Friday, 4 September 2009

Could have been worse

The Tories won yesterday's by-election in the Luton & Wayfield ward of Chatham & Aylesford by 4 votes. This is the first time in 40 years that the Tories have won a seat there, according to Iain Dale.

UKIP got a reasonable vote share and came in fourth, behind the LibLabCon and in front of the BNP and Greens. A fifth of the number of votes of the winning candidate isn't that bad a result in a by-election that the local Tories campaigned heavily for.

The Tories took 1,042 votes and Liebour took 1,038 - the narrowest of margins masking a big swing. The Lib Dims got just 223 votes compared to 200 for UKIP and 187 for the BNP.

And where were the BBC's 4th party of choice, the Greens? Seventh and last place with just 51 votes, 36 votes behind the independence candidate.

Iain Dale reckons that the swing from Liebour to Tory would translate into a 5,000 majority for the Tory PPC hoping to unseat the Liebour MP down that way. I disagree. A swing from left to right is not uncommon in a parish council election where it doesn't really matter whether the councillor is New Liebour or Blue Liebour. When it comes to an MP, a swing of that proportion is going to come down to a protest vote - either at something the incumbent has done or on ideological grounds such as euroscepticism or immigration.

The Tories will make massive gains in the next election from the general dissatisfaction with Liebour but they have nothing ideological to offer - they are Blue Liebour, socialists with blue ties. They are justified in expecting to wipe out Liebour in the general election (almost everyone will make gains from Liebour) but a relatively insignificant result such as this isn't an indicator of a general election result. It's like comparing apples with pears.