Friday 14 January 2011

The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election result in context

Congratulations to Labour's Debbie Abrahams who has won the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election with an increased majority in the party's first by-election outing under Ed Miliband's leadership. The result is a disappointment for LibDem candidate Elwyn Watkins, following his successful court challenge to ex-Labour MP Phil Woolas.

Strikingly, Labour's majority and vote share was higher than in the 1997 General Election. The Coalition parties saw their joint share fall from 58% to 44.7% (-13.3 on 2010). The swing from the joint LibDem and Conservative to Labour was 11.8%, which is similar to the current opinion poll standings.

This is the result for the major three parties (out of ten candidates).

Debbie Abrahams (Labour) 14718 42.1% (+10.2)
Elwyn Watkins (LibDem) 11160 31.9% (+0.3)
Kashif Ali (Conservative) 4481 12.8% (-13.6)

UKIP: 2029 (5.8%)
BNP 1560
Green 530
Monster Loony: 145
English Dems: 144
Pirate: 96
Bus Pass Elvis: 67

Labour majority: 3558
Turnout: 34930

Turnout at 48% in a by-election held in the first fortnight in January has been higher than most commentators anticipated.

The Liberal Democrats are taking consolation from holding their vote share up. But election expert John Curtice has cast doubt on the importance of this, given that it seems to have been achieved through the collapse of the Tory vote share. This, Curtice argues, is a weak indicator of how most LibDem MPs will perform against Conservative opposition.

Curtice has told the BBC "it is a night of quiet pleasure for Labour if not necessarily riotous celebration" and a worrying result for the Conservatives.

Labour: 31.9
LibDem: 31.6
Tory: 26.4

Labour majority 103

The by-election majority is larger than the 1997 General Election result (despite the turnout then being 25 points higher).

Labour: 41.7
LibDem: 35.4
Tory: 19.7

Labour majority 3389
Turnout 73.92%

Labour: 38.6
LibDem: 32.6
Tory: 16.1

Labour majority 2726
Turnout 61.0%

Labour: 41.4
LibDem: 33.2
Tory: 18.2

Labour majority 3590
Turnout 57.3%

The constituency was new in 1997 - and the results since can be found here.


Dan said...

Labour would also have won the bye-election had it been contested under Alternative Vote but with a much, much smaller majority.

For further analysis please see

Anonymous said...

More context; this was actually the second best first by-election of a parliament for the official opposition since the War. That is, if you measure such things in terms of the Lab/Con swing. Only Newbury saw a higher swing. I suspect that things may look a little different if you look at just the percentage fall for the main government party (and, actually, I'm about to check that) and the massive swing will have been exaggerated by the Tories not bothering in a part of the world where they've been voting tactically for over a century, but it's not entirely meaningless.