Thursday, 29 September 2011
There are three English by-elections taking place today in addition to the two in Gwynedd, Wales. All eyes will be on the Liberal Democrats this week as they attempt to defend two marginal seats against the Conservatives; one in Watford (Hertfordshire) and the other in Shropshire. In turn, the Conservatives are looking to hold a very safe seat in Cherwell (Oxfordshire).
I'll start in Watford where the Liberal Democrats are hoping to hold the marginal Nascot ward. The vacancy was caused by the resignation of Cllr. Andrew Forrest, who was offered a chance to become Head Teacher at his old school in Ireland and took the opportunity. Forrest held his seat in May with a 250 vote margin over the Conservatives, who have run the Lib Dems close here in recent years and hold one seat in the ward.
With the Lib Dems generally bettering their May performance in recent by-elections they should go into this as favourites. Even if they lose this seat they will still enjoy a comfortable majority in Watford with the next partial Council elections due to take place next May.
Jeanette Aron (LD)
Penny Edwards (Con)
Omar Ismail (Lab)
Sally Ivins (Grn)
The Liberal Democrats face a similar battle in Shropshire as they seek to defend another LD/CON marginal following a resignation. The by-election in the Bishop's Castle division is taking place because Cllr. Peter Phillips stood down after almost 40 years of service. Initially elected in 1973 as a Liberal Phillips has weathered ups, downs and mergers but has decided to step aside as he no longer feels he has the 'youthful vigour' to continue.
Phillips' held his seat in 2009 by 113 votes and the Lib Dems have a difficult task holding this against the Conservatives. As the former Councillor appears to have built up a personal vote in the ward they will have to do well to hang on to that in this by-election. However, the Lib Dems did gain a seat in Shropshire from the Tories earlier in the year, and as that victory appeared to be in part due to the unpopularity of the Conservative run Council a hold is certainly not out of the question in this contest.
The Conservatives enjoy a huge majority in Shropshire with the next full Council elections due in 2013.
Bishop's Castle (Shropshire)
Charlotte Barnes (LD)
Georgie Ellis (Con)
Mike Tucker (Grn)
Jean Kingdon (Lab)
The third by-election taking place this week is in a safe Conservative ward in Cherwell. The vacancy in Bicester North has arisen following the death of Cllr. Carole Steward following a long battle with Leukaemia. Given just weeks to live in 2004 Steward defied doctors and had gone on to win two elections since here diagnosis. The most recent in May was by a large margin; a recurring theme for the Conservatives in this ward.
Even if the Conservatives do suffer a shock defeat here today they will still hold a large majority in Cherwell, where the next partial Council elections are due to take place next May.
Bicester North (Cherwell)
Melanie Magee (Con)
Kevin Walsh (Lab)
John Innes (LD)
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Here are this week's changes to the by-election page:
Thornton Dale & The Wolds
Potters Bar Furzefield
A relatively modest amount of new vacancies have arisen this week. It will be a pretty busy week on Thursday with five by-elections, including two in our favourite Council - Gwynedd. I think I'm right in saying they will be the sixth and seventh by-elections to be held in the Welsh Council since the General Election!
Look out for the preview tomorrow and join us on Thursday night for the LiveBlog. I really should be there this week...!
Monday, 26 September 2011
The Conservatives emerged victorious from the sole principle authority by-election to take place last week, despite their vote share dropping 13%. The by-election in Staithe, Fenland DC (Cambridgeshire) was taking place following the tragic death of the Conservative Councillor Roger Green in a car crash.
The Tories were expected to hold the seat but they had to survive a 7.5% swing towards Labour from May's election. David Hodgson's margin of victory was 62 votes over the Labour candidate. As Labour's vote share only increased by a modest 1.8% this is possibly a reflection of the previous Councillor's personal vote.
The Liberal Democrats polled a respectable 16.5% in a ward they had not contested for a number of elections. With turnout very similar to May it would appear many of the former Conservative voters backed the Lib Dems in this by-election.
The Conservatives enjoy a huge majority in Fenland and the next full Council elections due to take place in 2015.
David Hodgson (Con)
John White (Lab)
Robert McLaren (LD)
William Schooling (UKIP)
Phil Webb (Ind)
Tom should be back to normal-ish this weeks. No work jaunts to the north (or Wales) are planned, although neither were the previous ones at this stage in the previous weeks!
