Mini-preview: the Bletchley East by-election 19.7.18, and why it matters

I’ve been asked to nominate an interesting upcoming council by-election, and there is one contest in this July which stands out as being interesting and important. That is the Bletchley East by-election in Milton Keynes on 19th July.

In many ways Bletchley East is a socially divided miniature UK: it has in it a large London overspill estate and some manufacturing (Marshall amplifiers are made here), but it’s also close to Bletchley railway station and there’s a commuting element to its workforce. This tends to produce a consistently close ward between Labour and the Conservatives. In May Labour had 48% and the Conservatives 39%; but the ward did return a UKIP councillor in 2014 and regularly elected Tories before 2014, when the ward was called “Bletchley and Fenny Stratford”.

Milton Keynes also has a lively local political culture. Milton Keynes council is hung; the Tories became the largest party on the council in May’s election, but their attempt to remove the Labour minority administration was voted down by the Lib Dems who hold the balance of power. Going into this election Labour have 20 councillors out of 57, the Conservatives 23, the Lib Dems 12 and there is an independent councillor who was elected on the Conservative ticket. Perhaps if the Tories gain this one they will have another go at deposing the Labour administration. The ward is also in the Milton Keynes South constituency, which is a key marginal that Labour need to gain in order to form a government.

The Labour candidate Emily Darlington is a businesswoman, former parliamentary candidate and former special advisor at the Treasury; the Tory candidate Angela Kennedy is a former councillor for Bletchley and Fenny Stratford ward seeking to make a comeback.

If you’d like to bet on this by-election, you can! Follow this link to the betting exchange Smarkets, and wager to your heart’s content:..
I’d be grateful if you do, as a share of the commission from winning bets placed through this link will come to me and help to support the Local Elections Archive Project.