Labour turned in a good performance in this week’s council by-elections. A total of four contests were held on Thursday, in which the party enjoyed two gains, one from the Conservatives and one from Ukip.
The gain from the Tories came in Charnwood in Leicestershire, where Labour’s Ralph Raven benefited from a mighty 14.6% swing:
Charnwood council has a large Tory majority, so this result won’t affect the balance of power. But Tory councillor for Queniborough Dan Grimley has already accused Ukip of letting Labour win the seat by splitting the Conservative vote.
Labour’s second win came in Merthyr Tydfil. Ukip didn’t field a candidate to defend the seat it won here in 2012, so a gain was always on the cards. John McCarthy emerged the victor, increasing Labour’s majority on the council:
As Mike Smithson noted, Ukip has now lost all three council seats in which it has been the defending party in by-elections held since May’s local elections.
Labour narrowly missed out on a third gain, when they came just 14 votes behind an independent candidate in Flintshire:
Finally, the Tories held a seat on Rother council, despite a 4.9% swing to the Greens:
This was the second by-election for a seat on the Tory-held Rother council in as many months.
July was a bit of a feast for by-election buffs, with 39 contests in total.
The Press Association’s analysis of 26 comparable results from across the month suggests a nationwide lead of 4.7 percentage points for Labour over the Tories. Their calculation based on 16 wards fought both times by all three major parties gives a line-up of Labour 37.9%, Conservatives 33.8%, Liberal Democrats 13.2%.
Ukip averaged 17.3% in the 33 wards it contested in July.