Labour in four local by-elections

According to LibDem Voice, at four local by-elections last week:

  • The Labour vote was up by 17.7% compared with May 2010 in Camden LBC, Kentish Town (the LibDem came second with almost exactly half the Labour vote, 3.6% down on May; the Conservative came fourth (after the Green), 5.1% down).
  • Labour also held South Lanarkshire UA, East Kilbride West, increasing its May 2010 vote by +0.8% (SNP second, down 2.4%; Con third, 5.7% up on May but still with fewer than half Labour’s vote).
  • The LibDems held Cheltenham BC, Springbank with their share of the vote down by 2.9% (Con second, 13.4% down; Labour third (13.1% up), and the Green fourth (3.2% up).
  • Labour held Great Aycliffe Town Council, West (“Ind” second, LibDem third; no figures for May 2010 available).

Rather encouraging for Labour, considering that the coalition’s cuts have not yet begun to bite and Labour’s new leader has not yet begun to make his full impact after an impressive start.  But it’s a very small and unscientific sample.


6 Responses

  1. How good to see you quoting a LibDem blog! Maybe there’s hope yet. As that blog post says in the title of its round-up of the week’s by-elections, all of them ended up with no change.
    As for the wider picture, the Labour Party would not only enhance its own reputation but would do the country an immense favour if it would announce its detailed counter-proposal to what the government is doing. The Labour Party has spent six months gazing at its navel and all it has found is white fluff. That is no substitute for a coherent political programme.

    Brian writes: Thanks, Peter. I was about to record my disagreement with your (and the coalition’s) demand for Labour to announce a full alternative economic programme when I realised that Tom Berney had done it for me, pithily and cogently — please see his final comment of 29 October, below, and my supportive response to it.

  2. Tom Berney says:

    It is worth noting that the East Kilbride West ward is about the most affluent in the town – in other places it would be rock solid Tory.  The turn out was very low – partly a lack of enthusiasm combined with dreadful weather on the day – but nevertheless it was gratifying to see the LibDems getting what they deserved, coming bottom of six with a derisory 3.4%.
    On Peter’s point, it strikes me as the height of chutzpah for a LibDem to talk about Labour’s reputation when the LibDems have just entirely disappeared up their own ****s  in supporting policies which are the direct opposite of their manifesto! Their Ministers have become evangelical Tories overnight.  Labour are the opposition. They do not need to spell out detailed alternatives at this stage. They have, however, been consistent is saying that they would have sought to reduce the deficit over a longer period.  I do not have too much time for Labour these days, but the sight of the ConLib backbenchers cheering and shouting for “MORE! ” after each welfare cut Osborne announced let’s me know what side I want to be on. 

  3. Ah, East Kilbride where the LibDem vote fell by all of 3.7%.
    Labour are the opposition. They do not need to spell out detailed alternatives
    What was that about chutzpah?

  4. I said that it would be good for the country if the Labour Party could come up with a coherent alternative policy. I meant it. There will inevitably be opposition to what the government is doing and it would be a good idea for that opposition to be channelled through a constitutional party with a realistic alternative programme. But if the Labour Party isn’t up to the job, that opposition will still be there — and it will  express itself in less desirable and less coherent ways.

  5. Tom Berney says:

    East Kilbride where the LibDem vote fell by all of 3.7%.

    When you are down to your last 70 (!) voters the potential for large swings against you is a bit limited.  

    Labour are the opposition. They do not need to spell out detailed alternatives

    The normal opposition role when the election is years away is to try to defeat or ameliorate those specific government proposals it believes will be damaging.  When was it ever otherwise?  Do you really believe, for example,  that if Ed Milliband were now to present, say. the entire LibDem manifesto to Parliament there would be any chance of it being adopted? That’s not how it works.

    Brian writes: I entirely agree. Labour’s preferred alternative approach to the recession and the deficit is anyway quite clear enough: Miliband E. has reaffirmed as Labour’s starting-point, subject of course to refinement as the situation changes as a result of the coalition’s blunderbuss tactics, Alastair Darling’s pre-election policies of halving, not eliminating, the deficit in four years, a more gradualist approach, with increased taxes on the better off playing a proportionally greater role vis-à-vis expenditure cuts than what the coalition is doing, and with an increase in National Insurance contributions (not paid by the unemployed, retired, etc.) instead of the coalition’s increase in VAT which falls disproportionately on the poorest and depresses demand more brutally. Labour has also specified in detail which of the CSR cuts it will support and which it will oppose on practical and progressive grounds. That seems to me a credible, humane, non-panicky way for an opposition party to behave when there are likely to be four or five years before the next election. It also happens to resemble rather closely the policies proclaimed by the LibDems before the election, i.e. those on whose basis several million LibDem votes were cast, almost all of those policies now abandoned and many reversed. Had Clegg opted for a confidence and supply agreement with Cameron instead of being seduced into a full-blown coalition, the LibDems would even now be free to expound the far more progressive policies on which their MPs were elected, without being forced to support their Tory antitheses. But it’s too late now, alas.

  6. In October, Lib Dems were net unchanged, with 5 seats successfully defended, and 1 gain (from Conservatives) balanced by 1 loss (to Conservatives).