Tiverton and Honiton
Richard Foord (Liberal Democrat) 22,537 (52.9 per cent, +38.1 per cent)
Helen Hurford (Conservative) 16,393 (38.4 per cent, -21.7 per cent)
Liz Pole (Labour) 1,562 (3.6 per cent, -15.8 per cent)
Gill Westcott (Green) 1,064 (2.5 per cent, -1.3 per cent)
Andy Foan (Reform) 481 (1.13 per cent)
Ben Walker (UKIP) 241 (0.5 per cent, -1.0 per cent)
Jordan Donoghue-Morgan (Heritage) 167 (0.3 per cent)
Frankie Rufolo (FB) 146 (0.3 per cent)
LibDem majority 6,144 (14.4 per cent)
29.9 per cent swing C to LD
Electorate 81,661; Turnout 42,591 (52.1)
Source: Devon Live
Simon Lightwood (Labour) 13,166 (47.9 per cent, +8.1 per cent)
Nadeem Ahmed (Conservative) 8,241 (30.0 per cent, -17.2 per cent)
Akef Akbar (Independent) 2,090 (7.6 per cent, +6.6 per cent)
David Herdson (Yorkshire) 1,182 (4.3 per cent, +2.3 per cent)
Ashley Routh (Green) 587 (2.1 per cent)
Chris Walsh (Reform) 513 (1.8 per cent)
Jamie Needle (LD) 508 (1.8 per cent, -2.0 per cent)
Ashlea Simon (Britain 1st) 311 (1.1 per cent)
Mick Dodgson (FA) 187 (0.6 per cent)
Sir Archibald Stanton Earl ‘Eaton (Loony) 171 (0.6 per cent)
Therese Hirst (Eng Dem) 135 (0.4 per cent)
Jordan Gaskell (UKIP) 124 (0.4 per cent)
Christopher Jones (NIP) 84 (0.31%)
Jayda Fransen (Ind) 23 (0.0 per cent)
Labour majority 4,925 (17.9 per cent)
12.6 per cent swing C to Lab
Electorate 69,601; Turnout 27,466 (39 per cent)
- Swings: The Wakefield swing to Labour won’t make it into Wikipedia’s list of record swings; the Tiverton & Honiton swing to the LibDems comes in 12th in the table. By way of comparison, North Shropshire was 7th, Chesham & Amersham 20th. However, the Wakefield swing was Labour’s best since the Middlesbrough by-election of 2012.
- Turnout: At 39 per cent, Wakefield’s was roughly in the middle of the scale (in the 2019 general election it was 64 per cent); at 52.1, Tiverton & Honiton’s was very much at the higher end (in 2019 it was 71.9).
- Analysis: Matt Singh, the election analyst, calls Wakefield’s “a decent swing” and Tiverton & Honiton’s “a huge swing”. I think one could fairly call Wakefield’s a bad result for the Conservatives and Tiverton & Honiton a shocking one – though it’s worth noting in passing that there is currently no threat to the Party from the right. Reform came in at under two per cent in both polls.
- Tactical voting: Both Singh and John Curtice, writing in the Times, swoop on Labour losing its deposit in Tiverton & Honiton and the Liberal Democrats doing so in Wakefield. Curtice suggests that the two parties’ supporters voted for each other.
- A Lib-Lab pact?: “Johnson’s problem is not simply that his party has lost support,” writes Curtice. Rather, many opposition voters are now seemingly willing to vote for whichever candidate seems best able to defeat the Conservatives locally. And if that continues winning the next general election could begin to look a lot more difficult.
- One conventional view…: One take on by-elections is that Governments droop mid-term and then bounce back. For example, the Conservatives were hammered in Croydon North-West during the first Thatcher Government, but came back to take the seat at the next election. And those losses to the LibDems tend to come back to the blue column – take Christchurch, the LibDems best by-election win in modern times. The Tories lost it in 1993 and regained it in 1997.
- And another… But remember: that last by-election was a herald of doom. The Conservative by-election losses of the mid-1990s presaged Labour’s landslide win of 1997. So Governments don’t always recover. The consensus view must be Curtice’s: that although yesterday’s Wakefield swing would return a Labour Government were it replicated in a general election, the by-election “provides less than decisive evidence of a new enthusiasm for Labour”.
- Coming next: an immediate change in the leadership challenge rules is less likely than a new 1922 Committee hostile to Johnson: The ’22 executive’s officer and committee elections are due before the recess, and it’s hard to see loyalists making much progress in them: remember, a clear majority of backbenchers will have voted against the Prime Minister earlier this month. The stage is set for a perilous reshuffle, an unhappy Party Conference, a cost of living crunch, and manoeuvering about a new confidence ballot.
- The Cabinet should tell Johnson that he should go voluntarily rather than risk being forced out: For better or worse, I didn’t urge Tory MPs to depose their leader – the downside was at least as large as the upside. But once two in five voted against him a) it became less likely that he will survive this Parliament; and b) it is hard to see how he can recover in the absence of an agreed political and economic plan. The case for the Cabinet advising him to go was strong at the start of the month and is more so now.