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The Newark by-election might not be a disaster for Labour

30 May 2014

Will Labour do well in the Newark by-election? While all the focus has been on the fight between the Tories and Ukip (watch our exclusive interview with the candidates here), Labour has been mostly forgotten. Yet in this morning’s poll of the seat from The Sun, Labour are on 27 per cent — four points ahead of their result in 2010 and one point ahead of Ukip:

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This is a rather good showing for a party with a pretty basic ground operation. During my visit to Newark-on-Trent yesterday, I did not spot a single Labour canvasser in the town centre. Their election HQ was smaller than any of the other parties. I was surprised when entering the offer only to find the candidate Michael Payne, Chris Bryant (who’s running the by-election operation) and two helpers in. Not exactly a powerful fighting machine:


Labour’s Newark HQ


Chris Bryant with The Sunday Times’s A.A. Gill

So why is Labour doing so well? Firstly, they’ll be benefiting from the anti-Tory sentiment over the resignation of Patrick Mercer. He resigned under inauspicious circumstances and many voters won’t have forgiven the Tories. Given this, it’s surprising that Ukip aren’t doing better as they are the party of anti-politics. There is also a hangover from the European elections; last week Labour managed to boost its vote share by 8 per cent in East Midlands, which encompasses the seat.

Newark is broadly a rural constituency, the sort place that used to be Tory heartlands — we’ll find out if that’s still the case next Thursday — but there are two strong Labour areas with a different makeup to the rest of the seat. As these two maps show from @election_data show, voters near the centre of Newark-on-Trent and Tuxford in the north west of the seat are receptive or very receptive to Labour:


Receptiveness to Labour in Newark-on-Trent and Tuxford. Click to enlarge.

Labour has not entirely forgotten Newark. Judging by the wall-of-signatures, several members of the shadow cabinet have been on the stump, including Ed Miliband, while Harriet Harman is due to visit over the weekend. By coasting along, Labour can claim if they do badly, there was never really any hope of making an impact. But if they do well without too much effort, it will offer some comfort for Ed Miliband that the Labour vote hasn’t entirely disintegrated outside of their core areas.

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Show comments
  • scotspete

    labour is about to go down with the rest of the lib/lab/tory lying eu nwo supporters , the eu was built of unelected people behind closed doors soon after the berlin wall scam ?…but gods hand of truth now shining on all the guilty tony blair at the top his list ? the newark election is all part of gods plan praise the lord vote ukip for the party of truth ?

  • ozbizbozzle

    could u all speak to each other like you are human beings please

  • swatnan

    Labour should gom into Newark knowing they are bound tom lose and be gobsmacked if by some miracle they win it. Some elections are best written off.

  • John Clegg

    What if labour supporters decide to tactically vote for UKIP as the best way of beating the tories in Newark?

  • itdoesntaddup

    You’ve missed the point: the Lib Dem vote has utterly collapsed – down 15 points. Of that lot, Labour have managed to reclaim a pittance – otherwise they would easily be the closest challenger for the seat. The phenomenon of returning Labour voters who lent votes to Clegg in 2010 seems to be much more limited than national polling suggests: the latest YouGov would give Labour a boost of 8 points from returning Lib Dems alone over their 2010 performance – never mind votes from other sources.

    It looks as though the election will in fact turn on how many Labour supporters vote UKIP to try to prevent the Tory getting in, now that they can see how the land lies. Labour can’t expect to gain UKIP or Tory voters, and there aren’t any Lib Dems left to squeeze. Miliband probably calculates that the attention would go on the Tory failure to hold the seat (or at least hold it comfortably), rather than his own failure to secure closest challenger spot. Perhaps someone should calculate how UKIP could do if it could narrow its gap to Labour by 20 points nationally.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Brilliant analysis.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        It’s really too bad that the Speccie kids are incapable of this.

        • Grey Wolf

          This Seb Payne is particularly naïve.
          Is he still a trainee journalist with Speccie?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            I’d assume his is an unpaid position, yes.

    • Denis_Cooper

      By early 2011 a load of people had switched from supporting the LibDems
      to supporting Labour, but that doesn’t mean they all still support Labour.

