By-Election Result: Wythenshawe and Sale East

by Jackie_South on February 16, 2014

Wythenshawe icon

Thursday’s by-election result in Wythenshawe and Sale East was, as we predicted, a comfortable victory for the Labour Party. You can find our by-election profile here.

Wythenshawe pie

Labour’s share of the vote increased by 11 percent from the general election, to over 55%. UKIP took second place, impressively climbing from 3.4% in 2010 to 18% on Thursday.

The big losers were the Coalition parties: the Conservatives fell 11 percent from their 2010 result (mirroring the Labour increase) whilst the Liberal Democrats collapsed from 22.3% to 4.9%, narrowly losing their deposit in what was their largest loss of votes in a by-election since the party began. The Conservatives fell from second to third place, whilst the Lib Dems dropped from third to fourth.

There has been a lot of press coverage about the poor result for the Liberal Democrats, but in some ways this is worse for the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats have probably already come to terms with the fact that they are likely to lose their last councillor in the constituency in May (she was their candidate in this election, Mary di Mauro).

Whilst the Tories were unlikely to ever win here, this election shows that the Conservatives have limited appeal in the North West, including those seats there they would need to win to obtain an overall majority at the next election.

Worse for them, it indicates that they may have a fight holding on to their northern flagship Trafford council in this May’s elections. Labour need a 10%  swing from the 2010 result to take a seat in Brooklands ward (in this constituency), compared with the 11.1% Conservative to Labour swing obtained in this election. The Conservative majority on Trafford council is only three, and there are five wards elsewhere in Trafford where the Conservative majority over Labour is narrower than in Brooklands.

Before we read too much into the election, it should be noted that turnout was pretty poor. In our previous post, we noted that turnout should probably be in the mid-30s percentage-wise. In fact, it was only 28.2%: barely half of that of 2010. Of the 23,961 votes cast, 10,141 were postal votes, meaning that less than 14,000 were cast on the day itself. It looks as if the awful weather on Thursday was enough to deter voters in an election which by election day appeared to be a foregone conclusion.

The chart below compares the votes for 2010 and Thursday’s by-election, with the by-election result shown on the left for each party and the general election on the right.

Wythenshawe BE14 chart

This shows that the only party that actually picked up votes between the elections (excluding the Greens and the Monster Raving Loony Party neither of which stood in 2010) was UKIP: tripling the votes cast for them. Labour held on to 74% of its 2010 tally. Meanwhile, the Conservatives only received a third of their 2010 total whilst the Liberal Democrats could only hold on to just over 1 in 8 of the votes they received in the general election.

Finally, a couple of comments on the previous Post on this election asked for some trends on vote share. I’ve tended to use votes rather than percentages as just using percentages does not tell the story of turnout: elections are not just about voters changing their minds but the ability of parties to get their support out and giving the numbers shows this more clearly.

But, just for completeness, here’s a graph showing the percentages for each party since Wythenshawe and Sale East was created for the 1997 general election.

Wythenshawe results 97-14

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