Thursday, 28 July 2011

By-Election Preview (28th July)

Of the five by-elections this week four are taking place today. Labour have already gained one seat this week and they will be looking to pick up another in Warrington BC (Unitary) from the Liberal Democrats. There are also two vacancies to be filled in London Boroughs where the Conservatives are defending seats in Harrow and Enfield. The Tories are also looking to hold on to a safe seat on the Blackburn with Darwen BC (Unitary).

We'll start in Warrington where there is a vacancy in the Poulton North ward following the resignation of Liberal Democrat Councillor Sharon Wilson due to work commitments. Wilson won her seat in 2008 with a huge majority but Labour narrowly won this ward in 2010 by 31 votes and enjoyed a relatively comfortable victory in this year's election. Labour's win in May ousted the incumbent Lib Dem Councillor Colin Oliver and he is contesting this by-election.

It would seem that Labour's campaign could have gone better given that their candidate took a two week holiday in Spain starting just three weeks before polling day. Apparently the holiday was booked well in advance but it's the sort of thing that the Lib Dems could well exploit in what is a tight marginal. Their performance in Warrington this year was relatively good given their generally catastrophic results in the North and as far stronger favourites have lost by-elections because they took a break this could be close.

Labour's six gains in Warrington this May meant they took the Council from No Overall Control. They currently enjoy a 12 seat majority so a Liberal Democrat gain wouldn't alter the balance of power in Warrington a great deal. Partial elections are due here in 2012 and whoever wins this by-election will have to face the voters again next May.

Poulton North (Warrington)

By-Election Candidate




Ashley Pemberton (Lab)




Colin Oliver (LD)




Mark Chapmen (Con)




James Ashington (UKIP)




This week the Conservatives are defending two wards in London Boroughs with the more competitive contest taking place in Enfield. The vacancy in the Bush Hill Park has arisen following the resignation of Tory Councillor Eleftherios Savva, who is moving to Cyprus for family reasons. Savva was one of three Conservatives easily returned in 2010 and as Labour haven't always managed to produce big swings in London by-elections like they have in other parts of the Country the 7% required in this contest looks a tall order. However, there is a significant Liberal Democrat and Green vote to be squeezed in this ward so it's not beyond the realms of possibility.

An interesting facet of this by-elections is the number of candidates contesting it; nine in total. The three main parties were joined by the Greens and UKIP in 2010 but this election has attracted candidates from the BNP, English Democrats and the Christian Party as well as an Independent. The Independent is the chairman of a residents association so it will be interesting to see if his candidature negatively affects the Conservatives.

It's worth noting that the Conservatives easily won a 2009 by-election in this ward with a far higher share of the vote than they achieved in either the 2006 or 2010 all out elections. Labour currently control Enfield with a comfortable majority with the next full Council elections due in 2014.

Bush Hill Park (Enfield)

By-Election Candidate


Lee Chamberlain (Con)


Ivor Wiggett (Lab)


Paul Smith (LD)


Douglas Coker (Grn)


Gwyneth Rolph (UKIP)


Tony Kingsnorth (Ind)


Clive Morrison (Christian Party)


Stephen Squire (BNP)


Ben Weald (ED)


The other London by-election is taking place in the Stanmore Park ward, Harrow. The vacancy was caused by the resignation of Mark Versallion, who lives in Central Bedfordshire and won a seat on the Council there in May. Versallion easily won his Harrow in 2010 along with two other Tories and his party should be confident of victory in what is a safe ward for them.

Although the vacancy could be perceived as unnecessary the Conservatives successfully defended a seat in an almost identical situation last week. They do have a slight problem with the fact the Independent candidate Eric Silver is an ex-Tory Councillor. The rumour is that he left the Conservatives having not been selected as his party's candidate in either this by-election or the recent contest in Canons. However, Silver held a seat in Headstone North before his defeat, to an Independent, in 2010 so his presence on the ballot paper is unlikely to have the same affect than it would if this by-election was in his old ward.

If the Conservatives hold this seat then Labour will have a five seat majority in Harrow with the next full elections due to take place in 2014.

Stanmore Park (Harrow)

By-Election Candidate


Marilyn Ashton (Con)


Niraj Dattani (Lab)


Sylvia Warshaw (LD)


Linda Robinson (Grn)


Herbert Crossman (UKIP)


Eric Silver (Ind)


We're back up north for this week's final by-election. The vacancy in Beardwood with Lammack, Blackburn with Darwen has arisen following the resignation of Conservative Councillor Sheila Williams due to ill health. Williams won her seat by a ridiculous margin in 2008 and although the Tory majorities in the last two years have not been quite so large this is still a safe ward for them. Labour currently control the Council with a comfortable majority with partial elections due to take place next May.

Beardwood w/ Lammack (Blackburn w/ Darwen)

By-Election Candidate




Julie Daley (Con)




Ashley Whalley (Lab)




Salim Lorgat (LD)





Tom Harris


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