Big swing from Labour as Lib Dems win tricky by-election

Four principal authority council by-elections this week, and all with Lib Dem candidates.

There was a tricky Liberal Democrat defence in Salford Quays. Tricky because last time the ward was up, Labour won. Tricky also because the party had to suspend another Lib Dem councillor. But the team really rose to the challenge, with a 15% swing from that last time Labour win:

Many congratulations to new councillor Paul Heilbron and the team – and great to see the area where ALDC has its offices continue to have a Lib Dem councillor.

Next, a strange result from Dorset, where the Conservative candidate turned out to be disqualified from being a councillor. As the Dorset Echo reported:

Mr Peter Dickenson, from Preston Road, who describes himself on the nomination papers as β€œLocal Conservative” is alleged to have failed to declare that he works for Dorset Council as a lollipop man.

That allegation was easy enough to stand-up as he’s listed it on his town council register of interests. So his win this week doesn’t mean he’s going to take up the seat. Rather, due to the six month rule it’ll have to stay vacant until the new set of elections due in May:

With Simon Clifford and the Lib Dem tean moving up from fourth place last time to second place this time, including overtaking Labour, that is a great starting point for the next contest in the ward.

Next up a ward with a remarkably large number of independent candidates:

Thank you to Kane Silver for ensuring the party was on the ballot paper.

Thank you to Kenneth Rist for being the Lib Dem candidate.

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 week, this by-election at the town/parish/community council level 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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