Oldham East and Saddleworth results thread

Comment away… and whilst we await the result there is new of a likely third Parliamentary by-election in 2011 in addition to the one expected in Barnsley Central. This one is Leicester South.

2am update –

The result of the Oldham East and Saddleworth Parliamentary by-election:

Labour 14,718
LD Elwyn Watkins 11,160
Conservatives 4,481
UKIP 2,029
BNP 1,560
Green 530
Monster Raving Loony 145
English Democrats 144
Bus Pass Elvis 67
Pirate 96

48.06% turnout

Labour HOLD.

Debbie Abrahams is the new MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

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This entry was posted in Parliamentary by-elections.


  • It’s close, very close from what I hear. Andy Burnham has playing expectations down and rumours of Labour HQ being quite miserable (according to twitter)

  • Whatever the result expect it to be spinned to preposterous levels by all and sundry. I am surprised Labour have persisted in insisting it will be close despite the polls though – they seem more worried than I think they need to be. Probably do not want to appear gloating. Comfortable Labour majority.

    That said, as long as they are not destroyed it will be a decent result for the LD; it won’t stop claims they are ended as a credible party of course, too many people have an interest in seeing that to pick up the former LD voters for their own side, but it might lessen the pressure for a bit and give them a chance to stand tall and hope the current strategy pays dividends in the next few years

  • ‘All side activists are saying Big Labour win, it is only the politicians massaging expectations.’

    I don’t doubt you are right, unfortunately, but why are they doing that? I can see the value in part of saying ‘wow, we did better than even we expected – notwithstanding the polls hugely in our favour, already a labour seat, lots of cuts upcoming, by election standard etc – that shows how in touch we are with the people’, but there’s just no need to do that; if they are that confident of a big win, just say so already.

  • @Kieran

    Kieran there is a long-standing etiquette and indeed probably legal restrictions about anyone releasing info from the count before the result is announced. Even although the contenders are told before the count is announced they aren’t allowed to signal their victory although people are only human and sometimes delerious happiness or utter grief is hard to hide.

  • Philip Rolle 13th Jan '11 - 11:55pm

    If I were an elector in Oldham East, I would have concluded that a Lib Dem vote would have been a vote of approval for courts interfering in the electoral process.

    Taking the result of an election to court has always seemed to me to be “just not cricket”. This is one election that I shall not be sad to see Labour win.

  • @ EcoJon

    Oh I get they can’t release actual info (I recall a Labour MP/Councillor of some stripe getting into trouble for tweeting about postal votes in the past year or so I think), but since spokespeople are saying ‘we’ve done well and we think it will be close’, why not just say ‘we’ve done well and think we have got it’? They needn’t have even looked in on the count to say that. Ah, all part of the standard narrative of the political dramam I suppose.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Jan '11 - 12:19am

    Looks like the electoral pact with the Tories has failed.

  • minsterman12 14th Jan '11 - 12:21am

    I do think you Lib Dems should stop congratulating themselves in getting Tories to vote for them.The most interesting stat will be the percentage of Lib Dem voters in last election have now voted Labour.

  • Orange Squash 14th Jan '11 - 12:27am

    Nick is delighted to lose this and he’ll be just as delighted to lose in all the elections and AV Vote in May as well as the general elelection.

    The only election he fears is a Leadership election as that might put his nice office job and ministerial car at risk. Which is, after all, the only thing that matters to him.

  • Bugger !

    It looks like Labour. Let’s just hope the Tory numbers are not so low as to make it look too much like a coalition vote. The worry is what happens when there is a realistic Tory / Lib Dem contest. Perhaps today’s hint that ministers can now be more public about disagreements in the coalition will start to make a difference.

    Clegg does need to take real stock of this apparent result. With the disgraceful behaviour of Woolas, the lack of credible policies from Milliband and the fact it was so close 7 months ago this should have been so different.

  • Let’s just say it isn’t that the Lib Dem’s didn’t get their message across. The message doesn’t resonate. The assumptions in the message is wrong and the trust has gone after the tuition fees. Also you ridiculously over campaigned.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Jan '11 - 12:54am

    If the Lib Dem share of the vote has been propped up by your senior partner in the coalition than this will be a dire result. There are very few seats where you can depend on the Tories giving you a helping hand. The notion that you’ve come ‘..a good second’ is nonsense.

