Tuesday, 30 September 2014

By-elections preview: 2 October 2014

There are six by-elections on 2nd October.  Three are in the far north of England, with a fight between Labour and UKIP for an open seat in the Tyneside conurbation and the Lib Dems defending a double by-election in the heart of the Lake District.  Another double by-election takes place in a new village outside Northampton, with the Tories defending, while Labour seek to retain a safe ward in the north London suburb of Wood Green.  The week's final poll, a Labour defence in the Cardiff suburbs, will be covered on the Welsh Elections blog.

WESTOE
South Tyneside metropolitan borough council
Caused by the death of independent councillor Jane McBride at the age of 66.  McBride, who was most recently elected as Jane Branley before reverting to her maiden name, was first elected as councillor for Westoe ward in 1986 and served eight years as a Labour councillor, before returning to the council in 2004 as an independent; shortly before her death she unsuccessfully applied to rejoin Labour.  In her working life she had been a manager at the City of Sunderland College and had also worked for South Tyneside Council and the former Port of Tyne Authority.

Terraced Housing, Westoe Road
A mile south of the centre of South Shields on the road to Sunderland, Westoe is traditionally seen as the town's most exclusive area, with much of the housing stock being Georgian and Victorian.  Avid readers of Catherine Cookson may recognise the location, while other famous people associated with the area include the New Zealand prime minister William Fox and the X Factor winner Joe McElderry.  On the western boundary of the ward is the Chichester metro station, linking the area to South Shields, Gateshead and Newcastle, while at its centre is the South Shields campus of South Tyneside college.

Westoe has been one of the more anti-Labour wards in South Tyneside in recent years, with opposition to Labour mainly coming from independent Jane McBride and her husband Allen Branley, who easily won two of the three seats at the modern ward's first election in 2004, Labour winning the other just ahead of the Tories and Lib Dems.  Labour lost their seat to an independent in 2006, but got it back in 2010 after failing in a September 2009 by-election, and then gained Allen Branley's seat at the 2012 election.  With no independent standing to succeed McBride, this by-election will give Labour the opportunity to hold all three seats in the ward; however, they will be under pressure from UKIP, who polled well in last year's parliamentary by-election in South Shields, and followed up by turning this ward into a Labour-UKIP marginal at last May's ordinary election; Labour held the seat with 45% to 38% for UKIP.

As stated, this seat is open with no defending independent candidate.  The Labour candidate is Katharine Maxwell, a pharmacy technician and husband of a current Labour councillor.  UKIP have reselected Norman Dennis, who fought the ward in May; a former bandsman with the Royal Green Jackets, he has spent most of his life abroad as a teacher and pastor.  Also standing again from May is the Tories' Edward Russell, deputy chairman of the party's South Tyneside branch.  Completing the ballot paper are singer-songwriter Tony Bengtssom, standing for the Green Party, and Carole Troupe who is the ward's first Lib Dem candidate for five years.

Parliamentary constituency: South Shields
ONS Travel to Work Area: Newcastle and Durham

Tony Bengtssom (Grn)
Norman Dennis (UKIP)
Katharine Maxwell (Lab)
Edward Russell (C)
Carole Troupe (LD)

May 2014 result Lab 966 UKIP 818 C 371
May 2012 result Lab 1013 Ind 639 C 265 South Tyneside Progressive 165 Lib 62
May 2011 result Ind 1199 Lab 968 C 315 Grn 158 Lib 72
May 2010 result Lab 1462 Ind 1017 C 566 BNP 282 Grn 210 South Tyneside Progressive 183 Ind 154
Sept 2009 by-election Ind 694 Lab 567 C 320 BNP 266 LD 225 Ind 194
May 2008 result Ind 1768 Lab 609 C 294 Grn 127
May 2007 result Ind 2065 Lab 516 C 226
May 2006 result Ind 1490 Lab 618 C 401 LD 158
June 2004 result Ind 1561/1488 Lab 807/544/536 C 787/651/612 LD 751


WINDERMERE and WINDERMERE TOWN
Cumbria county council and South Lakeland district council, Cumbria
Both caused by the death of Liberal Democrat councillor Jo Stephenson, the deputy leader of Cumbria county council, who fell out of a window at his home in Windermere and suffered a suspected stroke while recovering from the fall.

Lakeland Plastics, Windermere
Welcome to the Lake District, and welcome to the tourist trail.  We are here in the Lakes' railhead, the town of Windermere.  Indeed Windermere as a town owes its existence to the railways, specifically the Kendal and Windermere railway which opened in 1847 and made the Lake District easily accessible to tourists for the first time.  In order to accomodate them the town of Windermere (and its twin town, the inland resort of Bowness-on-Windermere) boomed.  Today, as well as the tourism, Windermere is also the home of the kitchenware chain Lakeland, whose flagship store can be found next to the railway station.

The Windermere Town ward itself runs south-east from the railway station as far as the hamlet of Heathwaite, while the Windermere county division covers the whole of Windermere town, the northern half of Bowness and a few hamlets to the north, the largest of which is Troutbeck Bridge.

Politically, South Lakeland council has been comprehensively taken over by the Liberal Democrats with sometimes mind-boggling shares of the vote.  To understand this you need to go back to the Lib Dem decapitation strategy at the 2005 general election, in which the local parliamentary seat (Westmorland and Lonsdale) was the only decapitation to actually succeed, Tim Farron narrowly defeating the Tories' education spokesman Tim Collins.  Farron and the local Lib Dems weren't satisfied with a narrow victory; five years later the seat became one of the safest Lib Dem constituencies in the land, thanks to an 11% swing from the Conservatives and a collapse in the Labour vote to just 2.2%.

Before then, South Lakeland got new ward boundaries in 2008 and so the whole council was up (the district has a strange electoral cycle combining thirds elections with predominantly single-member wards).  In 2008 there were just eleven wards in the whole of England and Wales where the Lib Dems broke 80%, and eight of them were in South Lakeland (six of them were in Kendal, a town which just six years previously had returned 6 Labour councillors out of a possible 13).  Windermere Town's 2008 Lib Dem score of 82.7% was the seventh-highest in the country that year.