      You can see the mass transfer from the LibDems to Labour on the left hand side of the charts, and on the right hand side you can see both the Tories and Labour moving down as UKIP moves up; some of those who now support UKIP previously supported Labour before they switched to UKIP, but some of those had previously switched from the LibDems to Labour.

      This is why an attempted breakdown of UKIP supporters such as that in the pie chart here:

      finds that a rather surprising number of those who now support UKIP voted LibDem in 2010, 12% compared to 16% who had voted Labour.

      • itdoesntaddup

        Indeed so: my calculation simply took the 38% of 2010 Lib Dems reported in the most recent YouGov nationally who now claim to support Labour instead (~=40% of the 20% share they got in 2010 in Newark = 8%), and pointed out that this is inconsistent with the Newark polling. I hadn’t seen the detailed Survation tables – thanks for the link. Table 4/5 provide the answers subject to the 4% MOE.

        • Denis_Cooper

          The MOE will be very high when trying to analyse where each of the candidates is getting his support because by that stage in the poll the numbers are so small. The Survation poll started out with a sample of 606, which is smaller than usual, and by the time it gets to counting the number of people who are likely to vote and know who they would vote for and are prepared to say that they would vote for Helmer that is cut down to just 102, so the uncertainty is mounting. Then in fact those who are listed by how they voted in 2010 do not add up to 102 but only 95, of which only 12 say they voted for the LibDems in 2010. These numbers are so small that the level of sampling error must be getting very high. So when only 1 of that 95 say they voted UKIP in 2010 that seems unlikely to be representative in a constituency where UKIP got 3% of the votes in 2010. However the main point is that none of the opinion polls are proper longitudinal studies where you start out with a large sample of people and follow as many of them as you can over time to see what happens in each individual case. As I understand this is true even for the so-called “tracker” polls, which seem to take a fresh sample on each occasion. Asking a group of people who say that they now support UKIP how they had voted in May 2010, four years ago, is not the same as asking them which party they were supporting before they decided to switch to supporting UKIP, some months or weeks or maybe only days ago. We know that there was a massive transfer of support from the LibDems to Labour just by early 2011, and it seems very plausible that some of those people who switched to Labour then have since switched to UKIP, but this is not shown up when pollsters only ask them how they had voted in 2010.

    • Chingford Man

      Having returned from knocking doors in a Labour ward in Newark, I totally agree. We in The People’s Army got an unexpectedly good reception there. Labour has to clean up in those places in order to win Newark.

      If the Tories do hang on, it will be because Labour and UKIP have cancelled each other out.

      • itdoesntaddup

        I think it will be tough for UKIP to win: they have to knock Labour back below its 2010 result to do that unless the Tory vote falls further. Having looked at a selection of by-elections following an MP’s disgraced departure, the punishment switching by 2010 Tories looks to be nearly up to worst case levels, which I had put at a 20 point loss to 34% vote share before I saw the Survation poll. Mercer got 54% in 2010: LDs hung on in Eastleigh starting from Huhne’s 46% in 2010. Of course, the poll is only a snapshot, and subject to a 4% MOE, so one can’t be too certain about analysis.

        Table 9 in the detailed Survation tables (link in response to Denis below) must be interesting to UKIP strategists: it shows nearly 30% of 2010 Labour supporters considering voting UKIP, of whom only half have already switched. It also shows some soft Tories may remain too. But is suggests the maximum potential UKIP vote is 34%

  • global city

    The line that UKIP not winning the by-election is proof that the bubble has burst is pure Tory propaganda…. and yet these journos persist.

  • Daryl Montgomery

    This article states: “In this morning’s poll of the seat from The Sun, Labour are on 27 per cent — four points ahead of their result in 2010 and one point AHEAD of UKIP”. But if you go to the poll, which you can find at:

    you will see that UKIP has 28% and Labour 27% — one point BEHIND UKIP.

    It is one thing to slant coverage, it is quite another to inaccurately report the most basic (and easily checkable) facts.

