Wednesday, 30 March 2016

By-election Preview: 31 March 2016

Five by-elections on 31 March - three covered over on the English Elections blog, one on Welsh Elections, along with one in Scotland covered below.

Dundee city council
Caused by the resignation of SNP councillor Craig Melville as a result of a row over alleged racist and Islamophobic texts.  He had served since winning a by-election in March 2009.

Caird Hall, Dundee
This week's Scottish by-election comes from the centre of Dundee.  Maryfield ward contains Dundee city centre, the Abertay University campus, the end of the Tay Road Bridge and the city's docks, running north from the docks to take in the area around Baxter and Stobsmuir Parks as far as the Kingsway.

Before PR was introduced most of this area was in just two single-member wards: Baxter Park (which was safe SNP) and East Port (an SNP/Labour marginal).  With the introduction of PR in 2007 Maryfield became a three-seat ward with two safe seats for the SNP and one for Labour, the SNP winning the first preferences 51-36 at the most recent election in 2012.

With the general swing to the SNP since 2012 and the good Yes performance in Dundee in the referendum, it's hard to see beyond the SNP's Lynne Short for this by-election.  Labour's Alan Cowan, a Unison and GMB activist will be hoping for a gain which would cut the SNP majority on the city council to one.  Also standing are James Clancy for the Tories, Christopher McIntyre for the Lib Dems, Stuart Fairweather for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Jacob Ellis for the Greens, independent candidate Brian McLeod and UKIP's Calum Walker.

Parliamentary constituencies: Dundee East (part formerly in Baxter Park and East Port wards); Dundee West (part formerly in Stobswell and Tay Bridges wards)
Holyrood constituencies: Dundee City East (most of ward); Dundee City West (city centre)

May 2012 first preferences SNP 1746 Lab 1251 C 249 LD 126 TUSC 62
March 2009 by-election SNP 1550 Lab 1013 LD 354 C 224 SSP 52 Ind 35 Ind 28; after transfers SNP 1620 Lab 1052 LD 455
May 2007 first preferences SNP 2188 Lab 1511 LD 644 C 410 SSP 96 Solidarity 83