    On the plus side – and for anyone with a sense of decency it is a massive plus – Phil Woolas is no longer an MP.

  • minsterman12 14th Jan '11 - 1:13am

    Is what Phil Woolas did worse than completely lying to the electorate.You stole my vote at least the people of Oldham have got their votes back.

  • @Alec Macph
    ” his conduct was no worse than all the burbling about “Muslim anger” at such-and-such.”
    No he basically accused his oponent of supporting extremists.

    “He doesn’t need to offer those this far before a GE. The role of HM’s Opposition is to oppose.”

    Yes their role is to oppose, I have said that many time myself on this blog. However, this was an election, people deserved to know what they were voting for as well as what they were voting against. What policies would their prospective MP speak for etc.

    “Yeah, but that was before people saw what LibDems did in power.”
    I don’t disagree this is what has happened. I’m not a member but voted Lib dem at the last election. I would not say yet who I will vote for in the next elections I am able to, but Labour would need to do a hell of a lot more to get my vote at the moment.

  • Patrick Smith 14th Jan '11 - 1:24am

    This is a 48% turn out By-Election held in January since Hull West in 1965.

    It is a totally undeserved Labour win,if this is case, on the back of electoral court decision in favour of the moral integrity of our excellent L/D candidate Elwyn Watkins and his tremenously hard working Team.

    It was revealed that Labour were dead worried about their `Knock-Up’ and did`nt get out their vote until the night hours.

    I would be wary of how much the fringe votes amount ito in the long list with 10 candidates, including UKIP and the BNP who clearly should not have a sniff today.

    The Tories are saying they have campaigned hard with visits by 100 MPs but all signs are that they are well squeezed with TORY/LD swing.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Jan '11 - 1:31am

    Norman Lamb, typically unimpressive, states: “It’s very easy getting votes by opposing everything”.

    How any Lib Dem can say that without blushing is staggering.

  • Poppie's mum 14th Jan '11 - 1:53am

    Fantastic result.
    Well done Ms Abrahams.

  • Poppie's mum 14th Jan '11 - 1:55am

    Clegg said a couple of days ago he wouldn’t forgive himself if the Lib Dems lost by a ‘handful of votes’.

    How will he feel at losing by 3,500 ?

    Get it yet Clegg ?

  • Poppie's mum 14th Jan '11 - 1:56am

    Patrick Smith ….you sound like a bad loser.

  • Poppie's mum 14th Jan '11 - 1:58am

    steveway “It looks like Labour. Let’s just hope the Tory numbers are not so low as to make it look too much like a coalition vote”

    Tories down 13.6% – BBC say that is the big story of the night.

    Your cover is blown. Tory fig leaf to help hide Clegg’s shame.

  • I’m really happy about this. The Lib Dems’ behaviour since the election has been appalling and hopefully they will start to realise that an awful lot of people think this way.

  • Orange Squash 14th Jan '11 - 2:08am

    As predicted Nick is ‘proud’ of this result.
    Will he be just as proud to lose the AV and the elections vote in May ? You bet he will.
    Time to get rid of this liability before he destroys the Lib Dems forever.

  • The voters in O&S have made their decision and they want Labour and not this anti working class Tory coalition

    As usual no one has lost 🙂

  • Orange Squash 14th Jan '11 - 2:20am

    Tim Farron is actually saying this result will cheer Liberal Democrats up.
    To lose by 3500 even with the help of almost every Tory vote is something to celebrate?

    Just how out of touch are these people?

    Do you seriously think Cameron will be able to do the same for you in May after tonights farce Tim?

    Staggering complaceny.

  • @Patrick Smith

    You obviously don’t understand that alarm clock Britain goes to work and can’t vote till they clock-off and go home – and a lot of what you term alarm clock Britain votes Labour. So it’s normal for the Labour vote to come out late – seems to me that you don’t have any experienced people there – maybe they’re all clocking on with Labour 🙂

  • @Bolivia Newton-John

    Doesn’t look as though they went to O&S

  • Orange Squash 14th Jan '11 - 2:44am

    I wouldn’t vote Labour if you paid me. They are still a Blairite shambles.
    REAL Liberal Democrats are disgusted by Nicks right wing Tory takeover of the Party.

  • the central problem for libdems is what will happen in elections when you can’t rely on tactical votes from the tories? this by election was quite unusual in that respect and you still suffered a big defeat WITH tory support.

