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
MOON OF LIBERTY ELECTION SCOREBOARD
West Mainland (Orkney) Orkney Manifesto 593 Ind 446 Green 115 – Orkney 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 64 – Con 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 13 – CON 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
MOON OF LIBERTY POLL SCOREBOARD
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.