Saturday, January 09, 2010

A North West Leicestershire by-election?

Ashby Castle

When Gwyneth Dunwoody died in April 2008 Labour whips moved the writ for a by-election before she had been buried. They have not shown the same alacrity following the death of David Taylor, the MP for North West Leicestershire, whose funeral took place earlier today in the village of Heather.

I imagine Labour, afraid of defeat at the hands of the Conservatives, will do all they can to avoid having a by-election in North West Leicestershire before the general election. Certainly, I sense no enthusiasm for one amongst Labour activists in the county.

The North West Leicestershire constituency was created out of parts of the old Loughborough and Bosworth seats. It was first fought at the 1983 general election when David Ashby won it for the Conservatives. Ashby, whose antics did so much to enliven the the final years of John Major's premiership, held the seat until 1997. It was then gained for Labour by David Taylor, who had narrowly failed to capture it in 1992. (Ian Ridley has the results up to 1997.)

The constituency is quite rural, with two main towns: Ashby de la Zouch (just Ashby if you live in the county), which is thoroughly Tory, and Coalville, traditionally an area of Labour strength.

But things are more complicated than that. North West Leicestershire covers the former Leicestershire coalfield (the last mine closed in 1991), which means that many of the villages have a strong Labour tradition. And Coalville was won by the BNP in last year's county council elections.

The Liberal Democrats do not have much history of success in the constituency, but Michael Wyatt did have a good win in the rural Warren Hills ward in those same county elections.

To end on a literary note, fans of the Adrian Mole books may recall that his beloved Pandora Braithwaite is now New Labour MP for Ashby de la Zouch.


James Dowden said...

Incidentally, what would happen in the hypothetical situation of a by-election writ having been moved and then a general election called before the by-election itself had happened? Would the by-election still be held? Would the nominees be carried over into the general election? And what if polling had already started when the general election was called?

dreamingspire said...

A journalist who monitors some big govt purchasing contracts has told me that there are a number of ongoing negotiations targeted to have contracts awarded by May 6th. His view is that May 6th is therefore the first date for the general election. Possibly also the favourite date, but we all know how Broon dithers...

Anonymous said...

I want an MP please Gordon. DT did a great job (even though he was Labour)and this area needs an MP like every area does

NW Leics Liberal