As expected, Labour comfortably won the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election (triggered by the death of Paul Goggins) with 55% of the vote, a swing of 11% from the Conservatives. More than anything, it was a highly effective “get out the vote” operation (as Raf writes in his column this week) that allowed the party to cruise to victory. The real race, then, was between UKIP and the Tories for second place.
For the sixth time in a by-election in this parliament, UKIP finished as runners-up, with 17.9% of the vote, an increase of 14.5% since 2010 and their fourth best by-election result ever. But so high have expectations been raised, with some in Westminster even speculating earlier this month that the party could win the seat, that such a result is no longer viewed as surprising. Since Eastleigh, when UKIP finished second with 27% of the vote (its best-ever by-election result), the bar has been set much higher.
As for the other parties, it was another terrible night for the Lib Dems. For the eighth time in this parliament, they lost their deposit after their vote collapsed from 22.3% to just 4.9%, leaving them just 428 votes ahead of the Greens and 468 votes ahead of the BNP. If this trend is repeated at the general election, in upwards of 50 seats, 7 May 2015 will prove a very expensive night for the party (each deposit costs £500).
Turnout was a derisory 28.2%.
Here’s the result in full.
Labour 13,261 – 55.34% (+11.21%)
UKIP 4,301 – 17.95% (+14.51%)
Conservative 3,479 – 14.52% (-11.03%)
Liberal Democrat 1,176 – 4.91% (-17.44%)
Green 748 – 3.12% (N/A)
BNP 708 – 2.95% (-0.9%)
Monster Raving Loony 288 – 1.2% (N/A)
Turnout: 23,961 – 28.24%
Swing to Labour from Conservative: 11.12%