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Yesterday’s local by-election

8 October 2015

We had a local council by-election here in Wales yesterday. (Quite why it was held on a Wednesday is not something I have yet been able to discover).

I don’t normally cover individual local by-elections in any detail on the blog, although my end-of-the-year round up will, as per usual, try to put together the overall picture of them. I would always caution people against over-interpreting any single result, although taken collectively council by-elections they can give us a fair indication of which way the political wind is blowing.

Yesterday’s, in Cardiff’s Riverside ward, was potentially interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s a place that has been asked to vote quite a lot over the last few years. In addition to all the regular elections, this was the third council by-election in the ward in the last four years! But second, the by-eleciton gave us one of the first chances to see any potential electoral impact of Jeremy Corbn. Our recent Welsh Political Barometer poll showed some evidence of at least a modest ‘Corbyn bounce’ – but will this translate into real votes in real elections?

As those who follow such things closely will already be aware, Labour held the seat it was defending in the by-election. Congratulations to Caro Wild, the new councillor. My friend Harry Hayfield has kindly put together this table of the recent results in the ward. (For 2012, he has aggregated the votes for all candidates in this multi-member ward.). Many thanks to Harry for this information:


Party Votes Cast 2012 By-election 2013 Change on 2012 By-election 2015 Change on 2012 Change on 2013
Con 8% 107 (5%) -3% 155 (7%) -1% +2%
Lab 48% 1,120 (50%) +2% 1,071 (46%) -2% -4%
Lib Dem 4% 58 (3%) -1% 85 (4%) Unchanged +1%
Plaid 31% 773 (35%) +4% 780 (34%) +3% -1%
Green 8% -8% 109 (5%) -3% +3%
UKIP 97 (4%) +4% 110 (5%) +5% +1%
TUSC 1% 70 (3%) +2% 21 (1%) Unchanged -2%


And these are the main figures for the two-party swing between the leading parties in the ward, Labour and Plaid Cymru (again, worked out by Harry):

2012 – 2013: Lab to Plaid of 1%

2012 – 2015: Lab to Plaid of 2.5%

2013 – 2015: Lab to Plaid of 1.5%


In short, pretty modest change all round. I can’t see much evidence of a Corbyn bounce here. But I don’t see any real sign of a #Plaidsurge either.


  1. Math Wiliam

    Difficult to separate the different factors. It’s possible that the Corbyn bounce more or less cancelled out what would have been a substantial swing towards Plaid Cymru. But obviously there’s no way of knowing given the data that we have.

  2. Riverside Resident

    Plaid went for this full throttle, residents could count six leaflets, they must be disappointed considering the efforts and resources they ploughed in. Great candidate but a fairly negative campaign against Labour – put people off?

  3. Andy Williams

    It was a good result for Plaid. A very good second place with a percentage higher than every other added together with the exception of the winner.

    This is Cardiff, South Wales. Turning the Labour bloc vote over is not something that will happen quick – it will be drip drip drip, a slice at a time. You are talking about people who are genetically pre-coded to vote Labour and they don’t change easy – but from experience here in the North, once a lifelong Labour voter turns, they turn for good.

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