Local elections

Latest by-election results, part two: nuggets of good news for all parties… except Ukip

Time to run through the rest of this week’s council by-elections. Along with the three contests in Tower Hamlets that I reviewed yesterday, a further nine took place across England. Readers not gripped by the minutiae of local politics should probably look away now.

I’ll deal first with the six seats that didn’t change hands.

Labour held one of its eight seats on Colchester council in Essex with a 3.9% swing from the Tories:

Colchester by-electionThe Liberal Democrats held a seat on Pendle council in Lancashire, enjoying a hefty 10.3% swing from the Conservatives:

Pendle by-election

Both Colchester and Pendle are councils in no overall control.

In both cases it’s worth noting how low Ukip polled. In Pendle they managed only 14 votes more than “The Blue Party”.

It was a similar story on Tendring council in Essex, where the ruling Tories held a seat:

Tendring by-electionIn this case the result saw a 6.3% swing from the Lib Dems to the Conservatives.

It’s unwise to extrapolate too much from individual by-elections scattered around the counties where many local factors can and do have influence. But I was struck by Ukip’s relatively modest performance in this trio of Labour, Lib Dems and Tory-held wards, especially in the ostensibly Ukip-inclined south-east England.

The three other seats that saw no change of party were all in Northamptonshire. Two were on the Tory-run county council, both of which were held by Conservatives. One, for the ward of Braunstone and Crick, saw a 1.5% swing from Tory to Labour; the second, in Brixworth, saw a 4% swing from Ukip to the Tories. The third seat was for Northampton borough council, which is also Tory-run, and this was a Labour hold albeit with a 6.4% swing from Labour to the Lib Dems.

Now on to the three gains.

In Cheltenham, the Lib Dems gained a seat from the Tories on a 5.6% swing:

Cheltenham by-electionThe result means the Lib Dems’ ruling majority on the council is now 10. It will also reassure sitting Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood, whose majority over the Tories in 2010 was 4,290.

On the Tory-run Craven council in North Yorkshire, Labour gained a seat from the Lib Dems on a 10.5% swing. That sounds quite impressive, but the number of votes cast was rather low:

Craven by-electionThe final gain was also in North Yorkshire and again in Skipton West, but this time for the Tory-run county council. It saw a Lib Dem seat fall to an independent, accompanied by a 5.5% swing from Lib Dem to Conservative:

North Yorkshire by-electionOverall then, some nuggets of good news for each of the three main parties, but nothing really of comfort for Ukip. The party fought all this week’s by-elections and averaged a vote share of 13.8%.

The Press Association’s analysis of six comparable results suggests a projected 4.6 percentage point lead for Labour over the Tories nationwide. Their calculation based on seven wards fought both times by all three major parties gives a line-up of Labour 36.8%, Conservative 34.8% and Lib Dem 11.4%.

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