Sunday, 25 September 2011
(Sorry about that, had a very strange feeling of deja vu for a moment then)
In the 2008 local elections, Plaid (who had been in control of Gwynedd since it's formation in 1995) faced a challenge from the party who stood in opposition to the council's policy of closing Welsh medium schools and in those elections scored a number of successes, not least ousting the leader of the council and the chairman of Plaid Cymru, Dafydd Iwan and Diffwys and Maenofferen was one of those gains
Yes, you're right. We are all suffering from a case of deja vu, and here's the reason why. On July 15th 2010, Diffwys and Maenofferen went to the polls to elect a new councillor after the previous councillor was jailed for attacking his estranged wife. Llais Gwynedd held the seat (Llais 51% Plaid 49%) and Cllr. Richard Lloyd Jones became the new member. However, in July of this year, he tendered his resignation from the council (after only 361 days as a councillor) citing "extra family and work commitments" meaning that on Thursday the electors of Diffwys and Maenofferen will face their third election for a councillor in three years (and their fourth in four years at next year's local elections) and it will be another Plaid Cymru / Llais Gwynedd straight fight.
On the same day and in another part of the county in the ward of Penrhyndeudraeth another by-election will held following the resignation of Cllr. Dewi Eirwyn Lewis after allegations that he stole £53,000 from the post office he ran in the village where he was the councillor. He pleaded guilty to the allegations in August 2011 and was jailed for 16 months. In this by-election there are three candidates. Plaid (who will be seeking to defend the seat), Llais Gwynedd (hoping to increase their tally to 14 seats) and an Independent.
Thursday, 22 September 2011
There is good news and bad news... The good news is that Fenland are definitely counting tonight. The bad news is Tom was called up for work at (even) short(er) notice again and he's likely to miss the whole thing this week.
Chris is going to start you off again but as he's an hour ahead he might not last the distance. It might be worth one of the regulars volunteering to become admin for the night.
Apologies in advance for yet another week of LiveBlog disruption...
It is very pleasing to have our humble website recognised but you can be rest assured that we are aiming to continually improve our coverage and hopefully we be even higher in next year's Total Politics awards!
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
There is only one by-election taking place this week and it is for the Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire. They vacancy arose after the tragic death of the Conservative Councillor Roger Green in a car crash.
Green had easily held his seat in May having been elected unopposed in 2007 so the Tories shouldn't have much trouble holding this. Labour and UKIP stood against Green in May and this by-election has attracted a Liberal Democrat and Independent candidate as well.
Even if any of them produce a surprise win the Conservatives will still have a huge majority in Fenland with the next full Council elections due to take place in 2015.
David Hodgson (Con)
John White (Lab)
William Schooling (UKIP)
Robert McLaren (LD)
Phil Webb (Ind)
Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Here are this week's changes to the by-election page:
Bradwell South & Hopton
Bude North & Stratton
Argyll & Bute
Oban North & Lorn
Isle of Wight
We are well and truly into by-election season at the moment with no less than 10 dates set in the past week. They include a few new vacancies, including one in Bude which would have been the closest we would have ever had to Plymouth if I was still based there!
There are currently 18 by-elections to cover in October with a further 16 waiting for a date. The two big Thursdays coming up are on 27th September (5) and 20th October (7). This week there is only one to look forward to, in Fenland (Cambridgeshire), but do drop by for the usual service.
Unfortunately I missed most of last Thursday's by-election night due to work, which is a shame because there were some interesting results. Despite throwing the kitchen sink at Highgate, Camden LBC the Greens failed to gain a seat from Labour. However, the night really belonged to the Liberal Democrats who, on the eve of their annual conference, scored two well fought victories. They managed to hold the tight marginal ward of Surbiton Hill, Kingston LBC and gained a seat from Labour in Gedling (Nottinghamshire). There were also holds for Labour in Wolverhampton and three for the Conservatives in Hampshire.
I'll start in Camden where the Greens had high hopes of adding to their solitary Councillor by gaining a seat of Labour in the Highgate ward. The vacancy arose following the resignation of Labour Councillor Michael Nicolaides, who cited work commitments and plans to move from the borough with his new wife as reasons behind his decision. Nicolaides was one of two Labour Councillors elected in 2010 but they were both behind the lead Green candidate in this multi-member ward.
