Roger Awan-Scully

Newport West’s by-election suggests Labour could struggle in a snap election

The result from the Newport West by-election came in late last night and as was generally expected Labour held the seat, albeit with a reduced majority. As had also been expected, turnout was significantly down on the general election. Here is the full result:

Candidate (Party) Votes per cent (change on 2017)
Ruth Jones (Labour) 9,308 39.6 (-12.7)
Matthew Evans (Conservative) 7,357 31.3 (-8.0)
Neil Hamilton (UKIP) 2,023 8.6 (+6.1)
Jonathan Clark (Plaid Cymru) 1,185 5.0 (+2.5)
Ryan Jones (Lib-Dems) 1,088 4.6 (+2.4)
Amelia Womack (Greens) 924 3.9 (+2.9)
June Davies (Renew) 879 3.7 (+3.7)
Richard Suchorzewski (Abolish the Assembly) 205 0.9 (+0.9)
Ian McLean (Social Democrat) 202 0.9 (+0.9)
Phillip Taylor (Democrats and Veterans) 185 0.8 (+0.8)
Hugh Nicklin (For Britain) 159 0.7 (+0.7)

Turnout: 37.1 per cent

Majority: 1,951

Swing: 2.4 per cent Labour to Conservative

A first notable thing about the result is the turnout figure. At 37.1 per cent, the official turnout was far from an all-time low for UK parliamentary by-elections. But it was also clearly a little ‘below trend’. Given the 67.5 per cent Newport West turnout in 2017, we should have been looking at a turnout figure in the mid-40s. Of course there are legitimate excuses: we can point to factors like Brexit monopolising nearly all political attention, as well as to the rather horrible weather on the day itself, to help explain low participation. One conclusion does seem clear though: the current political crisis did not mobilise angry voters to take part. In fact, the opposite might be true: if anything, people seem to have been alienated from participating in the electoral process.

As far as the parties are concerned, the by-election produced the Labour victory that it always should have done. They have held the seat since 1987, and this was a mid-term by-election that saw them fighting against a deeply unpopular Westminster government that has been failing to deliver on its central policy objective.

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