UK by-elections live: Wellingborough and Kingswood

Will the UK Conservatives lose another two seats held by large margins at by-elections today? Also: a wrap of recent international elections.

Live Commentary

10:08am Saturday Wikipedia says the Weliingborough result was the largest Tory to Labour swing at a by-election since 1994 and the second largest since WW2. It was also the largest drop for the Tories at a by-election and the largest for any party since 1948. It was the worst Tory vote share in Wellingborough’s history, falling below the 25.4% they received in 1923.

3:28pm So another great UK by-election night for Labour and a dismal one for the Tories. I will cover the Feb 29 Rochdale by-election, which is interesting after the disendorsement of the Labour candidate. Before that, I will cover the Feb 24 South Carolina Republican primary, where Donald Trump looks set to effectively seal the Rep presidential nomination. Both these events occur the next day AEDT.

3:12pm Labour GAINS Wellingborough from the Tories by over 21 points. This seat went to the Tories by almost 37 points at the 2019 election. Another high vote for Reform, this time 13%.

2:46pm There’s a limited recount taking place in Wellingborough, just of two trays of votes, both on the same table.

1:53pm This was Reform’s best by-election result this term, easily beating 5% at Tamworth in October. The BBC reported at 1:40pm that the Wellingborough result should be soon.

12:56pm Labour GAINS Kingswood from the Tories, winning by 10% in a seat they lost by nearly 23% in 2019. Far-right Reform won 10.4% (new here).

12:26pm Unconfirmed reports from journalists that Labour has won Wellingborough. This is the more difficult one for Labour to win.

12:13pm Wellingborough turnout 38%, down from 64% at general election.

11:46am BBC live blog says turnout in Kingswood was 37%, down from 70% at the 2019 general election. Turnout is usually well down for a by-election.

11:39am Guardian says Wellingborough result expected about 3pm AEDT today, while Kingswood will be between 1pm and 4pm AEDT.

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.

Polls close at 9am AEDT today for by-elections in the UK Conservative-held seats of Wellingborough and Kingswood. Wellingborough Conservative MP Peter Bone was suspended from parliament for six weeks in October over a male employee’s allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct.

An MP can be recalled if suspended for more than ten days, with a recall triggered if at least 10% of registered voters in the seat sign a petition, with the petition open for six weeks. Bone was recalled when 13% of voters in Wellingborough signed the petition. Recalled MPs can contest the by-election, but the Conservatives chose a new candidate. In 2019 Bone won Wellingborough by 62.2-26.5 over Labour with 7.9% for the Liberal Democrats.

Kingswood Conservative MP Chris Skidmore resigned from parliament in early January in protest over the UK government issuing more oil and gas licenses. In 2019 Skidmore won Kingswood by 56.2-33.4 over Labour with 6.9% Lib Dem.

While both seats should be safe for the Conservatives, they’ve lost safer seats at by-elections this term. Labour won the October 19 Tamworth by-election by 45.8-40.7 over the Conservatives. At the 2019 general election, the Conservatives had won Tamworth by 66.3-23.7 over Labour.

In UK national polls, Labour continues to be far ahead of the Conservatives. However, two polls taken in the last week gave Labour 11-12 point leads, down from the normal Labour lead range of 15-25 points. The next UK general election is likely to be held by late 2024, though it could be held as late as January 2025. It’s been a long time since the last UK general election in December 2019, when Boris Johnson led the Conservatives to a thumping victory.

There will be a by-election in Labour-held Rochdale on February 29 owing to the death of the previous MP. In an embarrassment for Labour, they were forced on Monday to disendorse their candidate after nominations had closed owing to comments he made implying that Israel knew of the October 7 Hamas attacks, but did nothing to stop them. Labour defeated the Conservatives by 51.6-31.2 in Rochdale in 2019, with 8.2% Brexit Party and 7.0% Lib Dem.

Pakistan, Finland, German and Tuvalu elections

Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s party was banned from running at the February 8 election, but independents linked to him won the most seats, but were far short of a majority. Of the 336 seats, 266 were elected by first-past-the-post, with a further 60 for women and ten for non-Muslims elected by proportional representation based on the number of FPTP seats won. On Tuesday, a coalition government was formed by various parties to shut out Khan.

At Sunday’s Finnish presidential runoff election, conservative Alexander Stubb defeated Green Pekka Haavisto by a 51.6-48.4 margin. Both candidates had qualified for the runoff by finishing top two in the January 28 first round.

