Lib Dems gain seats from both Labour and Conservatives

Four principal authority council by-elections this week, with a full slate of Liberal Democrat candidates. That’s a welcome one up on the last time these wards were up.

First up, a huge swing to the Liberal Democrats and a move from fourth to an excellent position from which to take the seat next time:

Congratulations to Lucy Lennon and the team. It’s a particularly impressive result as the Liberal Democrats are now in power on Hull Council.

Next an unusual Conservative gain from the SNP in Scotland, helped in part by Scottish by-elections being by AV while the all-up elections are by STV:

Thank you to Lib Dem Jamie Ross for standing, after no Lib Dem last time.

Even better news in Colchester, with a Liberal Democrat gain from Labour:

Many congratulations to new councillor, Simon Appleton, and the team.

The final result is from Newport Pagnell South. This by-election was caused by the resignation in scandal of a Conservative, as Andrew Teale reports:

This by-election has come out of the Councillors Behaving Badly file. On 1st February, Councillor Balazs caused a road accident: he veered across the road, and crashed into a van travelling in the opposite direction. The van, which was owned by Bluebell Flowers, a florist’s shop in Newport Pagnell, was a write-off. Balazs was an uninsured driver, so Bluebell Flowers never received any compensation for the loss of the van…

He was fined £660 and given six penalty points on his licence. For some reason, the case was heard by High Wycombe magistrates rather than in the New City, which meant that the Milton Keynes local press initially missed the story. It took until August, when Bluebell Flowers announced that their shop was closing down as a result of the financial loss caused by the crash, for the Milton Keynes Citizen to start asking questions. Once the Citizen had found out about Councillor Balazs’s conviction they approached the leader of Milton Keynes’ Conservative group for comment; it appears that this whole affair came as news to them, too. Within the hour, Scot Balazs had tendered his resignation from the council.

The result? Another Lib Dem gain, this time from the Conservatives:

Tony Oyakhire is the new councillor – congratulations to him and the team.

For what all this means for the running total of council by-election results since the last May elections, see my council by-elections scorecard here.

These by-election results round-ups cover principal authority by-elections as it’s only those for which comprehensive results are available. But this parish/town council contest did catch my eye:

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.

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