January in by-elections

There were fourteen seats up for grabs in local authority by-elections in January, and here is a summary of what happened in those contests:

party vote share % seats won candidates net gain
Labour 30.6 5 11 +1
Conservative 22.6 2 11 -6
UKIP 15.4 2 9 +2
Liberal Democrat 12.1 2 10 +1
Independent 10.7 3 3 +2
SNP 6.3 0 2 0
Green 1.8 0 3 0
others 0.2 0 2 0

As always, the caveat is the unrepresentative nature of random by-elections, especially true in such a small sample. However, there is a couple of things that are worthy of noting.

A net loss of six Conservative councillors suggests a tough year ahead for them. As Labour found out (from 1997 through to 2010) being in Government means an erosion of one’s councillor base. This means fewer activists, less exposure in the local media, and generally makes it tougher to win elections.

The Liberal Democrats will take some solace from these numbers – they can still hold onto what they have, and even make the occasional gain. As we head towards the European elections the big question is: will they have any MEPs afterwards?

UKIP have a small but steady lead over the Liberal Democrats and that third spot has been theirs for a few months now.  Expectations are for a good 2014 for them, although their rather colourful collection of candidates makes them susceptible to bad headlines from time to time. I think a big breakthrough is unlikely – I think they are the home of dissent and the protest vote and this only has strength in low turnout elections.  Conservative HQ strategy, IMHO, should be aimed at getting high turnout.

As for Labour, winning more seats and getting more votes than the other parties means it is good news at the moment for us. It remains to be seen whether this can be maintained all the way through to May 2015.

One Response to January in by-elections

  1. Is it ironic that the Liberal Democrats, champions of electoral reform, seem to be benefiting most from the first past the post system at the moment?

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