Election Preview: Norwich North (UK) by-election

A by-election is being held today (July 23) in the British constituency of Norwich North, located in Norfolk in the East of England. This is held to replace Ian Gibson, a Labour MP involved in the expenses scandal who was excluded from the party and forbidden to run for re-election as a Labour candidate. His position was untenable and he resigned, without running for re-election as an Independent Labourite.

Norwich North is the poorer and more blue-collar of the two Norwich constituencies, and includes little industrial pockets and social housing. It has been held by Labour since its creation in 1966, but the Conservatives won it in the 1983 Tory landslide and held it until 1997 after a close election victory in 1992. Norwich South is wealthier and more service-oriented. However, the city as a whole has a reputation to be one of the country’s ‘greenest’ cities. In fact, the Greens were the largest party in the city in the June Euro elections – though their strength is mostly concentrated in Norwich South.

The 2005 results were as follows:

Ian Gibson (Labour) 44.9%
James Tumbridge (Conservative) 33.3%
Robin Whitmore (LibDem) 16.2%
Adrian Holmes (Green) 2.7%
John Youles (UKIP) 2.4%
Bill Holden (Ind) 0.7%

The two major contenders – Labour and Tories – have both nominated candidates, who, if elected, will be the youngest MPs in the House. Labour’s candidate is Chris Ostrowski and the Tory candidate is Chloe Smith.  The LibDem candidate is their 2005 candidate in South West Norfolk and local councillor April Pond. The Greenies nominated Rupert Read, their top candidate in the East Euro constituency in June as their candidate. Read is also a local councillor – the Greens are the second party on the Norwich council. There are also UKIP, BNP and Looney candidates. A notable independent is former ambassador Craig Murray running as an anti-corruption candidate.

The Greens are not strong in the North, but more in the South (over 7% in 2004); but Labour is bleeding a lot of support to the Greens according to a poll for the by-election (change on 2005). Craig Murray was not polled, but he is an important factor. His result will be important to this race.

Conservative 34% (+1)
Labour 30% (-15)
LibDem 15% (-1)
Green 14% (+11)

UK PollingReport has some information on the poll:

Norwich’s University & College Union have commissioned an ICM poll for the forthcoming by-election in Norwich North. […]

This is the equivalent of an 8 percent swing to the Conservatives, pretty much in line with national polling at the moment, though beneath those figures the actual shift has almost all been from the Labour party over to the Greens. The sample size was only 500 (and once don’t knows, unlikely to votes and so on were taken out, the voting figures were based on only 294), so there’s a hefty margin of error, but the Conservatives start the race slightly ahead.

This is of course an early poll – the by-election campaigning has barely started and Labour haven’t even named their candidate. 18% of the people ICM contacted weren’t even aware there was a forthcoming by-election, and 24% said they didn’t know how they would vote (as usual ICM re-allocate a proportion of these people based on how they voted at the last election, without this adjustment the figures would have been CON 35%, LAB 28%).

Labour is expecting a bad night (or day, seeing as counting starts tomorrow morning), but the Conservatives falling flat (albeit allowing them to win thanks to Labour’s collapse) wouldn’t be entirely good news. A good Green result for Read would position him well to run “for real” in Norwich South in the general election, since Norwich South is probably a top Green target and one of the few places they stand a chance to win.


Posted on July 24, 2009, in By-elections, Election Preview, United Kingdom. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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