UK Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton by-elections live

Live commentary from late Friday morning. Also: Israel’s anti-Netanyahu government collapses and a leftist wins in Colombia for the first time.

Live commentary

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.

76 comments on “UK Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton by-elections live”

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  1. From Britain Elects twitter:

    Tiverton & Honiton parliamentary by-election result

    LDEM: 52.9% (+38.1)
    CON: 38.5% (-21.7)
    LAB: 3.7% (-15.9)
    GRN: 2.5% (-1.3)
    REF: 1.1% (+1.1)
    UKIP: 0.6% (-1.1)

    So the Lib Dems managed a swing of 30 points more than the Labour team running in a by election triggered by an MP caught with child pornography. If that isn’t demonstrative of the relative campaign competence and enthusiasm gap between them then I don’t know what is.

  2. “Adrian Beaumont says:
    Friday, June 24, 2022 at 11:32 am”

    Adrian, I am well acquainted with the Covid worldometer. Note how the only countries with higher per capita coronavirus deaths than the USA and Brazil are in Eastern Europe (with the exception of San Marino) and they are characterised by a large percentage of old people in their population. The USA remains the country with the highest per capita COVID death rate among high-GDP countries (e.g. Western Europe, neighbouring Canada, Japan) and Brazil is the highest on a per capita basis among the South American countries.

    In whichever way you want to see it (total number of cases, or cases per capita), the well documented irresponsible reaction to the pandemic by both Trump in the USA and Bolsonaro in Brazil, cannot be denied. The tragic effects of that irresponsibility are there for all to see (on a total or per capita basis).

    With regard to Australia, we had two advantages during the pandemic: one is our relative geographic isolation (shared with New Zealand, for instance); and the other was the swift reaction of ALP states and territories (plus Tasmania) to the pandemic, against the more complacent (“let it rip”) approach of the Coalition federal government and NSW (both under Berejiklian and Perrottet).

  3. “1:06pm Lib Dems win T&H by about 14% – HUGE swing!”…

    Yep, clearly Labour tactical voting played a role!

    “1:01pm Labour wins Wakefield by about 18%.”….

    Again it looks like Labour was favoured by other progressive parties’ tactical voting…

    Conclusion: This may be a good model for the next UK general election. Under their electoral system, tactical voting works!

  4. Good win for Labour in Wakefield, but not good enough IMO

    13% swing is better than the 9% swing according to the latest UK opinion polls, but in the circumstances of the poll I would have hoped for better

  5. Pro-rated up to a General Election level turnout, the result in Wakefield would be around an 8,000 majority

    Winning margin of 17.9% is the best in Wakey since 2001, it was as low as 3.7% in 2010

  6. “Daniel Bsays:
    Friday, June 24, 2022 at 1:46 pm
    A couple of UK by-elections. That’s a bit niche for here, no?”…

    It all depends on their effect in the UK. If the results of these by-elections (both lost by the Conservatives), help de-stabilise the Johnson leadership, leading to his resignation, then they would become quite significant and definitely worth commenting here. I like the fact that this psephological website has both an Australian and an International focus.

  7. “Furtive Lawngnome says:
    Friday, June 24, 2022 at 1:08 pm
    From Britain Elects twitter:

    Tiverton & Honiton parliamentary by-election result

    LDEM: 52.9% (+38.1)
    CON: 38.5% (-21.7)
    LAB: 3.7% (-15.9)
    GRN: 2.5% (-1.3)
    REF: 1.1% (+1.1)
    UKIP: 0.6% (-1.1)

    So the Lib Dems managed a swing of 30 points more than the Labour team running in a by election triggered by an MP caught with child pornography. If that isn’t demonstrative of the relative campaign competence and enthusiasm gap between them then I don’t know what is.”

