Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Labour wins South Yorkshire PCC by-election

Labour has won the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner by-election with 50 per cent of the vote, which is a tremendous relief for the party given the circumstances in which this contest was held. It avoided the contest moving to second preferences by 0.02 per cent, but it has won in every local authority area, including Rotherham, where it beat Ukip by 800 votes.

That the party whose PCC stood down over the Rotherham grooming scandal has managed to win a by-election to replace him now raises questions for Ukip. Neither side had called this election, but Ukip did have a very good chance indeed, given the circumstances.

They do not have the consolation prize of winning in certain local authority areas such as Rotherham and Doncaster, which they had hoped for. Even though extrapolating this by-election for the general election result would be imaginative at best, it would have given the party a good line.

Labour, meanwhile, still needs to work out how to fight Ukip in parliamentary constituencies. Labour MPs involved in the campaign point out that this was not a real test of the Ukip attack machine because it was a unique by-election. They remain concerned about the party’s weaknesses in that respect, but will have been greatly relieved today.

And still there are questions for those who introduced the Police and Crime Commissioners that a by-election that followed something so dreadful as a child grooming scandal only attracted a 14.88 per cent turnout. Those disappointed by the low turnout in the first elections still argued that voters would grow in enthusiasm once they realised that they could hold someone accountable for poor performance.

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