By-Election Results: Croydon, Middlesbrough and Rotherham

by Jackie_South on December 2, 2012

Apologies for the delay, but here is our usual round-up on the by-elections that took place on Thursday.  They can pretty much be summed up as great for UKIP, good for Labour, bad for the Tories and calamitous for the Liberal Democrats.


The most interesting of the three was Rotherham, which saw UKIP’s share of the vote increase by 267%.  The pie chart below compares the by-election result with that from the last general election.

Rotherham BE pie

See here for our previous post on the by-election.

Despite Labour marginally increasing its share of the vote (by 1.8%), there was a 7% swing over all from them to UKIP recorded. Of course, this is because the methodology of swings compares the relative positions of the first two parties: the reality is that UKIP’s votes probably mainly came through a collapse in the support for the Coalition parties.

It also happened through the impact of the lower turnout in this election than in the general election, although at 34% (compared with 59% in 2010) this was the highest turnout of the three contests. The chart below shows the votes cast for both parties at the two elections, with the 2010 result shown first (and in lighter colours) for each party.

Rotherham BE chartUKIP’s actual votes increased by 109% – just over double. This is still an impressive feat given the drop in support for the other parties. Labour actual votes fell by 41% (in line with turnout) whilst the Tory and Liberal Democrat votes fell through the floor, achieving only 7.5% of the vote between them. The Liberal Democrats only secured 1 vote for every 13 they achieved in 2010, coming in eighth place.

By-elections, of course, are all about tactical voting. It was clear that neither government party could win and the fostering story gave UKIP a massive boost.

Labour actually did well to hold their share of the vote in the circumstances of the election. They faced a triple-whammy of the foster-care issue, the MacShane scandal and the local party problems with the selection. Retaining a 25% majority in the circumstances will have been a very welcome relief to new MP, the appropriately named Sarah Champion.

Although the BNP’s votes and share of the vote fell, the story is complicated by there being three parties to the right of UKIP in the running. The collapse of other parties left the BNP in third place.  Along with the BNP, the English Democrats (who hold the mayoralty of nearby Doncaster) and the EDL were in the running.  Presumably the latter’s first foray into elections, gathering only 29 votes, may dissuade them from doing so again. The total far right vote was 2,536 (11.8%).

Respect ended up in fourth place, with 8% of the vote, pushing the Conservatives into fifth. They had hopes of repeating their Bradford West upset, and were accused of dirty tricks in the campaign.

I usually post a map of wards trying to show where the parties did well. The collapse of the Coalition vote and the increase of UKIP’s makes this hard, as there is no historic data on where UKIP’s vote would be. The map below is the best fit we can get, with those health warnings attached. Labour would have won in every ward, and our analysis suggests that its strongest performance was in the mining parts of the constituency and weaker in the town centre and the west of the constituency.

Rotherham BE map


UKIP also came second in Middlesbrough, although here there was a swing towards Labour as its share of the vote rose by almost 15% (from 45.9% to 60.5%). Labour’s Andy McDonald was a massive 47.7% ahead of his nearest challenger.

Middlesbrough BE pie

Our previous post on this by-election can be found here.

The turnout here was far lower than in Rotherham, at only 26%. This is unsurprising as no commentators thought this would be anything other than an easy Labour victory.

The distribution of actual votes again show that Labour voters turned out, whilst most of those for the two government parties stayed at home. The chart below shows the votes recorded in the general election (the first column for each party, in the lighter colour) compared with the by-election result.

Middlesbrough By chart

UKIP were again the only party to increase their actual votes from the general election. Their second place here has enabled Nigel Farage to boast that Rotherham is no flash in the pan and that they are now the natural opposition to Labour in the urban north.

The Liberal Democrats did better here than in Rotherham, getting a quarter of the votes they did in 2010 and slipping from second to third place. The Tories did worse, barely getting a sixth of their 2010 votes.

More impressive was the performance of the Peace Party, who secured only 3 votes less than the Conservatives and retained their deposit for the first time in an election.

Trying to map all this is even harder than in Rotherham, and so we are not posting this. Suffice to say, these results show that Labour won in every ward in the constituency.

Croydon North

The least spectacular result was in Croydon North, a constituency held by the Conservatives in the 1980s but which is now very safely Labour thanks to the changes of demography there (see our profile of the constituency here).

Croydon N BE pie

Labour’s Steve Reed won with an 8% swing from the Conservatives. Indeed, the toughest part for Reed was securing the nomination, beating All That’s Left tipped Val Shawcross by a whisker through a well-organised campaign. Shawcross showed her generosity in defeat by campaigning for Reed on Thursday.

Turnout was 26.5%, only 44% of the 2010 figure. Reed obtained 55% of the number of votes that Wicks did in that election.

Given that the Tories were more clearly second here, they still retained that position and staunched the loss of votes more successfully than in Middlesbrough or Rotherham.

Croydon N BE chart

Again, the chart above shows the 2010 votes to the left and in lighter colours than the by-election results.

Both UKIP and Respect tripled their share of the vote and were the only parties to poll a higher number of votes in the by-election than in 2010. Respect’s Lee Jasper had hoped for far better than the paltry 2.9% he achieved.

The Liberal Democrats polled less than an eighth of their tally of votes in 2010. The Green Party improved their share of the vote.

The map below shows the spread of votes in the by-election, displaying the scale of the majority of the lead party in each ward. With the Tories holding on to second, this should be more accurate than the one above for Rotherham. Labour led in every ward, as it did in 2010, and the Conservatives were second in each as well, but very far behind. Labour’s majority in the wards varied from a large 39% in Thornton Heath ward to a massive 60% in Bensham Manor ward.

Croydon N BE map

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