There were reports that the Greens had called on activists from Brighton to help their campaign but it wasn't enough to prevent a Labour win. Sally Gimson enjoyed a comfortable victory in the end, holding the seat for Labour with a majority of 231 votes. Although they failed to win the result wasn't terrible for the Green Party. They increased their vote share from last May but it would seem they failed to reach out beyond their core support in the ward.
The expected Liberal Democrat collapse duly occurred as their vote share dropped to just 3.9% from around 16% at the last election. Labour appeared to benefit the most from the Lib Dems' poor performance as their vote share increased by around 12% from 2010, which gave them a comfortable victory in the end.
This hold maintains Labour's six seat majority on the London Borough Council with the next full Council elections not due until 2014.
Camden London Borough Council
Sally Gimson (E)
The Liberal Democrats fared much better in the other London by-election as they held a seat against the Conservatives in Kingston-upon-Thames. The by-election in Surbiton Hill was called following the resignation of Cllr. Umesh Parekh, whose new employer Friends of the Earth are not keen on their staff to holding Council seats.
The Liberal Democrats gained all three seats in this in 2010 but given the party's drop in support since the General Election this wasn't going to be an easy hold. They should therefore be delighted that at the end of a hard fought, and controversial, campaign John Ayles emerged the winner, beating the Conservative candidate by 102 votes. However, Ayles' win was somewhat overshadowed by the tragic death of a local schoolchild earlier in the day.
The Liberal Democrats have now stretched their majority in Kingston to six seats with the next full Council elections due in 2014.
Royal Borough Kingston-upon-Thames
John Ayles (E)
Paul Pickhaver (CPA)
James Riding (Ind)
The Liberal Democrats were celebrating a second victory on Thursday evening, this time at the expense of Labour in Gedling BC (Nottinghamshire). The vacancy in the Phoenix ward arose following the resignation of Labour Cllr. Ian Howarth, who is emigrating to Mexico to teach.
The Liberal Democrats had lost both their seats in this ward to Labour in this May's local elections but given one of their candidates was pipped to the second by four votes they fancied their chances of taking this back. The Lib Dems appear to be recovering from their low point earlier in the year and Andrew Ellwood, the incumbent Councillor who narrowly missed out in May, secured a comfortable victory for his party in the end. The 121 vote majority represented a 7.4% swing to the Liberal Democrats from the election four months ago, and is the latest in a string of by-election results where the yellows have bettered their 2011 result.
Labour still enjoy a comfortable majority in Gedling and the next full Council elections are due to take place in 2015.
Andrew Ellwood (E)
In the other Midlands by-election Labour were expected to score a big win and they didn't disappoint. The by-election in Graiseley, Wolverhampton MBC was taking place following the death of Labour Councillor Dr. Mohan Passi. The ward has been safely Labour for a number of years and so Jacqueline Sweetman's victory with almost two-thirds of the vote came as no surprise.
The fact the Conservatives had selected the former Independent candidate in this ward John Mellor seemed to pay off as he almost secured the same vote share as the combined Con/Ind vote from May. Still, this was no-where near enough to trouble Labour, who will enjoy a comfortable majority in Wolverhampton until at least next May's partial Council elections.
Jacqueline Sweetman (E)
Finally, there were three seats up for grabs in Hampshire following the resignation of a married couple. Conservative Councillors Sam & Anna James both resigned from their East Hampshire District Council seats in the Bramshott & Liphook ward and Sam also stood down from his Hampshire County seat in Headley. The reason for the joint resignations is likely to be linked to fact Sam has passed away since this vacancy has been known.
The Conservatives easily held all the seats up for election last week with Lynn Ashton and Bill Mouland the newly elected District Councillors and Ferris Cowper winning the County Division. Interestingly, the Liberal Democrats managed to attract more votes in the District by-election than they did in the County, despite the former accounting for half the latter. It has been suggested that the presence of the 'Justice & Anti-Corruption Party' on the County ballot has a lot to do with this, especially as they have apparently endorsed Liberal Democrat candidates in the past.
These three easy victories for the Conservatives add to their already healthy majority on both Councils. The next County election is due to take place in 2013 whilst the next EHDC elections will be held in 2015.
Bramshott & Liphook (East Hampshire)
Lynn Ashton (E)
Ferris Cowper (E)
Bill Mouland (E)
Don Jerrard (Justice)
If you missed it yesterday evening here's Kristofer Keane's report on the Scottish by-election in Perth & Kinross.