  • @Orange Squash

    Yes, Tim Farron was rather comical. Reminded me of the infamous Comical Ali. This is a disastrous result for the LibDems. What does this say to tactical Tory voters, in seats where the LibDems are a close second to Labour, when even with their support, the LibDems still fail to win? What happens when the Tories are in real trouble, nationally, do you think they will as sanguine with such a poor result as tonight? Usually it is the LibDems that act as the human shield for Cameron’s Conservatives; tonight we see the Tories acting as a fig leaf to cover Clegg’s embarrassment.

  • Andrew Suffield 14th Jan '11 - 7:01am

    Huh, this is interesting. The Lib Dem vote is up, not down – and Labour won with a swing from the Tories.

    So I guess it’s the Tories who are “finished” then?

  • @Andrew

    Or you’re seeing a great deal of tactical voting from traditional conservative supporters to keep Labour out which perhaps is not the best news if we are wanting to put greater emphasis on how different we are to a coaliton partners.

    Lib Dems! 8 out of 10 conservatives recommend it!

  • Or you’re seeing a great deal of tactical voting from traditional conservative supporters to keep Labour out which perhaps is not the best news if we are wanting to put greater emphasis on how different we are to a coaliton partners.

    Lib Dems! 8 out of 10 conservatives recommend it!
    It might surprise you, but not everyone regards Conservative (big C) as a dirty word in of itself (taken issue by issue, not everything they believe is awful let’s remember), nor does everyone who voted LD believe they are natural allies with Labour (and certainly not the Labour of recent times). Yes, plenty of Tories probably switched votes to aid their tempororary coalition partner, and that isn’t a big deal.

    There are years for the LD to recover their support in the polls for themselves (the main gripes about their going back on promises is something all parties have done and will do sadly, and working with the Tories, which if the gamble pays off and the economy does well will maybe not be seen as the betrayal it currently is by LDs who seem like they would prefer to be Labour anyway) and, yes, at the moment it benefits both governing parties for the LD to do ok, but if they are able to draw in left leaning Tories to replace tactical Labour voters and ‘anyone-but-the-Tories’ voters, they will do ok anyway.

    This result is a disappointment but hardly a surprise. By elections are not easy to win and, given the national polls, the LD did do ok, and there is nothing comical about admitting that (it was a credible second, that is a fact, especially given predictions). It is not like they lost the seat. But as I said earlier, it won’t stop the spinning (a lovely piece on the Telegraph site yesterday predicting the responses by the parties in light on any outcome was, I am sure, correct), because all sides wish to place the result within the greater narrative they wish to present (Labour dominant forevermore, Coalition of CONDEMS rejected definitively! LD not destoyed after all! Tough night personally, but Labour seat after all, and not a decisive result for Red ED despite these cuts, he’ll be under pressure).

    The true test will be in the local elections, where I am sure LD will do worse without sympathetic coalition shoring votes, but on its own this result cannot be extrapolated to the entire country. The LD have been down to 7% in some polls after all! And yet here they get 32%. Even if masses went from Tory to LD, they still were not at as low an ebb as that poll suggested, possibly for local reasons. Meaning the positives cannot be taken too far, but the simple fact that when people are burning effiges of the leader in the street they can get over 30% belies the claims of Labour and Labour stooges that they are over as a party.

  • Considering that if you read the LDV posts from a month ago Labour posters here were saying the LDs would be annihilated and come a poor third (actually a plausible outcome, considering the polls) this is a reasonable result. A disaster here would have damaged the coalition. This result just means “business as usual” and the news will move on, which post-tuition fees was probably the best the LDs could have hoped for.

  • Ed The Snapper 14th Jan '11 - 9:17am

    Old cowboy saying: “There is no second place winner”. The result in O&S is an example of working-class people getting together to protest against cuts and regressive taxation. As someone who always lives in fear of unemployment and relies on public services for my education and healthcare, this is a positive result.

  • Old cowboy saying: “There is no second place winner”. The result in O&S is an example of working-class people getting together to protest against cuts and regressive taxation.
    It is true there is no second place winner. That said, it was a Labour hold, not a LD loss. It is not as though ‘working class’ people decided to kick out a LD or punish him severely. I would hope no-one would say this is a fantastic result for the LD, but the simple numbers do not add up to it being a repudiation of the party that some had hoped for. They don’t automatically have my vote for next time, or get a free pass, but cuts were coming no matter who was in charge as well remember; while they may ahve occured in different areas, we cannot know now, also remember where the largest spending is, and so where cuts would most likely have to come from at some point.

