Newark by-election 2014

Newark By election
The by-election was caused by the resignation of Patrick Mercer. Mercer was caught in a Panorama/Telegraph sting operation in 2013 where he agreed to take money in exchange for asking questions about Fiji.
A subsequent Commons investigation found Mercer had deliberately evaded the rules of the House and recommended a suspension. When news of the coming suspension broke Mercer immediately resigned from the Commons on the 30th April. The by-election was held on the 5th June 2014, shortly after the European elections. It was the first by-election held under the new longer timetable introduced under the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013.
Following the announcement of the by-election there was speculation that the UKIP leader Nigel Farage would run as a candidate but this was rapidly ruled out, with the sitting UKIP MEP Roger Helmer instead being nominated. Both Labour and Conservative parties had prospective Parliamentary candidates already selected. The seat was comfortably held by the Conservative with UKIP taking second place. The Liberal Democrats finished sixth, behind the Greens and an independent candidate.

Result
Robert Jenrick (Conservative) 17431 45% (-8.9%)
Roger Helmer (UKIP) 10028 25.9% (+22.1%)
Michael Payne (Labour) 6842 17.7% (-4.7%)
Paul Baggaley (Independent) 1891 4.9% (n/a)
David Kirwan (Green) 1057 2.7% (n/a)
David Watts (Liberal Democrat) 1004 2.6% (-17.4%)
Nick the Flying Brick (Loony) 168 0.4% (n/a)
Andy Hayes (Independent) 117 0.3% (n/a)
David Bishop (Bus Pass Elvis) 87 0.2% (n/a)
Dick Rodgers (Common Good) 64 0.2% (n/a)
Lee Woods (Patriotic Socialist) 18 0% (n/a)
MAJORITY 7403 19.1% (-12.4%)
Turnout 52.8% (-19.6%)
Candidates
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Robert Jenrick (Conservative) Born 1982. Educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School and Cambridge university. Solicitor and former Managing Director of Christies. Contested Newcastle-under-Lyme 2010.
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Roger Helmer (UKIP) Born 1944, London. Educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Southampton and Cambridge University. Businessman. MEP for the East Midlands since 1999. Elected as a Conservative, he announced his intention to stand down as an MEP in 2011, but instead defected to UKIP.
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Michael Payne (Labour) Educated at Lancaster University. Gedling borough councillor. Nottinghamshire county councillor since 2013.
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Paul Baggaley (Independent) Born 1954. Secretary of a local hospital campaign group
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David Kirwan (Green) Trade Union officer
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David Watts (Liberal Democrat) born 1966, Batley. Educated at Huddersfield Polytechnic. Lecturer and qualified solicitor. Broxtowe councillor since 1999. Contested Broxtowe 2005, 2010.
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Nick the Flying Brick Delves (Loony) Shadow Minister for the Abolition of Gravity. Contested Derbyshire West 1997, 2001, 2005, Crewe and Nantwich by-election 2008, Derbyshire Dales 2010, Oldham East and Saddleworth 2011 by-election
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Andy Hayes (Independent) Disability campaigner
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David Bishop (Bus Pass Elvis) Painter, decorator and poet – writing under the pen name of Lord Biro. Contested Tatton 1997, Brentwood and Ongar 2001, Erewash 2005, Haltemprice and Howden by-election 2008, Kettering 2010, Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election 2011, Feltham and Heston by-election 2011, Corby by-election 2012, Eastleigh by-election 2013
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Dick Rodgers (Common Good) born 1946. Former Orthopaedic surgeon and clergyman. Contested Hartlepool by-election 2004, Dunfermline and West Fife by-election 2006, Henley 2008 by-election, Birmingham Northfield 2005, 2010. Contested West Midlands Region in 2004 European elections.
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Lee Woods (Patriotic Socialist)
Comments - 515 Responses on “Newark by-election”
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  1. I doubt it. They won’t have the footsoldiers or the media attention while Labour have just gained valuable canvass data and got their candidate some name recognition. There’s also the “forming a government” factor which isn’t present in a by-election.

    I’m not saying Labour are about to win it but they’ll probably do better.

  2. One frustration I have with lots of comments above comparing with the past (if this was year X, the Tories would have been beaten) is that the Tories have, in the mean time, finally discovered a way to win Parliamentary by-elections. It has taken 50+ years, but they seem to have learnt techniques from the Rennard by-election handbook (hardly surprising given the number of former SDP activists that have ended up Tories). Couple that with spendng ‘£250,000’, if the post above is to be believed, instead of the few thousand on the old spending limits, and they are now able to defend seats like Newark that they weren’t able to effectively defend in 2000 and earlier.

  3. Tories received their 54th highest share of the vote in Newark in 2010. They may have topped 60% in 1992.

  4. I would have thought the 2010 result was fairly close to their 1992 figure. I think the drop in 1997 was a bit less than average, and the 2001 result would have recovered most of it, with a bit more in 2005 and 10.
    Boundaries are of course different – although not as drastically different as being spun.

  5. I think Ben’s point may be valid, but another key point which has already been touched on is we are not in normal times. We are developing several different party systems. There is not a united verdict on the same set of issues across the country.
    Newark could very well be one of the places where the response to the Tories is positive – even in a relative sense (swing).
    We still have the issue of a large chunk of LD votes in the red column in London marginal for example – much as I enjoy the LD problems.

