This is the story of uncontested elections. We previously saw that in Sedgefield in 2005, 15 candidates stood, the most in any single contest. Now hopefully most of you understand what is meant by the term safe seat but what is the safest seat? It is one which is uncontested. It is fortunate for democracy that you have to go relatively far back to find a seat where only one candidate stood in a general election. You need to cross the sea to Northern Ireland and go back to 1954 where you will find C.W. Armstrong standing unopposed in Armagh. The by-election was triggered after James Harden MP resigned to develop some farm land he had inherited in Wales. Harden himself had also won the seat unopposed in 50 and 51. In 51 there were 3 other constituencies that were uncontested, all in Northen Ireland. The last uncontested seats on the mainland were in 1945, one is Liverpool and one in Rhondda.
There is a convention among the main political parties that they will not contest the speakers seat. In 2010 Speaker Bercow’s constituency of Buckingham saw 10 other cadindates challenge him. This did not include the main 3 parties. One of the highest profile candidates was UKIP leader Nigel Farrage who placed third. Second place, with just over 10000 votes went to ‘Buckingham Campaign for Democracy’. 5 years later only the Greens and UKIP contested the seat.
After the tragic death of Jo Cox there were calls that the seat go uncontested to Labour as a sign of respect. The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Greens chose not to field candidates however due to the high profile nature of the by-election a larger than usual number of candidates stood including the BNP and the National Front.
Finally a word in the local elections.
In advance of last week there were just short of 100 council seats that were already won before a single ballot was marked. Wales had a staggering 92 seats that were uncontested and England had just 4. In one ward in Wales the political parties were not able to field a single candidates. So now in Powys in the ward of Yscir no one represents the local people there.