Previews: 07 Nov 2019

“All the right votes, but not necessarily in the right order”

There are six by-elections on Thursday 7th November 2019:


Fairfield

Croydon council, South London; caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Niroshan Sirisena who had served since May 2018.

So it’s general election time, the third time in five years that the British electorate has been asked to go to the polls to elect or re-elect their Member of Parliament. The campaigns are in full swing, psephologists are much in demand and there is an awful lot of fake news out there. Remember, the Britain Elects team works tirelessly to bring you cold, hard unadulterated facts; beware of scammers and imitators who may have their own agenda.

This is a good time to read out some notices relating to arrangements for the general election. Parliament was dissolved yesterday, and the Clerk of the Parliaments has sent out writs to the Returning Officers ordering them to organise an election: those will be formally received today. Nominations open no later than 10am on Tuesday 12 November (possibly earlier at the discretion of the Returning Officer) and close at 4pm on Thursday 14 November. The dissolution may appear to have come a day earlier than the prescribed timescale of 25 working days, but that’s because Monday 2 December is a bank holiday in Scotland in lieu of St Andrew’s Day; accordingly 2 December doesn’t count as a working day for the general election timetable.

In order to stand as a candidate in the general election you will need to fill out rather a lot of paperwork, but the important things you need are (a) the signatures of ten people registered to vote in the constituency you want to contest, (b) if you want to stand for a political party, the relevant form to certify that (your party and the Returning Officer will be able to confirm exactly what you need), and (c) £500 in cold hard cash, which you will get back if and only if you poll over 5% of the vote. If you are in any doubt about this process check with the Returning Officer.

The deadline to register to vote in the general election is midnight on Tuesday 26 November. There is a helpful centralised government website (https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote) which will take down your details and forward them to your council elections office. Your council will have sent out a canvass letter in September or October to confirm your details for the December 2019 electoral register; if you responded to that then you are already registered to vote and you don’t need to go through this again. However, if you’ve recently moved home or changed your name, than it may be prudent to put in a new application to register to vote as soon as possible.

If you need to obtain a postal vote for the general election, then the deadline for this is 5pm on Tuesday 26 November. If you miss that deadline or you will be out of the country on election day, then you can apply for a proxy vote by 5pm on Wednesday 4 December. Polling will be open on Thursday 12 December 2019 from 7am to 10pm, and if you haven’t got a postal vote you will receive a polling card in due course giving you the details of your polling station. If this doesn’t happen, check wheredoivote.co.uk/ nearer the time. There will probably be a few dozen council by-elections combined with the general election, and Andrew’s Previews will of course cover those in due course.

Your columnist has marked the dissolution of Parliament by doing the most obvious and rational thing possible: fleeing the country. By the time you read this I’ll be in Sofia, Bulgaria, as part of the Welsh team for the European Quiz Championships; and once the quiz is all over I’ll be taking a leisurely road trip to Plovdiv, Edirne and İstanbul, returning a week today. Fear not, the text for next week’s Previews has already been filed and will be published in due course. I do not intend to reply to or indeed read any messages while I’m out of the UK, so pestering me will get you nowhere; if by some mischance you wish to complain about something that went wrong in this week’s Previews, please address your communications directly to the Britain Elects team and accept my apologies in advance.

This holiday is good timing, for September to November is the busiest time of year for local council by-elections and there are plenty of real polls to chew over for this week and next. This week’s six votes are evenly split with three by-elections in England and three in Scotland and Wales. The Scottish and Welsh polls aren’t going to tell us much about the upcoming general election because they are in areas politically dominated by independent candidates. The English polls may have more predictive value, particularly the one in London which is mostly located in the marginal parliamentary constituency of Croydon Central.

Croydon is a town, and that statement indicates the rather poor hand history dealt to it. The town has had some form of self-government since the Middle Ages, but petitions for incorporation in the late 17th and early 18th centuries came to nothing thanks to opposition from the lord of the manor, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Despite being equal in size to many of the large Northern towns created by the Industrial Revolution, Croydon didn’t become a borough until 1883; the town was promoted to County Borough status four years later, but the county borough disappeared when Croydon was incorporated into Greater London in 1965. The modern London Borough of Croydon is the largest of the 32 London Boroughs with around 267,000 local government electors – more than Northumberland. Croydon has regularly sought city status, pointing out in 2000 that it was “the largest town which does not have the title of City in the whole of Western Europe” – and has been repeatedly knocked back on the grounds that it’s just another town in the urban sprawl of the Great Wen.

