On the 20 July, three by-elections took place to replace the three MPs who either resigned or were forced out due to misconduct. The three places up for contention were Selby and Ainsty in North Yorkshire, Somerton and Frome in our very own Somerset, and, notoriously, Uxbridge and South Ruislip in London.
Most of the attention was on Uxbridge, Boris Johnson’s former seat. The Conservatives narrowly won this seat. The leaders saw this as a landslide victory, saying it was proof that the next general election wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Labour blamed ULEZ for the defeat and told Sadiq Khan to halt rolling the beneficial clean air scheme across the rest of the boroughs of London. But the victory or defeat wasn’t as the two bigger parties portrayed it. With the benefit of hindsight, a Labour win was always going to be tough here. And a 6% swing toward Labour whilst narrowing the margin from 7,000 to 495 votes should’ve been more talked about.
Up in Yorkshire, Selby and Ainsty was a Labour victory. Not only did the area get a new party representing them for the first time since 2010, but the person elected became the youngest MP in the Commons, nicknamed the ‘Baby of the House’. This immediately led to some MPs questioning the age people can stand in politics, saying 25 is “too young”.
And lastly, but not least, Somerton and Frome. Here, a Labour victory was always going to be a longshot. Apart from Bristol and a few other West England seats, the Conservatives’ main opponents in Somerset are the Liberal Democrats. Which is probably why the Lib Dems put most of the effort to win here. And win they did. Decisively.
Want to find out more? What would this all mean for a future General Election next year? Check out the latest Bylines Network Podcast episode for our analysis and guesses.
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