Windermere Town forms the core of the county division, which also includes almost all of the equally-rock-solid Windermere Bowness North ward and most of the Windermere Applethwaite and Troutbeck ward, a marginal area which Jo Stephenson actually lost to the Tories at the 2011 election, before returning to the district council by winning a by-election in Windermere Town in 2012.

Not even the coalition can affect the Lib Dems' popularity in Windermere, so a win for anyone else here would be a major upset.  The defending Liberal Democrat candidate for the county by-election is Colin Jones, a Windermere town councillor and National Trust ranger, and South Lakeland district councillor since winning a by-election in August last year to Windermere Bowness North ward (caused by the resignation of Jo Stephenson' wife).  The Tories are standing Ben Berry, the district councillor who defeated Jo Stephenson at the 2011 election.  UKIP and Labour have thrown in the towel.  Also standing are the Greens' Gwen Harrison (who gives an address in Kendal) and independent Robert Judson.

At district level Dyan Jones is the defending Lib Dem; she is a teaching assistant at the Lakes School.  The Tories have reselected Bermuda-born retired qualified chef Sandra Lilley, who fought the 2012 by-election, while Gwen Harrison doubles up as Green candidate at district and county level.  Again, Labour and UKIP are not standing.

Windermere
Parliamentary constituency: Westmorland and Lonsdale
South Lakeland district council wards: Windermere Town, Windermere Applethwaite and Troutbeck (part), Windermere Bowness North (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Kendal

Ben Berry (C)
Gwen Harrison (Grn)
Colin Jones (LD)
Robert Judson (Ind)

May 2013 result LD 1162 C 350 UKIP 227 Lab 133

Windermere Town
Parliamentary constituency: Westmorland and Lonsdale
Cumbria county council division: Windermere
ONS Travel to Work Area: Kendal

Gwen Harrison (Grn)
Dyan Jones (LD)
Sandra Lilley (C)

Feb 2012 by-election LD 418 C 85 Lab 50 UKIP 20
May 2011 result LD 537 C 117 Lab 114
May 2008 result LD 563 C 118


GRANGE PARK
South Northamptonshire district council
A double by-election caused by the resignations of two Conservative councillors, Mark Davidson and Tharik Jainu-Deen, both of whom have moved to the North of England.

Georges Drive, Grange Park
Grange Park is a sizeable village just south of Northampton, with 3,058 electors shown on the 2011 local government register.  It has excellent road connections, being just off the M1 motorway at junction 15.  It's also an almost completely new village, mostly developed in the last twelve years.  The 2001 census found just 327 people living in the parish.  Two years later there were 2,375 registered electors, and the district ward that then contained the village (Courteenhall, with two councillors) had grown so much that the entire district had to have new ward boundaries.  Grange Park became a ward in its own right, with two councillors of its own, in 2007.  By the time of 2011 census the parish's population was 4,404; despite this, I wrote in this column the following year that the village didn't even appear in my 2011 AA road atlas.  The A to Z Company have caught up and show the relevant built-up area in their 2013 atlas, although it still doesn't have a name.

The age of the area means that there are few reliable statistics, but with such a recent private development you'd expect a relatively prosperous demographic.  That would appear to be borne out by the ward's election results; the Conservatives were unopposed here in 2007 (South Northants is one of those councils that has lots of unopposed returns), beat the Lib Dems 76-24 in a 2009 by-election, a single Independent candidate 75-25 at the 2011 election and the Lib Dems 76-24 (again) in a 2012 by-election.  As can be seen, the ward has a high councillor attrition rate, with this being the third by-election in the seven years the ward has existed; Jainu-Deen actually managed to serve non-consecutive terms, standing down from the council in 2011 before returning in the 2012 by-election.  Northamptonshire county council was redistricted in 2013 and Grange Park ended up in a new division with Hackleton to the east, which narrowly elected the Conservatives with 42.2% of the vote, to 41.1% for UKIP.

At the fifth attempt, Grange Park has a district council election which is not a straight fight.  The defending Tory slate is Simon Clifford and Adil Sadygov; Clifford is a web consultant, while Sadygov runs a shop in the nearby village of Roade.  Standing for UKIP are Katie Chick, from Greatworth near Banbury, and Towcester town councillor Peter Conquest.  A single Labour candidate completes the ballot paper; he is local resident Ian Grant.

Northamptonshire county council division: Hackleton and Grange Park
Parliamentary constituency: South Northamptonshire
ONS Travel to Work Area: Northampton and Wellingborough

Katie Chick (UKIP)
Simon Clifford (C)
Peter Conquest (UKIP)
Ian Grant (Lab)
Adil Sadygov (C)

Feb 2012 by-election C 313 LD 98
May 2011 result C 697/590 Ind 231
Feb 2009 by-election C 407 LD 128
May 2007 result 2 C unopposed


WOODSIDE
Haringey London borough council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Pat Egan at the age of 66.  A Haringey councillor since 2006 and chief whip of the Labour group, Egan had a career in education working as a teacher, deputy headteacher and university lecturer; at the time of his death he was chairman of the governors at St Thomas More secondary school.

Wood Green Tube Station
The Woodside ward covers the northern half of Wood Green, to the north of Lordship Lane and Station Road.  It includes the Piccadilly Line station at Wood Green, the Wood Green crown court and bus garage, the sports centre on White Hart Lane and the headquarters of Haringey council.  This is an ethnically-mixed ward which has attracted an enormous number of immigrants in recent years; the 2011 census found that the ward is in the top 100 in England and Wales for population born in countries which have joined the EU since 2001 (17%), "White Other" (34%) and "mixed race" (6.8%).

That demographic profile in London gives a safe Labour ward in the current political climate, although Labour were pushed close here by the Lib Dems in 2006, the Labour slate having majorities of 130, 129 and 94 votes.  If the Lib Dems had won two of the Labour seats in this ward that year they would have gained control of Haringey council.  Labour made the ward safe in 2010, and since then the anti-Labour vote has fractured between several parties none of which are close to challenging Labour.

Defending for Labour is Charles Wright, a communications and PR consultant who narrowly missed out on election in the Alexandra ward, on the other side of the East Coast Main Line, in May.  The Lib Dem candidate is Dawn Barnes, who fought David Cameron's Witney constituency at the last general election and the Enfield and Haringey constituency at the 2012 London Assembly election.  The Green Party are not standing despite finishing in third place in May's ordinary election, but there is still a Green on the ballot paper - Scott Green, the Conservative candidate.  UKIP have selected Andrew Price, while Vivek Lehal stands for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.  Two independent candidates - Tom Davidson and Pauline Gibson - complete the ballot paper.