Just another town it may be, but Croydon town centre is one of the best-connected locations in South London thanks to its position on the main road and railway line to Brighton and at the hub of the Croydon Tramlink light rail network. East Croydon is one of the busiest railway stations in the country, serving over 23 million passengers a year; from it and the smaller West Croydon station, 33 trains arrive and depart every hour to and from central London.

Those who are old enough to know Croydon primarily from Terry and June may have some trouble recognising what the place has become today. East Croydon station has been rebuilt more than once since the film above was made. The shopping centre in the film – the Whitgift Centre – was until 2008 the largest covered shopping centre in London, but is now slated for redevelopment and is expected to close its doors shortly. The Fairfield Halls, a large entertainment complex including an 1800-seat concert hall, emerged from its own redevelopment in September this year. The Fairfield Halls were built on the site of Croydon’s mediaeval fair, and give their name to the electoral ward covering Croydon town centre.

Redevelopment these days entails lots of high-rise city- or (in Croydon’s case) town-centre flats and apartments to generate the rental income to pay for it. The result of this is that the population projections for Croydon town centre have gone through the roof, and the Local Government Boundary Commission stepped in last year before things got completely out of hand. Croydon got a new ward map for the 2018 elections, with Fairfield ward cut back to cover just the town centre while retaining its three councillors. The new ward has a very low electorate at the moment, but that will change in fairly short order.

The 2018 redraw fundamentally changed the character of Fairfield ward. Before 2018 it combined the town centre with an upmarket area to the east, as far as Lloyd Park. In the 2011 census Fairfield was in the top 100 wards in England and Wales for Hinduism (13.5%) and had a middle-class economic profile. It had voting patterns to match, consistently returning Conservative councillors. However, this upmarket area to the east of the Brighton Line became a single-member ward of its own in 2018 (called Park Hill and Whitgift) and it’s clear that a lot of the Conservative vote in the old Fairfield ward ended up there. The new Fairfield ward was safely Labour at its inaugural election in May 2018, with the Labour slate enjoying a 51-30 lead over the Conservatives.

On that Labour slate was Niroshan Sirisena who was elected for his first term of office. Sirisena, who claimed to have founded the Croydon branch of Momentum, quickly found himself in the council’s cabinet and was clearly climbing the political greasy pole with some speed. So his resignation from the council, which came abruptly in September over what Croydon Labour described as a “serious incident”, is rather intriguing. At the time of writing nothing more about this “serious incident” has emerged into the public domain other than rumours that the police may be involved, although there are some suggestions that Sirisena had been working for the Labour MP Sarah Jones and hadn’t declared that on Croydon council’s register of interests.

Most of the Fairfield ward is within Sarah Jones’ Croydon Central parliamentary seat, which was rather convincingly gained by Labour in June 2017 following a series of knife-edge results in favour of the Tories’ Gavin Barwell. Barwell, who after losing his seat became Theresa May’s chief of staff at 10 Downing Street, won’t be contesting the 2019 general election as May awarded him a peerage in her resignation honours. Croydon Central remains just about marginal but is now some way down the Tory target list.

So this is a by-election to watch. Defending for Labour is Caragh Skipper, who like Sirisena is a Momentumite; she fought Addiscombe East ward in the 2018 Croydon elections and missed out on a seat by just eight votes. The Conservative candidate is Jayde Edwards, who is 20 years old and associated with the evangelical SPAC Nation church. Also standing are Esther Sutton for the Green Party, Andrew Rendle for the Liberal Democrats, independent candidate Mark Samuel (who has contested several Croydon by-elections over the years and sometimes reaches the dizzy heights of 10 votes) and Heather Twidle for the Women’s Equality Party.

Parliamentary constituency: Croydon Central (most), Croydon North (north-west corner)
London Assembly constituency: Croydon and Sutton
ONS Travel to Work Area: London
Postcode districts: CR0, CR9

Jayde Edwards (C)
Andrew Rendle (LD)
Mark Samuel (Ind)
Caragh Skipper (Lab)
Esther Sutton (Grn)
Heather Twidle (Women’s Equality)

May 2018 result Lab 1351/1329/1226 C 792/753/750 Grn 267/266 LD 241/209


Marconi

Chelmsford council, Essex; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Catherine Finnecy who had served since May 2019.

