Amidst the growing likelihood of European elections this summer, and reports of Conservative woe in local election campaigning, we have a real Parliamentary vote with real voters – the Newport West by-election, only the third of this Parliament.
It offers something for almost everyone.
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Ruth Jones (Labour): 9,304 36.6 per cent -12.7 per cent
Matthew Evans (Conservative): 7,357 31.3 per cent – 8.0 per cent.
Neil Hamilton (UKIP): 2,023 8.6 per cent + 6.1 per cent.
Jonathan Clarke (Plaid Cymru): 1,185 5 per cent + 2.6 per cent.
Ryan Jones (Liberal Democrat): 1,088 4.6 per cent + 2.4 per cent.
Amelia Womack (Green): 924 3.9 per cent +2.8 per cent.
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Majority: 1,951 8.5 per cent – 4.5 per cent.
Turnout: 23,515 37.1 per cent – 30.5 per cent.
Swing: 2.4 per cent to the Conservatives.
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- For Labour, there is a victory.
- For the Conservatives, there is a swing.
- For UKIP, there is the largest increase in vote share.
- For the other main parties, there are rises in vote share.
- Labour’s vote is down.
- So is the Conservatives’.
- UKIP didn’t win the seat on a wave of anti-establishment protest – or even come second.
- The smaller parties’ totals are derisory.
So, come to think of it, is that of all the contestants. Turnout is down by over a third – from 43,438 at the last general election to 23,515. That’s poor, of course, but by no means exceptionally low: nothing like the 18.2 per cent record low at Manchester Central in 2012.
At Westminster, we have floods, thunderstorms, Theresa May in negotiation with a Marxist who leads an institutionally anti-semitic party, a referee who plays for one of the teams, Nick Boles, Richard Drax, another backbencher who was Prime Minister In All But Name when the week began (and could still be), a possible EU-delivered No Deal, a probable extension – and no-one with a clue what will happen next.
In Newport, we don’t even have that event of journalistic legend – small earthquake, not many dead. We have a tremor that barely registers on the seismograph. Plus evidence that our old friend, Neil Hamilton, is still alive and kicking.