Parliamentary constituency: Hornsey and Wood Green
London Assembly constituency: Enfield and Haringey
ONS Travel to Work Area: London

Dawn Barnes (LD)
Tom Davidson (Ind)
Pauline Gibson (Ind)
Scott Green (C)
Vivek Lehal (TUSC)
Andrew Price (UKIP)
Charles Wright (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 2018/1947/1865 LD 418/393/361 Grn 406/342/254 C 271/244/207 UKIP 259 TUSC 100 Ind 61
May 2010 result Lab 2300/2217/2031 LD 1733/1633/1487 C 598/551/531 Grn 320/290/288
May 2006 result Lab 1354/1353/1318 LD 1224/1126/1087 Grn 297/220 C 293/271/221
May 2002 result Lab 1227/1222/1112 LD 448/429/352 C 395/342/335 Socialist Alliance 139

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Mark Reckless MP Defects to UKIP

Mark Reckless MP
Hot on the heels of Douglas Carswell in Clacton, Mark Reckless - MP for Rochester and Strood - has defected from the Conservative Party to UKIP.  Like Carswell, he now plans to resign his seat and contest the subsequent by-election for UKIP.

The announcement came as a surprise when Mark Reckless walked onto the stage at UKIP's party conference in Doncaster, announcing his change of allegiance and plans for a by-election.  He blamed the direction of the Conservative Party leadership for his defection, saying it was “part of the problem that is holding our country back”.

Reckless was one of six Conservative MPs to rebel on yesterday's vote in the House of Commons on air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq, and throughout his time in parliament has been a noted Eurosceptic rebel.

Compared to Clacton, Rochester and Strood is a little more competitive for the Labour Party, so it will remain to be seen if the subsequent by-election will go as well for UKIP as polls have been suggesting for the Clacton by-election, or whether the Conservatives or Labour may fare better here.  In 2010 the constituency voted:

Mark Reckless (Con) - 23,604 (49.2%, +6.6%)
Teresa Murray (Lab) - 13,651 (28.5%, -13.1%)
Geoff Juby (LD) - 7,800 (16.3%, +3.9%)
Ron Sands (English Democrats) - 2,182 (4.5%, n/a)
Simon Marchant (Green) - 734 (1.5%, n/a)

There was no UKIP candidate, though the relatively high vote for the English Democrats could potentially be taken as a substitute marker for the Eurosceptic vote here in 2010.

Presumably polls for the constituency will be published soon and we will be able to see if they follow the pattern from Clacton.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

By-election Previews: 25 September 2014

Three by-elections on 25th September, all in the South of England.  The main interest will come in two close Tory/Lib Dem fights in Essex and Somerset, with the potential for gains in both directions, while the Conservatives should have an easier ride in the Surrey stockbroker belt.  Read on...


EPPING HEMNALL
Epping Forest district council, Essex
Caused by the death of Conservative councillor Kenneth Avey.  Described as a gentleman councillor, Avey had served on Epping Forest district council since 2011 and twice as Mayor of Epping.

Train at Epping Station
Located at the north-west corner of the M25/M11 junction, this ward is centred on Epping underground station, the eastern terminus of the Central Line, and covers the south-east half of the town of Epping.  The census statistics for the area do suggest a commuter profile, with a relatively high number of young professionals in the area.  Despite this, Epping does have its own attractions; it lies on the old road from London to Cambridge and East Anglia, and there are still some beautiful old buildings and coaching inns on the High Street, which the ward boundary runs along.

This ward generally votes Liberal Democrat at local level although it has not always been safe; the party were under severe pressure from the Tories for most of the last decade and the ward saw a series of tiny majorities from 2003 to 2008, although the only Tory win in this period was the second seat of a double-vacancy election in 2004 and was reversed in 2007 (the closest result in this sequence, with a Lib Dem majority of 10).  The Conservatives finally broke through in the 2011 election but since then their vote in the ward has fallen apart; the Lib Dems have made the ward safe and UKIP took over second place in May this year.  With the Tory seat being up in this by-election, the Lib Dems have a good chance to restore their monopoly on the ward again.  The Lib Dems gained the wider county council seat (Epping and Theydon Bois) from the Tories in 2009 and increased their majority in 2013.

So, it would appear that the Tories face an uphill struggle to hold onto this by-election.  Their defending candidate is Kenneth Avey's son Nigel, an Epping town councillor who works in financial services in the City.  The Lib Dem candidate is Kim Adams, while regular UKIP candidate Andrew Smith tries again; another City finance worker, he is the UKIP PPC for Epping Forest.  There is no Labour candidate this time, but Green Party candidate Anna Widdup returns after contesting the ordinary election in May.

Parliamentary constituency: Epping Forest
Essex county council division: Epping and Theydon Bois

Kim Adams (LD)
Nigel Avey (C)
Andrew Smith (UKIP)
Anna Widdup (Grn)

May 2014 result LD 847 UKIP 511 C 420 Lab 128 Grn 87
May 2012 result LD 883 C 482 UKIP 244 Lab 182
May 2011 result C 951 LD 821 Lab 231 UKIP 185 Grn 83
May 2010 result LD 1632 C 1348 Lab 234 UKIP 232 Grn 62
May 2008 result LD 815 C 840 BNP 118 Lab 76 Grn 51
May 2007 result LD 812 C 802 Epping Community Action Group 215 BNP 147 Lab 95
May 2006 result LD 1105 C 1002 Lab 118
June 2004 double vacancy LD 916/873 C 880/806 EDP 247
May 2003 result LD 666 C 593 Lab 98
May 2002 result LD 883/826/823 C 528/521/515 Lab 150


FROME NORTH
Somerset county council
Caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Sam Phripp, the youngest member of the council, over "intimidation and bullying from other politicians".

River Frome near Woolverton
Recently described by The Times as the "sixth-coolest town" in Britain, Frome is an old town which has declined in prominence over the centuries, defying a prediction by Daniel Defoe that it would become one of the greatest and wealthiest inland towns in England.  There is some industry in the town, with metalworking and printing being major local employers.  Frome's population has greatly increased during the twentieth century, and the part of the town contained within the urban/rural Frome North division would appear to be fairly new.  Outside the town, Frome North covers a wide area along the A361 and A36 roads as far as the village of Norton St Philip, site of a skirmish during the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685.

