Readers, the results of local by-elections featuring Green Party candidates this week were as follows:
Fife UA, Dunfermline North: SNP 1166 (43.5%, +11.9%), Labour 719 (29.6%, -18.7%), Conservative 304 (12.5%, +5.9%), Liberal Democrat 230 (9.5%, -4.1%), Green 63 (2.6%), UKIP 58 (2.4%). SNP elected at stage 2.
Fife UA, Rosyth: SNP 1214 (45.2%, +9.4%), Lab 926 (34.5%, -13.2%), Con 245 (9.1%, +3.3%), Lib Dem 97 (3.6%, -3.5%), UKIP 88 (3.3%, +0.7%), Independent 66 (2.5%), Green 51 (1.9%). SNP elected at stage 2.
Newport UA, Bettws: Independent (Janet Cleverly): 336 (31.8%), Lab 294 (27.9%, -10.3%), Independent (James Jordan) 275 (26.1%),Con 114 (10.8%), Green 29 (2.7%), Lib Dem 7 (0.7%). Independent gain from Labour.
Lancaster DC, Carnforth & Millhead: Con 545 (54.9%, +8.5%), Lab 320 (32.3%, -3.3%), Green 52 (5.2%, -12.8%), Lib Dem 38 (3.8%), UKIP 37 (3.7%).
Wiltshire UA, Salisbury St Edmund & Milford: Con 425 (36.7%, +13.7%), Lib Dem 262 (20.9%, -22.1%), Lab 232 (20.0%, +5.6%), Green 215 (18.6%, +11.0%), Independent 45 (3.9%). Conservative gain from Liberal Democrat.
Our good result in Wiltshire shows that we are continuing to move onwards and upwards in the South West and Cornwall, and absorb much of the vote that used to rally behind the Liberal Democrats in their pre-coalition days. The absence of UKIP in the Wiltshire by-election also helped the Conservatives to a considerable extent, given how UKIP cost the Conservatives large numbers of council seats (and control of several councils) in 2013 (when Wiltshire UA last had local elections). We were squeezed substantially in Carnforth & Millhead by the Conservatives and Labour (both parties have substantial support in that ward).
The Autumn Statement was released three days ago, and as expected from a statement by George Osborne, there are so many things wrong with it. The cuts to DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), to Dft (Department for Transport), and to Communities and Local Government in particular show the Conservatives' disregard for people and planet, especially with planned tax breaks for shale gas. Rises in defence spending at the expense of other important departments (such as Culture, Media and Sport) are not necessary either especially when scrapping Trident alone can stop cuts to so many other departments, and the Cabinet Office does not need any extra money either.
As for loans for part-time and postgraduate students contained in the Autumn 2015 statement, beware-the interest rates on such proposed loans are not yet known!