    Moreover, Labour is running only 4 points ahead of its 2010 showing and that is within the statistical margin of error of the poll (not stated in coverage, but the sample size is and that is sufficient information to derive the margin of error) so there actually may be no improvement in Labour’s vote performance at all.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Well spotted, I missed that little inversion of the truth!

    • the viceroy’s gin

      That Ashcroft charlatan does the same thing… it’s willful lying.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      The LibDumbs have nearly collapsed there, so if Lab is only pulling an extra 4% that is to be considered a failure. I’ll make the not-so-bold statement that if Lab only gains 4-points in this by-election, they’ve underperformed badly (not nearly as badly as the Camerluvvie and LibDumb disasters, mind you).

  • Radford_NG

    Warning:13,000 postal votes have gone out;in a constituancy of 70,407 (2010).If there was a 40% turnout this would be 28,962 [ minus 13,000=15,962].This is all wrong and should be abolished.will this votes be counted separately and a break down given ward by ward?We ought to know what is going on.The tricks being used by Labour and their trade union activists are well known.Seats have been won in the North East with most votes postal.

    That said Newark has few ethnic minorities and a lower level of social housing and of flat dwellers then the national average.

  • Chingford Man

    I wonder whether the Speccie kids will do some actual journalism (the clue being in their job titles) and start digging into Robert Jenrick’s claim to be an “entrepreneur”, the purchase of his London house and his assertion about never having worked in politics.

    I mean, I’m quite sure that if Helmer had dropped a crisp bag…

    • HookesLaw

      Really…? All the other candidates are professional politicians. Helmer makes a fortune as an MEP.
      Jenrick was a solicitor has run his family’s business and now is internationsl business director of Christies.
      Of all the candidates only he comes from a real world background of actually having to earn a living.
      Usual thick ignorance from a kipper.

      • Chingford Man

        If you want to comment rationally, Hooky, you are welcome to do so.

        But if you’re going to be your usual self, maybe take your own “thick ignorance” to someone who’ll appreciate it.

        • HookesLaw

          Just admit you have spouted a load of garbage as spun off the last headline you read.
          When will kippers stop being their usual selves? And why should I be forced to put up with your and your fellow nutjob’s spoutings. You take your crass ignorance somewhere else.
          Jenrick is a director of a private enterprise company and you have made a fool of yourself by repeating a load of thick propaganda. All the other key players are meps or councillors. And one of those hypocrites has the nerve to employ a foreigner (a nice lady I am sure) instead of a true Anglo Saxon Brit.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …well maybe if you Camreluvvie socialists didn’t finish a humiliating 3rd in those elections, you could have a say in who gets employed in that body, lad.

            But you are socialists, and you finished a humiliating 3rd, so nobody cares what you nutters think, apparently.

          • Chingford Man

            You don’t have to bristle pathetically at me if you don’t want to, Hooky. What exactly does Jenrick’s private enterprise company do? When was it formed? Can you tell me? These are legitimate questions to ask of someone running for public office.

          • Wessex Man

            You accusing others here of spouting garbage is like Clegg claiming he won the debates against Nigel Farage or Call me claiming that the Tories won the Euro Elections.

            You’ve lived in the gutter for so long your mind has become addled. Most of the time you come here spouting rubbish and lies in the hope that you may influence people, you are on the wrong blog for that Hooky babe!

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …you socialist nutters better hope you can hang on there, lad.

        From the looks of things, your lying and stupidity appears to be catching up to you nutters there.

  • Denis_Cooper

    Do you know why Labour might seem to do quite well in this election?

    Because a load of those who voted LibDem in 2010 have switched to Labour.

    In Newark the LibDems got 20% of the votes, now according to the Survation poll they have collapsed to 5%, so 15% of the voters have deserted them.

    And as pointed out ad nauseam, most of those who deserted the LibDems in the eight months or so after the formation of the coalition government migrated to Labour, as is shown very clearly on the left hand side of the charts here:
    Yellow line slanting down, red line slanting up almost as steeply.

    But, hold on, Labour got 22% in 2010, now they’re on 27%, only 5% up, so aren’t they in fact quite a bit short of where they could be?
    Yes, they are, and so are the Tories, and in both cases the key to their shortfall is to be found in UKIP being 24% higher than they were in 2010.

