Good morning. Here is the news. The Conservatives have held on to win the closely-fought by-election in Tiverfield and Waketown. Here are the figures.
As the tables show, the three Lib Dem gains in the past year are all near the top of their historic list of greatest hits, while Labour’s Wakefield win stands in the middle of a much shorter list.
Last night’s victorious candidates should beware that even huge by-election victories provide no immunity from defeat the following general election. The Tories regained many of the seats in those lists, such as Christchurch, Torrington and Sutton & Cheam from the Liberals and Lib Dems, and Mid Staffordshire, Corby and Monmouth from Labour.
The Corby by-election is worth noting. It was the only other seat that Labour has gained since the Tories returned to government in 2010. The swing to Labour in 2012 was virtually identical to last night’s swing in Wakefield. At the following general election in 2015, the Tories not only gained Corby but went on to gain seats across the country and secure an overall majority in parliament.
In short, I wouldn’t put any money on the Lib Dems holding on to any of their three latest by-election gains. Labour has a better chance in Wakefield, even though it achieved nothing like the swings that, in the mid 1990s did prefigure the Blair landslide in 1997. The thing that should really make the Tories nervous is not just the slide in their own support (dreadul but hot historically the worst) but the extra impact of ruthless tactical voting yesterday that left the Tories with the most votes overall but miles behind the winner in both constituencies.
Oliver Dowden’s resignation as Conservative Party chairman will not restore his party’s fortunes. Boris Johnson’s departure from the party leadership just might.