Readers, the results of the by-elections from Clacton, and Heywood and Middleton, were as follows (in case you did not stay up long enough to see them live early this morning):
Clacton by-election, 9/10/14:
Douglas Carswell, UKIP: 21,113 (59.7% from standing start)
Andrew Graham, Liberal Democrats: 483 (1.3%, -11.6%)
Alan 'Howling Laud' Hope, Monster Raving Loony Party, 127 (0.4%)
Charlotte Rose, Independent, 56 (0.2%)
Bruce Sizer, Independent, 205 (0.6%)
Chris Southall, Green Party: 688 (1.9%, +0.7%)
Giles Watling, Conservative: 8,709 (24.6%, -28.4%)
Tim Young, Labour: 3,957 (11.4%, -13.8%).
Heywood & Middleton by-election, 9/10/14:
John Bickley, UKIP: 11,016 (38.7%, +36.1%)
Ian Gartside, Conservative: 3,496 (12.3%, -14.8%)
Abi Jackson, Green Party: 870 (3.1%)
Liz McInnes, Labour: 11,633 (40.9%, +0.8%)
Anthony Smith, Liberal Democrats: 1,457 (5.1%, -17.6%)
As unfortunately predicted, it was the case of the purple tide crashing through, especially in Clacton. I was also shocked at the fact it nearly did so in Heywood & Middleton- when Labour were expected to hold the seat easily.
I pondered some questions about these two by-elections, and the answers were:
1. How much will Douglas Carswell win Clacton by? His majority was 12,404, or a staggering 35.1%. Better than that of even George Galloway in Bradford West-his majority by comparison was only 10,140, or 30%.
2. Did Douglas Carswell beat Dick Taverne's record? Yes, alas-he scored 59.7% of the vote for UKIP from nowhere, whereas Dick Taverne got 58.2% of the vote from nowhere in Lincoln back in 1973.
3. Could there be a swing large enough against the Conservatives that Labour get second place by accident? No. Even though the swing from Conservative to UKIP was 44.1%, virtually equalling that of the Bermondsey by-election of 1983 (the swing there remains the largest in any British by-election), Labour still fell to third place.
4. Will the Green Party candidate, Chris Southall, beat the Liberal Democrats (and hopefully also save his deposit)? Chris did indeed beat the Liberal Democrats' candidate, Andrew Graham, and finished fourth (our highest place finish so far in by-elections this parliament), but sadly he did not save his deposit.
5. How well, or not, will the two independent candidates poll? Bruce Sizer could not even get half of the votes of the Liberal Democrats, whose vote share of 1.3% is the lowest in any British by-election in decades. Charlotte Rose got less than half the votes of Monster Raving Loony Party leader Howling Laud Hope.
(Heywood & Middleton):
1.Will UKIP's rise stall Labour's recovery in terms of vote share (which is what happened in the South Shields by-election back in 2013) in Heywood & Middleton? Yes-UKIP only missed out on winning Heywood & Middleton outright by 617 votes, and Labour's vote share only increased by 0.8% in a seat where they should have recovered better,logically.
2.Just how far might the Conservative vote fall? They lost, in percentage terms, more than half their previous vote share.
3.Will the Liberal Democrats defy poll ratings for this by-election and save their deposit? Yes, but only just-but the Lib Dems found it worthy cause for celebration given they had lost so many deposits in by-elections (including Clacton the same morning).
4.Will we Greens make a good first impression (in terms of results) here? Kind of-we got 870 votes from a standing start, pretty good for a constituency which nearly elected a UKIP MP, but we did not get our deposit back :(
5.Given the much higher publicity about Clacton, how much of a drop in turnout will occur in Heywood & Middleton? The turnout dropped from 57% to 36%-not as bad as the drop in turnout in Wythenshawe & Sale East (which is also in Greater Manchester).
In Heywood & Middleton, I believe the limp performance of Labour during its conference, as well as its failure to properly address the real issues of the nation (especially economic ones and our failed economic system), was the key reason it made little recovery in this by-election and nearly lost the seat to UKIP. Labour has clearly not learned its lesson from the Scottish Independence referendum-three weeks on, Labour is still polling considerably behind the SNP in Scotland. I also believe we Greens won some of those ex-Labour votes, especially amongst younger voters; Abi is a Young Green, after all.
Over in Clacton, I am pleased to say that Chris not only increased our vote share but also because of his efforts, the Green Party was the only party from 2010 to also increase the number of votes from what they polled in Clacton in 2010-Chris polled 535 votes in 2010 and managed to increase that to 688 this time, in spite of the turnout dropping from 64% to 51%. Even in constituencies as unfavourable to us (and as favourable to UKIP, conversely) as Clacton, we are still moving forwards and campaigning for real change.
In this by-election, Douglas Carswell and UKIP made lots of noise about how the elite was disconnected from ordinary voters and how they were pushing for change. Both of these general statements from UKIP are complete lies.
John Douglas Wilson Carswell (full name of Douglas Carswell) ,just like Nigel Farage, was publicly educated-he is an old Carthusian (he boarded at Charterhouse, one of the five all-male public schools where a large proportion of British judges were educated). Even though he did not attend either Oxford or Cambridge (but rather UEA and King's College London), he is still in reality part of the same elite UKIP decries. UKIP's treasurer, ex-Conservative Stuart Wheeler, is a multimillionaire Old Etonian who was also Oxford-educated, just like David Cameron and several of his cabinet secretaries. And several hereditary peers (not all of whom sit in the House of Lords) are also UKIP members-one, David Verney, is 21st (yes, 21st!) Baron Willoughby de Brooke. One of their MEPs is William Legge, 10th Earl of Dartmouth- the Conservatives by contrast do not have any hereditary peers (or even life peers at the moment, but they once did back in the days when British European elections were held under FPTP) who are MEPs. Another hereditary peers, Richard Bridgeman (aka the Earl of Bradford), almost became a UKIP MEP in 2004. This information alone shows that UKIP is just as elitist, patriarchal, and pro-capitalist as the rest of the Establishment (Labour not quite as much,though).
As I have said before, though, you can (and should) always vote Green for real change in Britain, and for a better and brighter future for us all.