    In my opinion this is what it is: Tactical Voting by Labour supporters in a seat where it was presumed that the Lib Dems had better chances of getting votes from disenchanted Conservative voters. The Lib Dems increased their vote by 38.1%, which is a combination of what Labs and Greens lost (a combined 17.2%) plus 20.9%, which is likely to have mainly come from the Conservatives (who lost 21.7%). The tactical voting here was: who is the Progressive party that’s better able to attract disenchanted Tory voters?…. That’s the party that other Progressive parties (Labour and Greens in this case) should help in the seat.

  8. I’m pretty sure it was just straight porn and not kiddie porn, that the deviant Tory was viewing in parliament.

  9. Alpo: Obviously there are tactical voters in both by-elections. But the Lib Dems managed a much larger swing in what has been a very, very safe Conservative seat, whereas Wakefield has traditionally been Labour leaning.

    Clem: I was referring to the member for Wakefield, not Tiverton & Honiton, though I did get it wrong. He was actually convicted for sexually assaulting a minor.

  10. Re Alpo at 9.22 am and 1.15 pm and Adrian at 11.32 am

    Note that the Covid worldometers site uses official data and so is reliable only for some but not most countries.

    Alpo is right about the disastrous mismanagement of Covid 19 by right wing authoritarian regimes. The scale of this is hidden (to varying degrees) by official data. Even the UK figures are understated, because they include only people who died within 28 days of a Covid diagnosis, not subsequently.

    E.g. for UK official Covid deaths to 23 June were 179,859. However, the actual toll was around 175,000 five months ago and more than 5,000 people have died from Covid in the UK in those 5 months. See:

    The real Covid death toll in India is estimated at 8 times the official figure. Credible estimates are at: (article by experts)

    The table there (starting p 1519) runs for many pages. India is at pp 1526-7, with estimates given for states as well as India (national = about 4 million). Note: figures only March 2020 to the end of 2021.

    On those excess mortality figures per capita (second column from right in table) Brazil is bad but not as bad as Italy. On official figures Greece is now (23 June at 2,920 deaths per million) worse than Italy (at 2,786), but using excess deaths calculated to end 2021 by public health scholars (p 1522 of table) Italy was 100 deaths per capita worse than Greece at the end of 2021 (because of many deaths from Covid in Italy during the first wave that were not officially reported, when testing was inadequate).

    On official per capita deaths Brazil (3,108) and USA (3,107) are similar, but on the experts’ estimates to the end of 2021 Brazil was somewhat worse. The experts’ figures show large variations within big countries, e.g. per capita deaths to end of 2021 in state of Amazonas in Brazil were higher than Italy nationally, though not higher than Lombardy and some other very badly affected areas of Italy.

    In summary, official Covid figures are reliable only for some countries, especially those not affected badly early in the pandemic. Singapore is now the best country in East Asia (237 deaths per million). Japan is next on official figures but not on experts’ estimates (see p 1520 of table). Taiwan is rising fast (250) and it will soon exceed New Zealand (276). Australia (368) is also rising steadily and will most likely exceed the best, most isolated European country, Iceland (at 443) by the end of our winter.

  11. @Ven 10.54

    “…and not impressed about our views who live in Australia on Dutton because they don’t align with your views. So how can your views on Dutton be worthy and Clem Atlee are not worthy from same distance is what baffles me.”

    You’ve misread/made this up I’m afraid.

    I respect everyone’s views. They’re all ‘worthy’.

    I don’t like (but largely don’t comment unless directly aimed at me, and even then often I don’t) everyone’s vitriol, it’s downright rude at other posters (and completely pointless to vent at politicians not on the site and who will never read the comments, it merely shows a lack of having enough to contribute to grown-up debate).

    I expressed no vitriol to anyone else’s views or called them childish names. Nor did I disrespect their views, it’s fine to offer counter-opinions (to me or from me).

    Surely this is obvious, I do wonder how some people manage to live with their own families judging by how they speak to each other on here.

    Views from Australia to UK are as valid as mine to Australia (obviously), I would never think otherwise.

    Please be free to disagree completely with my views or contributions.

