One of those British traditions whose origin has been lost in the mists of time (leaving us guessing) is that polling day is a Thursday. There have been strong suggestions that the Lewisham East by-election will take place in the middle week in June, which means Thursday the 14th of June.
Or does it? Forty years ago this month, Labour held off the SNP at the Hamilton by-election, which was held on a Wednesday to avoid the opening day of the 1978 World Cup, the last non-Thursday Westminster election to date. As fate would have it, the 2018 World Cup begins on Thursday 14th June. Might the Thursday tradition really be broken so that East Lewishamians aren’t distracted from Russia versus Saudi Arabia? I suppose it wouldn’t be the strangest thing to happen in politics lately…
The Labour selection meeting is expected to be on 16th May. On LabourList, Sienna Rodgers has profiled the runners and riders. Labour’s left is thought to be favoured here, and the odds are currently shortest on Phyll Opoku-Gyimah. One of the contenders mentioned is Joe Dromey, who – if selected and then elected – would become the first Labour candidate to win a by-election in the SE postcode area since 1982, when Peckham was successfully defended by… His mum.
Moving out to the rest of southern England, Ian Warren of Election Data and Chris Curtis of YouGov have been busy polling the (mostly young) people moving out of London and turning places like Canterbury red. This is a significant electoral development because of its effect on the way votes are distributed. Rather than Labour votes being piled up in urban seats the party already holds, they instead move to potentially more competitive areas.
That’s bad news for the Tories, but there’s a possible catch. There’s evidence elsewhere that once people move to more Conservative areas, they themselves become more Tory…
Tim Bale and I largely concur on the local elections, while Mark Pack looks at the Lib Dem locals performance and finds them doing better against the Conservatives than Labour and (unsurprisingly) better in Remain areas than Leave ones.
Since the last briefing we learnt of the passing of Colin Rosenstiel, a long-time Liberal and then Lib Dem councillor from Cambridge, but also an election expert and a frequent and insightful contributor to psephological Twitter. We will miss him very much.
There are no local by-elections today.