Thursday, 11 August 2011

By-Election Preview (11th August)

There are three by-elections taking place this week, all of which are in the south of England. Labour are defending, on paper at least, a three way marginal in Islington whilst the Conservatives are looking to hold a safe ward in Windsor & Maidenhead. The third contest is further west in North Devon where a fledgling Independent Group are looking to hang onto a seat they gained in May.

We'll start in London where, in the midst of the recent civil unrest, residents of the St Peter's ward will head to the polls today. The ward borders Hackney and so the rioting is sure to be at the forefront of voter's minds today. The vacancy has arisen following the resignation of Labour Councillor Shelly Coupland, who was charged with benefit fraud and stood down to clear her name. Coupland was in receipt of benefits as carer for her mother but she apparently did not declare her election, and subsequent allowance, to the Department of Work & Pensions.

Even before the events of the last few days the by-election was hard fought. Ken Livingston was campaigning against cuts to the Police here two weeks ago; an issue that will be in sharp focus at the ballot box today. Interestingly, Boris Johnson lives in this ward and Livingston will surely enjoy a victory in his rival's back yard, regardless of the fact Labour should beat the Tories here anyway. In fact, the Conservatives were third in St Peters last year and currently do not have a Councillor elected in Islington. The Liberal Democrats are Labour's main competition in this ward where the held all three seats as recently as 2006. Their candidate for this by-election stood in 2010 and came sixth, some 500 votes from the third placed Labour candidate.

Whatever the outcome of this by-election, Labour will continue to enjoy a large majority in Islington with the next full Council elections due in 2014.

St Peter's (Islington)

By-Election Candidate


Alice Perry (Lab)


David Sant (LD)


Richard Bunting (Con)


Caroline Allen (Grn)


Martin Rutherford (Ind)


The by-election for the Fremington ward in North Devon is certainly and interesting one, albeit one in which the result should not be extrapolated to any national significance. The Conservatives easily beat the Liberal Democrats to the two seats here in 2007 but both Tories Councillors were ousted in spectacular fashion this May by a local Independent Group. The 'New Wave Independent Group' (NWIG) was only formed in February in response to 'feuds' on Fremington Parish Council and the group won four seats in the District elections.

Following this initial success the group faces a test in this by-election. The vacancy was caused by the resignation of Cllr. Joanne Bell who felt she could not continue in the role because of a long term illness. Not an unusual reason for a resignation but one usually seen during the latter stages of a term as opposed to just two months into one. I imagine the question of whether Bell should have stood in the first place has been raised during the campaign by her opponents.

I believe that Chris Turner is the de facto NWIG candidate in this by-election and his strongest challenge is sure to come from the Conservatives, who have selected one of the former Councillors defeated in May. The other Independent is also a Parish Councillor and came fifth here in May. Despite the fact they are the largest group on the Council the Conservatives do not control North Devon. The Liberal Democrats lead a coalition with the three Independent Groups and the Tories would like to cut their five seat majority with a win in this by-election. Full Council elections are due to take place in 2015.

North Devon Council
















By-Election Candidate


Chris Turner (NWIG)


John Gill (Con)


Tony Wood (Ind)


N/C (LD)


Neil Basil (Grn)


The final by-election taking place today is for the Eton & Castle ward in Windsor & Maidenhead. The vacancy has arisen due to the resignation of Conservative Councillor Liam Maxwell, who has been appointed as a Government advisor. Maxwell easily won his seat in May securing almost two thirds of the vote in the process. The Tories gained fourteen seats from the Liberal Democrats in Windsor & Maidenhead in this year's all out elections and they now hold 50 of the 57 seats on the Council. Needless to say a Conservative hold is likely.

Eton & Castle (Windsor & Maidenhead)

By-Election Candidate


Adam Demeter (Con)


George Fussey (LD)


George Davidson (Lab)


John-Paul Rye (UKIP)



Tom Harris

1 comment:

  1. The LibDems won Islington St Peters easily in 2002 but Labour won all 3 seats in 2006 narrowly .