Friday, 4 March 2011

We got what we deserved

If you pick a man with Lancashire roots for a Yorkshire by-election, and then signal that you are not interested in the result by not mounting the normal LibDem by-election campaign, then you deserve a kicking. What is most worrying about Barnsley Central is that Dominic Carman went in with an explicitly anti-BNP pitch and was beaten by both the BNP candidate and UKIP. The latter's good showing is worrying in turn for the Conservatives.

Congratulations to Dan Jarvis, who is clearly going to be a MP of special quality. However, Labour is mistaken to treat this by-election as a judgment on the coalition. There were special circumstances in Barnsley Central, chief being the huge majority left behind by the disgraced former member, Eric Illsley. It would have been a huge shock if Labour had done badly yesterday.

There have been many more council by-elections in the last nine months than Westminster ones. Here the trend is for Labour to do very well, but Liberal Democrats have also shown a net gain, both at the expense of the Conservatives, of course.

Finally, I hope that Dominic Carman persists. He has had two bruising election campaigns (he stood in east London in the general election) and deserves a more winnable seat. The trouble is that even the older Conservatives seem to be in robust health ...

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