Sunday, 21 December 2014

Local Council By-Election Results 2014

Party
Number of candidates
Total vote
%
+/- 
2013
Average/
contest
+/- 
2013
+/- Seats
Conservative
         297
157,415
  29.1%
+2.7%
     530
 +106
  -13
Labour
         276
157,252
  29.1%
 -3.2%
     570
    -13
   +2
LibDem
         199
  61,786
  11.4%
 -0.4%
     310
   +39
   +7
UKIP
         209
  81,109
  15.0%
+0.7%
     388
   +51
   +8
SNP*
           15
  14,782
     2.7%
+0.0%
     985
   +18
     0
Plaid Cymru**
             7
    2,428
     0.4%
+0.0%
     347
   +89
   +1
Green
         125
  25,149
     4.7%
+1.5%
     201
   +50
   +4
BNP
             3
       402
     0.2%
 -0.1%
     134
   +67
     0
TUSC
           31
   1,593 
     0.3%
 -0.1%
       51
    -11
    0
Independent***
         106
  31,531
     5.8%
+0.0%
     297
   +43
    -4
Other****
           30
    6,765
     1.3%
 -0.9%
     225
   +41
    -5

*There were 15 by-elections in Scotland.
**There were 14 by-elections in Wales, seven of which were contested by Plaid Cymru.
***There were multiple independent clashes this year.
****There were multiple clashes in the same contests.

Overall 540,212 votes were cast over 303 individual local authority (tier one and tier two) contests. Fractions are rounded to one decimal place for percentages, and the nearest whole number for averages.

With the polls all over the place at the time of writing, it's poetic that the summary of this year's local council by-elections almost have the two main parties on a dead heat. Though one should look at the trend. The first half of 2014 had Labour in the lead consistently, with the pendulum swinging the other way as we approached year's end. Confusingly, this is at odds with this week's polling that shows modest to strong swings to Labour. In other words, there's a lot of volatility about at the moment.

Yet these results don't reflect much of that at all. Compared with 2013 the swing to the Tories from Labour is very modest indeed. And look elsewhere. In the year UKIP supposedly swept all before it their by-election points have increased less than a percentage point. And while poll after poll has the LibDems pirouetting into the abyss, consistently they have done better in actual flesh and blood elections. Look at the nationalist parties too. They've stayed rooted to the spot. Not surprising in Plaid's case but the SNP's? 15 contests, same number as last year, and seemingly little impact of their surging poll numbers. The average is static too. The shape of things to come? 

After the Tories, the biggest winners are the Greens. They have had a very good year, and Natalie Bennet deserves full credit for skilfully navigating the ship toward the sunlit uplands of electoral radicalism while avoiding the swamp of Brighton Council. But how soft is this vote? While their numbers here are lower than reported polling scores, it's worth noting that if their contest average was played out across as many seats as the Tories contested they would be on 11% of ballots cast, assuming all seats are equal, of course. Which they are not. 

One of this year's unmitigated goods has been the final collapse of the BNP. Contesting just three by-elections is a proper poor showing. Never say never in politics, but it's almost impossible to see how they can make their way back to the menace they presented in 2009. I'll be keeping an eye on them in the New Year, but as far as the results table are concerned they're going to be relegated to the 'Other' division. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Quarter Four Local By-Election Results 2014

Party
Number of candidates
Total vote
%
+/- 
Q2
Average/
contest
+/- 
Q3
+/- Seats
Conservative
          72
36,322
  29.0%
+0.9%
     504
 +115
   +1
Labour
          67
29,952
  23.9%
 -2.5%
     447
   +57
    -4
LibDem
          44
13,440
  10.7%
 -3.6%
     305
   +18
   +3
UKIP
          60
23,648
  18.9%
+3.7%
     394
 +124
   +3
SNP*
            6
  7,200
     5.8%
+5.1%
  1,200
 +605
   +3
Plaid Cymru**
            3
     702
     0.6%
 -0.1%
     351
 +123
   +1
Green
          32
  3,257
     2.6%
 -1.6%
     102
      -9
     0
BNP
            1
       17
     0.0%
+0.0%
       17
    -41
     0
TUSC
            8
     219 
     0.2%
+0.1%
       27
     +8
    0
Independent***
          31
  9,121
     7.3%
+1.0%
     294
   +87
    -2
Other****
            7
 1,248
     1.0%
 -3.0%
     178
 -119
    -5

* There were six by-elections in Scotland.
** There were five by-elections in Wales.
*** There were three contests with independent clashes this quarter.
**** 'Other' this quarter were Justice (10), OMRLP (27) EngDem (5), Derwentside Ind (655), Canvey Island Ind (323), Community Action (29) and Lincolnshire Independents (199).

125,126 votes were cast over 75 individual local authority (tier one and tier two) contests. Fractions are rounded to one decimal place for percentages, and the nearest whole number for averages. You can compare these with Quarter Three 2014's results here.

So we enter the official long campaign with a set of local election numbers not looking too hot for Labour. On all the metrics it trails the Tories. The polls these last few days may place Labour in a healthier position, but these snapshots are real votes and the difference cannot be accounted for in terms of disproportionate numbers of contests being held in Conservative-tinged areas. This quarter has been that of the SNP surge, and there's no doubt they've ate part way into Labour's numbers. The Greens don't appear to have done however, despite the threat they are said to pose the party. Clearly there is no room for complacency.

UKIP are also doing extremely well. We shall see if their support starts dropping away as the election proper looms ever closer. Also of note, this is the third quarter in a row the Greens have out-organised the Independents. The significant membership growth is making a difference, though not having a hue impact on vote shares ... yet.