Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Psephology of South Tyneside and South Shields


This is traditionally a strong Labour area, but with pockets of Conservatism, and one strong LibDem area, Hebburn. However, the area becomes more interesting when you look at the minorities in closer detail - there are some really interesting and unusual undercurrents which add a bit of spice to the mix. 

Let's look at South Tyneside first. The best sources for this are The Shields Gazette, and two blogs, the active Curly's Corner Shop    http://curly15.wordpress.com/    and the no longer active but archived (dare I say it, scandalously liberal and possibly even libellous!) Mr Monkey. A good read though, presenting certain local politicians as very sleazy.  http://mrmonkeysblog.wordpress.com/ Interestingly, this blogger is at the centre of a scandal as the council has spent £142,000 trying to track him/her down. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-13588284

Here are the statistics on the local elections since 2004. My data on the 2012 elections differs slightly from the official versions I've seen because of the incompetent way they've included data from the Simonside election which involved choosing 2 councillors, so voters had two votes. As far as I can tell, they plucked a figure from the air when collating the data. I just used votes cast for Labour (2610, rather than the made up figure of "2116") 




2004
2006
2007
2008
2010
2011
2012
Labour
36.5
40.5
41.5
37.4
48.7
53.7
59.4
Conservative
15.9
13.8
13.1
15.9
14.4
14.2
12.2
Lib Dem
18.5
11.6
6.4
5
7.2
2.5
0
BNP
1.8
1.2
4.4
9.2
8.5
2.3
4.9
Independent
17.6
25.9
26.8
25.2
15.6
21.9
17.6
Progressive
8.5
6
5.4
5.8
4.3
3.3
3.7
Green
0.6
0.6
1.8
1.4
1.4
1.2
0.5
Liberal





0.9
1.6

  
 Several things to notice:- Labour is the predominant party, as we know, and even in the Brown premiership, its vote dipped only slightly. The Conservative vote is fairly low, in the 12-15% range and has remained fairly steady. A couple of wards are Tory with a capital T - Whitburn, and Cleadon/E. Boldon, but other wards have less than 5% of the vote, and supporters in double figures numerically. Greens always field a few candidates, but their votes are seldom above 100 per ward. The big surprise is the BNP, with a very large support base, at least compared to Sunderland. They managed to field 15 candidates in 2010, and in Primrose ward have historically had support as high as 32.7% in 2008, an 21,7% in 2010 - about 400-600 supporters! Their support has declined recently.

The independent candidates are very strong in this area. There are 2 groups:- the Progressives, and the Tyneside Alliance, both dedicated to combating the Labour dominance of the area. I shall quote Wikipedia on the Progressives:-

South Shields has a local independent political party, the Progressive Party. This broadly centre-right party was formed in the 1950s to address hostility towards the Conservative Party. The Progressives have no representation beyond South Shields. Having controlled the old County Borough of South Shields council until 1974, they still hold several seats on the borough council and have experienced a resurgence in recent years, sitting in alliance with independent members of the council

The South Tyneside Alliance no longer seems to have a website, but as ever, it's available on Wayback, at http://web.archive.org/web/20080703174331/http://www.southtynesidealliance.info/5.html
I Quote:-
Almost three years ago there was a move to try and bring together all opposition councillors to propose alternative policies to those of the Labour Party. Unfortunately both the Liberal Democrats (who always vote with Labour) and the Conservatives refused to join any organised opposition.

There was a strong desire amongst independently minded councilors that a unified and well organised opposition was the best way to challenge Labour’s grip of the Council and in late 2005 an Alliance of Independent Councillors was formed. The South Tyneside Progressives also joined the Alliance of Independents and on occasions worked closely with the Alliance.

Given the increasing popularity of the Independent movement in South Tyneside the Progressives felt that they were in danger of losing their unique identity and decided to leave the Independent Alliance in February 2008 although they have vowed to continue working closely with the Independent Alliance in opposing the ruling Labour group.
 


Several of these independents seem to have moved between political parties quite frequently...

No UKIP candidate has ever stood for election,except once in Beacon (6.1% in 2006) - but there is a UKIP councillor - that's because the councillor decided to join the party - he was formerly independent, and before that, the leader of South Tyneside Conservatives!


Interestingly, Sunderland's Conservative leader made the following FOI request about him.

Finally, there's the Liberal Party, who fielded 3 candidates in 2011 and 7 in 2012, and were moderately successful in Simonside - 14.3% (as against 70.2% for Labour), coming second in 2012.

Here are the 2004-2012 average votes per party, for the South Tyneside wards. South Shields is shown in yellow. A blank means no candidate has been put forward in that ward in recent years.

South Tyneside Wards - Average vote for parties 2004-2012
Ward
LibDem
Labour
Con
BNP
Indepen.
Prog.
Green
Liberal
Beacon & Bents
11
39.9
10
10.4
29.9
15.1
5
1.9
Bede
11.4
51.6
6.4
11.6
34.9
4.7
Biddick & All Saints
13.9
53.1
5.9
7.6
28.2

2.1
4.3
Boldon Colliery
20.2
54.3
13.1
7
30.9
Cleadon & East Boldon
29.2
32.6
51
3.3
9.6
10.8
5.1
Cleadon Park

40.6
12.6
8.3
38.6
36.4
4

Fellgate &Hedworth
49
8.3
4.5
46.3
6
1.5
Harton
9.2
45.1
11.3
10.9
6.5
35
5.9
4.1
Hebburn North
43.7
42.4
5.7
11.8
23.3
Hebburn South
16.8
59.1
10.4
9.3
26.9
4
Horsley Hill
9.6
44.9
16.7
9.2
25.5

3.1
2.6
Monkton
7.2
44.9
8.3
9.6
28.1
Primrose
10.7
56.9
11.6
24
21.1
6.3
Simonside & Rekendyke
12
57.6
10.9
10.6

19.8
6.3
14.3
West Park
14.9
35.6
12.3
7.1
11.3
39.8
7.1
2.5
Westoe
8.5
28.7
14.1
9.5
47.1
6.2
5.3
2.8
Whitburn & Marsden
11.6
52.7
28
8.1

15.3


Whiteleas

53.2
6.6
8.5




Yellow - wards part of South Shields Parliamentary Constituency   (otherwise Jarrow)
 
Some interesting facts relevant to the by-election. Firstly, the big South Tyneside LibDem areas are not part of the constituency - however, moderate support has been recorded historically in the Cleadon and Boldon areas. A couple of wards are unknown factors, as there hasn't been LibDem activity there in recent local elections. I would suggest they're worth a punt as at least two have lower Labour support.

Similarly The Conservative heartland of Cleadon isn't part of the election, although Whitburn is. (The Conservative turned UKIP councillor is from Cleadon). Moderate Liberal and BNP areas may throw up some support, as may the various independents. The South Tyneside Alliance with its 20-30% support in some wards,  is strongly associated, (from what's hinted at in various blogs), with Mr Monkey. Yes he's a candidate in this by-election!

Basically it's Labour versus the others, who are such a diverse bunch that it's basically divide and conquer; the opposition vote is split so many ways that they're pretty much neutralised.

More next time on South Shields and party performance.

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