Tomorrow we have some actual proper elections to look at – three by-elections, the new Police and Crime Commissioners across Wales and most of England, plus the Bristol mayoral election and the normal local government by-elections.

The three Parliamentary by-elections are the two caused by the resignation of veteran Labour MPs to contest the police elections (Alun Michael in Cardiff South and Penarth and Tony Lloyd in Manchester Central) and one in Corby caused by the resignation of Louise Mensch to go and live in the USA. The first two are safe Labour seats that promise little of interest – there is no obvious prospect of any upset and both will be easily held by Labour. The Corby by-election is more interesting, but just as easily predictable – the Conservative majority at the last election was only 3.6%, so with current national opinion polls showing a swing to Labour of around 9% they will win Corby at a stroll. If Corby behaves in line with national polling Labour should win with a majority of around 15%, in fact the polling of the seat commissioned by Lord Ashcroft suggests they will do even better than that, showing a Labour lead of 22 points.

The police elections are far less predictable. The elections take place in all English and Welsh police forces outside London, with each force electing a Police and Crime Commissioner using the Supplemental vote system (the same system used in the London mayoral election – you get a first and a second preference vote, if no candidate gets 50% on the first round all but the top two candidates are eliminated and the second preferences of people who voted for eliminated candidates are redistributed).

As I write there has not been any substantial polling of voting intentions in the police elections – there was a MORI poll that briefly asked about it, but given only around 150 people in the sample said they were certain to vote it won’t tell us much. Under normal circumstances we should expect Labour to do very well in the elections – it is a mid-term vote for positions that people don’t really understand, a perfect opportunity for a protest vote. On Thursday we have several unknowns – first is the extent to which people vote on the issue of crime, where the Conservatives have a traditional advantage. Second is the impact of the Liberal Democrats only contesting some seats. Third is the impact of independent candidates – you regularly get polls showing people like the idea of independent candidates, but in Parliamentary elections they invariably don’t vote for them. We shall see if people do end up voting in substantial numbers for non-party candidates.

Finally, there is the issue of turnout – both how it affects the results, and on the turnout figure itself. A lot of the media discussion in advance of the elections has been about how low turnout will be, whether it will be lower than the 23% recorded in the 1999 European elections, whether it will be as low as the 18% the Electoral Reform Society predicted. There have been a couple of polls asking whether people are likely to vote which have shown between 15% and 28% of people saying they are certain to vote, but don’t pay too much attention to that: turnout is remarkably difficult to predict from opinion polls (partly because the registers they use to work out turnout are not accurate in themselves, mostly because people tend to grossly overestimate their likelihood to vote – responses to the British Election Study are cross-checked against the marked electoral register to see if people actually did vote, and even amongst those people who say they are 10/10 certain to vote a good twenty percent don’t seem to actually do so.

Only Wiltshire police commissioner and the two safe Labour by-elections are counting overnight. Corby and all the other police elections are counting during the day on Friday, with the first results expected to turn up around lunchtime.

115 Responses to “Thursday’s elections”

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  1. @Crossbatt @Martyn @Rob Sheffield

    I had often wondered if Rob S and Rob Marchant, sometimes of Labour LIst, had ever been seen in the same room together until the former referenced one of the letters blogposts, on here.

  2. ps. I did also wonder when I saw that letter in the Guardian ;-).

  3. *latter.

  4. @ Colin

    Libel & defamation law is simple. The person who says it must be able to prove it is true.

    Therefore, if the Twitterer has been stupid enough to tweet “Named Person did it.” then the Twit is in hot water. If, as is much more likely, the Twit has tweeted that “Named person is accused of doing it.” or variations thereon, the Twit can prove what they wrote was true provided it was tweeted prior to the accusation being retracted.

  5. Paul – walk across the ‘county’ bridge to Startforth and you will be in historic Yorkshire as recognised by YCC.

  6. JJ:

    Yes: I know. I lives here…… but thankyou.

    Funny thing is its no different though.

  7. Amber:

    If burglars head straight for your sock drawer you’ve only pourself to blame.

  8. @ Croftee,

    Thanks for the tip… I shall put it in the biscuit tin instead. ;-)

  9. AMBER

    Thanks-but I have no expertise on this issue , so can’t comment.

    Would rather assume that his lawyers know what they are doing, that he achieves the satisfaction he seeks under the law , and that those who transgressed the law are punished appropriately.

    What else can one say?

  10. In the Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner election, Brian Greenslade, LD Leader of North Devon District Council is standing as an (cough) Independent, against the official LD candidate. Mr Greenslade has yet to be expelled from the Lib Dems (as he should be). Probably because if he was there’d be no-one else to organise what remains of the LDs in North Devon.

  11. Amber:

    You’re not one of those cunning people who go around advising on crime prevention are you?