Our other two English by-elections this week are defended by the Liberal Democrats and are in parliamentary seats which the party will probably have their eye on for the forthcoming general election. Croydon may be a town, but Chelmsford is a city; and a lot of that city status is down to one man. A man whose legacy we are all in debt to.

Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi was born in 1874 in Bologna, into an Italian aristocratic family; however, his mother Annie was Irish (she was a granddaughter of John Jameson, who founded the Irish whiskey company of that name), and Guglielmo spent some of his childhood in England. Marconi was home-schooled by some of the best STEM tutors his family’s money could buy, and the result was an interest in science and electricity. At the age of 18 he befriended Augusto Righi, a physicist at the University of Bologna who had built on recent research by Heinrich Hertz which demonstrated that electromagnetic radiation could be produced and detected.

The young lad saw the possibilities of this and started working on the idea of “wireless telegraphy”. In 1895 he built a wireless telegraph system that worked over distances of up to two miles, but the Italian government and local investors couldn’t see the same possibilities in it that he could. So Marconi emigrated to England, where he got a much more favourable reception from the British government. He obtained a British patent for wireless telegraphy in 1897 and formed the “Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company” shortly afterwards. In 1898 Marconi opened the world’s first radio factory, on Hall Street in Chelmsford, Essex.

Hall Street quickly proved an inadequate location, although it went down in history for producing the telegraph equipment on the RMS Titanic that warned the outside world of its sinking and saved many lives. Jack Phillips, the Titanic‘s senior wireless officer who sent the SOS message and went down with the ship, was a Marconi employee. At the time of the wreck Marconi was already building a new and much larger factory on New Street to the north of Chelmsford town centre, on land previously occupied by Essex county cricket club. The Marconi Company did some experimental radio transmissions from New Street Works in 1920, with Dame Nellie Melba’s singing in Chelmsford heard from as far away as Newfoundland.

Following several mergers and reorganisations the Marconi company went bust in 2006, and much of New Street Works has since been redeveloped for housing, playing on its proximity to Chelmsford’s town centre and railway station and to the Chelmsford campus of Anglia Ruskin University. Opened in 2008 to replace an earlier site, the Chelmsford Campus includes part of the University’s business school: this is housed in a shiny new building named after one of its previous business alumni, Lord Ashcroft.

Which brings us back to politics. Marconi’s contribution to the town (as it then was) of Chelmsford was recognised in 2003 when the former All Saints ward was renamed after him. It includes the New Street Works, the Anglia campus and an area of housing to the north-west of the town centre. Marconi ward voted Labour at its inaugural 2003 election, quite comfortably.

The Labour Party, however, isn’t all that relevant in the Chelmsford scheme of things. There has never been a Labour MP for Chelmsford, and instead the Liberals made the anti-Conservative running in the town from the 1970s onwards. In the 1983 general election Norman St John-Stevas, who had been Leader of the Commons in the first Thatcher cabinet, held his seat by fewer than 1,000 votes over the Liberals. The Lib Dem challenge was neutralised by boundary changes for the 1997 election which divided Chelmsford between two constituencies, but that decision was reversed in 2010 and Chelmsford became a seat of its own again.

During this period Marconi ward became politically volatile. In the 2007 local elections the Lib Dems came from third place to win the ward’s two seats. The 2011 election was a three-way marginal result, which ended with one seat each for the Lib Dems and Labour. In 2015 UKIP, the Greens and the Liberal Party intervened resulting in a seriously fragmented result: the Conservatives topped the poll with just 27% and won one seat, the Lib Dems were second with 22% and held their seat, Labour polled 21% and lost their seat, UKIP had 13% and the Greens 9%. The 2015 election was the recent high-water mark for Conservatism in Chelmsford: they topped the poll in every ward in the district, won 52 seats out of a possible 57, and the town’s Tory MP Simon Burns was re-elected for his final term of office with a large majority over Labour. Burns, who received a knighthood a month later, stood down at the 2017 snap election and was replaced without much fuss by Vicky Ford, who transferred to the Commons after eight years as a Tory member of the European Parliament. The Lib Dems have, however, done better at county council level: Marconi is part of the Chelmsford West division, which has been Lib Dem-held since the current boundaries were introduced in 2005.

That was then, and this is now. The 2019 local elections were a stunning victory for the Chelmsford Lib Dems, who swept the urban wards to win a majority on the council and end 16 years of Conservative rule. One of the 27 (!) Chelmsford seats the Conservatives lost in May was their seat in Marconi ward, which saw a big Lib Dem lead: 48%, against 26% for both the Tories and Labour. The Chelmsford parliamentary constituency is all of the wards which voted Lib Dem in the map above plus Galleywood, so Ford must be looking at next month’s general election with some concern. She will have the benefit of first-term incumbency.

