Well, the predictable battering of Liebour in Crewe & Nantwich happened as predicted. And quite a battering it was too – a swing of about 14,000 votes.
Now, much is being said about the by-election and how the political balance will look come the general election as a result but it’s important to put this into context. In a general election people will vote for their party regardless of whether they’re disillusioned with them or not. This by-election was more about punishing Liebour than supporting the Conswervatives. To get a swing of 14,000 votes, traditional Liebour voters must have voted for the Conswervatives as a punishment to their party for doing non-Liebour things. It doesn’t mean they will vote for the Conswervatives in a couple of years.
I don’t doubt that the Conswervatives will continue to batter Liebour right up to the next election but people are inflicting punishment on Liebour. It must be remembered that a lot of people will vote for someone they don’t want to get rid of someone else they don’t want.
Look at the performance of the English Democrats and UKIP. Audlem, the village that recently voted in an unofficial poll to join Wales, is in the Crewe & Nantwich constituency. The question of proper representation for England and the unfair advantage devolution has brought to their very close neighbours is a subject of interest in Crewe & Nantwich but the EDP only got 275 votes, just 39 more than the Monster Raving Loony Party. The EU not-a-constitution is a subject of interest everywhere yet UKIP only secured 922 votes (although they were only projected to get about 370 so it was a better result than expected).
Until the next general election is done and dusted, nobody is going to get a look in. Some Liebour voters will cast punishment votes but the biggest asset the Conswervatives will have is people who don’t normally vote getting off their arses and voting just to make sure Liebour lose. As those voters return to their usual apathy following the general election, then the smaller parties will be able to make inroads into the entrenched 2.5 party establishment.