  • Peter Chegwyn 14th Jan '11 - 9:42am

    Lib. Dems. who remove their rose-tinted spectacles should recognise this is NOT a good Lib. Dem. result.

    Not a disaster (thanks to all those tactical-voting Conservatives) but not good either.

    Oldham East is a seat we should be winning and winning well. How often do we start a by-election just 100 votes behind and with 26 per cent third party votes to squeeze (and from a party we’ve helped into Government)?

    It’s not often we see the majority over us increase 30-fold.

    It seems the Leadership ‘spin’ is to say government parties seldom win by-elections. True. But Liberal Democrats are experts at winning by-elections and the party relies on a regular diet of by-election wins to build momentum and maintain morale.

    If we do not win any by-elections in this Parliament due to being in government then the effect on our momentum and morale could be considerable.

    If we cannot win Oldham East in a by-election, where can we win?

    The only satisfying aspects of the result are (i) It could have been a lot worse (it could also have been a lot better) and (ii) The real blood-letting will be in the Conservative camp where many Party members are livid that the Conservatives waged a lack-lustre campaign to try and prop-up the Lib. Dem. vote.

    The Conservatives have least to be pleased about but I believe it’s the Lib. Dems. who have most to be worried about. Thos weekend opinion polls weren’t far wrong after all!

  • Mike(The Labour one) 14th Jan '11 - 9:49am

    @MBoy: Had the Tory voters voted Tory the Lib Dems would have come third. It’s like I’ve been saying about council elections- the Lib Dems are only buoyed by Tory tactical votes. That either means a long-term love-in in with them or a very ugly break up that will leave your party in pieces.

  • I drank several glasses of champagne to celebrate Labour’s victory. (I am a champagne socialist, after all). What made the victory so sweet was the knowledge that this was supposed to be a shoe in for the Lib Dems and without the support of the Tory voters they would have been routed. It was also most satisfying to see the Tories wiped out. Very good night. The swing to Labour was between 10 and 11 per cent, I believe. Enough to give Labour a substantial commons majority of over a hundred at a general election. If I were a Tory I’d be seriously questioning Cameron’s judgement in protecting the Lib Dems at the expense of his own party.

  • If one dumps the gloating & the rhetoric & the spin & all the rest of the claptrap and also compare with 2005 & the General Election the result is a big disappointment for everyone (except possibly UKIP). Firstly the turnout down by 13% – not good for democracy. Secondly the Lib Dems for not winning. Thirdly Labour because the coalition of Labour, most of the press and the right wing of the Tory Party, whose principal policy and focus is the obliteration of the LibDems, saw the Lib Dem vote hold up. Fourthly the Conservatives & finally the BNP who saw their vote almost halve. The % Labour vote went back to where it was in 2005 – hardly a triumph.

  • What made the victory so sweet was the knowledge that this was supposed to be a shoe in for the Lib Dems
    …what? I’ve not heard that argument advanced with any seriousness. It was a tight race in May, and that was before the baggage that has come since – why would someone think it was supposed to be a shoe in under those circusmtances? The Woolas thing doesn’t seem to have been a factor, and Woolas himself believed it would work in Labour’s favour.

  • Think about this logically. Under either a Tory or Labour-only government, this would have been a seat which would have been won by the Lib Dems. Why?

    Under a Labour government, the Tory vote would have been encouraged (and probably would) have voted tactically Lib Dem, and the “soft left” part of the Lib Dem vote would have been less inclined to go to Labour. Under a Tory government, there would have been less of a switch from the Tories, but probably one still substantial enough to tip the Lib Dems over the edge.

    But what we have is the Lib Dems (finally) being viewed as a party of government, and suffering the same fate as many before (not 25 years, as Simon Hughes said this morning on Breakfast forgetting about Glenrothes and Glasgow) when they could have won the seat. Laura Kuenssberg’s analysis is probably nearer the button.

    As a party, though, we do need to think long and hard about this, though. Clearly, the result isn’t the “annhiliation” that many that the Labour cybermen suggested, but does it effectively end the Lib Dems (in England at least) as being a left-of-centre party?

