Friday, 29 June 2012

By-Elections Summary: 28 June 2012

This week saw six local by-elections, all within the southern parts of England, and all straightforward holds for each incumbent party.

Labour increased their majority in holding Ravenhurst and Fosse ward with a swing of 7.8% from the Conservatives.  Labour held the seat, but Blaby District Council remains under safe Conservative control.

The Conservatives held Sileby in Charnwood District, again with a swing to Labour this time of 5.6%.  The actual Labour vote share was relatively stagnant however, with most of the Conservative net loss going to the new Lib Dem and BNP candidates.  Charnwood is another safe Tory council overall.

The Lib Dems held both their city and county level seats in the by-elections in Chelmsford.  In Patching Hall ward of Chelmsford City Council, there was a swing from Conservative to Lib Dem of 5.5%.  In the Essex County contest for Chelmsford North division, there was a Conservative to Lib Dem swing of just 1.5%, although both parties' shares were down to the benefit of Labour and UKIP.  Chelmsford and Essex are again both safely Tory, with the Lib Dems forming the largest opposition on each council.

In the Brompton contest in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, there was a small 2.5% swing from Conservative to Labour, with Labour overtaking the Lib Dems to come second.  UKIP, standing for the first time, came last.  Kensington and Chelsea remains a resolutely Conservative council.

Finally, there was little change in the Grange Hall ward of South Northamptonshire District, with the Conservative vote share increasing by 1.1% against a Lib Dem opponent compared to an Independent opponent previously.  In keeping with all of this week's contests, the council is again safe Conservative.

It's hard to draw a national picture from this week's contests.  They were all generally in the south of England, and all took place in strongly Conservative areas.  Certainly within these areas, it would appear that Labour is making slight progress, although not enough to be gaining seats.  The Lib Dems also polled well in both Essex contests, showing that they still possess strongholds in the south, perhaps particularly on councils where they are the established opposition to the Conservatives.

Next week promises more variety with both Conservative and Labour safe seats up along with a perennially Green ward in Malvern Hills, Labour and Lib Dem defenses in Liverpool and, perhaps most interestingly, a Lib Dem/Conservative marginal in London.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Defection Watch: Cllr Matthew James

Matthew James, Conservative Councillor for St. Mary's-with-Summercombe ward in Torbay, has explained on his blog why he has chosen not to renew his Conservative Party membership, instead becoming an Independent.

He cites the Government's austerity programme as a factor, saying that the Government is attempting to "balance the budget on the backs of the poor".  Specifically, he says that David Cameron's announcement earlier this week of plans to withdraw housing benefits for under 25s was his "final straw".

Cllr James' term ends in 2015, although he also notes in his blog that he may choose to stand down at that time.  The other Councillor for St. Mary's-with-Summercombe is Lib Dem Andrew Baldrey, also elected for the term 2011-15.

Torbay Council remains under Conservative control after the change, with a majority cut to 5 over all other parties.

Torbay Council
Lib Dems10-