No principal authority council by-elections these week, but there are three town/parish council contests:
Unlike principal authority (district, county, unitary, borough etc.) by-elections, those for town, parish and community councils are not consistently and comprehensively reported. Add to that the understandable bias of dramatic gains and losses being more likely to get noticed and you can see why for understanding political trends and judging relative party performance, it’s best to stick with those for principal authorities only.
However, town, parish and community councils do have the ability to make a tangible difference to people’s lives – and with the spread of unitary councils, this lower tier of government is also increasingly important as a stepping stone in building up political organisation and support in an area.
Which is why it’s very welcome to see the Liberal Democrats starting to take such contests noticeably more seriously in the last few years. It’s another part of the party’s overall recovery.
In those three contests, an independent beat an independent for Ampney Crucis Parish Council, an independent beat a Labour and a Lib Dem for Sandbach Parish Council (no Lib Dem the time before) – and despite this being a Conservative seat last time out, and then for Goring-on-Thames Parish Council, a ‘Good Governance for Goring’ candidate beat two independents.
Understanding the opinion polls
For understanding what is happening in politics, by-elections have the advantage of being real votes in real ballot boxes. But the opinion polls have the advantage of trying to be a representative sample of voters, not just those in the places that happen to have by-elections. To understand the polls properly – and what they do and don’t really tell us – see my book, Polling UnPacked: The History, Uses and Abuses of Political Opinion Polls.
Get by-election results by email
If you sign up for my daily email with the latest pieces from this site, you’ll also get included as a little bonus the full set of council by-election results each week: