The last 2008 council by-elections produced a night of high drama with mainstream parties holding off the BNP by knife-edge majorities in two contests and the outcome in a third being decided by drawing lots. The only change was a gain by Liberal Democrats at Newchurch, Isle of Wight where the previous councillor, elected as a Tory, had become independent.
The BNP, which called the poll at Kells and Sandwith, Cumbria County, finished just 16 votes behind Labour. The margin was 15 at Ibstock and Heather, North West Leicestershire District where Tories squeaked home.
This was a disappointing result for Labour which had defended another seat in the ward in a by-election last January in which Conservatives had trailed the BNP. The ward is in the marginal Leicestershire North West constituency.
At Clarence and Uphill, North Somerset Council, Tory Ami Patel and independent John Ley-Morgan both finished on 477 votes with Mr Patel winning on a drawing of lots.
Analysis of 11 comparable results this month suggests a projected 8.6% Tory nationwide lead over Labour. A calculation based on wards fought both times by all three major parties gives a line-up of: C 38.5%, Lab 33.0%, Lib Dem 21.6%. Tories were hard hit by independent interventions at North Somerset but clearly benefited from the disappearance of an independent challenge at Braintree, Essex earlier this month.
Cumbria County - Kells and Sandwith: Lab 434, BNP 418, C 190. (May 2007 - Lab 1367, Ind 357, C 355). Lab hold. Swing 12.5% Lab to C.
East Northamptonshire District - Thrapston Lakes: C 475, Lab 168, Ukip 111. (May 2007 - Two seats C 558, 458, Ukip 380). C hold. Swing 16.9% Ukip to C.
Isle of Wight Council - Newchurch: Lib Dem 389, C 377, Ind 213. (May 2005 - C 701, Ind 620, Ind 187). Lib Dem gain from Ind.
North Somerset Council - Clarence and Uphill: C 478, Ind 477, Lib Dem 421, Ind 228, Lab 132. (May 2007 - Three seats C 1800, 1777, 1708, Lib Dem 836, 672, 670, Lab 310, 295, 280). C hold. Swing 17% C to Lib Dem.
North West Leicestershire District - Ibstock and Heather: C 660, BNP 645, Lab 614, Lib Dem 174. (May 2007 - Three seats C 737, 731, Lab 707, 620, C 599, Lab 559, Ukip 411, Lib Dem 225, 222; January 10 2008 by-election: Lab 699, BNP 637, C 515, Lib Dem 411). C hold. Swing 0.4% C to Lab.
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff County Borough - Glyncoch: Lab 217, Ind 143, Plaid Cymru 47, Communist 12, C 11. (May 2008 - Lab 413, Plaid Cymru 192). Lab hold. Swing 1.5% Plaid Cymru to Lab.