1:10pm As I said earlier, the political class exaggerates the meaning of by-elections, which are poor predictors of the next general election result. But these bad losses for the Conservatives could put Boris Johnson back in danger.
1:06pm Lib Dems win T&H by about 14% – HUGE swing!
1:04pm Lib Dems GAIN T&H from Conservatives
1:01pm Labour wins Wakefield by about 18%.
12:57pm Labour GAINS Wakefield from the Conservatives.
12:10pm Wakefield results due in the next 30 minutes, T&H in 60 to 90 minutes according to Britain Elects. This was posted ten minutes ago.
11:40am Friday I haven’t missed anything at gym. More than 4.5 hours after polls closed, still no results from either by-election. All I can report is that turnout in Wakefield was 39.1% (down 24.5% from 2019 general election turnout) and 52.0% in T&H (down 19.9%). Turnout in by-elections is always well down from general elections.
Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.
UK parliamentary by-elections are today in two Conservative-held seats, with polls closing at 7am Friday AEST. Both seats were vacated owing to misbehaviour by the incumbent MPs, with the Wakefield MP resigning after a conviction for child sexual assault, while the Tiverton & Honiton MP was caught watching porn in parliament.
Wakefield was held by Labour from 1932 until the Conservatives won it in 2019, while Tiverton & Honiton has been Conservative-held since its creation in 1997. Labour will be the main challenger in Wakefield and the Liberal Democrats in Tiverton & Honiton. Two polls in Wakefield have Labour winning by 20 and 23 points; I have not seen any polls in Tiverton & Honiton.
If Labour wins Wakefield, I believe it would be their first gain at a by-election since Corby in November 2012. In a sign that by-election results are overread by the political class, the Conservatives regained Corby at the 2015 general election, and have held it since.
At the 2019 general election, the Conservatives won Wakefield by 47.3-39.8 over Labour, with 6.1% for the Brexit party and 3.9% Liberal Democrats. Wakefield voted Leave by 63-37 at the 2016 Brexit referendum. The Conservatives won Tiverton & Honiton in 2019 by 60.2-19.5 over Labour with 14.8% for the Liberal Democrats and 3.8% Greens. It voted Leave by 57.8-42.2.
While Tiverton & Honiton is held by a big margin, the Liberal Democrats had massive swings to them at both the North Shropshire by-election in December 2021 and the Chesham & Amersham by-election in June 2021.
In recent days, there has been much media and political focus on rail strikes. While voters want the trains to run, inflation and the resulting real wage cuts are a major problem, so voters may sympathize with workers demanding better pay.
Other matters: Israel, Colombia and Ukraine
A year ago, Israeli parties from across the political spectrum formed a government to oust Benjamin Netanyahu, who was PM from 2009 to 2021. However, this government has now collapsed, and new elections are expected in late October or November. Polls suggest Netanyahu’s Likud, with support from religious parties, would win close to a majority of the Knesset.
At Sunday’s Colombian presidential runoff election, the left-wing Gustavo Petro defeated the right-wing populist Rodolfo Hernández by a 50.4-47.3 margin. Petro is the first leftist to win the Colombian presidency.
The left has performed well in recent South American elections, with wins in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. The most important South American election is Brazil in October, where far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is badly trailing his left-wing challenger, Lula.
The Ukraine war has faded out of the headlines, but it still going on. There is currently a bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine. This continuing war is one reason for high global inflation, which is undermining Western incumbents.
Note: I go to gym on Friday mornings, so will not be providing commentary until I return.