Number of candidates
* There were no by-elections in Scotland.
** There were two by-elections in Wales.
*** There were no independent clashes in April.
**** 'Other' this month consisted of Lincolnshire Independents (269 votes).
Overall, 9,622 votes were cast over nine individual local (tier one and tier two) authority contests. All percentages are rounded to the nearest single decimal place. For comparison see March's results here.
Whereas last month appeared boring, April really was. Only nine contests and two seats changing hands (Tories dropping one to the LibDems but gaining another from an Independent) it can mean but one thing: local authority elections are imminent. On 22nd May council elections will be held on the same day as the Europeans, and as per traditions all the parties prefer to roll up their by-elections into polling day in the hope that they will get more votes, and a holding by-elections at the same time allow them to benefit from campaigning economies of scale. Therefore I imagine the by-election front will be very quiet up until the big day.
Of April's results I'm sure some Tories are smiling. A few Labour people might be tempted to shed a tear. Yet look beyond the appearance and discern the essence beneath. Yes, Labour's results are very poor compared with previous months. And for the first time the Tories have commanded a substantial lead. There is, however, no need to neck the deadly nightshade. Firstly the depressed Labour vote and low averages indicate that most contests took place in areas where Labour are disadvantaged. The Tories despite their apparent "triumph" have a low average by their standards - if they're not doing well in areas where they can expect to, then trouble's-a-brewing.
There isn't a great deal you can say about the other parties either, except this is the closest the LibDems have run UKIP in a while, and the first instance in a long time their average has surpassed Farage's band of angry old men. Again, this is not a sea change, the LibDems piled the votes high in a couple of their contests. As difficult as it is to believe, there are still some places where people vote for the yellow party in their hundreds.
No TUSC - no surprises there as they've been pulling out the stops to stand as many council candidates as possible. Expect an upcoming post looking at that. And, again, no BNP. In their much-reduced circumstances they might be shepherding resources for the European elections, but standing paper candidates in a by-election costs nothing and there's been hide nor hair of them since December. What a pity.