July 30, 2015

Listed below are the first preference votes:
SNP 1,690 [55.1%; +26.1%]
Labour 771 [25.1%; -25%]
Conservative 350 [11.4%; +4.2%]
Green 130 [4.2%; +0.7%]
LD Jonathan Waddell 125 [4.1%; -1%]
[Independent [0.0%; -3.6%]
[Scottish National Front [0.0%; -1.4%]
SNP Hold
Percentage change from 2012

Figures taken from ALDC website.

This election was held in a council seat won by an candidate elected to Westminster for the SNP. In both seats the same pattern was seen where the party broadly held its position with a slight loss of votes, but a heavy fall in the Labour vote. The SNP appears to be consolidating its vote in this area, however a base of Lib Dem support remains.

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Listed below are the first preference votes:

SNP 1,939 [61%; +23%]
Labour 606 [19.1%; -15.1%]
Conservative 313 [9.8%; +3.9%]
LD Ken McLeod 207 [6.5%; -2.5%]
Green 144 [3.6%; +3.6%]
[Independent [0.0%; 12.9%]]
Turnout: 25.3%
SNP Hold
Percentage change from 2012

This election was caused as a result of the resignation of a winning SNP candidate in the election in 2015 General Election. This election shows the continuing strength of the SNP in Scotland. Labour seems, if anything, to be weakening, however patterns will take time to develop in Scotland.

Lincoln by-election contested by Lib Dems

In the run up to the by-election being held today (30th July, 2015) in the ward of North Kesteven in Lincoln, I decided to visit and help out with canvassing. Former MP Lembit Öpik joined me on the trip, which involved a 4 hour journey from Central London to the Northern town. We were lucky with the weather, and, despite the threat of rain, the conditions turned out to be perfect for canvassing. Tony Richardson, the Campaign Manager, greeted us there too and he supplied everything we needed to make the session effective and focussed.

Overall, the ‘outs’ had it – but of those who were in, it was clear that a number of recurring themes were prevalent. Firstly, it was interesting to note that most were aware a by-election was taking place. I often hear people moaning about how few people care about politics these days. I feel it hasn’t really changed much over the years – it’s just a popular mantra to say you’re ‘disillusioned with politics.’ Four children who were about 10 years of age made the effort to come and ask us what we were doing and what elections are. Lembit explained that elections choose people called Councillors who fix local problems and keep the roads clean and fix holes in them. They thanked us before running off – so the electoral future looks promising!

I also found it interesting that many of the local Independent Councillors and candidates used to be Liberal Democrats. They felt that they had a better chance of winning by leaving the party. All this occurred prior to the change of leadership, and perhaps under new Leader Tim Farron these types of Councillors might be tempted to return.

We won’t know the result till later this evening. However, that result is less important than the mood music. That was summed up by a resident of Nero Way – a street in the by-election area. The man said he had voted Lib Dem in 2010 on the promise of opposing tuition fees. Feeling betrayed, he hasn’t voted for us since – but might give us another chance now things have changed. I left Lincoln with the strong impression that, to use a weather analogy, the General Election was heavy weather but, things are improving and there’s every chance it will be brighter later.

There are four by-elections in principal authorities this week that we are aware of. Two of these seats are in Aberdeen and are caused by SNP resignations. There are Lib Dem candidates for the Kincorth, Nigg and Cove ward and the Hilton, Woodside and Stockethill ward on 30 July. The by-elections were caused by the election of MPs who were also councillors. As a result there are no special circumstances to help the Lib Dem performance

The party is fighting a seat on Northumberland County Council that was not fought in 2013. This is a strong Labour seat. Finally in Wychavon the party has a reasonable base of around 15% from May in Droitwich East Ward, The result in May was

BROOKES, Gordon Robert The Conservative Party Candidate 1587 Elected

MORGAN, Andrew Roger UK Independence Party (UKIP) 724

NEARY, Sheila The Labour Party Candidate 775

NOYES, Glenise The Conservative Party Candidate 1201 Elected

ROWE, David Liberal Democrats 534

None of these by-elections look easy for the party, however it will be interesting to see if sharp improvements are maintained. In Droitwich UKIP could well fall behind the party  based on similar contests in recent weeks and it will be an interesting contest.

The dissolution honours list has been delayed for many weeks. The reasons for this are unclear. The power to create new peers is held by the Prime Minister and under normal circumstances a list would have been issued in the aftermath of the General Election. The new list may have been delayed to take into account the election of a new leader for the Lib Dems which has now taken place.

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This year, I had the great honour of meeting a man who made a journey that inspired millions across the world. He and his 11 colleagues proved what happens when vision, courageous and determination are focussed on a single goal. The man I met is called Gene Cernan – an astronaut. He was the last human to leave footsteps on the moon.

You probably know the FIRST astronaut to have stood on the moon, on 20th July, 1969, was Neil Armstrong. Standing on that airless orb, he uttered the immortal words: ‘that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ That moment lives as a seminal moment in the history of our species. It symbolised all that is best about our curious, brave and restless spirit.

