Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The North West Leicestershire by-election should not be delayed

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

There have been reports today that the Labour Party has reacted with outrage to the discussions that are taking place about the potential timing of a by-election trigerred by the untimely and unexpected death of Leicestershire North West MP David Taylor on Boxing Day. Labour have been quoted as saying that it is "completely inappropriate" to be talking about an election so soon after his death. The source also said "Our thoughts are completely with David's family. So should everybody else's be."

I am very sorry for the loss that Mr Taylor's family have suffered. However I disagree that the by-election should not be being discussed. I am certain that behind the scenes, election strategists from all parties (including Labour) will be mulling over the possibilities.

One thing that cannot be allowed to happen is for the timing of the poll to be pushed back and back until it coincides with a general election in April, May or June next year. This would probably be in the Labour Party's electoral interest (in order to avoid a potentially embarassing by-election loss soon before the general election) but certainly not in the interests of the constituents of Leicestershire North West.

The average time between a parliamentary vacancy arising and the day of the resultant by-election in the current parliament is just over 48 days. Even this is slightly skewed because of the 143 day wait to elect Michael Martin's successor in Glasgow North East (mainly delayed due to the proximity of the summer recess). If that is excluded then the average comes down to 41 days.

There is no reason for this to be any different. The writ should be moved within a few weeks of the New Year.


Anonymous said...

There's no reason for that argument to follow at all.

The time between vacancies arising and by-elections being held has been compressed radically only in the last 5 years (since Brent) because Labour and the Tories have figured out that it is to their electoral advantage to have short campaigns.

Before that it was more common than not for there to be a period of months between vacancy and polling day.

Since we know the General Election has to be held by June the better parrallel is with local government where the law says vacancies occuring less than 6 months before the scheduled election are not filled by a by election but are left open until the scheduled election date.

Harry Hayfield said...

There have been occasions where vacant seats are still vacant at the calling of a general election. The most recent example was in 2005 when the Staffordshire South constituency was vacant when Parliament gathered after the Liberal Democrat candidate died after the close of nominations.

The next recent occasion when a seat was vacant at the time of the election was in 1997 when the constituencies of Meriden and Don Valley were vacant at the time of dissolution. In these cases the MP died on January 13th 1997 (in the case of Meriden) and January 16th 1997 (in the case of Don Valley).

Anonymous said...

I want a by election. NW Leics voter