  • roy's claret army 14th Jan '11 - 11:05am

    coldcomfort. If you don’t want a 48% turnout you shouldn’t have ripped up parilamentary protocol to have a by-election in the pissing January rain.

    Turnout is always lower at a by-election: people know it is less important and behave accordingly.

  • does it effectively end the Lib Dems (in England at least) as being a left-of-centre party?
    Hard to say, but I doubt it, for the simple reason that the desperate need to occupy ‘the middle ground’ means traditionally centre left Labour will sometimes choose very centre right policies, and for the same reason the centre right Tories will shift over to the centre left for other policies if they feel the public are going that way. The LD can be broadly centre left on most issues even if they do move further to the right wing of the party on others.

  • Andrew Shimmin 14th Jan '11 - 11:09am

    I think it might be wise to concentrate on the facts of the results of this by-election rather than speculate too wildly. The facts are:

    1. Turn-out was down from 61% (GE 2010) to 48% (yesterday). This suggests that the voters of Oldham & Saddleworth did not share the view of many commentators and politics junkies that this by-election was a momentous event. Fewer of them felt compelled to express their views by voting yesterday than did last May. Of course, in a by-election, people know they aren’t in a position to affect the make-up of the government (except very rare by-elections), and British people seem to be generally far less interested in who represents them in parliament than in who is governing the country. Even so, the turn-out does not suggest that the ‘cuts’ are politicising everyone in the UK into pro- and anti- camps. The majority of voters are aparently ambivalent.

    2. Only 55% of votes cast were for the ‘two main’ parties. If we could extrapolate this, it belies the narrative that the coalition between LDs and Cons will result in a return to mainly two-party politics. However, this cannot really be extrapolated because a) this seat/area has a long history of voting liberal despite national trends and b) national polls show much lower LD support than local polls.

    3. More people voted for government parties (45% of votes cast) than for Labour (42%), which should give pause to those who comment on blogs that they can’t wait for a general election to ‘smash’ or ‘throw out’ the coalition (although again, it is a bit dubious to extrapolate this result nationally).

    All in all, this is not a result which can be reliably used to predict anything much! But it certainly cannot be used to claim that:
    – Public (at least in Old&Sad) is strongly against coaltion per se.
    – Public is strongly politically animated at present
    – LDs are finished as an independent force
    – Public will not vote for Labour because they do not have a coherent policy programme

    Still, speculation and mis-use of statistics is such fun that I expect people will ignore the above and make wild claims of earth-shattering political techtonics…

  • One thing I have learnt in life, work and politics is that if you don’t recognise a mistake and rectify it then you can never move on without risking a repeat.

    This was a seat the LibDems should have won had their judgement of the public mood been correct – it has been obvious since late Nov/early Dec that the public are turning against the Coalition in general and the LibDems in particular. There are many obvious reasons for this and I won’t rehearse them.

    It’s a great Labour victory given the local circumstances and a real boost for Milliband and we actually have the boost of a new MP who looks as though she will make a mark in politics and bring a lot of personal experience to the NHS ‘debate’.

    On the wider front, the LibDems would have been slaughtered if it hadn’t been for Tory tactical voting and a Tory leadership decision to prop up their junior partner. And I think this is the key area in terms of the wider political debate which will have a long-lasting effect.

    It’s true that in May this tactical voting won’t be repeated in the tribalism which can exist in local politics and we will then have a more accurate picture of the UK electoral mood which I think will be greatly influenced by ‘National’ interests because of the effects of cuts on local government, education, health, housing, benefits and a host of other issues.

    But if you look beyond that, then Cameron could be an eventual winner as he will be well-encouraged by the amount of Tories prepared to vote LibDem and see this as a good portent for a future merging of the parties say two GEs down the line after a ‘coupon’ vote at the next GE.

    If he controls his own party then it could happen and he would go down in the history books as breaking the mould of British politics. But will he have broken the mould – I don’t think so as we will be left with two major parties – Labour and ToryDemocrat. There will be splits away from the Tories and LibDems – possibly quite significant minorities – but what we cannot predict is whether these groupings will form new partiesor whether the diaspora of castaway members will join the likes of UKIP, Labour or The Greens or whatever.

    And AV – Cameron doesn’t want it – he realises that it can create a dilution of power and, in any case, I think the British public have sniffed the wind on it and detect an odour that they have yet to identify but which is ringing alarm bells.