  • Albert Tatlock

    Here’s hoping the Party of Treason come a miserable second to UKIP!!

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …you’ll have to be more specific.

      • telemachus

        See my reply

        • the viceroy’s gin

          All of LibLabCon are the Party of Treason, lad.

      • Albert Tatlock

        Oh very well.

        Here’s hoping ALL of the Parties of Treason come a miserable second to UKIP!

    • telemachus

      The party of treason wil get in again
      The racists will be broadly similar to the caring party

      • Hexhamgeezer


        • telemachus

          You should change your avatar
          You look like Mussolini as a young man
          Or perhaps that is the idea

  • Athelwulf

    From the bookies:
    Labour were 16-1 to win Newark and are drifting out now to 25-1 or 27-1.

    UKIP have weakened a little from 5-2 to 11-4 and the Tories have tightened up from 1-3 on to 1-4 on. The Greens are at 250-1

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …that late Lab movement might just bring on some Lab tactical voting here.

      • Athelwulf

        Patrick Mercer had a 16,100 majority at the 2010 General Election. The local Tory chairman thinks they’ll end up with a majority above 10,000. I think if UKIP shaved that to 6,000 or less it would give the Tories a fright as it would demonstrate many other seats become potentially vulnerable

    • Wessex Man

      tele babe is now going to bet his house on the brothers at at 25 to 1, let’s hope his maths are as dear old son of the manse Gordo!

  • Kitty MLB

    You need to watch Labour sly little weasels. take your eye off them for one moment
    to your peril. They would easily sneak up from behind and find away to create mayhem.

    • telemachus

      We got 22.3% in 2010
      Cameron can have this
      As long as the racists do not come top

      • Secular_Investor

        So, in telemadhouse’s little world 85% of the UK public are racists because they believe that immigration is placing too much strain on public services.

        It’s sad just how deluded some people can be, smearing 85% of the people because they disagree with them

        • telemachus

          The racists are the leaders who cynically manipulate fodder like your goodself

  • Denis_Cooper

    Why are the Tories so obsessed with this by-election?

    Let me just check – yes, the government still has a working majority of 78 even in the absence of a Tory MP for Newark, so this is not one of those rare by-elections which could be crucial to the survival of the government, so why this almost pathological obsession?

    • Kitty MLB

      Well obviously its a by- election. Not a council election, and every constituency
      matters when you have people to represent and protect form the evils of
      the Labour party. After all the worse areas have Labour MP’s and Labour
      councils.. a sense of duty and all that old fellow. And obviously they have experience. Yet I suppose UKIP can do with some experience in that

      • crackenthorp

        are you a little backward or a lot backward, the choice is yours

        • Ooh!MePurse!

          Kitty won’t reply to this. She doesn’t need to. She is too intelligent for you to understand.

      • Denis_Cooper

        Very noble of the Tories to pull out all the stops to try to protect the good people of Newark from the evil of a Labour MP.

        Nothing whatsoever to do with the Tories being desperate to be able to say afterwards, “Look, the UKIP bubble has burst”.

        Do you think they would be putting in anything like this effort if there was no UKIP, and therefore no UKIP candidate?

        I guess that sooner or later somebody in Newark is going to lose patience and say to one of the many visiting Tory ministers:

        “Shouldn’t you be in London doing what we pay you to do, running the country, rather here trying to stop us voting for UKIP?”

        • Fred Smith

          “Very noble of the Tories to pull out all the stops to try to protect the good people of Newark from the evil of a Labour MP.”

          Especially since it’s for just less than a year.

          They give the impression of having the wind up, and I’m not sure that carpet bombing the place with MPs and ministers is going to be productive.

      • Wessex Man

        How patronising can you get ‘After all the worse areas have Labour MP’s and Labour councils.’

        So in your world they are unworthy of consideration, no wonder the Tories had to go in alliance with the Lib/dums!

  • Kitty MLB

    See you have Chris Bryant there in your picture. I am sure he used to be a vicar-
    maybe I am wrong.

    • realfish

      I think that he must have realised that to be a vicar he needed to have a generosity of spirit, decency, integrity and faith in others.

