be a tad more justified if either the Liberal Democrats had any chance of winning or the Labour candidate in this by-election wasn't doing exactly the same thing! Christian Klapp appears to be working this ward hard and has delivered a number of leaflets during this campaign. They include not one but two leaflets with which you would be hard pressed to realise Klapp was a Labour candidate.
With Labour and the Lib Dems battling it out to see who can come up with the best way to keep their candidate's party label hidden the Conservatives must be quietly pleased. This should be a straightforward hold for the Tories, who have a large majority on the Council anyway.
Mike Ryder (Con)
Christian Klapp (Lab)
Lisa Smart (LD)
Marian Hoffman (Grn)