    For added security you could hide yer biscuits in the sock drawer. That would confuse them no bother.

  12. Amber:

    Another legal thought: If you DO decide to pay interest to yourself on the money in your sock drawer make sure you inform Inland Revenue and pay tax on it.

    Don’t want to end up like Greece.

  13. @Hannah

    Freely available on t’internet is

    “Rob Marchant was born in Waddington, Lincs., grew up in North Yorkshire and studied at New College, Oxford, Birkbeck College, London”

    I’ve already said I grew up in Bristol!

    What with the Gaza retaliation operation (#prayforisrael) the next thing you’ll be doing is referring to me as- to quote the silver tongued George Galloway- “a hook nosed Jew” ;-)

  14. @ Roger Mexico

    “After a set of rather dull by-election line-ups, we seem to be back to the tradition of the packed declaration stage with Corby having 14 candidates (a lot attention-seeking in true Mensch fashion) and Manchester Central with 12 (many leftist in line with its traditions and both Tory and Lib Dem candidates gay as befits the home of Canal Street). However though Cardiff has 8 that’s actually one less than it managed in 2010. It will be interesting to see if there are any surprisingly good results from the minor parties (Greens? Pirates??), though there won’t be another Bradford West.”

    Two gay candidates running against each other in a general election? That’s wild. I guess they’re taking cues from West Hollywood (except there are no Republicans or Libertarians who stand any chance of getting elected there). Actually, the San Diego mayoral race this year featured 2 gay Republicans. One of the gay Republicans though (the one who made it into the runoff) was sort of a publicly self-hating gay (he was very proud and open about his Republicanism though). Makes me glad I don’t live in San Diego. Horrible people they all are, gay Republicans. They are probably the lowest form of human fecal matter pond scum you can find.

    And yet when you meet them, they all seem so innocent and have this air of naivety that matches that of the 1930’s German Jews who put on their Sunday finest when they were rounded up and taken to concentration camps. You don’t know whether to hate them or feel sorry for them. The difference is that those German Jews really had no choice at that point and denial was the only way of dealing with the horror they faced after being rounded up. Gay Republicans could grow some backbone or step away from their extreme greed but choose not to.

    The one in San Diego was really bad because he knew what he was doing (he was more like some of the Jews who actively collaborated with Hitler). He was backed by San Diego’s cadre of ultra right wing billionaires and centa millionaires who wanted to crush labor unions and environmentalists. He was happy to oblige and assured them that although he was gay, he would make sure to never push for any LGBT Civil Rights (something these billionaires might be uncomfortable with) and they gave him their full blessing. That’s pretty loathesome.

    @ Martyn

    “However, as I’ve said before, we know Eoin and Sue’s real names, we’ve seen Colin/Alec (I forget which) on telly with his shirt button undone after some honest coppering, we could find out Amber and SoCalLib’s identities if we were unethical enough to try, and I am uneasy with this level of personal disclosure. So I wish RobS hadn’t been outed: his personal id is not germane to this board.”

    Well as it turns out, it wasn’t him. I can assure you that outing me is completely not woth it. I’m a big nobody so you could save your efforts for elsewhere. On on other other blogs has ever tried to out me except for one guy who I thought I was LATimes reporter/historian Kevin Starr. I was flattered but had to ensure the lady that I am not Starr.

  15. Pete B

    “Since then [1950’s] turnout in all forms of elections has been falling, and we have seen all sorts of variations and gimmicks by both main parties to try to boost interest. The variations include reducing the voting age, allowing more postal votes, PR in some elections, etc etc. There has also been the rise of new parties such as SNP, Green, PC and UKIP.”

    The SNP and even the Greens are not new. The SNP has been in competition with the Liberals for the “none of the above” vote and has now garnered the whole of the largest voting bloc in Scotland while retaining all the romantic nationalists except Jim Sillars and he has nobody else to vote for..

    This is not the SNP’s doing. They have been used by the electorate. To describe this as a protest vote is a partisan analysis. It was at first when there was no prospect of winning anything but now a vote for the SNP is expression of hared against the Conservatives, disappointment with Labour and contempt for the Tories little helpers.

    They don’t even need to try very hard. An ordinary man seems a giant in the land of the pygmies.

    Do I detect in your emphasis on EU, hanging and immigration that you support UKIP on this clutch of policies?

    That could be why you overlook the number of Old- Traditional- Ethical- Socialist- Christian- Labour members or former Labour voters repelled by NewLabour. They are unrepresented too.

    Some have, for reasons of sentiment, hope for change, tribalism or inertia hung on with Labour. Others have been drawn to the Greens or SNP. Altogether they may be moreof them thanthere are of UKIP sympathisers, at least in Scotland.

    They are certainly a soft part of the Labour vote in Scotland.

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