In the winter of 2012, in Bilton, Harrogate where I lived, the sitting Conservative Councillor resigned. Naturally, this triggered a by-election just before Christmas, on 13 December. Nobody, but nobody, wanted a Christmas election.

Back then, I played a leading role in the Harrogate and Knaresborough Labour Party – a local Labour Party which hadn’t had a Labour councillor in the area since the 1980s. And since the election was taking place on my home territory, I became the candidate. I had already lost there in 2009!

As usual, I lost, coming third, with the Lib Dems taking it from the Tories. Having just set up a law firm, and with two children under two, standing in an election wasn’t my smartest move, though I did meet my first employee on the campaign trail, so it worked out, sort of.

What I remember most from the election was the weather: it snowed on the day of the election and was freezing when we delivered leaflets. Bilton, for those who don’t know it, is a little hilly, which made for precarious leaflet delivering when it was icy. Noticeably, fewer older people ventured outside in the ice and who could blame them.

Historically, older people have a higher rate of turnout at elections, and historically, older people are more likely to vote Tory. At that election, the Tory vote stayed at home, because of the weather.

Over the last few days Rishi Sunak has taken a pummeling from the commentariat for calling the election in July, but no analysis that I have read suggested that weather was likely to be a factor. It’s the weather, stupid.

andrew gray harrogate labour party bilton