The new Lib Dem councillor for Marconi was Catherine Finnecy, whose subsequent spat with her party has been very public. She heckled the party leader Jo Swinson at the 2019 Lib Dem conference, opposing the party’s decision to admit Tory defector Philip Lee. Finnecy has also fallen out with the Lib Dem PPC for Chelmsford, making a formal complaint against her.

Not the most salutary of circumstances for a by-election. Defending for the Lib Dems is Smita Rajesh, a trustee of the Chelmsford Hindu Society which last year opened the town’s first Hindu temple. The Conservatives have reselected Ben McNally who stood here in May; Labour have done the same thing by nominating Paul Bishop. Also standing are independent candidate Steven Chambers and Ben Harvey for the Green Party.

Parliamentary constituency: Chelmsford
Essex county council division: Chelmsford West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Chelmsford
Postcode district: CM1

Paul Bishop (Lab)
Steven Chambers (Ind)
Ben Harvey (Grn)
Ben McNally (C)
Smita Rajesh (LD)

May 2019 result LD 729/626 C 395/377 Lab 388/337
May 2015 result C 883/713 LD 725/586 Lab 703/673 UKIP 418 Grn 295 Ind 149 Lib 110/40
May 2011 result LD 641/582 Lab 610/554 C 526/485
May 2007 result LD 531/481 Lab 464/424 C 391/382
May 2003 result Lab 432/400 C 261/236 LD 111/110


Wadebridge West

Cornwall council; caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat councillor Karen McHugh who had served since winning a by-election in April 2016.

Our remaining by-elections are all in the fringes of the UK, although ironically only the English one can be accurately described as “Celtic fringe”. We start in Cornwall with a trip to the town of Wadebridge, the lowest crossing-point of the River Camel and a thriving market town. North Cornwall district council, until its abolition ten years ago, was based here; and the ONS has placed Wadebridge at the centre of one of Cornwall’s eight Travel to Work Areas. The town is divided into two divisions for Cornwall council elections; the West division is an urban area to the west of the River Allen.

At the first election to the modern Cornwall council in 2009 Wadebridge West and Wadebridge East returned respectively Scott Mann for the Conservatives and long-serving independent councillor Collin Brewer. Between them, Mann and Brewer have resigned from Cornwall council three times. Brewer was the first to go, submitting his resignation in February 2013 following public outcry over comments he made to the effect that “disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down”. There wasn’t time for a by-election as the May 2013 Cornish elections were imminent, but there was enough time for Brewer to review the situation and decide to stand for re-election. At the May 3013 election almost 75% of Wadebridge East’s voters cast a vote against Brewer, but he still won thanks to a freak six-way vote split and a four-vote majority over the Lib Dems. Re-elected councillor Brewer promptly dug himself straight back into the same hole with more idiotic on-the-record comments about disabled children, and he was forced to resign again in July 2013. The resulting by-election was gained by the Lib Dems who have held Wadebridge East ever since. Collin Brewer died the following year.

Scott Mann’s resignation as councillor for Wadebridge West came in much happier circumstances. He had been elected in May 2015 as MP for the local constituency of North Cornwall, gaining the seat from the Liberal Democrats. The resulting by-election in April 2016 was a gain for the Lib Dems’ Karen McHugh, who was re-elected in May 2017 with a 49-37 lead over the Conservatives.

McHugh has now resigned in her turn, resulting in the third Wadebridge by-election in six years. Defending for the Lib Dems is Wadebridge town councillor Julia Fletcher. The Tory candidate is Philip Mitchell who was the Mayor of Wadebridge in 2018-19. Also standing are Amanda Pennington for the Green Party and independent candidates Robyn Harris and Robin Moorcroft.

Parliamentary constituency: North Cornwall
ONS Travel to Work Area: Wadebridge
Postcode districts: PL27, PL28

Julia Fletcher (LD)
Robyn Harris (Ind)
Philip Mitchell (C)
Robin Moorcroft (Ind)
Amanda Pennington (Grn)

May 2017 result LD 605 C 452 Grn 96 Lab 80
April 2016 by-election LD 604 C 356 Lab 222 Ind 111 Grn 95
May 2013 result C 830 LD 308 Lab 129
June 2009 result C 761 LD 322 UKIP 188


Hundleton

Pembrokeshire council, Wales; caused by the death of independent councillor Margot Bateman who had served since 2017.

