* Scottish National Party contested all three Scottish local council by-elections.
** Plaid Cymru contested the only Welsh local council by-election.
*** There were occasions where Independent candidates contested the same seats, hence percentage of contests has been left blank.
**** 'Other' parties and organisations likewise clashed.
Overall 60,911 votes were cast over 37 individual local (tier one and tier two) authority contests. All percentages are rounded to the nearest single decimal place.
There are a number of caveats that come with the data.
Firstly, local council by-elections are extremely uneven and can be distorted by elections clustering in safe seats. For example, while Labour won almost half of all the contests this last quarter a good many happened to occur in Labour-supporting areas. Second, comparing one quarter results to another (which I'll be doing anyway in early July) can never be like-for-like precisely because contests take place randomly. Swings in support are likely to reflect the character of the seats up for election than wider patterns. Thirdly, unlike other second order elections (parliamentary by-elections, European elections, normal local authority elections) local concerns can rudely come to the fore and swing an outcome.
With these concerns in mind, I think two solid conclusions can be drawn. There is the net win/loss of council seats. While Labour's results were buoyed by lots of contests in its areas, it still managed a haul of three seats - outpaced only by the Liberal Democrats(!). The Tory decline however saw them lose seats to both parties and UKIP. To perform so poorly while standing in 97 per cent of seats (and only winning six of those elections) could well be indicative of the crisis afflicting the right.
While we're on the topic, let's talk about the strength of party organisation. The fact, for example, that UKIP were able to contest 65 per cent of the seats indicates greater organisational capacity than the other minor parties. But likewise the table also illustrates that the LibDems are not entirely out of the count yet, indicating there is still some distance our MkII Tory Party has to travel before it meaningfully displaces them as the third party in the country. Also, managing only to contest six seats was the BNP. That seems to fit the general consensus that their decline is continuing. Good.