The Lessons of (another) by-election

The Lessons of (another) by-election

Another by-election took place in mid-February…so what do they really tell us? Well, the results looked like this:

  • Mike Kane (Labour): 13,261
  • John Bickley (UKIP): 4,301
  • The Rev Daniel Critchlow (Conservative): 3,479
  • Mary Di Mauro (Lib Dem): 1,176
  • Nigel Woodcock (Green Party): 748
  • Eddy O’Sullivan (BNP): 708
  • Captain Chaplington-Smythe (Monster Raving Loony): 288
  • Turnout: 28%

So, firstly, the Lib Dems lost their deposit, again. This does not bode well for them in the next election and from it we can see the impact that the Coalition has had on them. However, we must not write them off – evidence shows that people are more inclined to be more ‘fearless’ with their vote in a one-off election and the current party line seems to be to highlight the limiting impact that they have had on the Conservative Party in the last four years.

Secondly, the rise and rise of UKIP. It’s a sound bet that UKIP will be pleased with their current electoral performance and with the European elections in May coming up this will give them a springboard into that. However, once again, success here or in Europe does not guarantee success in a General Election.

So are Labour on to a winner? Another by-election would seem to suggest so, as would the fact the Telegraph predict that if an election were held today, Labour would hvae an 84 seat majority. Except that this is a safe Labour seat, so the chances of the result being any different was marginal (and a great example of a flaw of FPTP).

Also, with turnout at only 28%, some great evidence for political apathy, as well providing another reason why using this election as a prediction for the general election would be ineffective.

So, is it useful to demonstrate anything positive? Importantly, what it does demonstrate is the importance of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011. In the last few weeks, all we have seen is what amounts to electioneering from all of the key parties. This is relatively unusual for us – while parties would always have an idea when an election might be, at this stage in a term there would usually be lots of talk about the likelihood or not of it being this May. With all the parties now knowing the date, we have seen some of the earliest electioneering of the recent past. Therefore, a very important constitutional reform…