Tory share rises but the Lib Dem margin gets bigger
As we said the Cheadle by-election was always going be determined by what would happen to the Labour vote and the big squeeze yesterday that saw that drop by almost half on May 5th meant that the Lib Dems held it with ease.
The skill of the Lib Dem campaign supremo, Chris Rennard, in demonising the Tories encouraged more tactical voting and meant that although the Tories advanced they are still a long way behind. It must be quite frustrating for the Tory leadership to see their vote grow by 2% only to see the margin behind the Lib Dems get larger.
Although Labour lost its deposit the result is almost certainly what Tony Blair would have wanted – the Tories still unable to make progress and within the Liberal Democrats an easing on the pressure on Charles Kennedy’s leadership.
For the last thing Labour wants is for the Lib Dems to be led by some someone who can take on Blair and articulate a left of centre position in a persuasive and compelling way.
The collapse from 8.8% to 4.6% in the Labour vote is something that almost nobody in our Cheadle competition saw happening. In a quick look through the entries I can only find a couple suggesting that the party’s share would drop by so much.
For the Tories their “by-election famine” continues and will surely continue to do so until, under a new leader maybe, they can find a way of reconnecting with their traditional supporters.