Although you’d be forgiven for missing it in amongst the publication of the Leveson report, yesterday there were three by-elections. Labour held all three seats previously, and were expected to hold on to them, which they did. The published stories there are highlight the strong showing from Ukip, but what is maybe more of a worry for certain people would be the abysmal showing from the Liberal Democrats. In Rotherham it was a particularly poor showing with the party coming in eighth place producing the worst result by a major party in a by-election on record. This placing was behind Ukip, the racist BNP, the virtually Marxist Respect party, their Tory coalition partners, an English Democrat, and a clergyman standing as an independent. The abysmal showing represented an almost 14% swing away from the LibDems, marking another by-election where the party did appallingly badly.
Are the Liberal Democrats heading for a total wipeout at the next General Election? The Guardian discusses some of the mitigating circumstances in Rotherham, but it
certainly seems to be more than mid-term blues…
In Rotherham, which Labour held with 9,866 votes, Ukip had hoped for a late surge after a week of dream publicity. Not only had polls put its national support at an all-time high of 11% but the Eurosceptic party topped the news agenda after two of its local members claimed they had been told they were unsuitable foster parents for children of east European origin because of their political views.
Ukip came second in the town with 4,648 votes, and the BNP was third with 1,804. Respect took 1,778, and were followed by the Conservative party with 1,157. It was a particularly dismal night for the Liberal Democrats, who came eighth – behind the English Democrats – and lost their deposit. The turnout was 21,330 (33.63%), down by a quarter on 2010 levels.