Moon Editorial – The politics of 2018


Reflections of the Moon

2017 was a crazy year in politics. It began with Theresa May in total control, calling an election that looked like a landslide and ended in failure as she lost her majority and ended up relying on the DUP to stay in Number 10. She regained some control at the end of the year with a successful end to the first phase Brexit deal and the polls showing the Conservatives statistically tied with Labour, when given the upheaval, you would expect Labour to be marching miles ahead. Much of the reason they are not has to do with their leader, who despite doing better than expected in the election, is a long way still from proving he is actually electable.

So what of 2018. The pattern could follow the same as the last six months. It will be dominated by Brexit yet again. There will be gamesmanship on both sides with at times May looking very weak. Then as time moves on and the March 2019 deadline looms, we will probably end up with a deal late in the day yet again. Whatever red lines are being thrown around now, it is likely to be a Norway style transition until December 2020, followed by a permanent Canada style deal, with some details tweaked. And yes, free movement may well stay until 2020, those with a problem with that will of course squeal if it happens. The base will be that little will change in relation to the Single Market aspects of the EU, but we will leave the rest of the EU’s activities (Which don’t forget accounts for roughly 80% of EU law)

This year will also see the completion of the withdrawal bill. The likely pattern is the Lords will pass a small number of amendments, will be rejected or a compromise found to allow the Lords to back down on the rest in the end. The bill should be passed and ready to be enacted into law by March 2019. 

In May the local elections will likely give Labour something of a boost. This year’s local elections are heavily biased towards urban cities and London, where if General Election patterns are sustained, scope for some major gains for Labour are possible.At local level signs the Lib Dems are recovering are also showing in local by election results, There is scope in London for them to recover ground lost during the tuition fee row years. t could be a tough night for the Conservatives, given the terrain which the elections will be fought, coming close to holding what they have would be a success.

Elsewhere housing will likely be the biggest focus but it is an area with no easy answers. Will action match the talk? Time will tell. Michael Gove will also continue his campaign to make the Tories take more notice of animal welfare issues. This is a good thing from a Conservative point of view, the specter of a Fox Hunting vote and the suggestion of backtracking on the Ivory pledge definitely lost the Tories key votes in June. 

Overall barring some big totally unexpected event it will likely be a fairly quiet year and I expect the polling to look much the same at the end of it as it does now, with no General Election and no change of leadership. What is more exciting is to watch the development of the influx of young Tories who are leading a social media fight back. Where will they take this in 2018, hopefully even further getting more people involved still to fight the barrage of hatred and abuse and Fake News that is the hallmark of Labour’s social media machine that needs desperately to be taken on and defeated.

2018 is in some ways the start of a five year cycle that will determine a lot about the future of Britain for a long time to come. While the window for those who want to stop Brexit looks small, it being done or not will have much longer effects. Then comes the next General Election, assuming it is in 2022, who will take control of post Brexit Britain, the Conservatives or the Hard left of Corbyn’s Labour, in a world where many more powers will be available to the winner, will also have long term consequences for the country. I have little doubt Britain outside the EU with a Conservative majority Government come 1st January 2023 is the best outcome. 





Moon Of Liberty Elections – by election in Fife



Labour make Scottish Gain in Fife

Only one by election this week in Fife in Scotland. A gain was inevitable as it was an independent who had stood down and there was no independent candidate on this occasion leaving the contest a battle between Labour and the SNP. Recently there has been evidence of a hardening of the Unionist vote behind whomever is best placed to take on the SNP and also evidence in local contests where the single transferable vote is used of Unionists using other preferences to try and beat the SNP.

That trend continued here. Labour had a good lead from 2012 and while the SNP vote was up 17% on the 2012 result and they did take most of the Independent vote, Labour’s vote held up to give them a good lead on first preferences and sure enough, the hardening of unionist vote transfers including from the Conservative, whose vote was up 7% on 2012, was enough to see Labour victorious and make the gain.

