Friday, 23 October 2015

My analysis of local by-election results from 22 October 2015

Readers, the results of yesterday's local by-elections that featured Green candidates were as follows:

Bury MBC, Tottington: Conservative 1046 (52.2%, +3.4%), Labour 619 (30.9%, +2.0%), UKIP 198 (9.9%, -4.4%), Lib Dem 87 (4.3%, +0.8%), Green 54 (2.7%, -1.8%). Conservative gain from Labour, all changes are since 2012.
Oxford BC, Northfield Brook: Lab 509 (77.9%, +7.0%), UKIP 60 (9.2%), Con 47 (7.2%, -4.3%), Green 28, (4.2%, -7.0%), TUSC 9 (1.4%).

Westminster LBC, Bryanston & Dorset Square: Con 582 (49.7%, -1.8%), Baker Street No Two Ways 218 (18.6%), Lab 167 (14.3%, -5.7%), Green 116 (9.9%, -6.4%), Lib Dem 46 (3.9%, -8.3%), UKIP 42 (3.6%).

The last of the three above by-elections is particularly notable due to the publicity of the issue of two-way traffic being implemented on Baker Street, reported for having the potential to cause traffic chaos according to local media. It was strong enough in fact for an independent to register a new political party specifically for that single issue, which partly explains why it was not only us that lost out-the Labour and Liberal Democrat votes fell significantly as well due to progressive voters (and a few Conservative voters, although keep in mind that turnout in central London at election time is generally relatively low). I personally believe there not to be a good reason for a resdesign of Baker Street to be open to two-way traffic, and the £15 million cost of this proposal is hardly justifiable given the number of councils facing yet more sharp cuts to their budgets.

Worryingly, there was another significant swing from Green to Labour (7.1%), even if in a ward that is generally heavily Labour anyway (the Independent Working Class Association, once challengers to Labour in safe working-class wards, is long gone in Oxford). As for the Tottington by-election, it is worth noting that even in the mid-1990s Conservative nadir this ward elected Conservative councillors, and the main reason that Labour made a gain here in 2012 in the first place was due to a local scandal in the Bury borough (six other Conservative wards in Bury were lost to Labour that year as well).

One important thing from these elections is how useful it is to be focused on local issues when campaigning in elections (especially by-elections), an area that has been a Green Party strength for many years.


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