Friday, 4 December 2015

My analysis and thoughts on the Oldham West & Royton by-election (and also local by-elections)

Readers, the result at the Oldham West & Royton by-election came in relatively early for a Parliamentary by-election (1.15 am), and it was as follows:

Sir Oink A Lot (real name Sean Alec Jones), Official Monster Raving Loony Party, 141 votes (0.5%).

John Bickley, UKIP, 6487 (23.4%, +2.8%)

Jane Brophy, Liberal Democrats, 1024 (3.7%, +0.0%)

James Daley, Conservative, 2596 (9.4%, -9.6%)

Simeon Hart, Green Party, 249 (0.9%, -1.0%)

Jim McMahon, Labour, 17,209 (62.1%, +7.3%).

All UKIP's campaigning effort, smearing of Labour, and taking advantage of the right-wing media's attacks of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, ultimately came to nothing. UKIP's campaign did have some effect, though-the Conservative vote share was halved and the Liberal Democrats failed to take back protest votes that had gone over to UKIP at the 2015 general election. In fact, Labour increased its majority in percentage terms despite not having significant numbers of Lib Dem or Green voters left to win over tactically. This is probably also attributable to the fact their candidate was local and knew the area well (Jim McMahon is leader of Oldham council, and also has working-class roots being a truck driver's son) whereas John Bickley, despite nearly having won the Heywood & Middleton by-election, is not local and is becoming more of a carpetbagger for UKIP.

Not only did the Lib Dems lose their deposit again, they also made no progress at all in terms of vote share, and this may likely be the case in future by-elections where they are no longer remotely competitive or never really have been. I was particularly disappointed, though, in how we Greens lost half our vote share even though the aforementioned Jim McMahon was not on the left, unlike the late Michael Meacher, his predecessor, and even though we have been doing reasonably well in spite of Labour (or at least that part loyal to Jeremy Corbyn) moving leftwards. Amazingly, despite Oldham West & Royton being a very safe Labour seat and despite the fact it is December and therefore very cold outside, by-election turnout only dropped to 40% from 60% (somewhat below average).

Here are results of local by-elections which featured Green Party candidates which polled on the same day as Oldham West & Royton:

Newham LBC, Boleyn: Lab 1440 (72.1%, +7.9%), Lib Dem 181 (9.1%), Con 171 (8.6%, -12.4%), Green 117 (5.9%), UKIP 78 (3.5%), Independent 10 (0.5%).

Shropshire UA, Meole: Con 490 (43.1%, -11.8%), Lab 303 (26.7%, -11.0%), Lib Dem 223 (19.6%, +12.3%), UKIP 64 (5.6%), Green 56 (4.9%).

We had not stood in either of those wards last time they had an election (which occurred in each case before the Green surge), and neither is particularly favourable territory for us nor are they marginal. I am therefore pleased for our performance there, and it should make up at least a little bit for our lacklustre performance in Oldham West & Royton. I would like to reiterate that we should be present in all parliamentary by-elections whether we are weak or strong in the area, in the same way the other four major parties in the UK do.

Incidentally on the subject of by-elections, it has just been revealed that two current MPs (who have not been named) are facing police investigations over their expenses, so keep a look out for one or two potential by-elections in the coming year.


1 comment:

  1. I think the result speaks volumes the electorate don't want to vote for Left for left sake terrorist sympathisers, the sort of people Ms Bennett has appointed to the Green Party of England Executive. Jim McMahon won Oldham West for being a good candidate NOT a Corbynite Leftie and was help by local activist and MP's. I know for a fact Andrew Gwynne worked hard on the campaign and he supported Andrew Burnham leadership as did I. This election is more a testimony to hard working activists and grassroots politics something Labour and especially Co.Operative Party are exceptionally good at.