Saturday 23 December 2023

Local Council By-Elections: 2023 in Aggregate

419,300 votes were cast over 209 local authority contests. All percentages are rounded to the nearest decimal place. Please note some by-elections were for newly created or previously uncontested seats, so seats gained/lost will not tally. Likewise, some contests were for double vacancies. For comparison you can view last year's results here.

* There were nine by-elections in Scotland
** There were 11 by-elections in Wales
*** There were 23 contests with Independent clashes
**** See the quarterly round ups for the results from smaller parties

It's customary around these parts to do an end-of-year round up of forecasts made during the year, and looking at these result two that have been consistently made over a series of posts are being borne out. You don't need me to tell you there's zero enthusiasm for Keir Starmer in real world land, and so it has proved. The numbers have dropped on 2022, dipping beneath even 2021's vote haul. A year which was by no means a good year for the party. Worth noting the seven net gains registered here were entirely from the first quarter.

The second is as Labour continues to disappoint, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens pick up the slack instead. The yellow party's performance has only improved as the year has worn on, and party big wigs have got to be expecting a relatively handsome take when the general election lands seeing as almost all of them come at the Tories' expense. The rise of the Greens continues as well, performing better in by-elections than Labour. It also matched the seats gained last year and has improved its votes share by over two points, despite only standing nine more candidates. The move to the Greens is real.

Not that this will cause the Labour leadership any headaches yet, but - as if it needs saying again - its dearth of genuine support will cause them problems when they enter government, and the Greens and Lib Dems are very well placed to capitalise on the electoral fall out.

The main loser this year is hardly a shocker. If there's a consolation for the Tories it's that they didn't lose quite as many by-elections this year and therefore councillors. Notwithstanding the utter massacre in May where their losses amounted to over 1,000 seats. But their vote is plunging and tells of the crisis in support among the layers the Tories need to win again. Bearing in mind older people are likelier to trek to the polls for council by-elections and the huge advantage the party has built up among this layer, to find them trailing Labour all year and, on occasion, the Lib Dems is suggestive of real trouble. It couldn't happen to a nicer party.

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