There were six principal council by-elections on July 8th and a single Town Council contest reported to ALDC. Of the six, our best result came in the Cockerton West ward of Darlington, where candidate Brian Jefferson gained a near 20% upswing in the Lib Dem voteshare to leap into second. The urgency with which Labour’s council Leader and new M.P. pounded the streets testified to our candidate’s well-established reputation as hard working local teacher and community campaigner, who had previously served on the council for the Conservatives. Our campaign team won the literature war, putting out three election addresses in a variety of sizes (all on recycled paper, for additional environmental currency), blue letters timed to coincide with the arrival of postal votes, and a targeted Good Morning, well in excess of the output from the opposing parties. The BNP were active in the council estate areas, finishing with a typical flourish by illegally fly-posting election propaganda onto council properties on polling day, before having them all ripped down and storming into last place (shedding nearly 10% of their vote). With a former UKIP candidate running for the Tories and polling a mere 10% himself, our candidate was the only competition for a complacent Labour and came within forty votes of a notable victory.
Of the remainder, only one principal council seat saw a change of hands with Labour wresting the Blackwood ward on Caerphilly from an Independent in an election with no Liberal Democrat candidate. In a similar vein was Blaenau Gwent, in whose Tredegar Central and West ward we successfully took one fifth of the vote last time around, but no-one to build on it two years later. The Greens held on in Brighton, at the back end of a long shuffle prompted by Caroline Lucas’ elevation to the Commons in May. The remaining principal council results were all Labour Holds, and their increasing voteshare features as today’s common denominator. In the Towns, the St Ives Independents Held and Gained one apiece on St Ives T.C., the gain being at the expense of the Greens.
With a princely nine by-elections coming on the 15th, there will be plenty to look out for. In the meantime, a quick reminder that ALDC are accepting nominations for a variety of prizes in our Campaigner Awards 2010. Details on our website are accessible via http://tinyurl.com/34dhlqe. The best of luck to all our campaign teams across the country.
ALDC By-Elections Team