    Please be civil and respectful, regardless of one’s hatred of X or Y politician (which is pretty sad, quite honestly) that doesn’t need to extend to posters on PB.

    Please don’t ‘guess’ what I’m thinking / what I mean, or make it up, based on what I do say. If you want to paraphrase me, keep it accurate.

    It’s really not that hard if you practice it. Many posters successfully do it on here, it’s really mainly a few that spoil it.

    Thank you.

  12. Tiverton & Honiton

    I overestimated the Lib Dem margin, which was 14.4% not the 20-25% I predicted. Huge though this swing nonetheless was, it perhaps reflects the more organised effort the Tories put into this seat – had they done so in North Shropshire, they might have just saved it.

    Whether the Lib Dems can hold it at the next GE is hard to predict. Ironically if they are doing better in the polls nationally – and therefore pursuing a larger number of target seats – they will get somewhat less resource in this seat and be less likely to hold onto it.

    Logic and history would suggest the Tories will win this back at the next GE, but these are unpredictable times.

  13. Wakefield

    My prediction here of a 12-15% swing to Labour was bang on. The swing was 12.7%.

    My feeling is that whilst the Tories were up against a tsunami in Tiverton, had they worked harder in Wakefield and had Boris visited a few times (would have been a net positive here, whereas probably a net negative in Tiverton) they could have reduced this swing significantly. Realistically, they were never really going to hold it on such a modest margin and with the scandal of the past MP and the relative unpopularity of the government currently, though it’s a shame they didn’t give us the chance to show what they could do.

    This perhaps shows how few ground resources they have to fight multiple by-elections, and a 30% maj loss in Tiverton would have looked worse politically even though it was the less saveable seat (in spite of its big margin, due to its demographics). So they put the resources more into there.

  14. If Boris is getting even the narrowest of majorities at the next election (which would be significantly better than current polling, which is showing fairly poor mid-term blues), then all things being equal you would expect the Tories to win back both yesterday’s losses and North Shropshire.

    Chesham and Amersham may be gone for them for the forseeable though, especially if HS2 rail is still going ahead.

  15. Whilst they would be losing more seats in London, Scotland, Wales, and ‘blue wall’ seats in S-E England and Hertfordshire (predominantly), and holding most of their new northern seats.

    But remember, this is in the scenario they still get a bare majority, which would mean a loss of nearly 40 seats nationally – obviously if Labour gets a majority or is the largest party then the picture is changed substantially.

  16. The new Lib Dem MP for Tiverton is Richard Foord, he gave quite an impressive victory speech, I wouldn’t be quite so sure the Tories will get that seat back at the next election.
    The Chairman of the Conservative Party has resigned, will there be more high profile resignations from the Johnson Government in coming days?

  17. @Alpo

    “Again it looks like Labour was favoured by other progressive parties’ tactical voting…

    Conclusion: This may be a good model for the next UK general election. Under their electoral system, tactical voting works!”

    It’s been going on for 40 years at least, but is always much more limited at general elections – Labour have too much to lose to agree to much with the smaller parties.

  18. Re: Brazil and the “bad choice” it faces:

    Do, please, remember that Lula was eventually exonerated of the corruption charges against him, driven as they were by the hard-right bias of a handful of prosecutors and one very well-placed judge. Had he not been, Lula could not have even run for this year’s election, as Brazil’s “Clean Slate” laws strip the right to run for office from convicted felons for several years after the end of any custodial sentences. So, you see, the choice is less bad than certain persons would portray it as.

  19. Lula has never been exonerated from the corruption charges against him. They were annulled on matters of process because he was tried in the wrong jurisdiction, though significantly the judge never even hinted that the conviction itself was wrong. It now seems likely he won’t ever be tried for them, but that doesn’t make him innocent, any more than his cult status among his followers and ‘everyman appeal’ does.

    Of course, I suppose there’s no final record now that he’s guilty either.

