Oxton - results Election Candidate Party Votes % Orod Osanlou Liberal Democrats 1666 68% Elected Sue Mahoney Labour 460 19% Not elected Philip Graham Merry Conservative 168 7% Not elected Mary Rachel Elizabeth Heydon Green Party 147 6% Not elected
Pretty good night for the Conservatives all things considered.
Sir Nicholas Soames on Leader of the House Jacob Rees Mogg : ‘an absolute fraud, a living example of what a moderately cut double-breasted suit and a decent tie can do with an ultra-posh voice and a bit of ginger stuck up his arse.’
When I was writing my profiles for the West Midlands industrial towns, one of the conundrums was the contrast between local elections and parliamentary elections. Was the sharp swing to the Conservatives going to lead to a permenent shift in allegiances, which would show up in local elections, or was it just a temporary flare due to the national focus on leaving the EU?
It’s now I think clear from 2 years run of local elections - not just last May when the vaccine boost was at its height, but in cumulative by-elections, that the former was true, and the shift in allegiances can best be seen as permanent. The result in Bar Pool - a heavily deprived council estate seat - coupled with the massacre of Labour in Nuneaton & Bedworth last May, leads to the conclusion that Labour is out for at least a generation in places like this. The result in Knutton (not actually the same sort of place, but also historically a working class bastion for Labour) points the same way.
It’s hard to see Conservatives being able to maintain their grip in places like this, as their normal responsiveness to the well off, and dislike of public services, reasserts itself. I would expect to see a British version of the AFD (and its similar manifestations elsewhere) to grow rapidly, and take over local representation. Much more likely than a revival of Labour I fear. We already saw signs of this in the 2016 surge of UKIP, the problem there being that many of those elected knew nothing about and showed little interest in local services, but descended into recriminations, and factional fighting quite quickly. The handful of councils run by UKIP were universally a shambles. But there is no necessity in this. A different sort of party more locally focused and less obsessed by foreign affairs could achieve a lot of success.
Yes, if you want to find somewhere "typically Conservative" you might think rural Tunbridge Wells would be the ultimate. And guess what was happening there?
Someone is getting angry?
At least you avoided the usual Tunbridge Wells cliche. My point though was to emphasise the rural bit. The Tories have for some time largely collapsed in Tunbridge Wells itself at local government level, but they remain pretty strong in the surrounding villages. They are at risk to a localist candidate if other opposing parties stand down. In this one Lib Dems and Greens stood aside, and Labour stood but their vote halved, so TWA won, in the end reasonably comfortably, even in a situation where the Conservatives fielded the daughter of the deceased ex-councillor, a ploy often worth a sympathy vote or two.
Knowing the area very well, I never thought I’d read the words ‘ Conservatives gain Knutton from Labour’ . Knutton is about as far from ‘typically Conservative’ as you could imagine.
Just as interesting is the turnout in this contest (and many other recent by-elections). 18% at Knutton looks like a 'gain' for the "couldn't care", "not interested", "plague on both your houses" brigade. Or, does it speak more to the parlous state of local political party organisation? In theory, it shouldn't have been too difficult for both Labour and the Tories to 'flood' the area with activists in this small ward with little over 2,000 electors: a turnout of at least 35% should have been possible.
At Bryn (Wigan, but a much larger ward) turnout was also dire at 15%. If possible, I think we should closely track turnouts in our by-election results threads, noting the change in much the same way as we do party share.
I agree. If Labour were as strong in London as they appear to be they shouldn't have had any trouble in what has become a pretty safe ward for them. Just putting it down to 'circumstances' seems risky and could lead to complacency come May 2022.
Seeing a failure as a win is what did for Corbyn after 2017, and this by-election result should come with a similar warning.