Somerset county council was redistricted in 2013, and the present Frome North division covers much of the old Frome North (a Tory/Lib Dem marginal, Conservative in 2009) together with part of the former Mendip North East division (safe Conservative in 2009).  The district council wards within the division were very closely fought between the Lib Dems and Tories in 2007 but swung towards the Conservatives in 2011, a fact which makes the Lib Dem win in 2013 - a narrow one, by 45 votes - even more remarkable.

Defending for the Liberal Democrats is Damon Hooton, a Mendip district councillor who works for a large supermarket after 23 years in the Army; he was Mayor of Frome in 2009/10.  The Tory candidate is Linda Oliver, district councillor for the rural Rode and Norton St Philip ward since winning a by-election in May last year; she has retired to Somerset after a career which included a spell on Shepway district council in Kent.  There is no UKIP candidate after their third-place finish last year, but Labour's Catherine Richardson stands again after contesting the division in 2013.  The Lib Dem vote may well be split by Adrian Dobinson, a Mendip district and Frome town councillor (elected from the same ward as Sam Phripp) who is standing as an independent.  Completing the ballot paper is Les Spalding, the Green Party's candidate.

Parliamentary constituency: Somerton and Frome
Mendip district council wards: Frome College; Rode and Norton St Philip; Beckington and Selwood (part: Beckington and Berkley parishes); Frome Market (part)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Bath

Adrian Dobinson (Ind)
Damon Hooton (LD)
Linda Oliver (C)
Catherine Richardson (Lab)
Les Spalding (Grn)

May 2013 result LD 1047 C 1002 UKIP 455 Lab 302


LOVELACE
Guildford district council, Surrey
Caused by the death of Conservative councillor John Garrett.  A Guildford councillor since 2003 and Deputy Mayor in 2011/12, Garrett had retired to Guildford after many years running his family's construction firm in south-west London; he combined this with twenty years as a Wandsworth councillor, serving twice as Mayor of Wandsworth and as chairman of the trustees of the Clapham rail disaster fund.

Autumn at RHS Wisley
The Lovelace ward can be found just outside the M25 motorway, but on the opposite side of London to Epping; it includes junction 10 and the A3 runs through the ward on each side.  Most of the ward's electorate can be found in the parish of Ripley, the birthplace of Eric Clapton, with smaller populations in Ockham parish and Wisley parish, home to a major Royal Horticultural Society garden.  The Lovelace name for the ward is a reference to the Earls of Lovelace, whose traditional family seat was at Ockham Park; perhaps the most famous member of the Lovelace family was Ada, only daughter of Lord Byron, wife of the 1st Earl and a noted mathematician who worked with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine.

This is real stockbroker belt, and a very safe Tory area at both district and county level.

The Tory selection could be stoking up some trouble for the years ahead: their candidate is Ben Paton, from Ockham, a green belt campaigner who has been critical of Guildford council's proposal to turn the closed Wisley airfield into a large housing estate.  Regular Labour candidate Robin Woof, an IT worker from Send, just outside the ward, tries again.  The Lib Dems have selected Ripley parish councillor Colin Cross, while the ward's first UKIP candidate is Guildford-based David Sheppard.

Parliamentary constituency: Mole Valley
Surrey county council division: Horsleys
ONS Travel to Work Area: Guildford and Aldershot

Colin Cross (LD)
Ben Paton (C)
David Sheppard (UKIP)
Robin Woof (Lab)

May 2011 result C 648 Lab 134 LD 131
May 2007 result C 617 LD 184 Lab 88
May 2003 result C 629 Lab 204 LD 179

Thursday, 11 September 2014

By-election Previews: 11 September 2014

By-elections on 11th September:

ABINGDON DUNMORE
Vale of White Horse district council, Oxfordshire
Caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Julia Bricknell who is moving away from the area.

The Spread Eagle, Abingdon
One of England's oldest towns, Abingdon on Thames has been occupied since the Iron Age.  The town had one of the oldest abbeys in England, the Saxon Abingdon Abbey; after the Conquest the Normans gave the place a vote of confidence as the future King Henry I was educated there. Following the dissolution of the Abbey Queen Mary I granted the town a borough charter, after which it assumed the title of county town of Berkshire.  Although it lost this title to Reading in the mid-nineteenth century, Abingdon became a prosperous town in the twentieth century, with major employers including MG cars and the Morland brewery, original brewers of the Duke of Edinburgh's favourite tipple Old Speckled Hen.  Today the town is home to many professionals who work in science and computing, major scientific employers such as UKAEA, Harwell Laboratory and Oxford University being nearby, and the town also being the home of the educational computing supplier RM and the antivirus company Sophos.  Despite this prosperity, Abingdon is one of the largest towns in southern England without a railway station.

Local election results in Abingdon tend to be close fights between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.  Dunmore ward (which covers the north of the town) saw its two seats split between the two parties in 2003; the Conservatives lost their seat to the Lib Dems in 2007 but won one seat back in 2011 to give the ward split representation again.  The marginal theme scales up to county level, where the Abingdon North ward is a Tory/Lib Dem marginal, and even to parliamentary level (in the Oxford West and Abingdon constitunecy).

Defending for the Lib Dems is Margaret Crick, a former Abingdon on Thames town councillor; she is up against a current town councillor, the Tories' Andrew Todd.  Also standing are Labour's Mike Gould and UKIP's Christopher Parkes.

Parliamentary constituency: Oxford West and Abingdon
Oxfordshire county council division: Abingdon North

Margaret Crick (LD)
Mike Gould (Lab)
Christopher Parkes (UKIP)
Andrew Todd (C)

May 2011 result C 951/831 LD 866/673 Lab 249 Grn 235
Oct 2009 by-election LD 795 C 602 Grn 71 Lab 43
May 2007 result LD 991/964 C 777/758 Lab 119
May 2003 result LD 705/637 C 666/659 Lab 149


BECKTON
London Borough of Newham, North London
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Alec Kellaway at the age of 61.  A Newham councillor since winning a 1987 by-election for the SDP, Kellaway was an economist by training and adviser on finance to the Mayor of Newham.

