16 Nov 2012

Labour regains Corby but police vote turnout is low

Labour achieves a 12.7 per cent swing to retake Corby from the Tories following Louise Mensch’s resignation. But turnout in England and Wales is very low in the election for police commissioners.

A by-election was triggered in political bellwether Corby after the departure of chick-lit author turned MP Louise Mensch who gave up her seat to spend more time with her family in New York.

Corby had been held by Labour from 1997 until 2010, when it was won by the Tories with a slim majority. Today, Labour won the seat back when candidate Andy Sawford won the seat on the second count.

Mr Sawford polled 48.41 per cent of the votes, giving him a lead of around 8,000 votes over the Conservative candidate Christine Emmett.

UKIP candidate Margot Parker was third and the Liberal Democrat candidate Jill Hope was fourth.

The by-election attracted a range of colourful candidates including moustachioed chef Mr Mozzarella, who won 73 votes, and Peter Reynolds of the Cannabis party, who won 137 votes.

Voter turnout was 44.65 per cent, around 20,000 lower than the 69.26 per cent Corby turnout for the 2010 general election.

Speaking after the result, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the result showed middle England had sent a message to David Cameron that it was “putting its trust in a one-nation Labour Party” (see video, below).

Other results

Labour claimed both Cardiff South and Penarth, and Manchester Central with swings towards the party in both constituencies.

In Manchester Central, where Lucy Powell claimed the seat, the swing away from the Liberal Democrats was amost 17 per cent. But the turnout of around 18 per cent was the lowest in a parliamentary by-election since World War II. For Tory candidate Matthew Sephton, the result was so disappointing he lost his deposit after managing just 754 votes – less than 5 per cent of the total turnout.

Voter turnout in Cardiff, where Labour’s Stephen Doughty was successful, was higher at over 25 per cent, with a swing from the Conservatives to Labour of over 8 per cent.

Aside from the by-elections, turnout was estimated at just 10 per cent in some places for the first elections to the post of police and crime commissioner (PCC). Most of the results of the PCC elections are expected later this afternoon.

In the most radical shake-up of policing for half a century, the new commissioners, who are expected to earn up to £100,000 a year, will control police budgets, set priorities, and have the power to hire and fire chief constables.

Read more: Who are the people running to be police crime commissioners?

Low PCC turnout

However Labour said that voters were not given enough information about the PCC elections. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the elections for the new commissioners had descended into a shambles, with many voters taking to Twitter to describe the low turnout at their polling stations.

The biggest surprise of the commissioner elections was that John Prescott, who had been hoping for election in Humberside, lost out to Conservative Party candidate Matthew Grove. Michael Crick caught up with Mr Prescott after his loss (see video, below).

In Wiltshire, the first force area to declare, the overall turnout was 15.8 per cent as Tory candidate Angus Macpherson, a magistrate, won after a second round of voting ahead of Labour’s Clare Moody. But in parts of the county, the turnout was much lower, reaching under 11 per cent in Trowbridge and Devizes.

The second result to be announced was in Dyfed Powys, where Welsh Conservative Christopher Salmon won in a straight fight against Labour. Turnout for the election was 16.38 per cent.

Labour won their first position in Merseyside, where candidate Jane Kennedy was elected to the role with 56 per cent of the vote. Election turnout was 12.7 per cent. Labour’s candidate Vera Baird was elected in Northumbria, where there was a turnout of 16.45 per cent. You can see the election results as they come in below.

Ms Cooper said: “We warned the government repeatedly that they had the wrong approach and that turnout would be low. Theresa May and David Cameron didn’t listen and it is shocking that they have spent £100m on these elections rather than on 3,000 police constables instead.

“Time and again on the doorstep people told us either they didn’t have enough information, didn’t know the elections were happening, didn’t support them or didn’t want to go out in the dark to vote.”

Critics claim the police reforms will lead to the politicisation of the service, with PCCs championing populist measures at the expense of less headline-worthy initiatives. Elections are being held in 41 police areas outside London.