IS THERE A LABOUR SURGE?

A recent article in Tribune claimed that: “Big swings to Labour are being reported in a number of council by-elections since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the party.” As far as it goes, it’s certainly true that some swings to Labour in local authority by-elections have been good, but the article then goes on to claim “Labour’s surge in membership at grassroots level is starting to pay off in getting councillors re-elected and in one case gaining a seat.” And that masks a somewhat more complex truth about the current electoral situation.

In the last month there have been 21 local authority by-elections. In three Labour didn’t stand: Hellingly (Wealden), Chatteris (Cambridgeshire) and Aird & Loch Ness (Highlands) and one, Bolsover South, was previously an uncontested Labour seat so change figures are meaningless.

That leaves seventeen contested local authority by-elections in the last month. In those by-elections Labour’s vote went up in nine and down in eight.

Increase Decrease
4.8 -9
1.1 -2.1
12.7 -24.1
1.9 -5.7
4.7 -4.3
2.1 -12.9
9 -3.7
3.7 -1
1.3
Average 4.6 -7.85

So there have been some good results and some bad results. Overall the bad results have been slightly worse than the good results (but the sample is somewhat skewed by one very bad result in Risedale in Barrow in Furness).

To put this in further context, here’s the Conservative performances in the same period – their vote increased in thirteen by-elections and fell in seven – and while the average where their vote decreased is very slightly higher than Labour losses (like Labour, the Conservative results are somewhat skewed by a single very bad result in Hellingly (Wealden) which they lost on a big swing to the Lib Dems) their average increase, where their vote went up, is significantly higher than any “Corbyn-effect” in the Labour results.

It’s also worth noting that while Labour is the party that’s experienced the massive expansion in membership “at grassroots level” it was the Tories, not Labour, who managed to stand a candidate in every single local authority by-election this month.

Increase Decrease
9.8 -13.7
5.4 -30.3
23.1 -0.3
19 -1.8
10.2 -4.9
5.6 -1.4
6.6 -4.4
5.8
2.2
8.3
0.1
1.4
7
Average 8.0 8.1

There’s not much point lying to ourselves, the picture in by-elections (not polls but where people actually go out to vote) is, at best, mixed. At worst, you can probably draw the conclusion that, in the most recent by-elections, we’ve lost some ground to the Conservatives since the last time those council elections were held.

Hope is one thing, wilful self-delusion is something quite different.

 

Below are is a full list of the by-election results in the last month – courtesy of the Britain Elects Twitter account – so you can check my workings if you like.

Huntly, Strathbogie & Howe of Alford (Aberdeenshire) result: CON: 36.3% (+9.8) SNP: 35.4% (+0.7) LD: 22.9% (+4.7) LAB: 4.8% (+4.8) LBT: 0.5%

Clifton-with-Maidenway (Torbay) result: LDEM – 69.2% (+39.3) CON – 14.8% (-13.7) UKIP – 10.0% (-9.7) LAB – 3.3% (-9.0) GRN – 2.7% (-6.8)

Hellingly (Wealden) result: LDEM – 69.9% (+35.0) CON – 17.7% (-30.3) IND – 12.3% (+12.3)

West (Peterborough) result: CON – 46.4% (+5.4) LAB – 29.4% (-2.1) UKIP – 16.4% (-3.0) LDEM – 4.1% (-4.0) GRN – 3.7% (+3.7)

Risedale (Barrow in Furness) result: LAB – 53.0% (-24.1) UKIP – 23.9% (+1.0) CON – 23.1% (+23.1)

Shenfield (Brentwood) result: CON: 57.4% (+19.0) LDEM: 32.5% (-11.2) UKIP: 5.7% (-8.1) LAB: 3.3% (-0.7) GRN: 1.1% (+1.1)

Euxton North (Chorley) result: LAB – 57.3% (+12.7) CON – 36.4% (-0.3) UKIP – 6.3% (-12.4)

Chandler’s Ford (Hampshire) result: CON – 49.3% (+10.2) LDEM – 35.5% (+3.8) UKIP – 8.5% (-13.3) LAB – 6.8% (+1.9)

Bryanston (W’minster) result: CON: 49.7% (-1.8) N2W: 18.6% (+18.6) LAB: 14.3% (-5.7) GRN: 9.9% (-6.4) LD: 3.9% (-8.3) UKIP: 3.6% (+3.6)

Sonning Common (South Oxfordshire) result: CON – 66.0% (+5.6) LAB – 20.8% (+4.7) LDEM – 13.2% (+2.5)

Dedham & Langham (Colchester) result: CON – 77.9% (+6.6) UKIP – 8.6% (+8.6) LDEM – 8.1% (-1.5) LAB – 5.4% (-4.3)

Northfield Brook (Oxford) result: LAB – 77.9% (+2.1) UKIP – 9.2% (+9.2) CON – 7.2% (-4.9) GRN – 4.3% (-7.7) TUSC – 1.4% (+1.4)

Southwark (South Camberwell) result: LAB – 57.9% (+9.0) GRN – 20.5% (-1.3) LDEM – 10.4% (+2.3) CON – 9.3% (-1.4) APP – 1.8% (-2.7)

Chatteris (Cambridgeshire) result: UKIP – 41.0% (+6.2) CON – 40.3% (+5.8) LDEM – 18.7% (-2.6)

Howgate (Cumbria) result: LAB – 47.6% (-12.9) CON – 33.2% (+2.2) UKIP – 19.2% (+19.2)

Aird & Loch Ness (Highland) 1st prefs: LDEM – 33.5% (+21.1) SNP – 32.5% (+4.6) CON – 15.2% (+8.3) IND – 9.5% (+9.5) GRN – 9.3% (+9.3)

Sandford & the Wittenhams (South Oxfordshire) result: CON – 42.8% (-4.4) LDEM – 36.7% (+16.4) LAB – 13.1% (-3.7) GRN – 7.4% (-8.3)

Totnes (South Hams) result: GRN – 30.1% (-3.4) LDEM – 29.5% (+12.1) LAB – 22.8% (+3.7) CON – 14.2% (+0.1) IND – 3.3% (+3.3)

Goldsworth East (Woking) result: LDEM – 37.8% (-1.7) CON – 35.8% (+1.4) LAB – 16.7% (-1.0) UKIP – 9.8% (+1.3)

Goldsworth West (Woking) result: CON – 40.0% (+7.0) LDEM – 38.0% (+0.4) LAB – 11.4% (+1.3) UKIP – 10.6% (-8.6)

Bolsover South (Bolsover) result: LAB – 42.5% (+42.5) UKIP – 23.3% (+23.3) CON – 20.0% (+20.0) TUSC – 14.3% (+14.3)

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One Response to IS THERE A LABOUR SURGE?

  1. Adam hyde says:

    Very interesting to see all the results in one place& the averages look good for Lab. However I’d say it fits the expected local trend: Lab significantly up in safe wards, but on average steady or moderately down in target wards. This is the least useful local distribution of votes from the national polls for Lab: increasing majority in safe seats doesn’t win an election.

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