  • Oh btw what LibDem brightspark picked the anniversary of Heir Hardie’s founding of the ILP as Polling Day in O&S.

    I also think when we look at turn-out we have to remember the miserable period of weather we’ve had, the fact we are in mid-winter and the festive break in between announcement and polling day. Only political anoraks could believe that ordinary people want to be bothered with politics at Vmas and New Year – timing was a BIG BIG mistake.

    All in all the LibDems gambled on a quick election date and it appears to have spectacularly backfired and I suggest that a February date might have seen a higher turnout but that would have meant a larger Labour majority.

  • You can bury your head in the sand if you want. I suppose there is not much else you can do. You refused to listen to the voters when you had a chance and now it is too late. I am afraid the LibDems are now finished and voters will not forgive you even in 4 years time for helping the Tories to destroy the NHS and the Education system in this country.

  • You can bury your head in the sand if you want. I suppose there is not much else you can do. You refused to listen to the voters when you had a chance and now it is too late. I am afraid the LibDems are now finished
    I am sorry, but does your first sentence describe your following sentences . The vote did hold up – the reasons for which can be debated endlessly – so how can you say the LD have ‘refused to listen to the voters when they had a chance and now it is too late’ on the basis of the OES by-election? According to the OES voters, it is not too late, and the LD are not finished. Will that work on a national scale? Possibly not, but your assertion is not supported by the bare facts of this result; which is the primary reason no side should make sweeping predictions on the basis of the OES result, as it is a reflection of the particular local issues, and cannot be extrapolated to suit people’s wishes for the future with any degree of certainty.

  • @Kieran
    I and all the people I know who voted for the LibDems (around 20 people) still feel very angry about the LibDems and we all agree we will not vote for them ever again. You will find there are a lot of angry ex LibDem voters out there that you have lost for good no matter what happens to the economic situation. If this scenario is repeated across the coun try which someone in one of the other threads on this site suggested was also their experience then the LibDems are in deep trouble. You can bury your head in the sand and pretend this is not true but it wont make it go away.

  • @BB I am not pretending anything is not true or burying my head in the sand. I don’t know if I will vote LD next time around, and can acknowledge that plenty of people, such as yourself, feel the specific compromises/turnarounds the LD have made means they say they cannot vote for them ever again. That is a perfectly acceptable view to have, and I know several people who share it. All I am saying is that the view this opinion is widespread to the point of being destructive for the LD, and that it cannot be reversed over time if the national situation improves, is anecdotal, and that last night’s result cannot support it, though nor can it disprove it entirely (though it can be proven, or at least hevily indicated that the vote held up better than the worst of the polls suggest at least even without tactical Tory voting)

  • @Kieran

    I think you make a huge error when you state the LibDem vote held-up. It didn’t – what happened was that the nunmber of votes cast for the LibDems held-up and most people accept that a very significant number of these votes are Tory Votes and were only on loan as arranged by Cameron.

    The immense tactical voting involved masked a real collapse in the LibDem vote IMHO and it will be interesting to see if there has been any polling done on this which can identify the percentages/numbers involved.

  • @I think you make a huge error when you state the LibDem vote held-up. It didn’t – what happened was that the nunmber of votes cast for the LibDems held-up and most people accept that a very significant number of these votes are Tory Votes and were only on loan as arranged by Cameron.

    Hence why I said a) the reason for the vote holding up could be endlessly debated, and b) that, even with Tory tactical voting, the numbers remaining of the LD share are much higher than national polls suggest.

    Again, would that be repeated nationally? I doubt it, but even if we count the entire fall in Tory votes as going to the LD and which will never vote LD in another scenario, the remaining LD share is still significantly higher than national predictions. Nothing to crow about, sure, but that the LD vote did ok (as compared to the predicted fall nationally) even without the assumed Tory vote.

  • Now that we have coalition government, the assessment of by-elections during the term of that government must reflect that.

    Rather than counting the results of individual parties, we must consider votes for the opposition and votes for the government. Under FPTP that’s what voters do when deciding how to cast their ballot.