Beckton DLR Station
Into the East End here, and an area which was once heavily industrialised.  Beckton's history starts in 1864 with Joseph Bazalgette and his development of a sewer network for London; Bazalgette's sewers north of the Thames all converge on Beckton, where they originally ran straight into the Thames but now feed what is claimed to be Europe's biggest sewage works.  Also in the 1860s Europe's largest gasworks was being built here, and Beckton's name derives from Simon Beck, then governor of the Gas Light and Coke Company and ultimate employer of Beckton's original population, which was essentially workers at the gasworks.

Beckton Gas Works closed in 1969, and after a time as a slowly decaying film set (the opening sequence of the Bond film For Your Eyes Only and most of the Vietnam War scenes of Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket were filmed here) the area has been comprehensively redeveloped under the auspices of the London Docklands Development Corporation, resulting in the mostly rather-nice-looking private 1980s/1990s housing that dominates the ward.  The only vestige of the gasworks that still exists is a large spoil heap (the "Beckton Alp") which was once used as a dry ski slope.  Cycle paths have been built on top of the sewers, while much of the former gasworks site has been turned into out-of-town retail parks and the major depot for the Docklands Light Railway, whose Beckton, Gallions Reach, Cyprus and Beckton Park stations all lie within the ward.  The curious name of Cyprus station comes from fact that the local housing was built at the time that Britain nabbed Cyprus off the Ottoman Empire; today the station is surrounded by a campus of the University of East London.  At the very south-west corner of the ward the ward boundary runs through the middle of Building 1000, a very new, very shiny and very expensive office block on the Royal Albert Dock which has been the home of Newham council since 2010.

There were rumours last year - officially denied - that the council was intending to move out of Building 1000 because it couldn't sell its old premises.  This sort of thing is typical of the rumour that attaches itself to Newham council, which is a favourite subject of Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column - not entirely fairly as the council does appear to be well-run.  Instead, the main attention is to the borough's political culture; opposition to Labour is so weak that the council is a literal one-party state and has been since 2010, when the opposition councillors (from Respect and the Christian People's Alliance) lost their seats.  Labour also won all the borough's seats in 1998 and had 59 out of 60 in the 1994 elections, with the sole opposition member being one Alec Kellaway, elected for the Liberal Democrats.  A month later, Kellaway was the Lib Dem candidate for a parliamentary by-election in Newham North West, and earned himself a footnote in
 British political history by defecting to Labour on the day before polling.  Kellaway had served for Beckton ward since 2002 and before then for its predecessor, South ward (the Beckton ward that existed before 2002 was in the Canning Town area).

Beckton's voting patterns are typical of the rest of Newham, with Labour polling 58% at the most recent borough elections.  In May this was the best Tory ward in the borough, the party polling 34%; this may be a result of demographic change (the ward's electorate has increased by a third since 2000) or may be a side-effect of the only other party on the ballot being the Christian People's Alliance.  At the last London Assembly election in 2012, Ken beat Boris in the ward's ballot boxes 66-23, while Labour topped the poll in the London Members ballot with 67% to 13% for the Conservatives.

Defending for Labour is Toni Wilson.  The Tory candidate for the by-election is Syed Ahmed, while Kayode Shedowo stands for the Christian Peoples Alliance.  Mark Dunne is the candidate of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, and the ballot paper is completed by three candidates who contested the Newham mayoral election in May: the Green Party's Jane Lithgow, UKIP's David Mears and the Lib Dems' David Thorpe.

Parliamentary constituency: East Ham
GLA constituency: City and East

May 2014 result Lab 1789/1778/1713 C 1033/731/615 CPA 242/204/180
May 2010 result Lab 2361/2258/2253 C 1170/1154/815 LD 1030/529 CPA 363/332/232
May 2006 result Lab 1188/1187/1130 C 627/593/455 Respect 448/413/386 CPA 369/230
May 2002 result Lab 945/930/860 LD 369 C 348 Grn 277 BNP 217

May 2012 GLA results (excluding postal voters)
Mayor: Ken 1375 Boris 468 Ind 61 LD 46 BNP 45 Grn 40 UKIP 39
London Members: Lab 1403 C 274 Grn 97 UKIP 73 CPA 72 BNP 60 LD 59 EDP 19 TUSC 17 NF 9 House Party 9 Hayat 7 Alagaratnam 2

Syed Ahmed (C)
Mark Dunne (TUSC)
Jane Lithgow (Grn)
David Mears (UKIP)
Kayode Shedowo (CPA)
David Thorpe (LD)
Toni Wilson (Lab)


CASTLE
Cumbria county council; AND Carlisle city council
Both caused by the death of Labour councillor Willie Whalen at the age of 67.  A lifelong trade unionist and committed left-wing campaigner, Whalen had represented Castle on the city council since 2011 and on the county council since winning a by-election in March 2012.

Carlisle Castle
This division and ward are named after Carlisle Castle, which was built in the 11th century under King William II, and rebuilt in stone by his successor Henry I, to guard the English/Scottish border.  The castle saw action many times up until the unification of England and Scotland in 1603, and last saw action in 1745 when it was the last English garrison left by Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite rebellion.  Today the castle is open to the public, but the Army still has a presence here, the castle being the headquarters of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.  In 2009 your columnist went to Carlisle Castle under their auspices as part of the centenary celebrations for the TA.

The county division named after Carlisle Castle falls into two separate parts.  To the west side of the castle and the River Caldew is the Willow Holme and Newtown areas around the Cumberland Infirmary.  To the east side of the castle is Carlisle's historic city centre, all of which is in this ward except for Citadel railway station.  The northern boundary of the ward is the River Eden and much of the north of the ward is flood plain.  The ward includes some Cumbria University buildings.

The county divisions and city wards in urban Carlisle all had the same boundaries until 2013 when the Cumbria county divisions were redistributed, since when there is no longer an exact match although the changes to Castle division were minor.  In the fact file below I have included county council results for the pre-2013 Castle division in the district ward series.