A repeat of the 2021 German federal election was held Sunday in 455 of Berlin’s 2,256 polling booths owing to irregularities in the original election. The only change in seats was a one-seat loss for the pro-business FDP, with that seat also removed from the total number of MPs. The governing coalition of centre-left SPD, Greens and FDP retains a majority, but polls are bleak for them ahead of the late 2025 election.

Tuvalu’s previous government had been pro-Taiwan, but at the January 26 election the incumbent PM lost his seat. Tuvalu’s population is estimated to be just 11,900, but the China-Taiwan issue was significant internationally. There are no political parties, with all 16 parliamentarians elected as independents in eight two-member electorates representing the islands by FPTP.

56 comments on “UK by-elections live: Wellingborough and Kingswood”

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  1. Oddly enough the Tories aren’t that divided atm, at least not in public.

    Though quite frankly, a new leader couldn’t leave them any worse off – somewhat depending on the circumstances in which it came about. Badenoch or Cameron would both do relatively well in difficult circumstances, they actually know how to debate articulately what they believe in. Most of the party seems to have forgotten how to defend anything since Boris Johnson, and Labour’s opinion just gets a free ride by them.

    Rebecca – Braverman is an attention-seeker, but it’s politics – thankfully she’s quite far removed from fascism. Badenoch is pragmatic and, like Boris, hard to put in a box – but fascist she definitely isn’t.

    It’s easy to label political opponents whatever we’d like people to believe they are, but mostly they’re more human than given credit for (or than their rhetoric suggests). True fascists might blow off a lot, but are far worse than their carefully crafted rhetoric suggests – as Germany 1930s will forever remind us.

  2. Rochdale by-election: I’m not sure that Labour will lose, but if they do it will be to George Galloway of the misnomer Respect Party if they do, without any doubt.

    His corner of the market will be the only one without severely suppressed turnout – which is never sky high in Rochdale at the best of times.

    Had Danczuk not had past scandal, as a past Lab MP for the seat he might actually have been a 1/2 serious threat in these circumstances. As it is, I’m not even sure he/Reform will finish 3rd.

  3. At the GE2024 in UK,

    Unless there is a serious tightening of the polls which seems unlikely, I expect Lab to win more seats than UNS would suggest.

    The two seats won by Lab on Thursday actually illustrate this quite well, although that small and quirky sample is not the reason I’m predicting it.

    The swing to Labour in Kingswood, a wealthier seat near Bristol that was not as Brexity and far less WWC than many Con-held seats, was c.16%. Ample to win the seat by 10% but well below what Lab have achieved in most of their other by-election wins recently.

    Wellingborough whilst ‘middle Britain’ is much more Brexity (assisted by having a very pro-Brexit MP) and not near big cities that have moved more away from the Tories in recent times. The swing here was 29%.

    Obviously swings are exaggerated at by-elections compared to the forthcoming GEs, but the point remains: that unwind of a ‘Brexit dividend’ for the Conservatives will lead to huge swings and losses that many didn’t expect, whilst with a decent campaign the Conservatives may save the furniture in London and possibly other areas including even Scotland. But it just won’t be enough to save many of those seats because they were held by lower margins anyway.

  4. BTSays: What a load of piffle. It’s all very easy to see far-right politics as just a sideshow for the funsies when you’re not one of the groups they’re targeting. What, exactly, is “out of the box” about a down-the-line fringe far right figure like Badenoch?

    Seeing an ideologue as scary as Badenoch who barely has a parallel in the LNP here as “pragmatic”, and trying to whitewash her views by comparing her to Johnson (who actually is politically pragmatic on some issues) suggests that you’re either scarily ignorant of UK politics or prone to some very nasty views yourself.

    Is Moira Deeming just too moderate and soft for you? The answer to that question probably says which of the above it is.

  5. Hello Rebecca

    I’m from the UK so think my opinion’s correct, thanks for the insults anyway!

    Kemi Badenoch is comfortable in what she believes in, which is very refreshing. You can call it far right if you like but I think it’s mainstream right in most countries. And yes, she is pragmatic not an ideologue. Not really sure what your issue is, other than presumably being from the other side of politics so don’t like Kemi Badenoch.

    Sorry, not heard of Moira Deeming, excuse my ignorance.

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