The Oldham East and Saddleworth By-election
A lot of the results have been presented in a way that makes the lib-dem candidate look as if he did as well in this election as he did in the last, approximately. But this is clearly not the case. So let's analyse them properly. I ignore the 'percentage of people who voted figures' becuase they aren't needed in a first-past the post system, and because they were severely misleading.
The electorate is given as 72,788
The turn out is given as 48.1%. This means that abstentions were 51.9%.
The candidates were:
Debbie Abrahams (Lab) with 14,718 votes, this is a percentage of the electorate of 20.2%
Elwyn Watkins (Lib-Dem) with 11,160 votes, or 15.3%
Kashif Ali (Con) with 4,481 votes or 6.2%
Paul Nuttall (UKIP) with 2,029 votes or 2.8%
Derek Adams (BNP) with 1,560 votes or 2.1%
Peter Allen (Green) with 530 votes or 0.7%
The Flying Brick (MR Loony) with 145 votes or 0.2%
Stephen Morris (Eng Dem) with 144 votes or 0.2%
Loz Kaye (Pirate) with 96 votes or 0.1%
David Bishop (Bus-Pass Elvis) with 67 votes or 0.1%
Compared with the May election:
Presumably, the electorate was the same, 72,788
The turn out was 61.6 %, making abstentions 38.4%
The candidates were:
Phill Woolas (Lab) with 14,186 votes, or 19.4% of the electorate
Elwyn Watkins (Lib-Dem) with 14,083 votes, or 19.3%
Kashif Ali (Con) with 11,773 votes or 16.2%
Alwyn Stott (BNP) with 2,546 votes or 3.5%
David Bentley (UKIP) with 1,720 votes, or 2.4%
Gulzar Nazir (Christian Party) with 212 votes, or 0.3 %/
Now everything becomes clear: nearly ten thousand people who did vote in May didn't vote this time round ((51.9 minus 38.4) divided by 100 multiplied by 72788). This is an extremely important part of the result; it shows that people are not happy with the choices on offer, with the political process generally, etc.
Of the three top parties:
The labour party drew 532 more votes, about 37% (532 divided by 14186 times a hundred, if you're not good at maths), which is not to be sneezed at. and the support of a higher percentage of the electorate, as well as a higher percentage of the non-abstentions. This is clearly a landslide victory.
The lib-dems lost 2923 votes, about 20% (2923 divided by 14083 times a hundred). Clearly they lost support among the electorate as a whole, even if their share of the votes cast seemed good.
The conservatives lost big time. A drop in 7292 votes, more than 60% (7292 divided by 11773 times a hundred). Maybe the supporters who voted for them are in the increase in abstentions, maybe some conservative voters switched to lib-dem.
So, this by-election is a very strong vote of no-confidence in the conservative party, and in the coalition, and demonstrates a clear reduction in support for the lib-dems. And that was with a labour scandal, a complete unknown filling the labour candidacy and a larger number of candidates to split the vote…