Local elections

Latest by-election results: five weeks after polling day, the Tower Hamlets saga is finally over

Rich pickings for election obsessives this week. We had a bumper crop of local contests yesterday: 12 in total. I’m going to save most of them for a later post, however, and concentrate first on the three that took place for the notorious council of Tower Hamlets.

Notorious because Thursday’s by-elections bring to an end a process that has lasted an astonishing five weeks. Polling day for local elections in London was on 22 May. It is now 4 July, and only now do we finally know who is in charge of Tower Hamlets.

The answer: nobody. No party has overall control. But in one last remarkable twist of this tortuous tale, Labour came within six votes – yes, six – of winning the seat that would have given them a majority.

Three seats were up for grabs in the ward of Blackwall and Cubitt Town. The contest had been postponed from 22 May due to the death of a candidate. Tories won all three seats in the ward in the 2010 local elections – but there have been a few slight boundary changes since, and these may have contributed to the surprise outcome. For Labour gained two of the seats, while the Tories held on to the third by a wafer-thin margin.

Here is the full breakdown of votes. Amazingly, the top nine candidates were separated by just 243 votes.

Labour 956
Conservative 877
Labour 875
Labour 872
Conservative 815
Conservative 762
Tower Hamlets First 744
Tower Hamlets First 726
Tower Hamlets First 713
Ukip 240
Ukip 190
Ukip 188
Green 110
Green 98
Green 74
Liberal Democrats 71
Liberal Democrats 68
Liberal Democrats 58
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 11
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 11
Independent 11

Note the poor showing by both Ukip and the Lib Dems – a trend evident in last week’s by-elections in Barnet, and across almost all of London in May’s local elections.

The results mean residents of the borough of Tower Hamlets know, at long last, the composition of their new council. It looks like this:

Tower Hamlets councilI cannot believe this will still be the composition of the council come the next round of local elections in four years’ time. The borough has had such a stormy history of late that I can well imagine more splits, defections and defeats in the months ahead. The fact that Labour is just one seat short of an overall majority almost guarantees this. Still, Labour will be pleased it remains the largest group on Tower Hamlets council, albeit one that has to work with an elected mayor from a rival party.

The BBC reports that 12 police officers oversaw the count. That’s more than the number of votes received by each of the bottom three candidates.


One response to “Latest by-election results: five weeks after polling day, the Tower Hamlets saga is finally over

  1. Another example of a split result: an outcome which occurs more often than might be thought and which is worthy of further research among psephologists. Dare I speculate that voters’€™ assessments of the candidates themselves, aside from their party affiliations, might be a factor? Tiny majorities do add interest and all credit to Tower Hamlets for not letting this hold up unduly the eventual declaration of the result. Labour is certainly performing strongly in London, for the time being.

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