Thursday, 23 January 2014

By-Election Preview: 23 January 2014

In a break from the norm, this by-election is being previewed by our editor-in-chief, a former resident of this ward.  Andrew Teale has a preview for this week's Cowdenbeath by-election in the next post here, and also previews one English local by-election for this week over on the English Elections blog.

North Lanarkshire Council; caused by the death of Labour councillor Anna McAuley.

  © Copyright Paul McIlroy and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Motherwell's three wards are more or less divided along railway lines.  Motherwell West lies to the west of the Argyle Line, that connects the town to Bellshill and Hamilton, and the West Coast Main Line. Motherwell South East and Ravenscraig on the other hand covers the parts of the town that lie between those two lines, as well as the vast expanse of the former Ravescraig Steelworks site, currently undergoing regeneration.  Motherwell North only really includes the little bit of Motherwell that lies to the north of the WCML, namely the Milton Road area, and also the Coursington estate, where your editor previously lived a few years ago now.  The larger part of the ward lies to the north-east of Motherwell itself, covering Jerviston, Carfin, New Stevenston and Newarthill.

Most of these areas are economically deprived, comprising communities built to serve local heavy industry, mostly coal mines and the steelworks, that have all long since gone.  These days, the major employers in the area are North Lanarkshire Council, and local retail businesses.  Motherwell has managed to somewhat diversify into the service industry, with a large number of call centres in the Airbles Road area of the town, while there are also a substantial number of Glasgow commuters in the area, served by Motherwell, Holytown and Carfin train stations.  However, local unemployment still remains well above the Scottish average.

As you'd expect from Motherwell, the ward is very safely Labour, returning three out of four seats for them in 2007 and 2012.  Indeed, this is the safest of Motherwell's three wards for Labour, who took 59% of the first preferences in 2007 and 68% in 2012. The closest competition comes from the SNP, who won the remaining seat in both years as well.  The Lib Dems came reasonably close to winning a seat in 2007 on transfers, with their young local candidate Stuart Douglas, but collapsed in the midst of their nationally cataclysmic showing in 2012.

This time around, the Lib Dems haven't even fielded a candidate, while defending for Labour is train driver and trade union rep Pat O'Rourke.  Continuing this ward's history of young candidates, the SNP is fielding 18-year old activist Jordan Linden, while the Conservatives have selected local businessman and perennial Motherwell candidate Bob Burgess.  Completing the line-up is UKIP's Neil Wilson, the first time UKIP have contested a local election in North Lanarkshire.

Westminster constituency: Airdrie and Shotts (part: Newarthill), Motherwell and Wishaw (rest of ward)
Holyrood constituency: Motherwell and Wishaw (part: part of Motherwell), Uddingston and Bellshill (rest of ward)
Holyrood region: Central Scotland
ONS Travel to Work Area: Lanarkshire
Postcode districts: ML1, ML4

May 2012 result Lab 3386 (3 seats) SNP 1261 (1 seat) C 217 LD 109
May 2007 result Lab 3833 (3 seats) SNP 1480 (1 seat) LD 465 C 383 Ind 379

Bob Burgess (C)
Jordan Linden (SNP)
Pat O'Rourke (Lab)
Neil Wilson (UKIP)

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