    On the March 2021 ruling:

    “But Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin said the court that had convicted Lula had lacked the necessary jurisdiction.

    “Despite Lula’s lawyers saying the decision was a vindication “of his innocence”, Mr Fachin did not make any kind of ruling on whether the former president was guilty or not of the corruption charges.”

    And in April 2022:

    “The Committee also considered that these procedural violations rendered Lula’s prohibition to run for president arbitrary and therefore in violation of his political rights, including his right to run for office. It urged Brazil to ensure that any further criminal proceedings against Lula comply with due process guarantees and to prevent similar violations in the future.”

    I’m also not aware that the current President has been convicted – or even charged? – for corruption, like someone implied further up the thread. Not that I care for him much, but both these guys are entitled to due process and a fair trial, and an absence of false accusations based on likes/dislikes.

  20. Full Wakefield result with all 15 candidates

    Simon Lightwood (Lab) 13,166 (47.94%, +8.13%)
    Nadeem Ahmed (Con) 8,241 (30.00%, -17.26%)
    Akef Akbar (Ind) 2,090 (7.61%, +6.60%)
    David Herdson (Yorkshire) 1,182 (4.30%, +2.38%)
    Ashley Routh (Green) 587 (2.14%)
    Chris Walsh (Reform) 513 (1.87%)
    Jamie Needle (LD) 508 (1.85%, -2.09%)
    Ashlea Simon (Britain 1st) 311 (1.13%)
    Mick Dodgson (FA) 187 (0.68%)
    Sir Archibald Stanton Earl ‘Eaton (Loony) 171 (0.62%)
    Paul Bickerdike (CPA) 144 (0.52%)
    Therese Hirst (Eng Dem) 135 (0.49%)
    Jordan Gaskell (UKIP) 124 (0.45%)
    Christopher Jones (NIP) 84 (0.31%)
    Jayda Fransen (Ind) 23 (0.08%)

    Lab maj 4,925 (17.93%)
    12.69% swing Con to Lab.
    Turnout: 39.46%

    Note: The Independent candidate who came third is a sitting councillor .. he won in a longtime Labour ward for the Tories in 2021 but resigned from the party earlier this year after calling on Johnson to resign

  21. The Liberal Democrats are the kings of by-elections. I expect their support base happens to be more politically engaged and thus disproportionately strong in a low-turnout election. Trying to compare relative performance between them and Labour here does not work.

  22. clem attlee says:
    Friday, June 24, 2022 at 4:48 pm
    “I’m pretty sure it was just straight porn and not kiddie porn, that the deviant Tory was viewing in parliament.”

    I heard it was tractor porn.
    Oh Deere, he made a Massey of it.

    Seriously, this might re-ignite the LibDem fire in the southwest. It used to be a LibDem strength but that faded badly after the “Coalition” and Brexit.

  23. The obvious conclusion is that BoJo and the Tories are badly on the nose. That being said Labour would have to win just under 130 seats at the general election for a majority which hasn’t been done since the Blair era. Is there any real possibility of that happening though?

  24. justif01

    There’s no particular reason why Labour CAN’T win 130 seats or more at the election.

    If they were 10+ points ahead on the day, a swing marginally bigger than Tony Blair achieved (obviously starting with a lower number of MPs though), then I suspect they would.

    The main reason why they might not achieve a majority even with that kind of lead, though, is Scotland – previously Labour’s fiefdom and where they now hold just one seat to the SNP’s 48 (total 59 in Scotland).

    There’s no barriers to the number of seats they win – the bigger the poll lead, the more ‘boats will rise’ across the nation to elect Labour MPs.

    The simple question is whether they will have a poll lead that offers majority government.

  25. Daniel Bsays:
    Friday, June 24, 2022 at 1:46 pm
    A couple of UK by-elections. That’s a bit niche for here, no?
    You do realise what website you’ve stumbled across?
    That is a serious question as I’m quite intrigued about your post as to why you think polling results on a pesph site would be ‘niche’

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