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Huge boost for Labour in latest council by-elections

Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government
Friday 11th December 2009 - 10:08am

Huge boost for Labour in latest council by-elections Huge boost for Labour in latest council by-elections

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Labour received a huge boost in the first electoral test after Chancellor Alistair Darling's Pre-Budget Report.

The party made four gains in the latest council by-elections - two from the Tories, one from the BNP and one from the Liberal Democrats.

The Tories also lost one to the Lib Dems.

On the showing so far, the Conservatives could also face further defeat in a Scottish council contest counting today.

Conservatives lost at Wyke Regis, Weymouth and Portland Borough to Labour's Kate Wheller.

The borough is in the marginal Dorset South constituency of Work and Pensions minister Jim Knight.

Labour also gained on finely balanced Wyre Forest District Council, Worcestershire when James Shaw won at Areley Kings. Conservatives dropped to third place behind Independent Community and Health Concern.

The third gain came from the BNP at Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough, Warwickshire with the triumph of Labour's Ian Lloyd at Camp Hill.

The party's Alexander Crawford won from Liberal Democrats at Heron Wood, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

But Lib Dem's Kirstie Clish-Green gained from Tories at Tavistock South, West Devon Borough.

If this week's trends were repeated over the coming months it would transform the political landscape in the general election run-up.

As a result of the Wyke Regis by-election, Tories have lost their overall majority on Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

They now have 18 of the 36 councillors but the mayor is Labour's Anne Kenwood, who is also another councillor for the ward.

Analysis of eight comparable results suggest a projected nationwide lead for Labour over the Conservatives of 2.4%.

RESULTS:

Bedford Borough - Kingsbrook: Lib Dem 661, Lab 370, C 150, Ind 85, Ind 73. (June 2009 - Two seats Lib Dem 866, 861, Lab 452, 412, C 381, 293, Green 173, 170). Lib Dem hold. Swing 1.1% Lib Dem to Lab.

East Dunbartonshire Council - Bearsden South: Counting today. (May 2007 - Three seats C 1654, Lab 1305, SNP 1294, Lib Dem 1094, 695, Ind 387, Green 349).

Hastings Borough - St Helens: C 609, Lab 550, Lib Dem 210, BNP 93, English Democrats 36. (May 2008 - C 994, Lab 412, Lib Dem 293). C hold. Swing 15.1% C to Lab.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough - Camphill: Lab 670, BNP 478, C 275. (May 2008 - BNP 675, Lab 562, C 541, Socialist 88). Lab gain from BNP. Swing 9.8% BNP to Lab.

Peterborough City - West: C 1252, Lab 341, Lib Dem 224, Ukip 177, English Democrats 93, Green 58. (May 2008 - C 1683, Ind 758, Lab 466, Green 99, Lib Dem 93). C hold. Swing 1.6% Lab to C.

Rushmoor Borough - Heron: Lab 437, Lib Dem 354, C 259. (May 2008 - Lib Dem 564, Lab 404, C 380). Lab gain from Lib Dem. Swing 9.8% Lib Dem to Lab.

West Devon District - Tavistock: Lib Dem 523, C 450, Ind 170. (May 2007 - Two seats Ind 1051, C 685, 642, Ind 593, Lib Dem 325, 292). Lib Dem gain from C. Swing 13% C to Lib Dem.

Westminster London Borough - Queen's Park: Lab 814, C 211, Green 152, Lib Dem 123. (May 2006 - Lab 1156, 1114, 1113, C 660, 644, 563, Lib Dem 388, 365, 356). Lab hold. Swing 11.3% C to Lab.

Weymouth and Portland Borough - Wyke Regis: Lab 579, C 486, Lib Dem 268, Citizen's Action Party 111. (May 2008 - C 1036, Lab 589). Lab gain from C. Swing 17% C to Lab.

Wyre Forest Borough - Areley Kings: Lab 544, Ind Community and Health Concern 421, C 394, Ukip 63. (May 2008 - C 666, Lab 621, Ind Community and Health Concern 552, Liberal 54). Lab gain from C. Swing 6.5% C to Lab.

The result at Bearsden South, East Dunbartonshire, saw the Tories lose the seat to the Liberal Democrats despite increasing their first count vote share by 9% - by far their best performance this week.

This is a perverse effect of the single transferable vote proportional representation system used for councils north of the border.

When there is a by-election it effectively becomes the alternative vote system which some people do not regard as proportional.

East Dunbartonshire Council - Bearsden South: First count - C 1261, Lib Dem 1110, SNP 783, Lab 626. (May 2007 - Three seats First count C 1654, Lab 1305, SNP 1294, Lib Dem 1094, 695, Ind 387, Green 349. Elected C 1, Lib Dem 1, SNP 1). Lib Dem gain from C. Swing 3% Lib Dem to C.

The effect of the surprise Tory swing in the Scottish contest wipes out Labour's projected nationwide lead.

The fresh calculation based on nine comparable results gives the Conservatives a knife edge projected margin of just 0.4% - still much too close for comfort for David Cameron at this stage.



 

Comments

Glasgow Voter

Commented 3 days ago

Commenting on the Bearsden South result, you wrote:
"This is a perverse effect of the single transferable vote proportional representation system used for councils north of the border."

This statement is wrong. The result is perverse, but that is NOT an effect of the STV-PR voting system. It is a direct result of the decision made by the Scottish Parliament about how casual vacancies should be filled.

In any council elected by any PR system, holding a by-election for one seat over a whole ward is likely to produce a perverse result, no matter what voting system is used. But there are other ways of filling casual vacancies that would not disturb the proportionality.

With STV-PR the original ballot papers could be counted again, passing over the candidate who had caused the casual vacancy. The vacant seat would be filled by the candidate who would next have been elected had the candidate who cause the casual vacancy never stood. This is done in Malta where STV-PR is used.

Or the party that had held the now vacant seat could be invited to nominate another candidate.

Or the council could fill the vacant seat by unanimous co-option. This is done in Northern Ireland where the District Councils are elected by STV-PR.


You also say that "some people" do not regard the Alternative Vote (STV for a single seat) as proportional. The fact is that the Alternative Vote is NOT a PR voting system. Like FPTP, the Alternative Vote will give a proportional result only by chance. To ensure proportionality, several members must be elected together from each ward or constituency. The greater the number elected together, the more proportional the result will be.

Wilfred Day

Commented 3 days ago

"When there is a by-election STV effectively becomes the alternative vote system which some people do not regard as proportional."

Correctly stated: AV "which is not, and does not purport to be, proportional." Which is why AV has a perverse effect in Scottish by-elections.

Glasgow Voter

Commented 2 days ago

Wilfred, you are (deliberately ?) missing the point when you write:
"Which is why AV has a perverse effect in Scottish by-elections."

It is not AV that has a perverse effect in Scottish by-elections - it is the holding of a by-election at all that has the perverse effect.

When there is a casual vacancy for one seat only in a PR multi-seat ward, ANY voting system is likely to produce a perverse effect in relation to the overall proportionality.

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