Friday 10 February 2023

Breezing to Victory

It was an easy win. In line with everyone who ventured a prediction, at the West Lancashire by-election Labour romped home with 62% - up over 10 points on the general election. The Tories carried on having a bad time as they dropped 10 points to 25%, and no one else managed to save their deposit.

Does the result suggest much about British politics? Only what even the dogs in the streets know. The Tories are getting hammered thanks to what one ex-Prime Minister did and what the current one carries on doing. Labour are the obvious alternative government and, in most cases, the best bet for registering a protest. It also shows that, for the moment, the Liberal Democrats, Greens, and Reform UK are also rans. Circumstance can and do arise where the first can be the beneficiary of tactical voting for Westminster elections, and for local council by-elections the Greens are benefiting too. Reform UK, however, are nowhere - despite coming third here with fewer than a thousand votes.

In the near future, it appears the conditions are ripening for the Lib Dems and Greens to have a happy time. For Reform, less so. With the Tories a spent force marking time before the inevitable defeat, a mix of ruinous economics and a significant misreading of the public appetite for culture war rubbish means they retain the core right wing vote. Those dribbling away to Reform can only be hardcore Brexit fanatics and those who can't bring themselves to support Rishi Sunak for straightforwardly racist reasons. This is not going to improve once the Tories are out of office. Indeed, once in opposition Reform is likely to go the way of UKIP, the space for them smothered by the battered carcass of the defeated Conservative Party.

An entirely inconsequential by-election then. Some, however, will pretend that the numbers behind the easy Labour victory actually means it's a catastrophic failure for Keir Starmer. Look at the turnout. It's down nearly 41 points on the general election. We've talked about this before. Turnouts for by-elections are typically depressed because they're elections that, effectively speaking, don't matter. By-election ballots cast dip even further when the contest is a foregone conclusion, and especially so in a safe seat. There is little enthusiasm for the Labour leader and his shadow cabinet of empty suits, but when the polls are where they are and the mood of the country is anti-Tory, that doesn't matter to him or Labour's chances very much. It's not a gotcha. The lack of popular support becomes significant later when Starmer tries implementing his programme, and particularly those parts of it that go after our people.

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1 comment:

Blissex said...

«when the polls are where they are and the mood of the country is anti-Tory, that doesn't matter to him or Labour's chances very much.»

2001: 42,971/58.8%: Con 13,761, NLab 23,404, LD 4,966
2005: 43,155/57.7%: Con 14,662, NLab 20,746, LD 6,059, UKI 871
2010: 48,473/63.8%: Con 17,540, NLab 21,883, LD 6,573, UKI 1,775
2015: 49,676/70.0%: Con 16,114, NLab 24,474, LD 1,298, UKI 6,058
2017: 54,103/74.4%: Con 20,341, Lab 32,030, LD 1,069
2019: 42,663/72.0%: Con 19,122, Lab 27,458, LD 2,560, BXP 2,275
2023: 22,639/31.4%: Con 5,472, Lab 14,068, LD 918, RUK 997

In the latter by-election the number of votes fell by around 79% for the Conservatives, 49% for New Labour, 64% for the LibDems, 56% for BXP/RUK.
Pretty obviously the biggest loss for the Conservatives is abstentions.

Some recent by-elections (more recent first) compared to 2019:
2019: 50,067/69.4%: Con 13,778, Lab 30,195, LD 2,969, BXP 1,768
2022: 18,418/25.8%: Con 2,922, NLab 12,828, LD 659, RUK 650
2019: 54,560/71.7%: Con 20,918, Lab 27,082, LD 3,734, BXP 1,388
2022: 28,475/41.2%: Con 6,335, NLab 17,309, LD 2,368, RUK 773
2019: 46,145/69.8%: 29,786 Con, 10,384 Lab, 3,822 LD, UKI, Gre 1,477
2021: 21,733/33.5%: 11,189 Con, 6,711 NLab, 647 LD, RUK 1,432, Gre 831
2019: 55,978/76.8%, Con 30,850, Lab 7,166, Lib 14,627, UKI, Gre 3,042
2021: 37,954/52.1%, Con 13,489, Lab 622, Lib 21,517, UKI, Gre 1,480

Looks like that abnormally lower turnouts are mostly a fall in Conservative voters.

As our blogger mentioned these elections matter not much, even if more than than 2019 EU election, so a collapse in turnout for both Conservatives and New Labour is expected, but this is colossal, compared to the past.

New Labour probably will win by default in 2024/2025, but it could happen that like in 2019 once tory voters registered their mood in the EU elections by putting the Conservatives in third place, they still rewarded the Conservatives with a massive majority as housing costs were booming.