Council by-elections: what’s been going on?

Over the last six weeks there have been twenty council by-elections in the key Westminster constituencies* for the next general election. Looking at these twenty results provides a much more useful story of what is happening in the areas which really matter to each party than overall council by-election results.

What story do they tell?

Good news for the Liberal Democrats in the Lib Dem – Tory battleground seats: an average swing of 7.1% swing from Tory to Lib Dem with a net gain of one for the Lib Dems in the four contests.

Good news for the Liberal Democrats in the Lib Dem – Labour battleground seats: an average swing of 4.7% from Labour to Lib Dem in the two contests.

Bad news for the Conservatives in the Conservative – Labour battleground seats: an average swing of 1.3% from Conservative to Labour in the fourteen contests. In only one of these seats did the Conservatives make a gain (Pembrokeshire), but that was from the Lib Dems and cancelled out by a Lib Dem gain from them in Rossendale.

Of course, council by-election results are just that, but then opinion polls (especially those from [insert least favoured polling company of your choice here]) are only opinion polls, Parliamentary by-elections are only Parliamentary by-elections etc etc.

* The top 150 Conservative targets, top 150 Liberal Democrat targets and top 50 Labour targets based on straight swing to win on the notional results for new constituencies taken from Rallings and Thrasher.

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7 Comments

  • “Lib Dem – Labour battleground seats: an average swing of 4.7% from Labour to Lib Dem in the two contests”

    One was in Brent Central, where was the second contest?

  • Geoffrey Payne 29th Sep '07 - 3:29pm

    I don’t see the point in discussing the implications of a few local by-elections. If there is an upsurge in Lib Dem support, there has to be a reason for it, and currently there is none. The Lib Dems need to think of reasons why the electorate should vote for us, and that is what we should be discussing here.

  • “I believe that was the Crystal Palace by-election in Lewisham West & Penge.”

    Thanks Will Howells. Now that you mention it, I recall it…there was another one in Lewisham too (Lewisham East constituency but Lewisham East may not be in the top 150 LD targets)

  • Geoffrey Payne 30th Sep '07 - 7:24am

    As Lib Dems we dislike the centralising tendencies and the hostility towards civil liberties of New Labour, but we also dislike the anti-Europeanism and the lack of committment towards redistribution of wealth and the mixed messages on Green matters of the Tories.
    Historically the reflexive dislike of the Lib Dems towards the Tories is our memory of Thatcherism, and which even today still has a malign influence on the party.
    I want the Lib Dems to win seats from both parties and going into coalition with either party is a very unattractive proposition. Of course the arithmetic may force us to consider it, in which case the deal breaker has to be a committment to proportional representation, and a recognition that global warming is the most important issue facing the planet today and that radical policies need to tackle it.
    This I suggest is what we should be debating rather than a few local by-elections.

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