Wednesday, 5 November 2014

By-election Preview: 6 November 2014

There are just two by-elections on 6th November, one in Cornwall and one in Warwickshire which will be covered on English Elections.  (That low number is good news for your columnist who is still recovering from a long weekend in Bucharest.)  Both are the result of elected councillors moving on to take up new jobs.

The six-month rule comes into effect this week: as of Friday there will be less than six months to go to the 2015 local elections on 7th May.  From then on, any new vacancies in seats which will be up for election in 2015 will not be filled; as most English councils will have whole council elections next year this means there will be relatively few by-elections until then.

Cornwall council
Caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Michael Bunney, who is now employed by the council as a schoolteacher.

Mevagissey Harbour
Here we have one of those picture-postcard fishing villages which Cornwall specialises in. There are still fishermen at Mevagissey, but the economy of this village, on the south coast five miles south of St Austell, is based on tourism; as well as the harbour itself, part of the Heligan estate, with its restored Victorian garden, is within the division.  To the north the division includes the recently-created Pentewan Valley parish, which runs almost to the edge of St Austell and includes the intriguingly-named village of London Apprentice; and to the south is St Goran parish, whose largest village is the harbour of Gorran Haven.

Mevagissey unexpectedly voted Labour in 2013 in a close three-way result; Labour polled 30% of the vote with UKIP second on 28%, the Conservatives third on 24% and the Lib Dems also polling creditably with 14%.  The previous Mevagissey division (boundary changes in 2009 removed part of St Austell Bay parish) was a close Tory/Lib Dem marginal in 2009, and the electoral units which covered the area before the creation of the unitary Cornwall council also tended to be close fights between the Tories and Lib Dems.

The defending Labour candidate is Gorran Haven resident Charmain Nicholas, a nurse specialising in adult safeguarding.  The UKIP and Conservative candidates from last year are standing again; they are Michael Williams (from Gorran Haven) and James Mustoe (from St Austell, a staffer for the local Tory MP) respectively.  The Lib Dem candidate is Chris Maynard, an environmental campaigner and scout group leader from St Austell, while the Greens' Katherine Moseley again completes the ballot paper.

Parliamentary constituency: St Austell and Newquay
ONS Travel to Work Area: St Austell

Christopher Maynard (LD)
Katherine Moseley (Grn)
James Mustoe (C)
Charmain Nicholas (Lab)
Michael Williams (UKIP)

May 2013 result Lab 391 UKIP 363 C 316 LD 184 Grn 62

Thursday, 17 July 2014

By-election Preview: 17 July 2014

Cornwall council
Caused by the resignation of UKIP councillor Michael Keogh for personal reasons.

The Norway Inn, Perranarworthal
This division of Cornwall can be found wrapped around the western side of Penryn.  It is named after its three constituent parishes, with Mabe (a granite quarrying centre) at the southern end, St Gluvias (a suburb of Penryn) in the middle and Perranarworthal at the north end.  The name of Perranarworthal commemorates St Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall; and the village became the location of the eighteenth-century Perran iron foundry, now being redeveloped into homes.  One of the managers of the foundry built a mansion called Tullimaar House, where Eisenhower stayed for two weeks while organising the D-Day landings; appropriately, the house was later occupied by a naval rating at D-Day, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Sir William Golding.  Golding died here in 1993, and his family still live in the mansion.

This ward has the same boundaries as the ward which was more simply called "Mabe" used at the inaugural Cornwall council election in 2009.  Both the previous elections on these boundaries have been very fragmented with the winner receiving around 30% of the vote; the Tories beat off the Lib Dems by 80 votes in 2009 but lost out to UKIP in 2013 by just three votes.  Before 2009 the area covered by this ward was in two local government districts; Perranarworthal was part of the old Carrick district and in a ward which generally returned Tories, while the other two parishes formed part of an independent-held ward on Kerrier district council.

Defending for UKIP is Pete Tisdale, a Mabe parish councillor.  The Tories are standing Peter Williams, a builder from Perranarworthal.  The Lib Dem candidate is John Ault, from Penryn, who fought the ward in 2013; a university lecturer, former Cornwall county councillor and former chairman of the Electoral Reform Society, Ault has represented the Lib Dems on Top Gear and Exeter University on University Challenge.  Labour have selected Linda Hitchcox, from the village of Mawnan Smith to the south, and the Mebyon Kernow candidate is Karen Sumser-Lupson who, despite living in Cornwall, is chairman of the African Maritime Safety and Security Agency.

