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6 Things We Learned From Labour's Victory In The South Yorkshire PCC By-Election

Victory for Labour, disappointment for UKIP.

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Labour has retained control of the South Yorkshire police force after its candidate, Alan Billings, won more than 50% of the vote in the police and crime commissioner by-election.

Voters went to the polls yesterday but there was a fairly low turnout and a large majority – 80% – of all votes were made postally.

And what are the takeaways from the by-election?

1. Labour won more than 50% of the vote.

Luke Macgregor / Reuters

Bad news for Nigel Farage: UKIP were hoping that the party could provide a real challenge to Labour – and that was supported by bookmakers, who gave UKIP a good chance at winning the by-election. UKIP may have considered it a victory if it had forced Labour into a second round of voting, which would have relied on voters' second preferences.

When voters enter their ballots for PCC elections, they choose a first and second preference. If any one party does not win a majority of the votes, the second preferences are taken into account. As the Liberal Democrats did not field a candidate, UKIP was hoping it may have become an even closer battle, if Tory votes swung to UKIP.

And Labour even won in Rotherham, where UKIP launched a much-criticised billboard in an attempt to win votes on the basis that residents would be angry about the child abuse scandal in the area. It only won by 800 votes, however.

2. Labour failed to win more than 50% of the vote in Doncaster.

BuzzFeed News reported yesterday that there was real concern from Labour that UKIP might win in Doncaster, which houses Ed Miliband's constituency of Doncaster North, and rushed in party members to the borough to ensure the party won in the city.

UKIP had previously claimed that UKIP were "parking our tanks on the Labour party's lawn". As it turned out, Labour didn't win an overall majority in Doncaster – the party won 45.4% of the vote compared to UKIP's 33.7% – but winning more votes than UKIP might just be enough to keep Miliband happy.

Considering the small margin though, this could be a message that Labour should perhaps get around to collecting information about voters in the area.


5. Postal votes are still massively beneficial to Labour.

Luke Macgregor / Reuters

Eighty per cent of all votes in the by-election were made by post, a method Farage has in the past referred to as "not free and fair". And one ballot box in Doncaster received only three votes, according to a BBC journalist.

The UKIP leader has said that he would scrap postal votes if he was in power because it doesn't give people a chance to think about their options. He might instead want to work on making postal votes work for the party.

6. But the turnout was low. Way low.

Russell Cheyne / Reuters

Only 14.88% of voters turned out to vote in the PCC by-election, which came at an estimated cost of £1.66m to the taxpayer, according to the Home Office.

At the very least, it will serve to prove Labour's point that the electorate aren't in favour of a police and crime commissioner.

Although it was undoubtedly a good day for Labour, as it managed to win over 50% of the vote, a lot of residents in the area simply didn't show up, which means there's still a lot to play for in the region come the general election in May.

Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Siraj Datoo at

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