Wednesday, 29 July 2015

By-election Previews: 23 July 2015

Five by-elections on 23rd July 2015, with Labour defending four (one of which will be covered on Welsh Elections) and the Lib Dems one.

North East Lincolnshire council
Caused by the death of Labour councillor Mick Burnett.

It's July, the schools are out, the weather's nice (probably), so what else to do but go to the seaside?  The curiously-named Croft Baker ward covers the seafront and town centre of Cleethorpes, running south-east and south-west from the town's pier.  Like many resorts, Cleethorpes has seen better days, and the 2011 census paints a run-down picture: high levels of no qualifications, part-time work, unemployment and semi-routine occupations.  Not an unusual story for the seaside, where work is often low-paid and difficult to come by.

In the current political climate this ward is safe for Labour, although it was a Lib Dem-inclined marginal during the Noughties and UKIP came close in 2014.  Mick Burnett had gained his seat from the Lib Dems in 2007, and at his last re-election just two months ago he won with 40% of the vote, with the Tories (27%) and UKIP (23%) disputing second place.

Defending for Labour is Annie Darby, a former Lib Dem councillor (for Yarborough ward) who defected to Labour in 2013.  The Tories have re-selected their May candidate Hayden Dawkins, a letting agent.  UKIP's candidate Graham Critchley, a health and safety instructor, is also straight back on the campaign trail.  In fact the Lib Dems are the only opposition party to change their candidate from May, Roy Horobin being their replacement; also on the ballot paper are James Barker for the Green Party and Dave Mitchell for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Parliamentary constituency: Cleethorpes

May 2015 result Lab 2056 C 1370 UKIP 1202 LD 220 Grn 202 TUSC 95
May 2014 result Lab 1031 UKIP 885 Ind 424 C 352 TUSC 104 LD 61
May 2012 result Lab 1327 UKIP 448 LD 418 C 364
May 2011 result Lab 1619 C 964 LD 460
May 2010 result Lab 1853 C 1521 LD 1198 UKIP 410 Ind 105
May 2008 result LD 1052 Lab 890 C 774 Ind 166
May 2007 result Lab 984 LD 975 C 621 Ind 222
May 2006 result LD 1217 Lab 943 Ind 463
June 2004 result LD 1242 Lab 1117 Ind 762 Ind 412 Ind 129
May 2003 result LD 1326/1135/1286 Lab 1250/1124/1078

Westminster city council, London
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Nilavra Mukerji.

This is in the north-west corner of the City of Westminster, within the W9 (Maida Vale) postal district generally to the north of the eponymous Harrow Road and radiating from its junction with Elgin Avenue.  Like much of central London, this is a heavily immigrant area: the White British population of 29% is one of the lowest scores in the country, while there are very high populations of Irish people (2%), people from EU-15 countries (8%) and people aged between 30 and 44 (31%).  43% of the ward's households are socially rented, indicating this is very much the more downmarket end of Westminster.

This is reflected in the ward's election results, which are safe for Labour.  At the last London borough elections in 2014 the Labour slate had 58% here, the Tory slate's 18% being best of the rest.  Flicking back a few years, at the bottom of the Conservative slate here in the 2002 was one Edward Vaizey, who has since gone on to greater things as MP for a safe Tory seat in Oxfordshire and as a junior minister responsible for digital industries.

In a three-cornered race, the defending Labour candidate is Tim Roca, a former president of Lancaster University Students' Union who was Labour candidate for his native Macclesfield in the recent general election.  The Tory candidate is Wilford Augustus, a digital PR consultant, and UKIP have selected Robert Stephenson, who fought the Cities of London and Westminster in the general election.

