Friday, June 30, 2006

Bye-election blues...

An interesting couple of results them. Disappointing for the Tories obviously to allow the Lib Dems to come so close in Bromley, but I don't think too much should be made of it. They always do well in bye-elections as their tactics of relentless focus on the local, as well as politics of personal destruction on the opposition candidate work much better in bye-elections when there isn't the overall background noise of a General Election.

Bob Neill sounded rather surprised at these tactics, but he shouldn't be: the dirty tricks the Lib Dems play locally are long established and well known. Iain Dale has done a sterling job of high-lighting some of the pick of Ben Abbott's little schemes but the fact is that Lib Dem unpleasantness is, or should be considered, a given in any election. The Tories have to get better at fighting bye-elections, and they could start by employing someone as a specialist.

The real story of the night is the collapse of the Labour Party, no matter what Hazel Blears might say. To drop behind UKIP into fourth place in a London Westminster seat is humiliation. If you listen carefully you can hear the 40 or so London Labour MPs washing their underwear this evening, after seeing their futures. And if Bromley was bad, Blaenau Gwent was awful. Most of this will be seen in the prism of 'When will Blair go?', but the real point is that Labour now seems fatally tarnished, under Blair, Brown or whoever.

It's one thing having a free shot at goal, however, and it's quite another actually hitting the target. Just ask Frank Lampard. Chelsea play in blue after all...


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