The results of yesterday’s by-elections have been announced and probably as expected, the Conservatives held the seat in Brent and Labour held the seat in Littlebrook Ward:-
Brent Ward by-election result – dartford.gov.uk
Rosanna Marina Currans (Local Conservatives) 579 votes (44.64%)
Mark Andrew Maddison (Labour Party) 402 votes (30.99%)
Shan-E-Din Choycha (UKIP) 316 votes (24.36%)
Littlebrook Ward by-election result – dartford.gov.uk
Daisy Page (Labour Party) 358 votes (47.73%)
Sonia Keane (UKIP) 220 votes (29.93%)
Calvin Samuel McLean (Local Conservatives) 172 votes (22.93%)
With the usual caveat that by-elections can throw up strange results, how is this likely to affect next May’s full set of Borough elections?
As pointed out previously, in terms of the configuration of Dartford Borough Council, the results of these by-elections were not going to change anything. Indeed both Conservative and Labour groups were prepared to carry on without by-elections for the remaining six months of the Council’s term, to avoid the unnecessary costs to Dartford council taxpayers. It appears that these by-elections were called by UKIP, presumably in an attempt to win the seats on the back of a rise in popularity nationally.
Under these circumstances, the turnout for these by-elections was pretty reasonable – by my calculations around 26% for Brent and 23% for Littlebrook. These figures are actually similar or better than other by-elections during this Council’s term. This may well be down to the efforts put in by both Conservative and Labour supporters in trying to ensure their supporters got out to vote. It was quite apparent from following the campaigns via social media that the Conservative and Labour teams put a lot of effort into campaigning. It was not so apparent that UKIP did the same.
Back in August, I wrote an article suggesting that Labour would have to put up a bold showing in Brent Ward if they were to have any chance of taking control of the Council next May. From yesterday’s result in Brent, they didn’t threaten enough.
So what of UKIP’s performance? It remains to be seen whether their voters really wanted to return UKIP candidates in both of these seats; it could be that voters were registering protest votes against both Conservative and Labour policies. Will their percentage of votes increase come next May; I suspect not significantly. What we probably have learnt is that UKIP were prepared to have thousands of pounds of council taxpayers money used in an attempt to gain seats on DBC on the back of national rather than local support.
As stated above, the next full set of Borough Council elections are scheduled for May 2015 and in spite of the caveat regarding by-elections, I would fully expect the Conservative administration to comfortably retain control of DBC.