This should not be seen as a sign the SNP is doing badly, there vote was still well up more than any other party. But the hardening of the Unionist vote is ensuring the previous sense of SNP invincibility they have had as of late is no longer the default position and that they can be beaten. The result sees little change on the UK Projected share with the Conservatives still 4.2% ahead of Labour. All the latest figures can be found here




BY ELECTION (25/08/2016)

The Lochs (Fife)Lab 1380 SNP 1025 Con 270 Communist 88 Green 45LAB GAIN FROM IND (On Round 4 via STV systems) – Swing n/a as no Ind to defend the seat (Swing between Lab & SNP – Lab-SNP 5.6%)


Moon Of Liberty Elections – Local by Elections 11/08/2016



Local By Elections 11/08

There were three by elections this weekend and in normal circumstances the two in Scotland would have been more excellent news for the SNP and bad news for Labour. The SNP were ahead on first preferences in both with good swings against Labour, while the Conservatives, not competitive in either, continued their improvement in Scotland with an average 8% improvement over the two. However in the North Ayrshire election due to the Single Transferable vote system, Labour overtook the SNP to score a rare gain in Scotland after six rounds in which neither party got over 50%. In contrast the Renfrewshire by elections was a Gain for the SNP, so in terms of victories it is one gain and one loss each. There was one other contest in Worcestershire which was a good result for the Conservatives as the UKIP vote collapsed allowing the Lib Dems into a distant second place.

The results mean the Conservative lead over Labour increases to 5.3% based on local by elections. The Lib Dems dip under 20% due to some weaker showing in Scotland and UKIP are down to 7.4%. All the latest numbers, both national and local can be found here. The breakdown of this weeks by elections is below.




Local Council By Elections 11/08/2016

Irvine West (N Ayrshire) 1st pref – SNP 1164 Lab 1029 Con 693 Soc Lab 131 Green 94 LD 38 – 1st Pref Swing (May 2012) Lab-SNP 3.7% LAB GAIN FROM SNP on round 6 of STV, overtaking the SNP 1st Pref lead.

Renfrew South & Gollowhill (Renfrewshire) 1st pref – SNP 1309 Lab 1012 Con 366 LD 53SNP GAIN FROM LAB – 1st Pref swing (May 2012) Lab-SNP 7.7%

Ormbersley (Worcestershire) – Con 956 LD 224 UKIP 212 Ind 120Con Hold – Swing (May 2013) UKIP-Con 17.2% – LD 3rd-2nd UKIP 2nd-3rd

Moon Of Liberty Elections – By Elections 26-28 July 2016


Local Council By-Elections

Two gains for improving Lib Dems

At local level the Lib Dems can well and truly trumpet their fightback at the moment. They had another excellent week this week making two gains and with vote share increases that has pushed their average projected share above 20% for the the first time since the heady days of Cleggmania in 2015.

The Conservatives share has suffered slightly at the hands of this Lib Dem rise also losing a seat in Cornwall. However the made progress against the Lib Dems in Carshalton and held on against a strong Lib Dem challenge in East Hampshire.The only Conservative verses Labour head to head was in Droitwich where the Tories not only held on but scored a strong swing outperforming their General Election performance confirming recent national opinion polls when it comes to going head to head with Labour.

As for the red team, they were hit everywhere including failing to put up a candidate to defend their seat in Totnes after the meeting to select a candidate apparently ending in farce according to reports. Labour’s national difficulties appear to be showing through in local contests where, Harringey apart, they were hammered with their vote share falling everywhere else this week, including the Droitwich result against the Tories and the Newport result against the Lib Dems, both in normal times you would expect an opposition to be look to be gaining. Both began as marginals and Labour are now even further away than they were from these seats.

The results mean the Tories lead over Labour in projected vote share is up from 2% to 3.7% despite the Tory vote falling a touch due to the Lib Dem rise.This shows the at local level as at national level, it is Labour who are struggling most. All the current numbers/polling etc can be found here. This weeks full results are below.




Local By Elections 26-28 July 2016

By Election 26/07/2016

The Hangers & Forest (E Hampshire)Con 236 LD 227 Justice Party 41 Lab 17Con Hold – Swing n/a as no LD last time.

By Election 27/07/2016

Totnes (South Hams)LD 812 Green 499 Ind 391 Con 197 LD GAIN FROM LAB – Swing n/a as Lab did not defend the seat with a Candidate.

By Elections 28/07/2016

Noolyn & Goonhavern (Cornwall)LD 247 Con 243 Ind 163 Mebyon Kernow 161 Lab 77 Ind 75 Ind 54LD GAIN FROM CON – Swing n/a as no LD candidate last time

Haringey (Harringay)Lab 1054 LD 765 Green 325 Con 99 UKIP 36Lab Hold – Swing (May 2014) Zero between Lab & LD

ST Julian’s (Newport)LD 948 Lab 432 UKIP 156 Con 135 Plaid Cymru 71 Green 25 LD Hold – Swing (May 2012) Lab-LD 15.9%

Carshalton Central (Sutton)LD 1250 Con 1061 Green 211 Lab 176 CPA 29LD Hold – Swing (May 2014) LD-Con 3.2%

Droitwich West (Wychavon)Con 281 Lab 161 UKIP 132 LD 97Con Hold – Swing (May 2015) Lab-Con 6.4%