Parliamentary constituency: Camborne and Redruth (part: Mabe and St Gluvias parishes); Truro and Falmouth (part: Perranarworthal parish)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Falmouth and Heston (part: Mabe and St Gluvias parishes); Truro, Redruth and Camborne (part: Perranarworthal parish)

John Ault (LD)
Linda Hitchcox (Lab)
Karen Sumser-Lupson (MK)
Pete Tisdale (UKIP)
Peter Williams (C)

May 2013 result UKIP 413 C 410 LD 331 Ind 160 Lab 129
June 2009 result C 533 LD 453 Ind 212 Ind 181 Ind 162 MK 140 Lab 99

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

By-Election Preview: 10 July 2014

Five by-elections and one deferred election on 10th July 2014.  One Cornish contest is covered here, with the rest covered over on the English Elections blog.

Cornwall council
Caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Terry Wilkins.  A former London policeman, Wilkins resigned after it was revealed that for nearly two decades he had falsely claimed to have been appointed MBE.

Terraced Houses, Illogan
Illogan is a satellite village of Camborne and Redith, located between the two on the north side of the A30 bypass.  Originally an agricultural area, Illogan's economy was traditionally based on tin-mining, like much of the Camborne-Redruth conurbation.  The mines and their employment are now gone, but Illogan is one of the more better-off villages in the area. The ward includes some minor tourist attractions, including part of the Tehidy country park and the cliffs on the north coast, including the clifftop fort of Crane Castle.  In literature, Demelza from the Poldark novels was born here.

The only previous result on these boundaries is from 2013 and was a three-way marginal, the Tories winning the seat with 29% of the vote to 25% for Mebyon Kernow, the Cornish nationalist movement, and 23% for UKIP.  The Tories had a bigger majority in the Illogan ward that existed in 2009 at the first election to the unitary Cornwall council.  Before then the ward formed part of the Illogan North ward of the abolished Kerrier district council (which voted C/Liberal Party/Lib Dem in 2003, the Lib Dems gaining the Conservative seat in 2007) and part of the Illogan and Portreath division of the former Cornwall county council (which voted for an independent in 2005).

History records that the 2001 county election result in the former Illogan North division, which originally elected a Liberal Party county councillor, was so close it was eventually voided by the courts on the grounds that two votes were wrongly included in the count.  Despite what some high-profile recent fraud cases like Birmingham 2004 or Oldham East and Saddleworth 2010 may lead people to believe, most successful challenges to election results are not due to fraud or falsehoods told in the campaign, but due to procedural errors like that which are unlucky enough to occur in a very close election and affect the result.  Human errors like that do happen every so often and all we can hope to do is catch them before they make an impact.

Defending for the Conservatives is Adam Desmonde, who is a councillor on the parish-level Truro city council and as such lives a fair distance away from the ward.  The runner-up last year, Illogan parish councillor Stephen Richardson, tries again for Mebyon Kernow.  UKIP are standing Clive Polkinghorne, a parish councillor in Hayle further down the A30.  The Lib Dems have reselected Illogan parish councillor David Ekinsmyth, who has fought this area several times over the last decade or so.  Labour's candidate is Trevor Chalker, the deputy mayor of Camborne; Jacqueline Merrick stands for the Green Party; and completing the ballot paper is Paul Holmes of the continuing Liberal Party, a former district councillor for the area and the winner of the voided 2001 county election.

Parliamentary constituency: Camborne and Redruth
ONS Travel to Work Area: Truro, Redruth and Camborne
Postcode districts: TR14, TR15, TR16

Trevor Chalker (Lab)
Adam Desmonde (C)
David Ekinsmyth (LD)
Paul Holmes (Lib)
Jacqueline Merrick (Grn)
Clive Polkinghorne (UKIP)
Stephen Richardson (MK)

May 2013 result C 331 MK 290 UKIP 259 LD 157 Lab 113