One thing that immediately sticks out is that Castle has a very high councillor attrition rate: these are the sixth and seventh by-elections here since 2000, and in those fourteen years the area has previously gone to the polls nineteen times (ten ordinary city council elections, four ordinary county council elections, three city council by-elections in April 2001, November 2005 and March 2009, and two county council by-elections in February 2007 and March 2012).  From June 2001 to May 2010 all of these were won by the Liberal Democrats with Labour second, making Castle the only reliable Lib Dem ward in Carlisle.  Labour reduced the Lib Dem majority to 14 votes in 2010 and gained the ward from the Lib Dems last year, the first time they had won Castle since the April 2001 by-election when a Liberal Party candidate stood and split the Lib Dem vote.  The same Labour candidate - Willie Whalen - gained the county council seat in a by-election in March 2012.
 Labour picked up the other two city council seats without too much trouble in May 2012 and May 2014; in that period the Lib Dem vote has gone into freefall and UKIP took over second place in May this year.  With Carlisle being a marginal parliamentary seat it's possible that the Tories may put a little work into this by-election although they are highly unlikely to win.

For the county by-election Labour have selected a candidate in a similar mould to Whalen: Alan McGuckin, a regional officer for Unite who gives an address in Brampton.  The Lib Dems have made an interesting candidate choice in Lawrence Jennings, who contested the last county election here for UKIP.  The official UKIP candidate is John Stanyer, from Brocklebank near Wigton, who is also their PPC for Carlisle.  The Tories are standing James Bainbridge, who represents Stanwix Rural ward on the city council.  Completing the ballot paper is care worker and regular Green candidate Neil Boothman.

Going down to city council level, the defending Labour candidate for the city by-election is Alan Taylor.  Fiona Mills, who contested Stanwix Urban ward over the river in May, stands for UKIP.  The Tories' Robert Currie wins the award for most imaginative Twitter profile of the week, describing himself as a "noted wit, academic, political thinker, and winner of the Year 1 Colouring Competition in 1993".  Lawrence Jennings doubles up as Lib Dem candidate for both by-elections, and the Green candidate for the city council is Richard Hunt.

Castle (county division)
James Bainbridge (C)
Neil Boothman (Grn)
Lawrence Jennings (LD)
Alan McGuckin (Lab)
John Stanyer (UKIP)

May 2013 result Lab 460 LD 263 UKIP 227 C 120 Grn 45 TUSC 20

Castle (district ward)
Robert Currie (C)
Richard Hunt (Grn)
Lawrence Jennings (LD)
Fiona Mills (UKIP)
Alan Taylor (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 435 UKIP 267 C 221 LD 127 Grn 87 TUSC 28
May 2012 result Lab 663 LD 229 C 165 Grn 110
March 2012 county council by-election Lab 407 LD 369 C 93 Grn 54 UKIP 22
May 2011 result Lab 549 LD 438 Grn 135 TUSC 90 BNP 84
May 2010 result LD 816 Lab 802 C 553 Grn 161
June 2009 county council result LD 424 Lab 297 C 241 Grn 144 BNP 129
March 2009 by-election LD 465 Lab 304 BNP 255 C 143 Grn 125
May 2008 result LD 562 Lab 299 C 206 Ind 202
May 2007 result LD 607 Lab 331 C 185
Feb 2007 county council by-election LD 653 Lab 222 C 117 Grn 29
May 2006 result LD 632 Lab 321 C 149 Ind 69
Nov 2005 by-election LD 538 Lab 370
May 2005 county council result LD 937 Lab 853 C 349
June 2004 result LD 917 Lab 541
May 2003 result LD 603 Lab 443
May 2002 result LD 549 Lab 373 C 195
June 2001 county council result LD 994 Lab 786 C 448
Apr 2001 by-election Lab 329 LD 294 C 258 Lib 67


COLLINGHAM AND MEERING, and OLLERTON
Newark and Sherwood district council, Nottinghamshire
Caused respectively by the deaths of Conservative councillor Derek Evans and Labour councillor Stan Crawford.  Evans, a veteran member of Collingham parish council, had been a Newark councillor for only a year after winning a by-election in May 2013.  Crawford, a former miner whose death came at the age of 55, had a long career in local government: first being elected in 1995, he had served as leader of Newark and Sherwood district council.  Crawford stood down from the council in 2007 but returned in 2011 and was leader of the council's Labour group.

Collingham Station House
Although these two wards are in the same local government district, demographically they are chalk and cheese.  The Collingham and Meeting ward is an agricultural area covering eleven parishes on the east bank of the River Trent, on the A1133 Newark-Gainsborough road.  Collingham, a stop on the Newark-Lincoln railway line, is the largest parish of the ward and accounts for over half the electorate, while the parish of Meering, further downstream on the Trent, has a resident population of zero according to the 2011 census.

Ollerton, on the other hand, is a mining village on the A614 Nottingham-Doncaster road in the heart of the Dukeries and the Nottinghamshire coalfield, and one of relatively recent vintage: the colliery closed in 1994.  More recently the British Geological Survey has been concerned about the earth moving in the area, with 93 earthquakes having been recorded within a few miles' radius of Ollerton in the four months to mid-April 2014; none had a magnitude greater than 2 on the Richter scale and the geologists have put the activity down to continuing mineworking from the nearby Thoresby Colliery.

Back on the surface, the wards vote just like you might expect a strongly agricultural and an ex-coalmining area to vote: strongly Tory and strongly Labour respectively.  Labour actually won a by-election to Ollerton ward in January 2006 unopposed, although independent candidates can poll well in the ward and its three seats were split two to Labour and one to an independent from 2003 to 2011.  The last contest to either ward was the by-election to Collingham and Meering ward on county election day in 2013, in which Derek Evans beat the Labour candidate by 3 to 1 in a straight fight.

In those county elections, which saw Labour gain control of Nottinghamshire county council, Labour made the wider Ollerton division safe after a Tory near-miss in 2009, while the Tories actually lost the wider Collingham division to an independent.  However, despite that setback the Tory machine in Collingham is clearly in good working order, as was demonstrated a few weeks later by the party holding the Newark parliamentary by-election - the first time the Conservatives had successfully held a by-election while in government since the Thatcher years.  Ollerton did not vote in that by-election as is it part of the Sherwood constituency, a key Tory/Labour marginal.

The factfiles below show results going back to 2003; although Newark and Sherwood district was re-warded in 2007 (and will be again re-warded next year, the council having consistently failed to project future trends in the electorate), both Collingham and Meering, and Ollerton wards escaped the 2007 re-warding unchanged.

