By-election results

Dividing the spoils


Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher are Associate Members of Nuffield College, Oxford

Two-thirds of recent by-elections were in Conservative seats, with the party losing five but making a rare gain of its own.

The Liberal Democrats continue to make headlines, winning three seats from a standing start and denied a fourth victory only by bad luck.

West Somerset’s Alcombe ward provided further evidence of UKIP’s demise but that should not diminish the Liberal Democrat performance here. In 2015, the spoils divided between Conservative and UKIP. The Liberal Democrats neither stood then nor in 2011 and their campaigning effort this time was amply rewarded.

Another Liberal Democrat gain occurred in Whittlewood, South Northamptonshire, which had not held a district council election since 2007. The campaigning opportunity spurred local parties into action prompting a healthy turnout, but the victory margin for Abigail Medina was comfortable.

UKIP’s second defeat was inflicted by Basildon’s Pitsea Labour party although the contest was close. UKIP’s decline has been spectacular with councillors losing seats or resigning the national party. It was unusual, therefore, that a by-election candidate could be found. But the real battle lay between Labour and the Conservatives, with only eight votes separating victor from vanquished. 

The vacancy in North Kesteven’s Skellingthorpe ward followed Shirley Pannell’s resignation, having represented the area for almost two decades. With her personal vote now available the contest entered unknown territory with the three main parties challenging alongside Richard Johnston for Lincolnshire Independents. Johnston won with almost half the votes.

July began with the Conservatives losing a further two seats, one each to Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The vacancy in Lichfield’s Curborough ward was caused by the death of long-standing councillor Jeanette Allsopp, first elected in 1987. In 2015, UKIP received one in four votes and much of this migrated towards Labour in the by-election.

Less surprising for the Conservatives than that defeat was the loss of Kingsmead ward in Bath and North East Somerset. Prior to 2015, the ward was solidly Liberal Democrat so this Conservative defeat may be viewed as the ward reverting to type.

Small ward electorates sometimes lead to tied votes. Rutland’s Oakham South West division finished with Independent Richard Alderman and the unlucky Liberal Democrat Joanna Burrows only separated after lots were drawn.

Waveney’s Southwold and Reydon ward brought yet another shock victory for the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives won easily in 2015 against a clutch of other candidates but interestingly, no Liberal Democrat. This time, the party’s David Beavan received more than 1,000 votes, 71 per cent of the overall share, while finishing 700 votes ahead of his Conservative rival.

Meanwhile, Waveney’s Pakefield ward provided a rare Conservative gain from Labour. Although the defending party won all three seats in 2015, more recently, at the 2017 county elections, Pakefield’s division returned two Conservatives. One of these county councillors, Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro, successfully applied that campaigning experience to the district council seat, providing her party with some much-needed good news.

Local by-elections

For more statistics on all recent local by-elections, please view our latest excel spreadsheet of results.

Barnsley, Old Town
LAB HELD
16.9% over D&V
Turnout 15.2%
 
Basildon, Lee Chapel North
LAB HELD
32.4% over Con
Turnout 11%

Basildon, Pitsea South East
LAB GAIN FROM UKIP
0.5% over Con
Turnout 17%

Basingstoke & Deane, Kempshott
CON HELD
27.9% over Lab
Turnout 25.8%

Bath & North East Somerset, Kingsmead
LIB DEM GAIN FROM CON
16.5% over Lab
Turnout 35.4%

Charnwood, Quorn & Mountsorrel Castle
CON HELD
29.7% over Lab
Turnout 24.8%

Darlington, Cockerton
LAB HELD
29% over Con
Turnout 23.2%

East Dorset, Verwood East
CON HELD
50.2% over Lab
Turnout 19.9%

Elmbridge, Oxshott & D'Abernon
CON HELD
46.% over Lib Dem
Turnout 27.7%

Fenland, Birch
CON HELD
40.6% over Lib Dem
Turnout 22.6%

Hartlepool, Rural West
CON HELD
8.8% over Ind
Turnout 25.3%

Leicestershire, Syston Ridgeway
CON HELD
41.2% over Lab
Turnout 15.5%

Lewes, Chailey & Wivelsfield
CON HELD
22.7% over Lib Dem
Turnout 26.1%

Lichfield, Curborough
LAB GAIN FROM CON
27.3% over Con
Turnout 15.6%

Norfolk, Yare & All Saints
CON HELD
41.9% over Lab
Turnout 19.1%

North Devon, Fremington
IND HELD
19.5% over Con
Turnout 44.5%

North Kesteven, North Hykeham Mill
CON HELD
27.1% over Lincs Ind
Turnout 17.4%

North Kesteven, Skellingthorpe
LINCS IND GAIN FROM IND
19.3% over Con
Turnout 26.9%

Rutland, Oakham South West
IND GAIN FROM CON
0.2% over Lib Dem
Turnout 33.6%

Shropshire, Shifnal South & Cosford
CON HELD
16.1% over Ind
Turnout 23.5%

South Northamptonshire, Astwell
CON HELD
53.7 over Lab
Turnout 26%

South Northamptonshire, Whittlewood
LIB DEM GAIN FROM CON
20.1% over Con
Turnout 37.1%

Watford, Oxhey
LIB DEM HELD
27.3% over Con
Turnout 29.6%

Waveney, Pakefield
CON GAIN FROM LAB
2.9% over Lab
Turnout 27.2%

Waveney, Southwold & Reydon
LIB DEM GAIN FROM CON
49.6% over Con
Turnout 49.2%

West Somerset, Alcombe
LIB DEM GAIN FROM UKIP
12.1% over Con
Turnout 29.9%