Amidst much election talk – whether of the general or European variety – a more imminent poll has yet to capture media attention. Come Friday morning, the Newport West By-Election may well be very newsworthy.
Labour near-certain to win big
Voters in this relatively safe Labour constituency go to the polls on Thursday, following the death of MP Paul Flynn. Defending a majority of nearly 6,000, it would be a minor miracle were the incumbents to lose. At current odds, Labour are rated just 1.11 to win – equivalent to 90%.
The constituency profile is similar to dozens of successful defences since Labour lost power in 2010. They have picked a strong local candidate in Ruth Jones – a former Welsh TUC President – who is confidently expected to be returned to parliament by a substantial margin.
So far, so predictable. News of a Labour win will barely interrupt the 24/7 Brexit conversation. The race for second, however, just might.
Big-two will surely regress from 2017
The Conservatives have owned that position, by considerable margins, ever since losing the seat in 1987. In 2017, this was on their target list – they started favourites before the Corbyn surge transformed the polls. They are rated merely 1.14 to win without Labour. What looks a certainty ‘on paper’ becomes an unappealing, risky bet in the current ‘anti-political establishment’ mood.
Two predictions are confidently made. Turnout will be sub-35% and there will be a significant protest vote. Combined, the big-two earned a remarkable 92% of the vote share in 2017. I reckon that could fall beyond 70% – it was merely 74% in the 2015 and 2010 general elections.
Brexit chaos raises chance of protest votes
By-elections always present fertile conditions for a protest vote and it is hard to remember a more obvious time to do so. If politicians doubted the anger out there, Friday’s protests in Westminster should have taught them. Brexiters are furious with parliament and a majority – 54% – of Newport West voters backed Brexit.