Judging from the results of 3 by elections and the Police Commissioner elections there has been a shift in opinion in the last two and a half years from Lib Dem and Conservative to Labour. The Lib dems have suffered the bigger drop in vote share from being in a Coalition government than the Conservatives. Labour achieved a 16.8% swing from Lib Dems in Mancheter and an 8.4% swing from the Conservatives in Cardiff South.
The Corby result came from the one serious by election contest, where Conservatives put in their biggest effort of the 3 by elections. Labour won it comfortably, with Conservatives in second place. The swing was 12.67% from Conservative to Labour. The Conservative win in Dyfed Powys in the PCC election was a good result for the Conservatives, as was the Conservative win in Humberside against Prescott. The loss of Dorset to an Independent should worry both Conservative and Labour.
There has been no UKIP breakthrough. They came fourth after the 3 main parties in Manchester Central, and did not contest Cardiff South. They came fifth in the Wiltshire PCC election after the 3 main parties and an Independent. They did not get into the run off in any of the PCC elections where they stood. They did not contest 17 of the PCC elections at all. They did best with their third place in Corby, despite English Democrats and BNP also contesting it. The size of their vote was not sufficient to claim sole credit for the defeat of the Conservative candidate, though that seemed to be their main aim.
The low turnout in the two Labour seats at the by elections probably reflects the feeling there that Labour was likely to win. Turnout was best in Corby, where there was clearly going to be a closer contest. The low turnout in the PCC elections reflects feelings about police independence, the lack of understanding of the role or disagreements with it, and the failure of the parties to deliver leaflets to every door to explain the position and put forward their candidates.
It is now especially important that the new Commissioners work hard to offer great value for money, and to show how they can choose good Chief Constables, and influence police budgets and priorities in helpful ways.
Some have asked about spoiled ballot papers. There were more than usual, with some from people who are against these elections. In the Wokingham, there were 516 spoiled ballot papers on top of the 16,250 valid votes cast. This was not nearly enough to undermine the result, but a higher level than normal reflecting concerns. “None of the above” was effectively outvoted thee arch of the other candidates.