Saturday, 14 April 2012

Very worrying for Labour

Since the general election, and the tough remedies which the chancellor of the exchequer has imposed, the Conservatives have not been popular and this unpopularity has rubbed off on Liberal Democrats as coalition partners. In many places the message that we have restrained the Conservatives from even more regressive measures has filtered through, so that we have marked net gains in council by-elections in the UK since January. It has to be admitted that Labour has until recently also been making gains, but a result from Darlington this week must give them pause.

Darlington UA, Harrowgate Hill
Date: 12/04/2012
Con 694 (43.8; +3.2)
Lab 607 (38.3; -21.1)
LD Hilary Allen 142 (9.0; +9.0)
UKIP 95 (6.0; +6.0)
England First 47 (3.0; +3.0)
Majority 87
Turnout 33.8%
Con gain from Lab.
Percentage change is since May 2011.

The Conservative win was achieved in spite of interventions from UKIP and England First. The good news about new investment creating more jobs in the north-east of England would have come too late to influence the result. The major factor has to be the dramatic fall in the Labour vote. Clearly, Ed Miliband inspired neither traditional Labour voters nor his party workers in Darlington. There are stories in the blogosphere of a reorganisation of the party in London causing splits. This, and a relocation of party HQ, coming at the same time as local government campaigns in London and the English cities, cannot have helped. If Ken Livingstone falls to third place on first preferences in the London mayoral election, it is hard to see where Labour can go.

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