Readers, the results from yesterday's local by-elections were as follows:
Fife UA, Glenrothes West & Kinglassie (first preferences): SNP 2539 (55.3%, +12.8%), Labour 1643 (35.8%, -5.4%), Conservative 202 (4.4%, +1.4%), UKIP 146 (3.2%), Liberal Democrat 61 (1.3%, -0.3%). SNP gain from Labour; SNP elected at the first count.
Moray UA, Buckie (first preference votes): SNP 1485 (59.5%, +14.4%), Ind 696 (27.9%), Con 315 (12.6%, +5.5%). SNP gain from Independent; SNP elected at first count.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar UA, Beinn na Foghla agus Uibhist a Tuath: Ind W 437 (59.1%), SNP 302 (40.9%)
Vale of Glamorgan UA, Llantwit Major: Con 1016 (40.8%, +18.7%), Llantwit Major First 1004 (40.3%, -15.7%), Lab 378 (15.2%, +0.5%), Plaid Cymru 95 (3.8%, -3.5%). Conservative gain from Llantwit Major First.
West Lothian UA, Armadale & Blackridge (first preference votes): SNP 1620 (43.7%), Lab 1009 (27.0%), Ind MacK 756 (20.9%), Con 255 (6.8%), Green 90 (2.6%). SNP elected at fourth count.
This is the last set of local by-elections before Parliament dissolves on 30th March, at which point nominations for both local and general election candidates will open; nominations close on 9th April, four weeks before the polling day of 7th May. A few by-elections from authorities that are not having elections this year will take place in the meantime, but as none of them feature Green Party candidates I will not comment on those by-elections here.
Despite the strong surge in traditionally Labour areas for the SNP, the SNP only managed a 12.8% swing locally in Glenrothes West & Kinglassie, and nationally they need a 20.3% swing to win the Glenrothes parliamentary constituency this year. I believe this is because the SNP already had a very strong performance in Fife locally back in 2012, two years before their 2014 surge, and also many other areas of Scotland. Nevertheless, this week has clearly been one of their better weeks locally in by-election terms, which bodes well for Nicola Sturgeon et al as the 2015 general election campaign nears closer and closer. Back in the Vale of Glamorgan, however, Plaid Cymru was undoubtedly squeezed somewhat in a strong contest between the Conservatives and Llantwit Major First (which actually split from the Conservative group in Glamorgan some time ago), partly because the Vale of Glamorgan does not have much latent Plaid Cymru support.
I am also pleased to say that nationwide, the Green Parties of the UK (England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) will currently be fielding a record 562 candidates altogether across the UK's 650 seats, and many constituencies will have a Green candidate for the very first time in a general election (including in my home county of Hertfordshire the constituencies of Broxbourne, Stevenage, and South West Hertfordshire). Also, locally, the Green Party are expanding further than ever before and will be contesting many council areas that have never had the chance to vote Green before (or at least, have not had that chance for years), such as Oadby & Wigston and Broxbourne.