For our Welsh poll this week we travel due north from Wadebridge over the Bristol Channel to Pembrokeshire. The Hundleton division is the southernmost point of Pembrokeshire, a part of the “Little England beyond Wales”, covering the villages beyond Pembroke on the south side of the Cleddau estuary.

A lot of the acreage of this ward is part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, but that doesn’t mean all of it is beautiful. The National Park boundary takes in part of the sprawling Pembroke Oil Refinery, which dominates the view from Milford Haven on the far side of the estuary. This is one of Europe’s largest oil refineries and is a major local employer, providing 700 jobs. The refinery has essentially consumed the adjacent village of Rhoscrowther, of which almost nothing remains except for a 14th-century church. Next to the refinery is the brand new Pembroke B Power Station, which is Europe’s largest gas-fired power plant; it opened in 2012 and is the biggest power station built in the UK this century, able to supply up to 3.5 million homes and businesses simultaneously.

The Little England beyond Wales has for a very long time been a favoured location of the men from the military. As the village name of Castlemartin commemorates, the Normans had a motte-and-bailey castle here in the eleventh century. Today we have the Castlemartin Training Area, one of two tank firing ranges in the UK that use live ammunition. This can result in some unplanned diversions for hikers on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which runs through the danger area.

Tank training here has been going on continuously since the Korean War, which has led to some interesting consequences. When the West German army reactivated its tank units in 1961 there was a shortage of training areas, because the British Army of the Rhine had got to all the suitable locations first. A compromise was reached whereby the West Germans, under the auspices of NATO, was given access to Castlemartin for its tank training. Despite some local disquiet (particularly at the beginning and at the end, when the Germans were allowed to do their farewell parade past the Pembroke war memorial in full uniform) the German Armoured Units stayed at Castlemartin until 1996, when reunification had given them access to firing ranges in the former East Germany.

This remote part of Wales is dominated by independents when local election time comes around. Margot Bateman had been first elected in 2017, winning Hundleton division with 49% of the vote against 26% for a Conservative candidate and 15% for independent candidate Barry Grange. She had previously stood here in 2004, losing by 62-38 to Johnny Allen-Mirehouse who was subsequently re-elected in 2008 and 2012 before standing down in 2017. There is unlikely to be much that can be read from this result towards the forthcoming election in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, which is a Tory-Labour marginal at Westminster but was safe Conservative at the 2016 Senedd election. Equally, not much should be read into the local by-election last September in neighbouring Pembroke, where the Tories fell from first to sixth in Pembroke St Mary North division; that can be explained by one-off local factors, as the previous Tory councillor for Pembroke St Mary North is now serving a very long prison sentence for historic child sex offences.

That Pembroke by-election had eight candidates, and the local politicians have clearly decided that wasn’t enough choice for the electorate. Ten candidates have been nominated for the Nundleton by-election, and the electors will get to choose between nine of them. There are seven independents: Steve Alderman (from Castlemartin), Daphne Bush (who was second in the Pembroke St Mary North by-election last year), David Edwards (a local resident from Stackpole who was the Labour candidate here in 2012), Barry Grange (from Hundleton, who finished third here in 2017), Nicky Hancock (who finished fourth here in 2017), Jonathan Nutting (landlord of the Royal Oak in Pembroke who finished third in the St Mary North by-election) and Tony Stenson (from Pembroke). The Conservatives have nominated Jacob Taylor. The Lib Dems put in nomination papers for two different people but one of them has withdrawn, leaving their candidate Shirley Hammond-Williams to complete the ballot paper.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
ONS Travel to Work Area: Pembroke and Tenby
Postcode district: SA71

Steve Alderman (Ind)
Daphne Bush (Ind)
David Edwards (Ind)
Barry Grange (Ind)
Shirley Hammond-Williams (LD)
Nicky Hancock (Ind)
Jonathan Nutting (Ind)
Tony Stenson (Ind)
Jacob Taylor (C)

May 2017 result Ind 334 C 174 Ind 104 Ind 69
May 2012 result Ind 337 Ind 297 Lab 120
May 2008 result Ind unopposed
June 2004 rsult Ind 469 Ind 292


Lerwick South; and
Shetland Central

Shetland council, Scotland; caused respectively by the resignations of independent councillors Beatrice Wishart and Mark Burgess. Burgess had served since 2012, Wishart since 2017.

