By-election fever grips West Leigh
January 13, 2014 2 Comments
It feels to me like it is going to be a close contest. To be honest, Labour’s chances here are slim, although the electorate may opt for a complete change. From where I stand it looks like Labour versus three shades of Conservatism: there is the Real Conservatives, the disgruntled Conservatives (UKIP), and the Conservative Human Shield (Lib Dems). Not quite fifty shades of grey, but certainly many shades of blue.
Council by-elections rarely attract large turnouts, and those in mid-winter often threaten single digit percentages. That there is a lot at stake may provoke interest; there is the possibility of a no overall control at the Civic Centre. In reality, even a Tory defeat will not see real change – there are enough sympathisers in the opposition ranks to see Cllr Holdcroft retain his Leader’s allowance for a few months yet.
What a Tory defeat will signal is that the change many of us expect in May could be seismic. We already see a Conservative retreat in the east of the Borough, losing in West Leigh will be evidence that the Tory malaise has spread. The victors in ten days’ time will be the best organised and most able to persuade their supporters to make that trek to the polling station. This should be the Tories. The blues could have made this banana skin far less precarious had they chosen to force the issue and made this by-election take place during the autumn. If they are undone on the 23rd in large measure this will be their own fault. In the meantime, my colleagues and I will be looking to maximise the Labour vote, and perhaps privately dreaming of a red surprise.