Three local by-elections this week, all won by independents – in two cases, at the expense of other independents.
One seat was up for grabs on Rother district council in East Sussex. Here’s the result:
This was a hold for the independent candidate, though overall there was a 3.9% swing from Tory to Labour. Ukip’s share of the vote works out as 22.9%. The party hadn’t contested this ward before, and it took its votes in part from Labour, whose share fell 3.6%, but mostly from the Conservatives, whose share went down by 11.5%.
Rother district council has a safe Tory majority; at present, 23 of its 38 councillors are Conservative. But it’s striking that Ukip notched up over one in five of the votes from a standing start.
The other two by-elections were for the same council: North Kesteven in Lincolnshire. Both were won by independents – but from other, different independents. The winners were members of the Lincolnshire Independents group, who gained the seats from non-aligned independents.
One was in the ward of Sleaford Westholme:
The other was in the ward of Sleaford Quarrington and Mareham:
Note that Ukip didn’t field a candidate in either of these wards. That’s a little surprising, given the party’s support in eastern England is often said to be greater than in any other part of the country.
Rother and North Kesteven are among those councils whose turn it is to hold formal local elections next May, so the tenure of these three by-election winners may prove to be somewhat brief.