We make a return trip to the Shetland Islands, following the Scottish Parliament by-election there at the end of August. One of these by-elections is a direct consequence of that, as the Lib Dem by-election winner Beatrice Wishart had previously been a Shetland councillor.

Wishert leaves behind a seat in Lerwick South ward, which covers the southern half of the town together with the villages of Sound and Gulberwick on the road going south towards Sumburgh. This is the capital of the Shetland Islands and the is most northerly and most easterly town in Scotland. Lerwick grew up in the 17th century on a sheltered location behind the island of Bressay, and was originally a trading post for the Dutch fishing fleet. Within the boundaries of South ward are Shetland’s largest school, the Anderson High School, and the Gilbert Bain Hospital where around 140 new Shetlanders are born each year.

Outside Lerwick is the Shetland Central ward, which covers the middle of Mainland from Girlsta in the north to Scalloway in the south. At the centre of the ward is Lerwick/Tingwall Airport, from which flights depart to various outlying islands. (A good omen for democracy: the name Tingwall comes from Norse words meaning “parliament field”.) The ward also covers the islands of Tronda, West Burra and East Burra which are connected to Mainland by a series of causeways, together with some smaller uninhabited islands.

The main centre of population in Shetland Central is Scalloway, which was the capital of Shetland until the development of Lerwick. Scalloway is a harbour on the west coast with strong historical links to the Hanseatic League and Norway; during the Second World War the Norwegian resistance movement known as the Shetland Bus was run out of here. The North Atlantic Fisheries College and the Schiehallion oil field provide jobs in the village today.

Local elections in Shetland are basically non-partisan, and until PR was introduced in 2007 were often uncontested. Lrewick South is a four-seat ward which in 2017 was contested by five independents; Wishart won the second of the four seats available, polling 26% of the vote and being elected on the first count. Also winning on the first count were outgoing councillors Cecil Smith and Peter Campbell, leaving a close fight for the final seat between outgoing councillor Amanda Westlake and new candidate Frances Valente. Westlake started ten votes ahead; Wishart’s transfers broke strongly for Valente, but it wasn’t enough and Westlake eventually won the final seat with a majority of three votes.

Shetland Central is a three-seat ward which was also contested in 2017 by five independents. Outgoing councillor Mark Burgess first stood here in 2012, starting in fourth place with 14% of the vote but picking up strong transfers to win the final seat very easily over Ian Scott. In 2017 Burgess improved his vote to 27%, and was elected in second place on the first count. Scott won the final seat that year and subsequently stood in the 2019 Scottish Parliament by-election, finishing in eighth place with 0.6%.

There are again five independents standing for the Lerwick South election. Frances Valente is trying again after her near-miss two years ago, and she is standing against Stephen Flaws, Caroline Henderson, Gary Robinson and Arwed Wenger. The most notable of those is Robinson, a former leader of the council who lost his seat in Shetland West ward at the 2017 election.

There are also five candidates in the Shetland Central by-election, although party politics has broken out with the nomination of Stewart Douglas as an official SNP candidate. Also on the candidate list is Johan Adamson; she’s an independent this time but fought the 2019 Holyrood by-election as the Labour candidate, finishing sixth with 1.3%. The other three candidates – all independents – are Julie Buchan, Gordon Lawrie and Morag Lyall.

Whatever the results of these by-elections will be, they won’t be fragmented in the same way we’ve seen in the English and Welsh by-elections this week. This is Scotland, so Votes at 16 and the Alternative Vote will apply in these by-elections. Please remember to mark your ballot paper in order of preference.

Lerwick South

Parliamentary constituency: Orkney and Shetland
Scottish Parliament constituency: Shetland
ONS Travel to Work Area: Shetland Islands
Postcode districts: ZE1, ZE2

Stephen Flaws (Ind)
Caroline Henderson (Ind)
Gary Robinson (Ind)
Frances Valente (Ind)
Arwed Wenger (Ind)

Shetland Central

Parliamentary constituency: Orkney and Shetland
Scottish Parliament constituency: Shetland
ONS Travel to Work Area: Shetland Islands
Postcode districts: ZE1, ZE2

Johan Adamson (Ind)
Julie Buchan (Ind)
Stewart Douglas (SNP)
Gordon Lawrie (Ind)
Morag Lyall (Ind)

Andrew Teale