    The result of this byelection must therefore be expressed as follows:

    Government: 44.7%
    Opposition: 42.1%

  • Peter Chegwyn 14th Jan '11 - 1:49pm

    That’s debatable. Under AV a lot of the Tories who voted tactically last night might have stayed with the Tories who might then have squeezed the Lib. Dems. into 3rd place. Certainly as I said earlier and others have repeated since, it is the total collapse of the Tory vote and tactical voting that helped maintain the Lib. Dem. position, albeit not to a sufficient extent to allow the Lib. Dem. to overtake Labour and win (as would unquestionably have happened if this by-election had been held during the last Parliament instead of this one).

  • Thanks Kirsten for pointing out the obvious response to those who argue this is a protest against the Coalition. If it is, why did the Coalition parties attract more support than Labour? If this was a mini-referendum on the Coalition, the Coalition won.

  • Kirsten

    That is a truly bizarre calculation. If you count the government support (combined) you must also count all those who voted against the government (combined).


    Government 44.7%
    Opposition 55.3%

    A significant defeat for the government which polled 60% in May.

  • Kirsten wrote –
    The result of this byelection must therefore be expressed as follows:
    Government: 44.7%
    Opposition: 42.1%

    So are we now to view the Lib Dem and Conservative Vote as one? have the two parties now merged without telling anyone?

  • I’m sure many Lib Dem voters will be interested to note that their ‘apparently’ progressive party has morphed into a junior conservative party…

  • Orange Squash 14th Jan '11 - 3:07pm

    Some still seem to be missing the point a bit, because the polls taken in Oldham East and Saddleworth were actually close to the margin of error. They weren’t wildly wrong but a couple of points out either way.

    And these are some of the same pollsters giving a national Liberal Democrat poll of appallingly low levels. If that doesn’t shake Nick and those around him out of their incredible complacency before May then they fully deserve to reap the whirlwind.

    There is no way whatsoever that Cameron will try to micromanage different parts of his campaign in May to the Liberal Democrats advantage after last night. He is already under fierce attack from his own MPs for what he did.

  • roy's claret army 14th Jan '11 - 3:40pm


    You are Labour’s best friend. Stop typing and get your head firmly wedged into the sand. Why don’t you compare your nonsensical formulation with the same formulation at the general election.

    GE coalition combined 58% to Labour’s 32%
    By Election coalition combined 45% to Labour’s 42%

    A swing of 23% from the ‘coalition’ to Labour

  • Mike Falchikov 14th Jan '11 - 5:12pm

    There were arguments for and against going for an early by-election. If it had been in Labour’s gift, I guess they
    would have dug in and gone for the long haul which would almost certainly have benefited them. Sorry that
    Elwyn Watkins didn’t win, but people of all parties – and none – should be grateful to him for embarking on a risky
    legal campaign which ultimately ended the career of a most unpleasant and bigoted politician. Good to see on
    the BBC programme, Sadiq Khan unequivocally condemn Woolas’s previous campaign. We shouldn’t forget that
    initially Woolas appeared to be supported by many high profile Labour people and Ed Milliband should have been
    criticised for reappointing him shadow immigration minister – a major error of judgment.

  • Allen Taylor-Hoad 14th Jan '11 - 5:46pm

    All parties benefit from tactical voting from time to time. In the past, the Liberal Democrats have received tactical votes from Tories in northern Labour constituencies, and from Labour supporters in southern Tory constituencies. In Oldham yesterday, as you might expect, it would appear that quite a few Tories voted tactically for the Liberal Democrats, but the big test will come when a by-election is held in a southern Tory seat. I don’t think you can rely on tactical votes from Labour supporters any longer.

  • Tony Dawson 14th Jan '11 - 6:57pm

    Elwyn Watkins would have won this by-election in the manner which he truly deserved were it not for the actions of three people. One of the three is Phil Woolas, who managed to delay the election by months. The other two are Liberal Democrats.

  • All the people on here who are saying that the Coalition got more votes than the Opposition are wrong. Labour is not the only Opposition Party. If you add up all the Other Party votes (they are also in opposition to the Coalition otherwise they would have voted for one of the Coalition parties) you will find that the Opposition vote is far greater than the Coalition vote. I really don’t see how the Coalition can take any comfort from the votes they have received.

  • @matt

    Matt – you’ve got it all wrong Labour didn’t win it was a wonderful result for the Coalition vote which was 359 to Labour’s 239 🙂

    Still doesn’t look as though the LibDems were helping their Tory Masters out with strategic voting which is very interesting.

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