Just five weeks on from the 2015 general election, this week has seen some rather interesting by-elections, especially the re-run of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets election caused by Lutfur Rahman being (wrongly?) disqualified from office by an election court.
The results from the deferred election in Wyre Forest (held on Tuesday for reasons unknown) and two other by-elections are as follows:
Wyre Forest DC, Areley Kings East: Conservative 662/564/492, Labour 633/561/532, ICHC 404/378/326, UKIP 213/209/196, Green 66.
Sutton LBC, Wallington South: Lib Dem 1251 (44.2%, +6.9%), Con 936 (33.0%, +13.7%), Lab 181 (6.4%, -2.4%), Independent M 180 (6.4%), UKIP 164 (5.8%, -10.5%), Green 122 (4.3%, -2.7%)
Tower Hamlets LBC, Stepney Green: Lab 1643 (42.1%, +4.1%), Independent THF* 1472(37.7%, -4.9%), Green 272 (7.0%, -1.7%), UKIP 203 (5.2%, -2.9%), Con 158 (4.0%, -0.4%), Lib Dem 111 (2.9%, -0.3%), Something New 40 (1.0%). Labour gain from Tower Hamlets First.
* Tower Hamlets First was deregistered by the Electoral Commission earlier this year on the grounds that 'THF was not operating a responsible financial scheme and the running of the party did not follow the documentation given in the party's registration.'
And most notably, the Tower Hamlets Mayoral re-run (first preferences):
Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrats, 2152 (3.2%)
John Biggs, Labour, 27255 (40.0%)
Andy Erlam, Red Flag-Anti Corruption, 1758 (2.6%)
John Foster, Green Party, 2678 (3.9%)
Peter Golds, Conservative, 5940 (8.7%)
Vanessa Hudson, Animal Welfare Party, 305 (0.45%)
Hafiz Khadir, Independent, 316 (0.5%)
Rabina Khan, Independent (ex-Tower Hamlets First), 25763 (37.8%)
Nicholas McQueen, UKIP, 1669 (2.45%)
Mohammed Motiur Rahman Nanu, Independent, 292 (0.4%)
On second preferences, John Biggs received 5499 to Rabina Khan's 621, meaning that John Biggs was elected, returning the Mayoralty of Tower Hamlets to Labour, and Tower Hamlets council was also returned to Labour control following their win of the Stepney Green by-election.
The result in Wyre Forest shows that the Independent Care and Health Concern Group is slowly but surely losing its influence in Kidderminster and the surrounding areas, which is unfortunate for community politics given that for many years before their 1990s meltdown the Conservatives regularly controlled Wyre Forest council and its predecessors (and in fact after an all-out election with boundary changes, the Conservatives have regained control of Wyre Forest despite only polling 38% of the vote in said election). With former MP Richard Taylor having finished fourth in the Wyre Forest constituency and with only two councillors remaining in Wyre Forest, their future looks bleak, as does that of the continuing Liberal Party within Wyre Forest (only Fran Oborski was re-elected amongst Wyre Forest's Liberals).
Meanwhile, in Sutton, the Liberal Democrats' increased share of the vote is a welcome sigh of relief for them, having lost six constituencies in London out of the seven they held in 2010. The Conservatives' closing of the gap is largely down to many UKIP voters returning to the fold (their presence in 2014 was boosted by simultaneous European elections) despite UKIP having good visibility in Sutton as their recent parliamentary results showed in both Sutton & Cheam and Carshalton & Wallington.
Amidst all the controversy of the Tower Hamlets Mayoral contest re-run, there is some good news for the Green Party: we beat UKIP this time around in both the Mayoral election and the local by-election, although I suspect tactical voting by UKIP voters wanting to prevent allies of Lutfur Rahman being elected may have been responsible, since we sadly did not retain our deposit in this re-run when we did in the 2014 election that was declared void. I must say it was unfortunate that Rabina Khan failed to stop Labour's return, because John Biggs made it clear he could not guarantee the left-leaning promises once made by Lutfur, which Rabina intended to carry on were she elected.
In other news, I would like to categorically state, in response to comments in the New Statesman by Darren Hall in an article by Tim Wigmore, that our left-wing and socially friendly policies actually helped us in recent elections, particularly where many left-leaning Labour voters once voted tactically for the Liberal Democrats-after all, many people in Britain still want a return to public railways and publicly-owned utilities. We have also been able to make substantial progress in the South West as well. Also, we are not to blame for a Conservative victory in any way-the failure of mainstream, so-called 'opposition' parties was. Finally, there is no evidence that Natalie Bennett is intending to stand for Mayor of London next year, and I have not heard of her saying she has plans to run.