As Gene Cernan spoke of his experiences, the assembled audience of politicians and public sat enthralled. We were collectively engaged and inspired by the words of the only human of all time to have descended close to the surface of the Moon twice – once in Apollo 10 and then on the final moon mission, Apollo 17.

My grandfather, Ernst Öpik, was a professional astronomer. He played his part in working out whether lunar landers would sink into an ocean of moon dust – a very real concern at the time. Human spaceflight has always been a passion, and the Apollo astronauts hold exalted status for me because of this. To meet these people feels like an honour I find it hard to put into words.

This is why I worry about our current mind-set as a society. Have we lost some of the courage needed to continue this adventure? Do we fear the expenditure – and attacks from those who demand the money be spent instead on social programmes and health – and all the things which occupy politicians on ordinary days when nobody is walking on the moon?

I believe it is our duty to continue the mission to explore space and seek answers to the big questions about the universe and our place within it. Our goal cannot be simply to support a social agenda which keeps us comfortable and in reasonable health. Those things are important, but if we start thinking they’re the reason we’re here we’re missing the point. Our inquisitive nature demands more than that.

In the Apollo missions, Gene Cernan and his fellow astronauts came in peace for all mankind. If we lose our travelling spirit, then a key element in our voyage of discovery as citizens of this cosmos ends too.

At first instance, on meeting Tim Farron at a by-election at Carshalton and Wallington ward, I rather had him cut as a typical Yorkshire lad with aspiring dreams for happier life. However when he started speaking he struck me as someone in the same genre as gifted as JF Kennedy and Malcom X when it came to giving speeches. His memory surpassed him of all the sentimental history memories from late 1970s to the present day, However he really hit a chord with me when he said we should encourage land tax and that every family should own their own home.

I felt in society as a whole that other political parties had gone out of their way to break down cottage industry, family units living in close proximity and instead had led us into an adulthood of isolation not only from cottage industry and family units but also from our own barren cultures. Tim Farron suggested we needed more houses built in every area, he also discussed the misuse of social media spying on our email and said he valued freedom.

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This week saw a set of by-elections which produced a strong set of results for the party. Not as strong as last weeks exceptional results but none the less a good performance. There were five by elections in upper tier authorities. The party stood in three of these. In all three the results showed sharp forward progress. The outstanding result was the one in Long Ditton, to the South West of London in Surrey. This seat was won on an increased majority, turning a marginal seat into a relatively safe one.

In the two elections where we did not win the results show overall a more than doubling of the Lib Dem. These are good results in comparison to previous weeks

The performance of UKIP continues to be weak. Based on these results UKIP are behind the Lib Dems, whereas in the General Election only ten weeks ago they were well ahead. It may be that there will a sustained change in the polling levels between the Lib Dems and UKIP with the party pulling ahead.

A further encouraging result was seen is Seaford Central Ward on the Seaford Town Council where Isabelle Murray won the seat. This seat was originally won by the Conservatives, however the winning Conservative did not sign the declaration of office. According to the local press no reason was given. The cost of re-running the election was stated in the press to be £6,000. This may have helped the Lib Dems in this ward.

LD Isabelle Murray 370 [35.7%]
UKIP 210 [20.3%]
Independents for Seaford 207 [20.0%]
Conservative 193 [18.6%]
Green 57 [5.5%]

Turnout 26%
Majority: 160

July 23, 2015 Labour 648 [82.5%] UKIP 90 [11.5%] Conservative 47 [6.0%] Independents[0.0%] Majority: 558 Lab hold No Lib Dem Candidate Result from 2012

New Tredegar electorate : 3319 turnout : 35.58%
candidate party votes %
Jones Morgan Independent 362 17.48%
Jones Gerald Welsh Labour 965 46.6% elected
Rees Les Welsh Labour 744 35.92% elected
Labour performed strongly in this by-election taking over 80% of the vote. The election was called as a result of the election of the MP who was a councillor. Reports online indicate that UKIP called this by-election using the rule that 2 electors can call a by-election, although this cannot be confirmed. This might have indicated that they expected to do well. They received 20% of the vote in the constituency in which the ward sits. As a result UKIPs second place could be a reduction in support. The key to this election was that the Independents who put on a strong performance in 2012 did not stand and this looks to have helped Labour.

Ipsos MORI have released their latest political monitor. Opinion polls have been very limited since the General Election. This may be partly influenced by investigations that are being made by polling companies to understand why they failed to accurately predict the election. The poll results are

Con 37%

Lab 31%

Lib Dem 10%

UKIP 9%

This compares with a performance for the party of 7.9 % in the General Election. These results reflect recent local by-elections which show a marked fall in support for UKIP and a rise in Lib Dem support. It appears that exiting an unpopular coalition position has caused this rise in support. Given the importance for the party of being at least the third party to run squeeze messages in the maximum possible number of seats this could be a significant change. It also raises the chance of the party catching protest votes in this cycle.