The times they really are a changing

Image thanks to

Ah the vagaries of local politics. This blog is dedicated to my friend Charles who I engage with regularly over politics online, yet rarely when we actually meet up with each other. He and I are of very different persuasions which leads to some interesting conversations and only goes to show that politics need not divide people entirely.

Following a recent by-election for Blyth Town Council, he tweeted ‘One for @PhilJackman  to analyse?’ and never one to turn down a challenge, I thought my interest had been piqued and so why not?

The headline story is that in the Cowpen ward of Blyth Town Council, in one of the reddest of staunch Labour areas, a seat has been won by the conservative candidate. Adam Parsons beat his rival, Aileen Barrass (Labour) by 348 votes to 231 on a turnout of 18%. By any stretch of the imagination, this is an outstanding achievement and builds upon the recent Conservative success in Ronnie Campbell’s old seat.

With a bit of digging, there is more to this story. The by-election was a result of the resignation of Councillor Robert Parker in the Cowpen Ward for reasons I will not go into but are available here. In each ward two councillors are elected to represent it. The results for the 2017 elections are as follows, though I have added Adam Parsons’ name in:

Ward Councillor Councillor
Cowpen Elaine Anderson-Smith




South Blyth Daniel Carr


Lesley J Rickerby

Liberal Democrats

Wensleydale Adrian Cartie


Warren Taylor


Kitty Brewster Ken Ellis


Gordon Webb


Croft Kath Nisbet


Margaret Richardson


Isabella Olga Potts


John Potts


Plessey Jeff Reid

Liberal Democrat

Sandra Stanger

Liberal Democrat

Newsham Gordon Thompson


Dave Walls


Of the 16 seats in 8 wards, the numbers of councillors are now 2 Conservative, 3 Liberal Democrat and 13 Labour. The full make up of the council can be found here,  along with the declaration of the results here.

How about the analysis then? The results for the Cowpen ward for 2017 were:

Candidate Party Votes % votes cast
Anderson-Smith Labour  386 35.3
Erskine UK Independence  236 21.6
Liddle Conservative 168 15.4
Parker Labour  304 27.8
Total 1094

The results for the by-election in 2020 

Candidate Party Votes % votes cast
Barrass Labour  281 39.9
Parsons Conservative 348 60.1
Total   579

What can be deduced from these figures? Not much really. It is impossible to compare 2017 to 2020 other then we know that about half as many people voted in 2020 as did in 2017 but we have no idea if these were the same people or completely different ones. In direct comparison with 2017 the Labour vote (Parker only) was down by 7.5% and the Conservative vote was up by 107.1%. 

It has been a very interesting exercise and I hope Charles finds it of interest.

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