Parliamentary constituency: Westminster North

May 2014 result Lab 1788/1493/1415 C 546/406/349 Grn 464 UKIP 308
May 2010 result Lab 2730/2316/2137 LD 1152 C 1120/1018/950 Grn 740 UKIP 218
May 2006 result Lab 1036/899/877 C 523/520/520 LD 411/369/325
July 2005 by-election Lab 774 C 306 LD 150
May 2002 result Lab 1029/952/942 C 362/328/287 Grn 289 LD 278

Elmbridge borough council, Surrey
Caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Toni Izard.

For our second London-area by-election of the week we head out to the suburbs.  Just outside the Greater London boundary, Long Ditton is a residential area on the south bank of the River Thames, bisected by the Portsmouth Road and the South Western Main Line, although there is no station here.  While its census stats bear some of the London hallmarks, the figures which stand out are that 55% of the adult population work in some form of management and 49% hold a degree-level qualification.  Truly this is where the middle classes live.

From being a normally safe Lib Dem ward in the Blair and Brown years this ward has developed into a close Lib Dem/Tory marginal: in May's ordinary election the Lib Dems beat the Tories by 46% to 45%, a majority of 49 votes.  Despite this marginal status, the only time the Tories have actually won Long Ditton this century was a rather freakish 21-vote victory in 2008.  Toni Izard recovered that seat in 2012 with a majority of 28.

Defending for the Lib Dems is Neil Houston, who from 2010 to 2014 was a councillor for the neighbouring Surbiton Hill ward of Kingston upon Thames council.  The Tory candidate from May, Hugh Evans, is straight back on the campaign trail; he works for the NHS and also broadcasts on a local radio station (Brooklands Radio).  Also straight back on the stump is UKIP's Susannah Cunningham, and the ballot paper is completed by Laura Harmour who is the ward's first Green Party candidate for twelve years.

Parliamentary constituency: Esher and Walton

May 2015 result LD 1635 C 1586 UKIP 313
May 2014 result LD 1105 C 602 UKIP 259 Lab 158
May 2012 result LD 916 C 888 Lab 151
May 2011 result LD 1072 C 1029 Lab 223
May 2010 result LD 2022 C 1347
May 2008 result C 891 LD 870 Lab 84
May 2007 result LD 864 C 612 Lab 67
May 2006 result LD 1022 C 674 Lab 82
June 2004 result LD 1018 C 615 Lab 98
May 2003 result LD 760 C 415 Grn 102
May 2002 result LD 846 C 498 Lab 100

Blackburn with Darwen council
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Carol Walsh.

South-west of the town centre, this ward is centred on the Mill Hill railway station on the Blackburn-Preston line.  The census stats show that this is a white working-class area of town, and the ward's safe Labour status bears this out - although the Lib Dems did win the predecessor to this ward in 2002 and nicked one of the three seats here at the first election on the current boundaries, in 2004.  The Lib Dem councillor lost his seat in 2007 and has been trying to get back ever since with an increasing lack of success.  UKIP took over second place in 2014, and in May's ordinary election Labour had 50% to 28% for UKIP and 17% for the Conservatives.

Defending for Labour is Carl Nuttall, seeking to make a quick return to Blackburn with Darwen council after losing his seat to the Tories in May in the neighbouring Meadowhead ward.  He shoud have an easier ride here.  All three of the unsuccessful candidates fom May try again: they are Michael Longbottom for UKIP, Helen Tolley for the Tories and former councillor Alan Dean for the Lib Dems.

Parliamentary constituency: Blackburn

May 2015 result Lab 1084 UKIP 618 C 375 LD 100
May 2014 result Lab 772 UKIP 401 C 149
May 2012 result Lab 874 C 175 LD 122
May 2011 result Lab 967 C 264 LD 220
May 2010 result Lab 1055 LD 583 C 436 BNP 332
May 2008 result Lab 676 LD 608
May 2007 result Lab 668 England First Party 302 LD 281 BNP 216 C 195
May 2006 result Lab 727 BNP 437 C 268 LD 266
June 2004 result Lab 758/520/507 LD 655/437/389 BNP 377 C 321 Ind 169

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