      Clearly, it was something that he wasn’t cut out for.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Poor little Sebby. Clearly he needs a lesson in the history of Newark constituency

    Labour vote share from 1979 onwards:

    1979 42.95%
    1983 24.6%
    1987 27.7%
    1992 35.8%
    1997 45.2%
    2001 37.5%
    2005 33.9%
    2010 22.3%

    For a party that aspires to become the government again in just 12 months time it is a disaster. The lowest share they have won whilst in government was 7 point higher. Its the third worst share of the vote they have had in nearly 40 years (actually in Newark’s history going back to 1931) So it would be the third worst result in over 80 years.

    So apart from being third behind UKIP, little Sebby thinks that a vote share better only than the shares won in Labour’s worst two General election results in Newark is not bad?


    • crackenthorp

      Tell me do you practise at being a berk or does it come naturally?

      • Smithersjones2013

        I try and mimic people like you. Whats your excuse?

        • crackenthorp

          Well it seems you don’t do careful research because it would seem you know little to nothing about Newark.
          I was there today and i can say that the UKIP vote is starting to be squeezed so it is sure not beyond the bounds of probability that Labour can take this seat. Away from Southwell the Conservative vote is very flaky.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …bet it up, lad. You’ll get good odds.

            • Ooh!MePurse!


              • the viceroy’s gin

                …you directed that at me for some reason, or maybe not, but either way it’s senseless.

                • Ooh!MePurse!

                  It’s what you put in every post. I’m glad you’ve recognized that it’s senseless.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Sounds good, lad. That means you don’t need to read or respond to my posts .

          • Smithersjones2013

            Of course there speaks the wisdom of the Labour apparatchik. As if anyone is going to believe Labour spin…….

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        Berk? Interesting points backed up with hard evidence. I don’t often agree with Smithers but I can’t see any justification for mindless abuse.

    • Toots

      You seem to have ignored the 2010 b boundary change…

  • UniteAgainstSocialism

    Master Payne, Detention for you young man, you’ve been getting Dan Hodges to write your essays havnt you.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Nah it couldn’t be Desperate Dan because despite the equivalent crassness Hodges would use these figures to prove the impending collapse of the Labour vote all across the country to the end of time…….

  • the viceroy’s gin

    So what, the Speccie teenager is going to try to find a way to spin this Camerluvvie Newark disaster as a disaster for somebody else?

    That’s too funny.

    What’s even funnier is that the Camerloons and their LibDumb mates are set to drop about 40 points from their combined 2010 showing.

    It’s already a disaster, lad, not that you Speccie kids would understand that.

    • southerner

      The Camerloon expectation management has started already. The supplicant fools in the MSM just repeat it and hope we won’t notice. Prepare for stacks of stories all weekend and next week.

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      Camerluvvie, Camerloon, lad, Speccie teenager, Speccie kids.

      Dull as ditchwater.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Sounds good, lad. You can just skip over my boring posts, then.

        • HookesLaw

          Why should we ignore pointing out you are an ignorant racist redneck bigot. Please ignore me too.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            I like heaping dung on you Camerluvvie socialists though, lad.

            How’s that humiliating 3rd place finish working out for you types, by the way? I guess you didn’t know there were so many “ignorant racist redneck bigots” about, eh?

            • HookesLaw

              How humiliating is it for you to be exposed as someone who thinks everyone is a socialist who does not wear a white sheet over his head. How is the grand wizard? Keep the black shirt pressed for when you need it.
              Please feel free to ignore me in the same way you desire others to cease their criticism of you.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                No, not everyone is a socialist, lad. But you Camerluvvie socialist nutters definitely are.

                I don’t want to ignore you, lad. I enjoy heaping dung on you socialist nutters.

                How’s that 3rd place finish going down in socialist nutterville, by the way? The bigots and racist are just everywhere, eh lad?

              • southerner

                Still waiting for your review of your boy Dave’s performance at the Euros.

          • john king

            I’ve flagged your post and hope others do.
            Disgusting comments.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              His posts and comments are of immense value, though.

              Not for him, of course, but for the rest of us.

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