Sunday, 17 January 2016

By-election Preview: 21 January 2016

Six by-elections on 21st January 2016.  One Scottish contest being held in Hamilton, with another five down in England covered over on the Election Elections blog, here.

South Lanarkshire council
Caused by the death of Scottish National Party councillor Lynn Adams at the age of 57.  A publican by trade, being landlady of the George in Hamilton, Adams had twice played handball for Scotland and also formerly worked for Motorola.  She had served on South Lanarkshire council since 2012.

Quarry Street, Hamilton
This is Hamilton's town centre ward, just off the M74 motorway and also including the Whitehill area to the north and the Ferniegair area to the south-east.  Here can be found Hamilton Park racecourse, Hamilton Academicals' football ground and Strathclyde Park, formerly the home of the Dukes of Hamilton and still containing their mausoleum, which claims the record for the world's longest echo.  The railway stations at Hamilton Central and Hamilton West (on the Hamilton Circle line) and Chatelherault (on the Larkhall branch) link the ward to Glasgow and Motherwell.  (Moreover, your blog editor worked in this ward for three years after first leaving university, also living in the ward for the last of those years. -Ed)

The introduction of PR for Scottish elections in 2007 enabled the SNP to win a seat here, with Labour winning the other two seats comfortably enough ahead of the Tory candidate Andrew Leitch (who can now be found on the Vote UK forum arguing about Scottish notional election results).  The gap between Labour and the SNP closed in 2012 to 43-40, and Labour held their second seat just 30 votes ahead of the second SNP candidate - who was the councillor elected in 2007, losing his seat to his running-mate Adams.  The general swing from Labour to SNP since 2012 suggests that the Nationalists should have few problems holding this by-election.

Defending for the SNP is Stephanie Callaghan, while Labour have gone for youth in selecting Lyndsay Clelland.  Also standing are James Mackay of the Conservatives, Steven Hannigan of the Green Party and Norman Rae of the Lib Dems.

Parliamentary constituency: Lanark and Hamilton East (most), Rutherglen and Hamilton West (small part)
Holyrood constituency: Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse (most), Uddingston and Bellshill (Whitehill area)

May 2012 first preferences Lab 1831 SNP 1721 C 430 Ind 141 Grn 133
May 2007 first preferences Lab 2556 SNP 1769 C 917 Ind 214 Ind 190