In Collingham and Meering the defending Tory candidate is Richard Shillito from Collingham, a former district councillor for the ward who stood down in 2003.  He faces opposition from Labour candidate Kieran Owen, UKIP's Sara Chadd (a local businesswoman) and independent David Clarke.

The Labour candidate to defend the Ollerton by-election is Mike Pringle, the present deputy mayor of Ollerton and Boughton; he runs a local burglar alarm company.  Standing against him are the Tories' Mary Brown, chair of the party's Sherwood branch, and the wonderfully-named UKIP candidate Moritz DCaused respectively by the deaths of Conservative councillor Derek Evans and Labour councillor Stan Crawford.  Evans, a veteran member of Collingham parish council, had been a Newark councillor for only a year after winning a by-election in May 2013.  Crawford, a former miner whose death came at the age of 55, had a long career in local government: first being elected in 1995, he had served as leader of Newark and Sherwood district council.  Crawford stood down from the council in 2007 but returned in 2011 and was leader of the council's Labour group.awkins who fought the Sherwood constituency in 2005.

Collingham and Meering
Parliamentary constituency: Newark
Nottinghamshire county council division: Collingham

Sara Chadd (UKIP)
David Clarke (Ind)
Kieran Owen (Lab)
Richard Shillito (C)

May 2013 by-election C 1112 Lab 370
May 2011 result C 1095/1092 LD 579
May 2007 result C 1057/1026 Ind 483 LD 463
May 2003 result C 994/977 LD 354 Lab 259

Ollerton
Parliamentary constituency: Sherwood
Nottinghamshire county council division: Ollerton

Mary Brown (C)
Moritz Dawkins (UKIP)
Michael Pringle (Lab)

May 2011 result Lab 1056/997/906 C 562/464 Ind 467/312
May 2007 result Lab 724/623/593 Ind 676 C 511/499
Jan 2006 by-election Lab unopposed
May 2003 result Lab 594/518/506 Ind 524/329 C 368ie wins the award for most imaginative Twitter profile of the week, describing himself as a "noted wit, academic, political thinker, and winner of the Year 1 Colouring Competition in 1993".  Lawrence Jennings doubles up as Lib Dem candidate for both by-elections, and the Green candidate for the city council is Richard Hunt.

Castle (county division)
James Bainbridge (C)
Neil Boothman (Grn)
Lawrence Jennings (LD)
Alan McGuckin (Lab)
John Stanyer (UKIP)

May 2013 result Lab 460 LD 263 UKIP 227 C 120 Grn 45 TUSC 20

Castle (district ward)
Robert Currie (C)
Richard Hunt (Grn)
Lawrence Jennings (LD)
Fiona Mills (UKIP)
Alan Taylor (Lab)

May 2014 result Lab 435 UKIP 267 C 221 LD 127 Grn 87 TUSC 28
May 2012 result Lab 663 LD 229 C 165 Grn 110
March 2012 county council by-election Lab 407 LD 369 C 93 Grn 54 UKIP 22
May 2011 result Lab 549 LD 438 Grn 135 TUSC 90 BNP 84
May 2010 result LD 816 Lab 802 C 553 Grn 161
June 2009 county council result LD 424 Lab 297 C 241 Grn 144 BNP 129
March 2009 by-election LD 465 Lab 304 BNP 255 C 143 Grn 125
May 2008 result LD 562 Lab 299 C 206 Ind 202
May 2007 result LD 607 Lab 331 C 185
Feb 2007 county council by-election LD 653 Lab 222 C 117 Grn 29
May 2006 result LD 632 Lab 321 C 149 Ind 69
Nov 2005 by-election LD 538 Lab 370
May 2005 county council result LD 937 Lab 853 C 349
June 2004 result LD 917 Lab 541
May 2003 result LD 603 Lab 443
May 2002 result LD 549 Lab 373 C 195
June 2001 county council result LD 994 Lab 786 C 448
Apr 2001 by-election Lab 329 LD 294 C 258 Lib 67


COLLINGHAM AND MEERING, and OLLERTON, Newark and Sherwood district council, Nottinghamshire; caused respectively by the deaths of Conservative councillor Derek Evans and Labour councillor Stan Crawford.  Evans, a veteran member of Collingham parish council, had been a Newark councillor for only a year after winning a by-election in May 2013.  Crawford, a former miner whose death came at the age of 55, had a long career in local government: first being elected in 1995, he had served as leader of Newark and Sherwood district council.  Crawford stood down from the council in 2007 but returned in 2011 and was leader of the council's Labour group.

Although these two wards are in the same local government district, demographically they are chalk and cheese.  The Collingham and Meeting ward is an agricultural area covering eleven parishes on the east bank of the River Trent, on the A1133 Newark-Gainsborough road.  Collingham, a stop on the Newark-Lincoln railway line, is the largest parish of the ward and accounts for over half the electorate, while the parish of Meering, further downstream on the Trent, has a resident population of zero according to the 2011 census.

Ollerton, on the other hand, is a mining village on the A614 Nottingham-Doncaster road in the heart of the Dukeries and the Nottinghamshire coalfield, and one of relatively recent vintage: the colliery closed in 1994.  More recently the British Geological Survey has been concerned about the earth moving in the area, with 93 earthquakes having been recorded within a few miles' radius of Ollerton in the four months to mid-April 2014; none had a magnitude greater than 2 on the Richter scale and the geologists have put the activity down to continuing mineworking from the nearby Thoresby Colliery.

Back on the surface, the wards vote just like you might expect a strongly agricultural and an ex-coalmining area to vote: strongly Tory and strongly Labour respectively.  Labour actually won a by-election to Ollerton ward in January 2006 unopposed, although independent candidates can poll well in the ward and its three seats were split two to Labour and one to an independent from 2003 to 2011.  The last contest to either ward was the by-election to Collingham and Meering ward on county election day in 2013, in which Derek Evans beat the Labour candidate by 3 to 1 in a straight fight.