Projected national UK share (Based on the last 20 local by elections fought by each party)

Con 31.3% Lab 27.6% LD 20.3% UKIP 8.4% SNP 4.4% Green 5.1% – Con lead 3.7%

Moon Of Liberty Elections – By Elections 21/07/2015


Local Council By Elections

11 By Elections on Thursday 21st July 2016

11 by elections took place on Thursday and with the Conservatives defending 7 of them it could have been a difficult night. Ironically the one they lost was one of the least likely on paper with the Lib Dems scoring a superb victory in Northampton from 3rd place last time. The Tories defended the other six seats however with strong vote share with impressive holds against the Lib Dems in Exmouth, East Devon and retaining a real marginal in Lancashire against Labout where Labour only needed a 2.3% swing to gain and failed to do so.

Labour held their two strongholds in London and Plaid Cymru saw off the Lab challenge in Gwynedd easily. UKIP were the big losers, while they were not competitive in any of the by elections where they stood, they were consistently down 5-7% on their General Election day performance and have fallen below 8% on the national projected share for the first time since I began producing these figures. Thursday’s results see the Conservatives lead over Labour on the projected share increase from 1.6% to 2%. All the current election/polling figures can be found here



Warlingham West  (Tandridge)Con 367 LD 218 UKIP 64Con Hold – Swing (May 2016) Con-LD 6.6%

Waunfawr (Gwynedd) Plaid Cymru 358 Lab 114Plaid Cymru Hold – Swing n/a – Plaid vote up 18.6% on May 2012

Hackney Central (Hackney)Lab 1354 Green 178 LD 113 Con 101 Ind 55Lab Hold – Swing (May 2014) Green-Lab 12.1%

Bellingham (Lewisham)Lab 940 Con 302 LD 180 People Before Profit 129 UKIP 104Lab Hold – Swing (May 2012) Lab-Con 1.4%

Southcote (Reading)Lab 934 Con 381 LD 77 Green 66Lab Hold – Swing (May 2016) Lab- Con 0.5%

Westone (Northampton)LD 583 Con 319 Lab 270 LD GAIN FROM CON – Swing (May 2015) Con-LD 32.6% – LD 3rd-1st Lab 2nd-3rd (Down 7%)

Honiton ST Michaels (East Devon)Con 362 E Dev Ind 211 Lab 197 UKIP 140Con Hold – Swing (May 2015) Con-E Dev Ind 1.5%

Balderton South (Newark & Sherwood)Con 483 LD 103Con Hold – Swing n/a – Con vote up 26.4% from May 2015

Exmouth Littleham (East Devon)Con 547 LD 467 Lab 193Con Hold – Swing (May 2015) Con-LD 0.6%

Chorley Rural North (Lancashire)Con 1144 Lab 1042 UKIP 303 LD 125Con Hold – Swing (May 2013) Lab-Con 0.3%

Great Wyrley Town (S Staffs)Con 357 Lab 230 UKIP 114Con Hold Swing (May 2015) Con-Lab 2%

UK Projected share (Based on the last 20 local by elections fought)

Con 32.7% Lab 30.7% LD 18.1% UKIP 7.6% Green 4.4% SNP 4.4%Con Lead 2%


Moon Elections – Launceston Central by-election



Launceston Central by Election

Lib Dems hold on to safe seat with reduced majority

Once again there was only one by election this week. Last we were in the far north of England in Carlisle, this week it is to the deep south-west in Cornwall. The seat is a bit of a rarity these days, a safe Lib Dem seat. Surprisingly Labour did not stand, leaving the Conservatives to try and challenge in a seat the Lib Dems were never going to lose.



By Election 14/01/2016

Launceston Central (Cornwall) – LD 515 Con 226 Green 65 Christian Alliance 12LD Hold – Swing (From May 2013) LD-Con 9.1%

National UK Projected Share (Based on last 20 by elections fought)

Con 36.4% Lab 28.8% LD 17.6% UKIP 9% SNP 3.9% Green 2.3%


Conclusion – Both the Lib Dems and the Tories will be happy. The Lib Dems safely hold the seat and were in no danger of losing it and will use the big win as part of their ‘fightback’ narrative. The Tories have earned a creditable swing to close the gap in second place with their vote share increasing by 10% on 2013 and for future contests Labour will be damaged by not standing and having to start again from scratch.

On the projected vote share, the Tories lead over Labour increases from 7.4% last week to 7.6% as a result of this by election.


