In May 2020, Jill Mortimer won the Hartlepool by-election, reaffirming Boris Johnson’s 2019 Red Wall triumph. At the time, Labour was tipped to be out of power for a decade or more. Fast forward three years and no less than 12 more by-elections, Labour appears to have turned the tables. Now, we are on the cusp of six more by the end of the year, CalComms predictions of which are below.
Thursday 20th July
Uxbridge and South Ruislip, CON Maj. 7,210 (LAB GAIN): Boris Johnson triggered this contest by resigning in anticipation of his suspension. Labour is confident here, believing it can rely on anti-Tory sentiment. However, local issues such as ULEZ are causing the leadership to take caution and commit a stronger operation than originally thought. This has been affirmed by local polling only giving Labour an 8 point lead.
Selby and Ainsty, CON Maj. 20,137 (LAB GAIN): Nigel Adams triggered this by-election in protest over Boris Johnson’s treatment. Secretly, Labour has been more confident in winning this seat than in Uxbridge and South Ruislip. This was confirmed by a local opinion poll published yesterday showing Labour on course to win the seat with 41%, compared to the Tories’ 27%. If replicated, it would be the second largest swing in a CON/LAB by-election contest ever.
Somerton & Frome, CON Maj. 19,213 (LIB DEM GAIN): This contest was triggered by the resignation of David Warburton who was stung by a journalist operation into his misuse of drugs, finances, and sex workers. Despite a rocky start for the Lib Dem candidate in what can only be described as a car-crash radio interview, the Party remains confident that anti-Tory sentiment in the ‘Blue Wall’ will see them through.
Mid Bedfordshire, CON Maj. 24,664 (TOSS-UP): This by-election was also triggered by Johnson loyalist Nadine Dorries. Although the former Culture Secretary is yet to formally resign, sources are expecting a by-election later in the year. While the Lib Dems believe they have a shot to take this from the Tories, the growing anti-NIMBY sentiment in the seat combined with a vote-splitting Independent candidate means that Labour is confident.
Rutherglen and Hamilton West, SNP Maj. 5,230 (LAB GAIN): A report from the Commons Standards Committee into Margaret Ferrier’s lockdown travels recommended a 30 day suspension, meaning a recall petition that could trigger a by-election is currently out in her constituency. Labour hope to capitalise on the current SNP collapse with a win here.
Tamworth, CON Maj: 19,634 (TOSS-UP): A Parliamentary standards report into the behaviour of Chris Pincher has recommended an 8 week suspension, triggering a recall petition in his constituency that is likely to lead to a by-election. Labour over-performed in this constituency in the 2023 local elections and if the Party can keep its current momentum heading into the final half of 2023, it is confident that it can take this seat from the Tories.