|Voters are going to the polls in a couple of interesting by-elections tomorrow|
Council by-elections preview:
Credit to politicalbetting.com for preview.
Winkfield and Cranbourne on Bracknell Forest (Con Defence)
Result of last election (2011): Con 40, Lab 2 (Conservative overall majority of 38)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,308, 1,250
Labour 255, 252
Candidates duly nominated: Paul Birchall (Lib Dem), Janet Keene (Lab), Ken La Garde (UKIP), Susie Phillips (Con)
When people think of “one party states” in local elections, they often think of the Labour heartlands such as Knowsley (Lab 63, Opposition 0), Sandwell (Lab 68, Opposition 4) and Rotherham (Lab 58, Opposition 5). However the Conservatives are just as capable of producing one party states and Bracknell Forest is a classic example of a Conservative one party state.
In 2003, there were seven opposition councillors against the Conservative grouping of 35 but over the years that opposition has been slowly wittled away. In 2007, the sole Liberal Democrat and three Labour councillors lost their seats and in 2011, Labour lost another seat meaning that technically speaking although there are two councillors elected under the Labour party banner, there is not a Labour grouping on the council.
Therefore, this is the sort of area where UKIP might expect a breakthrough but will they be able to muster enough anti Conservative feeling and attract non voters, well, we’ll find out soon enough.
Caddington on Central Bedfordshire (Con Defence)
Result of last election (2011): Con 48, Lib Dem 5, Ind 4, Lab 1 (Con overall majority of 38)
Result at last election (2011): (Emboldened denotes elected)
Conservative 2,215, 2,134
Labour 711, 424
Liberal Democrats 404, 213
Candidates duly nominated: Kevin Collins (Con), Ian Lowery (Lab), Christine Smith (Ind), Steven Wildman (UKIP), Alan Winter (Lib Dem)
A lot has changed since Mike was a councillor in this neck of the woods. For starters, the district councils of Mid Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire have been replaced by a unitary authority called Central Bedfordshire (and as you might expect, it’s another Conservative heartland). But as in Bracknell Forest, there is an anti Conservative opposition force, however unlike in Bracknell Forest it is split between UKIP and an Independent.
With thoughts rapidly turning to the next general election and the small matter of the constituency of Mid Bedfordshire, will UKIP realise that perhaps an electoral alliance with Independents would give them the best chance of winning at that election?
Landward, Caithness on Highland (SNP Defence)
Result of last election (2012): Ind 35, SNP 22, Lib Dem 15, Lab 8 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 6)
Result at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Non Party Independent 1,015, 638, 244, 42 (55%)
Independent 651 (18%)
Scottish National Party 550 (15%)
Labour 302 (9%)
Conservative 109 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: Ed Boyter (SNP), Kerensa Carr (Con), Tina Irving (Ind), Matthew Reiss (Ind), Winifred Sutherland (Ind)
For details about this ward, please visit http://www.scottishelections.org.uk/
Vassall on Lambeth (Lab Defence)
Result of last election (2010): Lab 44, Lib Dem 15, Con 4 (Labour overall majority of 25)
Result at last election (2010): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 2,533, 2,308, 2,146
Liberal Democrats 2,193, 1,793, 1,617
Conservatives 706, 593, 525
Greens 542, 477, 476
Candidates duly nominated: Kelly Ben-Maimon (Con), Paul Gadsby (Lab), Elizabeth Jones (UKIP), Danny Lambert (Socialist), Rachel Laurence (Green), Steven Nally (TUSC), Colette Thomas (Lib Dem)
“Anytime you’re Lambeth way, Any evening, Any day, You’ll finding them all voting for Lambeth Lab, OI!” Yes, I know that I have probably committed the act of sacrilege on a song known around the world from the musical “Me and My Girl” but with the exception of the 1994 and 2002 local elections that is precisely what Lambeth has done.
This council is so Labour that when ahead of the 1986 local elections the Labour grouping on the council refused to set a rate and where therefore all sacked they still stood on the ballot and were re-elected with thumping majorities. That’s not to say that the Liberal Democrats (the main challengers) have not been able to stick one to Labour (twenty gains in 1994 and eleven gains in 2002) but with next year’s elections likely to be another drubbing for the Liberal Democrats in London (with even heartlands such as Kingston upon Thames and Sutton under threat) it’s safe to assume that Labour’s domination of Lambeth will continue for sometime yet.
Billinge and Seneley Green on St. Helens (Lab Defence)
Result of last election (2012): Lab 40, Lib Dem 5, Con 3 (Labour overall majority of 32)
Result of ward in last electoral cycle:
2010: Lab 2,954 (50%), Con 1,795 (30%), Lib Dem 1,216 (20%)
2011: Lab 1,896 (53%), Con 964 (27%), Ind 556 (16%), Lib Dem 170 (5%)
2012: Lab 1,802 (63%), Con 536 (19%), Ind 371 (13%), Green 140 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: Laurence Allen (UKIP), Alan Brindle (BNP), John Cunliffe (Con), Noreen Knowles (Lib Dem), Dennis McDonnell (Lab), Sue Rahman (Green)
St. Helens just screams Labour that you might think it was rather on the boring side. Yes, I agree that from 1990 to 2005 Labour racked up so much of a majority that you might as well as crossed it off the list of Labour holds before nominations had even closed however in 2006 something rather odd happened. Labour lost eleven seats and lost overall control.
In 2007, another set of Labour losses and people were given serious credence to the idea that maybe, unbelievable as it may have sounded, the Liberal Democrats (already controlling Sheffield, Rochdale and Stockport at the time) could add St. Helens to their list. Sadly for the Lib Dems it was not to be and since then Labour have been re-establishing their rock solid control of the council.
Horbury and South Ossett on Wakefield (Lab Defence)
Result of last election (2012): Lab 52, Con 11 (Labour overall majority of 41)
Result of ward in last electoral cycle:
2010: Con 3,034 (38%), Lab 2,932 (36%), Lib Dem 1,517 (19%), BNP 558 (7%)
2011: Lab 2,433 (47%), Con 2,048 (39%), Lib Dem 473 (9%)
2012: Lab 1,660 (41%), Con 934 (23%), Ind 732 (18%), UKIP 429 (10%), Lib Dem 340 (8%)
Candidates duly nominated: Rory Bickerton (Lab), Mark Goodair (Lib Dem), Angela Holwell (Con), Graham Jesty (UKIP)
Whilst St. Helens was flirting with the concept of changing hands, Wakefield was having none of it. The only time that Wakefield even considered the idea of changing hands was in 2008 when Labour held onto the council by just a single seat (Lab 32, Con 23, Ind 6, Lib Dem 2) but then came the general election and normal Labour service was resumed.
But with all of the councils voting today in England being rock solid councils and unlikely to change hands, will these elections give UKIP and other non aligned Independents a chance to say “The council cannot change hands, vote with your hearts and not your head”?
There are certainly some intriguing battles up ahead.