Daily Archives: March 6, 2011

Welsh referendum and Barnsley Central by-election

A devolution referendum was held in Wales on March 3, along with a Westminster by-election in Barnsley Central.

Wales has a devolved assembly since 1997, but unlike Scotland is does not have tax-levying powers nor does it have broad legislative powers. As part of the 2007 One Wales coalition agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru, the Welsh devolved government engaged itself to hold a referendum which would give full legislative powers to the Assembly in the twenty fields of competence established in the Government of Wales Act 2006. As of now, the Assembly’s legislation in these matters needed to be confirmed by Westminster whereas under the new system, it won’t need to seek Westminster approval. All parties in the Assembly supported the deal, but the Tories and LibDems wanted to hold it in March rather than with the Assembly elections on May 5, probably so it didn’t conflict with the AV referendum that day.

Turnout was 35.2%. Turnout was highest in Welsh-speaking areas, which also voted the most heavily in favour (along with the South Wales valley) Overall, 63.49% voted in favour while 36.51% voted against. Monmouthshire, probably the ‘least Welsh’ local government authority, was the only one to vote against though it did still give 49.4% of its votes in favour of further devolution after having voted heavily against the original devolution deal in 1997.

A by-election was held in the Westminster constituency of Barnsley Central on the same day following the resignation of incumbent Labour MP Eric Illsley for false accounting in connection with his expenses. Barnsley Central covers basically the town of Barnsley and nearby villages in the larger local authority. Barnsley itself is a working-class industrial town developed around coal and glassmaking, while the constituency also includes some pit villages. As such, it is heavily Labour and the area has voted Labour since 1922 (except for 1931) and prior to that voted Liberal, so no Tory has represented Barnsley since it got a constituency of its own. Eric Illsley has represented Barnsley Central, which was created in 1983 (though boundaries have moved around since), since 1987. From a huge 67% majority for Illsley in 1997, his majority fell to a mere 30% in 2010 and his vote that year was only 47.3% against 61% in 2005. Labour did badly in Yorkshire in 2010, and Illsley’s dodgy accounting was known by then.

Turnout was 36.5%, down from 56.5% in 2010.

Dan Jarvis (Labour) 60.80% (+13.53%)
Jane Collins (UKIP) 12.19% (+7.53%)
James Hockney (Conservative) 8.25% (-9.01%)
Enis Dalton (BNP) 6.04% (-2.90%)
Tony Devoy (Independent [Labour]) 5.63% (+3.58%)
Dominic Carman (Liberal Democrat) 4.18% (-13.10%)
Kevin Riddiough (English Democrats) 2.25%
Howling Laud Hope (Monster Raving Loony Party) 0.82%
Michael Val Davies (Independent) 0.25%

Not a huge majority of the yesteryears for Labour, but still a huge majority and a solid win. The Tories did badly, falling to third but the sixth, yes, sixth place finish for the LibDems is especially bad (or great, depending on your perspective) for them. UKIP likely took some angry Tories, and got a nice result in a place which isn’t naturally good for them. The BNP, who polled 9% in 2010, is the other major loser after an already poor showing in Oldham East and Saddleworth.