The Spectator

Which upstarts parties have won by-elections?

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Polls apart

When was the last time an upstart party not represented by George Galloway won a  UK by-election?

– In November 2014 Ukip won by-elections in both Clacton and Rochester and Strood. In each case the winner was the sitting MP: Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, who had defected from the Conservatives.

– A more obscure party was Blaenau Gwent People’s Voice in June 2006. The Blaenau Gwent seat had been won at the 2005 general election by Peter Law, a former Labour councillor who had resigned from the party in protest at women-only shortlists and stood as an independent. A year later he died of a brain tumour and the new party was formed to back Law’s agent Dai Davies in the by-election, which Davies won (although he didn’t use the People’s Voice name on the ballot).

Waste of electricity

The government started consulting on a ‘toaster tax’ which could oblige retailers to take back electrical goods no longer wanted by customers – even when the retailers didn’t sell the items in the first place. How much waste could stores potentially have to handle? Waste electric goods produced by households in 2023:


Large appliances                              159,272

IT and telecoms                                  39,600

Small appliances                                33,576

Electrical and electronic tools         25,318

Consumer equipment                        20,944

Lighting equipment                             5,534

Source: Environment Agency

Mining data

Contrary to what some believe, Britain still has a coal industry – but it is tiny compared with the year before the miners’ strike:

1983    170 mines; 119 million tons of coal produced; 148,000 people employed.

2023    6 deep mines and 2 surface sites; 93,243 tons of coal produced; 363 people employed.

Source: Coal Authority

US and them

How would a Nato without the US measure up against Russia?

                                  Russia      Nato excl US

Regular troops           1m                1.77m

Reserves                     2m               1.95m

Tanks                       12,267            7,513

Artillery                  18,266            8,754

Fighter aircraft          340                 643

Attack aircraft           689                 162

Aircraft carriers          1                      8

Destroyers                   14                    25

Submarines                 66                    75