A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Council by-elections

There's plenty of online debate about Bradford West which I have contributed to on my Twitter feed (@lukeakehurst).

There were also some council by-elections last night which, lacking the almost unique demographics of Bradford West, demonstrate that Labour's 10% national poll lead is not illusory - particularly the gain with 58.3% of the vote of a ward comprising rural villages in Sevenoaks, Kent, where we had not fielded a candidate for 20 years, and a 17.3% increase in Labour's vote in the heart of Tory Putney:

Buxton Central Ward, High Peak DC. Lab hold. Lab 416 (45%, +3.4), Con 396 (42.9%, +9.4), LD 70 (7.6%, -3.4), Ind 42 (4.5%, +4.5). Swing of 3% from Lab to Con since 2011.

Heckington Rural Ward, North Kesteven DC. Con hold. Con 578 (53.1%, -2.6), Ind 510 (46.9%, +20.6). Swing of 11.6% from Con to Ind since 2011.

Cowden & Hever Ward, Sevenoaks DC. Con hold. Con 296 (78.5%), UKIP 81 (21.5%). Con was unopposed in 2011.

Crokenhill & West Hill Ward, Sevenoaks DC. Lab gain from Ind. Lab 304 (58.3%), Con 177 (34%), UKIP 40 (7.7%). Ind was unopposed in 2011.

Southfields Ward, LB Wandsworth. Con hold. Con 1841 (49.1%, +0.1), Lab 1511 (40.3%, +17.3), LD 220 (5.9%, -13.3), Green 100 (2.7%, -4.6), UKIP 40 (1.1%, +1.1), Ind 38 (1%, +1). Swing of 8.6% from Con to Lab since 2010.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously a great result in Sevenoaks but I wouldn't get overly excited - there were pretty unique circumstances ie. widow of much loved independent who passed away stood as the Labour candidate

10:56 am, March 30, 2012

Anonymous Andrea said...

Problem is that the Tory % is stable.

In Sevenoaks Labour fielded the widow of the Independent Cllr

11:21 am, March 30, 2012

Anonymous kevin flack said...

In Sevenoaks, the candidate was indeed unique - and excellent - but this result still involved villagers voting Labour and showed with the right campaign and candidate, Labour can win rural or semi-rural areas. It also showed we must stand in every seat as we came at this from a zero base in terms of profile or voter information.

11:38 am, March 30, 2012

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heckington Rural Result:

578 - Conservative
510 - Linconshire Independent Party

7:55 pm, March 30, 2012

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although not a Labour party member for some years, living in the neighbouring consituency I volunteered to help yesterday for several hours in Allerton and Clayton ward (semi rural ward on edge of Bradford West). The response on the doorstep was fairly positive and I did not have the sense that Galloway was going to run away with it - which he obviously did! I did sense that in that particular ward turn out might be low and that it might be a close run thing.

I was dismayed, though, at what I heard from some Asian voters on the door step - that the Labour candidate was "a drunkard", and "bad muslim" amongst other things. Obviously, I cannot varify these claims but did my best to refute them. Perhaps I was naive in assuming that BAME's were models of liberal democracy and decorum, as I also picked up some anti-semitic, homophobic and racist sentiments - which surprised me, as I associate such views with the BNP.

There seems to have been a very heavy turnout in wards with a large Asian vote and a much lower turnout in other wards. Clearly GG had galvanised the Asian vote and they flocked to vote for him. I did not sense that there was much appeal in GG or Respect for traditional working or lower mddle class Labour voters. But the Labour candidate - indeed no candidate - do not inspire them to come out in any force whatsoever to vote. It would be interesting to know the percentages but I would guess that 70% of voters in predominanly Asian wards came out to vote and most voted for GG. In the other wards I think turnout might have been as low as 30% and here I think Labour might have fared reasonably ok. But obviously the former vastly swamped the latter.

Labour was not prepared for the fast bowling, aggressive whirlwind that was the GG campaign. How one mitigates against cynical manipulation and "dog whistle" politics I really do not know. But the Labour candidate (and team) needs to be as feisty, streetwise, experienced and tough as GG and Respect - prepared to take them on and challenge at every turn - rather than the young and gentlemanly candidate Labour had in Mr Hussain.

Just my obeservations, for what they're worth.

Graeme, Bingley

11:10 pm, March 30, 2012

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea, it doesn't particularly matter if the Tory % is "stable" if there are swings to Labour in any case ;)

BTW, the 2011 Buxton result saw one of the Labour candidates do significantly better than the other - so the "swing" is quite a bit less if you use average % share rather than that of the top placed candidate (as I think Luke does) A little statistical quirk ;)

12:54 am, March 31, 2012

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bradford West has always been a very interesting and unpredictable constituency. It swung to Labour in 1979! Labour did remarkably well to win it in 1983 and very well to hold it in 2010.

(Take a look at Wikipedia to see what I mean).

As for local variations: "All politics is local" as Tip O'Neill is once thought to have said.

Is a general election a disaggregation of one national result? Or is it an aggregation of 600+ local results? I suppose it is both.

10:45 am, April 02, 2012

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's worth bearing in mind that Labour almost lost John Smith's seat at the 1994 by election.

As for surprises, Labour almost lost the Hamilton South by election in 1999 in a big swing to the SNP that it failed to detect.

10:51 am, April 02, 2012


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