By-Elections round up & Com Res poll



There were four by-elections this week. The first, unusually held on a Tuesday in the Orkney’s saw an ‘Orkney manifesto’ candidate elected. It will be interesting to see if this is the start of a trend of island focused candidates/parties taking over from traditional independents who have historically dominated the politics of the North Scottish Islands at local level.

On Thursday saw three by-elections. One in Durham which saw the first outing for the new North-East Party who finished second in Durham but not with enough to worry Labour’s North-East dominance just yet. The other two elections said more about the national picture. With Jeremy Corbyn excitement sweeping Labour, the strategy his supporters put forward of winning back Green and UKIP voters could to an extent be put to a small scale test. One election was in Witney, where the Tories were expected to win and did so, but there was a 20% Green vote for Labour to squeeze. In Cornwall the seat was a defense by UKIP, thus a big UKIP vote for Labour to squeeze if they are serious about winning these votes back.

In both cases Labour failed. The Tories held the Witney seat but it was the Lib Dems to jumped from fourth to second to squeeze these votes, and Labour’s vote actually fell. In Cornwall, the Tories gained the seat and yet again it was the Lib Dems who did a good job at squeezing the UKIP votes, not Labour. If there was excitement from supporters of minor parties about Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader, it could have showed on Thursday, it didn’t



West Mainland (Orkney) Orkney Manifesto 593 Ind 446 Green 115Orkney Manifesto GAIN from Ind – Swing n/a


Shotton & S Hetton (Durham) Lab 595 N-E Party 214 LD 107 UKIP 131 Con 67 Green 19.- Lab Hold – Swing n/a as no North-East Party candidate last time

Witney North (W Oxfordshire) –Con 264 LD 201 Green 136 Lab 114 UKIP 64Con Hold – Swing (From May 2012) Con-LD 12.9%

Camborne Pendarves (Cornwall) – Con 325 LD 311 Lab 220 UKIP 89 Mebyon Kernow 85 Green31 Ind 13CON GAIN FROM UKIP – Swing (May 2013) UKIP-Con 12%

National Projected Share (Based on last 20 by-elections fought by each party)

Con 33.2% Lab 29.8% LD 15.4% UKIP 10% Green 3.5%

Communicate Research Poll

Communicate Research latest poll put the Conservatives 11% ahead on voting intention. Again this does not point to enthusiasm amongst the general public for the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn Labour leadership. It should be said this poll does see a decent swing to Labour in the south, The big Tory lead in the south is as I have said before difficult to model correctly. What this means is the poll probably has Labour doing better in the south than they really are, which means the Tory lead could be even bigger than reported. The poll also sees the Tories ahead of Labour in Scotland, 3 of the 4 most recent polls have also shown this. Due to small samples an anomaly is always possible on the region breakdown, however 3 out of 4 suggest there maybe more too it. The regional breakdown on seats would, in line with all other post election polls so far, see an increased Conservative Overall Majority


Communicate Research Poll 17/08/2015

Vote Share UK Wide – Con 40% Lab 29% UKIP 13% LD 8% Green 4%

Seat Projection based on regional patterns 

Con 351 Lab 214 LD 6 UKIP 1 SNP 56 Plaid Cymru 3 Green 1 Northen Ireland 18

Con Overall Majority 52


What is interesting is that in local contests the Lib Dems are doing better and the Tory vote, while not soaring, is doing just enough to continue to hold key seats. The Lib Dem revival is not yet translating into the national picture. they are 7% higher in local contests than in the national polls, and the Tories are doing 7% less well in local contests than in National polls, Given this 7% gives the Tories a higher rating than in the national polls, this means there are Labour 2015 voters, now willing to back the Lib Dems in local contests, but say they would vote Tory in a General Election. The last few weeks has seen the Tories do much better when head to head with Labour which further backs this up. The Lib Dems can be cautiously confident when claiming their fightback, but we with no certainty that the improvement will translate into commons seats nationally.The Tories can be cautiously confident of their dominant position, but not overly so.

The SNP scored 48% in Scotland on the Com Res poll and are still dominating Scotland. The Cornwall and Witney by-elections are contests UKIP would have done much better in a couple of years ago, their position appears to remain stagnant. It is Labour who have the most to worry about. They will claim as they have no leader this is not a surprise. This is a hollow claim given the huge publicity they have had and claims of all this apparent excitement around Jeremy Corbyn with him packing 1000 seater halls around the country. Many people have a Corbyn win penciled in, they may be wrong, but are going to the polls on the assumption Corbyn will be the leader. The reality is amongst the quiet moderates in marginal seats, particularly in the shires is, there is no excitement for Labour, or the leader most of them now think will win, at all.