An Autumn election ?

The Tories threw everything they have at Ealing, including their party leader's name on the ballot paper "Dave Cameron's Cool Conservatives", but failed to make a breakthrough, indeed, failing to even close on the second place Lib Dems. In Sedgefield, the Tories slipped to third and Labour romped home ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

With majorities in by-elections usually at a premium, Labour must now be seriously thinking of holding an Autumn general election.

Yes, the seats where the by-elections were held were by any stretch of the mountain "difficult" seats for the opposition to make progress in. Sedgefield has always been Labour and had an enormous Labour majority last time whilst Ealing Southall has the largest Labour membership i the country, so the opposition were never in with a good chance. But a majority of more than 5,000 is something many labour MP's could only dream of, so Labour strategists must be delighted.

As for "Dave" and his Conservative Party, I'm sure they and their bloggers will spin it for all it's worth. But to put it simply, a party that expects to challenge for power should at the very least have overtaken the Lib Dems in Ealing Southall (which is what they claimed in their leaflets) and they should have hung on in Sedgefield to keep second place.

Yes, the Lib Dems will be disappointed, but given the lies emanating from the Tory camp in Ealing Southall about the Tories being in second place and claiming the Lib Dems were breaking the law about poster boards (and they've still produced no evidence), the Lib Dems will settle for being in a clearer second place in Ealing and overtaking the Tories in Sedgefield. Stories about replacing Ming will also subside, as long as he does not put his foot in it again.

Overall, a great night for Labour and no better than okay for the Lib Dems but no amount of spin or blogging can deny it was a dreadful night for the Tories.

Update - Even Iain Dale has failed to swallow the Tory line in press releases on this one and has said the results for the Tories were not good.


a curious friend across the pond said...

What exactly are the Liberal Democrats about? Are they to the right or the left of Labour or a quarrelsome twin? How does the 19th & early 20th century history of the Liberals nurturing Labour fit with today's politics? When all those disgruntled Labour refugees came en bloc to the Liberal party a generation ago, what happened ideologically? If there was a change in thinking, how did that fit with the practice of going rightward of Tories & left of Labour to pick off parliamentary targets of opportunity?

Lastly, when the Liberals self destructed the last time, they still had a deep bench. impressive resources & national scope. They still had men one could see as Prime Minister, whether in fear or in hope, Asquith & Lloyd-George. After a 80+ year rough patch, do you see Vince Cable, Simon Hughes or Lynne Featherstone at the top of the greasy pole?

Please pardon some questions from a friendly American.

Norfolk Blogger said...

The problem with left and right politics these days are that the old political "wings" are less important and mean less these days.

The liberal democrats are more economically liberal than labour, probably a little less than the Conservatives. The Lib Dems are less statist than labour, but believe the state has more of a role to play than the Conservatives.

Perhaps in areas of devolving power to regions and councils, it is where the Liberal Democrats show a difference from the other parties.

Your history seems lisghtly confused in that I don't think the Lib Dems have ever benefitted from an influx of labour refugees. In many ways the Labour party was the beneficiary of the falling apart of the old liberal Party in the 1920's.

As for statesmen, I'm not sure I look for this quality. I want politicians to have drive and passion not statemanlike qualities. Tony blair was a statesmen, so was Thatcher, but I loathed them both.

Niles said...

"influx of labour refugees" = gang of 4, no?

a curious friend across the pond said...

Yes. I was thinking of Dr. Owen et al.

Norfolk Blogger said...

The reason the "Gang of Four" set up the SDP, which merged with the Liberals some years later, was the massive and sharp shift to the left within the Labour Party. Moderate left wingers were being hounded from seats by more militant left wingers whilst the Labour Party started advocating leaving the EU (then called the EEC), had a policy of nationalising almost anything that moved and as Gerald Kaufman MP (A labour front bencher at the time) sais of the 1983 manifesto "It was the longest suicide note in history".