Liberal Democrats in Melt Down?

The results from last night are just sinking in with the libdems.  The forlorn figure of Dominic Carman was sad to see as he struggled to fight the seat virtually single handedly. Now we know what the libdems think of “we are all in this together”, they mean leave the candidates up a creek without a paddle and deny all responsibility. Pretty much what many think they are doing with the rest of the country.

Nick Clegg has been showing his usual scant regard for the public in his interviews this morning. The predictable reaction is that – oh well it doesn’t matter.  But this is not a mid term election,  this is just after the shine of the honeymoon period has worn off and before the main cuts come into force in April.  One thing is for sure, they should not be singing it can only get better, as it is going to get an awful lot worse first.

The figures of the election result are damning reading for the Libdems and Conservatives as can be seen below.

Source – New Statesman –

The Libdems not only fell to 6th place, but fell below even the independent candidate that has little electoral resources.  They also lost their deposit. £500 not well spent in these times of austerity!

source – Spectator –

The Libdems managed to poll 1,012 votes.  As one commentator has said “Shock of the night was that 1,012 people still prepared to vote Lib Dem at all” – tamster.

The focus on the Libdems hides two other major factors here though.  One is that the Tory’s also did terribly badly, falling behind UKIP.  The other is that the far right parties did better than expected, with UKIP finding much increased support.  We will find that this could become a pattern as the cuts begin to bite making more right wing battle grounds in the years ahead. It also shows that the left wing vote who voted for the Libdems last year are deserting them and that this vote may be hard to claw back. In addition it shows that the right wing of Conservative voters are unhappy and are trying to find a voice elsewhere.

Michael Crick in his article –  On the Lib Dems slump in Barnsley – states that he can find at no time since 1945 in England that a party has gone from 2nd in a seat to 6th in one election.

But these figures are great for the Westminster bubble and political hacks, like John Motson’s statistic overdose at FA cup finals, it means nothing in the scheme of things.

So can we take anything from this by-election?  Well it shows the mood of the country at the moment – a snap shot of public opinion.  But in reality, we ignore the political game the coalition is playing to attribute more than a few column inches.

The coalition is making a gamble with our economy and public services, in order to gain advantage at the next election.  Get the pain over as quickly as possible regardless of the pain it causes, hoping the economy picks up by the time the election comes around.  The Tory’s are past masters at this, and even though the wheels have come off so many policies in the last 2 months, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have 4 years to sort themselves out.

I suspect that just like Dominic Carman, many Libdem candidates will be organising their electioneering out of the back of their car until they feel they have any prospect of winning.  On this result, this could be quite a long way off.


3 responses to “Liberal Democrats in Melt Down?

  1. Rating of 2 stars – must be a Lib Dem

  2. Despite chalking up the expected win, Labour’s vote share in the by-election was lower than in any General Election which they’ve won – which is a lot less than you would expect from an opposition at a time of government unpopularity. If Labour were riding a tide of popular support I’d expect the Barnsley %age to have been in the high 70s like in 1997. The poor showing of all the major parties and the very low turnout points mainly to apathy.

    • It may well be apathy, however apathy can take many forms. There is no doubt that there was a low turn out due to people seeing the result as a foregone conclusion. Also, there is no doubt many stayed at home because those on the left who supported the Libdems do not feel they can vote for them anymore.

      Were still in the phoney war stage at the moment.

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