  6. JJB
    Another ‘not in normal times’ element is the publicity around UKIP, leading to the BBC doing a by-election special last night, for example. If the media thought Labour or LibDems, rather than UKIP, were to have been the most likely to beat the Tories in Newark, they wouldn’t have been so interested. It just isn’t such a big news story.

    Such news values have, in turn, led some of journos, when by-elections become due to think in terms of ‘is this the one for UKIP?’ So when Mercer resigned, sufficient journos were talking in terms of whether it could be the UKIP breakthrough to mean UKIP were, in turn, much more likely to be the main challenger to the Tories, and giving them the initial momentum to be the 2nd horse in the race.

    So long as journos keep thinking in terms of ‘is this the one for UKIP?’ and reacting when they think the answer may be ‘yes’, Labour and the LibDems will find it much harder in by-elections in Tory held seats than they would before UKIP, regardless of how they as a party are doing.

  7. And possibly, Ben, that last statement is a reason, why, ironically, in the churn, UKIP is to some extent helping the Conservatives by protecting them from tougher challenges from the other 2 parties. But as I said, we are developing different party systems.

  8. Joe James B,

    I think your observation that “we are developing different party systems” is very true.

    the funny thing is that the media themselves have observed that we are not witnessing the con>lab swings and vice versa, that we used to see in previous parliaments. UKIP is clearly gathering much of the protest vote that used to go to the lib dems and the opposition party.

    To expect labour to win Newark was as absurd as expecting the tories to mount a challenge in Wythenshawe and Sale. The emergence of UKIP complicates this two dimensional “swingometer” way of looking at the political world.

  9. I agree with a lot of that from James aswell.
    We’ve gone back towards a 2 party system in the sense the 2 are fairly evenly matched, but it’s two other parties aswell,
    plus votes for the Greens and the Nationalists.

  10. And there’s massive variation between types of seat now.
    I think Richard’s summary is a bit too blunt though.

  11. Losing 9% of the vote where you started with 20% is a worse result than where you started with 54%.

    In the past Tory support sometimes halved or worse in seats where they started out with shares like this.

  12. I’ve not had time to read all of the comments so I apologise in case I’m repeating anything that’s already been said…

    Two points:

    (1) It seems pretty clear that UKIP simply do not have the by-election organisational strength which the Lib Dems enjoyed when they were the repository for protest votes: in the past had the Lib Dems been where UKIP were in the two Newark by-election polls (i.e. 2nd place in each case) their superior on-the-ground organisation would have been enough to carry them through to victory, or, failing that, to a much more convincing 2nd place by polling day. Given how long it took for the Lib Dems to start winning significant numbers of seats under first-past-the-post the future really does look rather dire for UKIP (at least in terms of any parliamentary representation).

    (2) The Newark result tells us next to nothing about what will happen in Tory vs. Labour terms next May for the simple reason that it was not a straight Tory/Labour fight (which is pretty much what May 2015 will be in seat terms). In late 1991 the Tories scored one of the most abysmal ever by-election performances in the late Eric Heffer’s Liverpool constituency and within a few months won re-election in the 1992 General Election with the biggest popular vote mandate in British political history. Nobody saw that coming and had this board been operational then you would all have laughed out of court anyone who would have suggested such an outcome.

    As a general point, people get carried away by by-election results. Regardless of the Newark result, the essential facts remain the same:-

    (a) Next May the Lib Dems will win 30+ seats because they will hold most of those constituencies which they are defending against Tory attack, whilst losing most of the smaller number of their seats where Labour are the main challengers;

    (b) UKIP will win zero seats and will make little difference to the Tory vs. Labour battle in the marginals. If you doubt that then please consider the fact that Labour enjoyed a lead of between 1%-2% in the May 22nd local elections (in which UKIP polled 17%) and enjoyed exactly the same lead over the Tories in the Euro-elections held on the same day (in which the UKIP share rose to 29%).

    (c) There will be little net swing between Tory and Labour. The underlying poll data on leadership qualities and economic competence shows the Labour lead cannot hold but with time running out there have to be question marks as to how large a lead the Conservatives can realistically build up in the remaining eleven months, especially given that Ed Miliband looks likely to hold onto most of the (ex-) Lib Dem left-leaning voters who have come back into the Labour fold.

  13. Robin Hood – I agree with (a) & (c). (b) is unknown. I’d say 0-5 seats is most likely for UKIP. I disagree with (1) and (2). It wasn’t just polls that placed the LibDems 2nd in a clutch of by-elections in the ’90s, but they were the opposition or in power in some of those seats in terms of Cllrs. Whereas I think UKIP had 1 in Newark and that was from a fortnight ago. Liverpool Walton is a bad example as a pointer, as Labour also performed badly in that by-election (the big swing was to the SLD Paul Clark IIRC). But I agree that UKIP are not as good as the main/old Parties in GOTV operations but this is in part due to their lack of canvass data etc.

  14. Or maybe it’s to do with the average age of their activists?

  15. “You do not expect Mid Sussex to be a hotbed of Catholicism”.

    H. Hemmelig – I’m a ptacticing Catholic and wondered which parish your relative attended. Was it St. Wilfred’s in Burgess Hill, St. Paul’s in Hayward’s Heath or Our Lady and St. Peter in East Grinstead?

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