Thursday, 14 April 2016

By-election Preview: 14 April 2016

Three by-elections this week, the final contests before the full elections take place in May.  Two are covered over on the Cornish Elections blog, and the other one below:

Taunton Deane district council
Caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Christopher Appleby in order to join the police.  He had served only since May last year.

The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, Taunton
For a town some distance from the sea, it's curious that Taunton Halcon ward's largest employer is the UK Hydrographic Office, a government-owned organisation which produces Admiralty charts, tide tables and other nautical and astronomical publications for the benefit of the Royal Navy and sailors all over the world.  The Hydrographic Office is in the most unfashionable part of Somerset's county town; Halcon ward lies in eastern Taunton running to the M5 motorway at junction 25, and is a deprived working-class area.  The ward has one of the highest rates of part-time working in England and Wales (19.3%) and its census figures also stick out for high levels of semi-routine work, low qualifications, social renting and children.

Most areas with this sort of demographic profile vote strongly Labour, but Labour are not organised here (their stronghold on Taunton Deane council is in the small but politically radical town of Wellington).  Instead the Lib Dems perform strongly in Halcon and held all the district and county council seats until 2015 when the Tories nicked one of the three district council seats with a majority of just two votes; the votes last year were 40% for the Lib Dems, 36% for the Tories and 24% for the Green Party, although the Green share may be affected by the Tories not running a full slate and there being no Labour or UKIP candidates.  The local Lib Dems seem to have trouble holding on to their district councillors: this is the third local by-election here caused by the resignation of a Lib Dem councillor in as many years.

Defending for the Lib Dems is twenty-something Chris Booth, the organiser for the Taunton Deane branch of the Lib Dems.  The Tories have also gone for youth in reselecting Livvi Grant, their unsuccessful candidate here last year, who is a researcher for Taunton Deane's Tory MP Rebecca Pow.  Continuing the young-candidate theme is Craig Rossiter, the youth officer for the local branch of the Green Party.  Completing the ballot paper are Robert Bainbridge for UKIP and Kieran Canham for Labour.

Parliamentary constituency: Taunton Deane
Somerset county council division: Taunton East (most), Taunton South (part)

May 2015 result LD 1012/1001/889 C 891/851 Grn 605
Oct 2013 by-election LD 282 UKIP 172 C 165 Lab 146
May 2013 by-election LD 457 UKIP 295 C 179 Lab 159 Grn 78
May 2011 result LD 694/539/529 C 475 Lab 420
May 2007 result LD 804/709/679 C 372/354/326 Lab 154

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