Let's look at the opposition. I particularly chose the right to study, because of the considerable support in the local area for the extreme right. These smaller parties drain support for the LibDems.
Voting had an average of 25% for the Conservatives over the period 2004-2012, BNP 9.3% and UKIP 11.9 %
Here are the local election results for every ward in
Sunderland for 2004. This was the year that Boundary changes took effect, so large numbers of candidates were put forward, and more than one councillor was elected per ward. Wikipedia says Labour put forward 75 candidates, Conservatives 54 LibDem 18 (+ one die hard original Liberal Party candidate) and BNP 25.
Results: 12 Conservative, 61 Labour and 2 LibDem councillors were elected.
Let’s take a closer look. The biggest Conservative vote in the city is in Fulwell at 67%, followed by St. Michael’s at 61%, St. Peter’s at 51% and St.
’s at 43%. You might expect these wards to have right wing support for BNP but in fact Fulwell had the smallest BNP vote of all. Fulwell is quite the most expensive part of Chad Sunderland to buy property (a good indicator of wealth) so the BNP apparently has fewer upmarket supporters. Apparently the finance to field so many candidates for the BNP was because the party chose Sunderland as one of only a handful of places they put up candidates that year.
The biggest BNP support was in Castle, Pallion, Redhill, Ryhope, Sandhill and St. Anne’s, some of the most deprived areas in the city, with (at the time) large council estates, many of which have since been pulled down/regenerated. BNP support therefore seems to be highest, largely among the poor and disaffected. Both the Conservatives and the BNP are seen as right wing, but they apparently appeal to very different sets of voters. But how different?
Political Compass - www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010 has a useful diagram to place them on the political spectrum (although there is some debate about whether these positions are fixed throughout the lifetime of a party, the SDLP being considerably to the left of the LibDems). You can, by the way test yourself on this site.
Anyway, the point is that both the BNP and Conservatives are traditionally seen as the right wing choice, both in terms of authoritarianism, and/or economic control. (Interestingly, on several of these charts that I viewed, New Labour was regarded as more right wing than the LibDems!)
The most right wing ward of all was once again Fulwell, followed by St. Michael’s, St. Peter’s, St.
’s and Barnes. The 2004 all ward average was 33% of support for parties to the right, counting both types of right of centre support. Let's suppose that higher scores than this average mean a stronger level of support than normal. Therefore Chad
this made 10 /25 wards to be right inclined, with scores above this, and consequently, 15/25 wards favoured left/centre political groups, which I take to be Labour and the LibDems. Fertile ground for these parties, one might say, and places where policies favouring social issues will be most appropriate. And will the large scale city housing regeneration programme change voting patterns in deprived areas towards Labour?
Looking at it a slightly different way, we can look at support for Labour (including independents) and LibDem as Centre-Left and Conservative, UKIP and BNP as Right. Average out the votes per ward for local elections between 2004 and 2012 and this is the graph produced. A measure of how Left-Right a ward is. There's a lot of red on those graphs! As you might expect, the wards closest to 50:50 provide the most fertile ground for campaigning.