In those county elections, which saw Labour gain control of Nottinghamshire county council, Labour made the wider Ollerton division safe after a Tory near-miss in 2009, while the Tories actually lost the wider Collingham division to an independent.  However, despite that setback the Tory machine in Collingham is clearly in good working order, as was demonstrated a few weeks later by the party holding the Newark parliamentary by-election - the first time the Conservatives had successfully held a by-election while in government since the Thatcher years.  Ollerton did not vote in that by-election as is it part of the Sherwood constituency, a key Tory/Labour marginal.

The factfiles below show results going back to 2003; although Newark and Sherwood district was re-warded in 2007 (and will be again re-warded next year, the council having consistently failed to project future trends in the electorate), both Collingham and Meering, and Ollerton wards escaped the 2007 re-warding unchanged.

In Collingham and Meering the defending Tory candidate is Richard Shillito from Collingham, a former district councillor for the ward who stood down in 2003.  He faces opposition from Labour candidate Kieran Owen, UKIP's Sara Chadd (a local businesswoman) and independent David Clarke.

The Labour candidate to defend the Ollerton by-election is Mike Pringle, the present deputy mayor of Ollerton and Boughton; he runs a local burglar alarm company.  Standing against him are the Tories' Mary Brown, chair of the party's Sherwood branch, and the wonderfully-named UKIP candidate Moritz Dawkins who fought the Sherwood constituency in 2005.

Collingham and Meering
Parliamentary constituency: Newark
Nottinghamshire county council division: Collingham

Sara Chadd (UKIP)
David Clarke (Ind)
Kieran Owen (Lab)
Richard Shillito (C)

May 2013 by-election C 1112 Lab 370
May 2011 result C 1095/1092 LD 579
May 2007 result C 1057/1026 Ind 483 LD 463
May 2003 result C 994/977 LD 354 Lab 259

Ollerton
Parliamentary constituency: Sherwood
Nottinghamshire county council division: Ollerton

Mary Brown (C)
Moritz Dawkins (UKIP)
Michael Pringle (Lab)

May 2011 result Lab 1056/997/906 C 562/464 Ind 467/312
May 2007 result Lab 724/623/593 Ind 676 C 511/499
Jan 2006 by-election Lab unopposed
May 2003 result Lab 594/518/506 Ind 524/329 C 368

Thursday, 28 August 2014

By-election Result: 28 August 2014

Results are now in for the only local by-election held on 28 August 2014.

The Liberal Democrats scored an emphatic win in North Jesmond, holding their seat with a 13.6% swing from Labour.

Full result breakdown:

Newcastle upon TyneNorth JesmondLD holdFull result

Douglas Carswell MP Defects to UKIP

UKIP are currently holding a press conference this morning, where they have revealed that Douglas Carswell MP has defected from Conservative to UKIP.  Carswell represents the constituency of Clacton.  UKIP didn't stand in Clacton in 2010, but the area is generally considered a strong one for them in the current political climate.  See the full 2010 Clacton result here.

Carswell has announced that he will resign as an MP immediately and contest the by-election for UKIP.

Commentators are noting that Carswell has a huge grassroots following and personal vote, and may be able to hold his seat in the by-election to give UKIP its first ever victory in a Westminster constituency.


Carswell becomes UKIP's second ever MP, following Bob Spink who briefly called himself a UKIP MP after leaving the Conservatives in 2008 before turning into an independent.  Spink represented the Castle Point constituency, and tried to defend his seat in 2010 for his own Independent Save Our Green Belt Party, coming second with 27% of the vote (full result).

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

By-election Previews: 28 August 2014

Apologies for the lack of posts last week - the editor was unwell.  Andrew Teale's previews are back this week though for a single contest being held in Newcastle upon Tyne.

NORTH JESMOND
Newcastle upon Tyne city council, Tyne and Wear
Caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Andras, who has been appointed as a professor of computer science and informatics at Keele University in Staffordshire.  Andras had been a Newcastle upon Tyne city councillor since 2011 and was the Liberal Democrat candidate for Northumbria police and crime commissioner in 2012.

West Jesmond
Directly to the north of Newcastle city centre, Jesmond has always been one of the city's most upmarket suburbs, and a list of famous former residents is essentially a Who's Who of people connected with Newcastle.  The North Jesmond ward is sandwiched between Jesmond Dene, a public park following the steep-sided Ouseburn valley which was once a site of pilgrimage, and the Town Moor to the west.  The ward is served by the West Jesmond station, one of the busiest stations on the Tyne and Wear metro.  Its proximity to Newcastle and Northumbria universities has resulted in an increasing student population in recent years.

In Northern cities this sort of demographic (see also places such as Didsbury in Manchester, Headingley in Leeds) produced a safe Liberal Democrat ward during the Blair and Brown years, but one in which the party came under increasing pressure after the formation of the Coalition.  Unlike Didsbury and Headingley, the Lib Dems have so far managed to keep hold of all three seats in North Jesmond, but the majorities have often been small - Labour were 100 votes behind at the 2011 election and just 32 votes behind the Lib Dems in May.  The August timing of this by-election may be connected to the fact that the ward's student population will be on vacation; the Lib Dems are not exactly flavour of the month among students at the moment.

Defending for the Liberal Democrats is Gerard Keating, a former councillor for Blakelaw ward who stood down from the council in 2012.  The runner-up in May's ordinary election, Peter Smith, tries again for Labour.  The Green Party have selected psychotherapist Shehla Naqvi, while the Tories again run local businessman Duncan Crute who fought the ward in May.  Completing the ballot paper is UKIP's Daniel Thompson, who stood in May in his home ward of West Gosforth.

Parliamentary constituency: Newcastle upon Tyne East
ONS Travel to Work Area: Newcastle and Durham
Postcode district: NE2

Duncan Crute (C)
Gerard Keating (LD)
Shehla Naqvi (Grn)
Peter Smith (Lab)
Daniel Thompson (UKIP)

May 2014 result LD 621 Lab 589 Grn 277 C 276 UKIP 144
May 2012 result LD 978 Lab 523 C 229
May 2011 result LD 870 Lab 770 C 419 Grn 273
May 2010 result LD 1938 Lab 987 C 945 Grn 281
May 2008 double vacancy LD 1013/944 Lab 486/397 C 371/340
May 2007 result LD 1065 Lab 316 C 311 Grn 202
May 2006 result LD 1050 Lab 400 C 290 Grn 190

June 2004 result LD 1521/1260/1176 Lab 602/562/529 C 433/370/368 Ind 193