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.

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

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