I want to begin by saying that for those of you gloating about the Brexit Party not winning when they were widely forecast to do so, and that this somehow represents them being vanquished, I’d think again. People tend to think of by-elections as fertile ground for insurgent parties, but they actually reward parties with a larger and more organised activist base. The Eastleigh by-election in 2013 was a good example of this: the Lib Dems held the seat, staving off a UKIP surge, mostly by dint of being much more organised, having better data and a more experienced bunch of activists on the ground. Since they are a one-off in a single constituency, parties can throw a huge slice of their national activist base at the contest.
The fact that the Brexit Party could come within 700 votes of winning despite having started a few weeks ago and never fought a FPTP election before is telling of their future potential. Basically, if the Brexit Party get their shit together, they can probably win a lot of seats. Yes, they may not do and yes, this could be a momentum killer for them. But I wouldn’t count on it.
For Labour, they not only won, they won when the narrative was that they were going to lose. They also didn’t lose as many voters to the Lib Dems or Greens as feared, which is a huge positive. In normal times I’d say this was a stupendous result for them. Except it does several negative things for them. One, it means Corbyn is very safe again as opposed to mostly safe. Two, it vindicates the terrible Brexit strategy. “Look, it worked in Peterborough” will be the mantra from now on. There is now almost no way of changing Labour’s Brexit policy, which if taken into a general election, will be disastrous for them.
It was weirdly a good night for the Tories. That they could get over 20% of the vote and come within 3,000 of winning when they basically don’t have a leader and are at an extreme low point in terms of their national support tells them that their vote is stickier than imagined. Still, you had the local party organiser panicking in the wake of the result, saying that all MPs who don’t support no deal Brexit should be deselected, so there may still be no hope for the Conservative party anyhow.
It was a bad night for the Lib Dems and the Greens. Yes, the Lib Dems were never realistically going to win this one. But they did significantly worse than the national polls suggest they should have done, confirming that their new support is very soft. It also shows that while many Labour and Tory Remainers may well vote Lib Dem, at the moment they would do so for negative as opposed to positive reasons. In other words, they are protesting what they still see as their natural party because of a Brexit stance, not because they see something they actively like in the Lib Dems. This is a real warning to the Liberal Democrats not to be complacent – they must come up with reasons beyond Brexit for people to vote for the party, and soon.
ben rich says
I agree about your analysis for Brexit but not much else
Labour’s vote share fell by 17% the Tories by over 25%. While expectations were all over the place this actually reaffirms the national polls and the Euro vote. Such performances for them nationally would be disastrous for them although there is a lesson here about how few votes you sometimes need to win in a four way battle under FPTP which could turn the next general election into an absolute lottery. It is worth noting that not a single seat in 2017 was won with less that 35% vote share…
As far as the Lib Dems are concerned there is nothing spectacular here either way. Up 9% when all traditional by-election logic says they should be squeezed in a seat in which they have no presence and no history is more than solid. Again with the decline in the Tory vote it would be enough to net them 60+ seats and the balance of power in a general election. I think they’d take that…
nigel hunter says
The Brexit Party has been around since November of last year. It is only in the last 2 months or so when Farage became its leader (was it planned as his new party?). With the media drooling over having Farage in the media all the time the amount of publicity he has had has given him a boost Peterboro was a strong leave area, he could not but do well Remainer’s as a result would have had an uphill climb. .
Paul W says
I put today’s (07.06.19) extraordinary national opinion poll figures by YouGov for the Times newspaper into one of the seat calculators this morning. The by-election result appears to be almost directly in line with that opinion poll – the only difference being that Labour on the ground may have squeezed a vital extra 3 or 4 percentage points of vote from the LibDems and Greens to turn a possible narrow by-election defeat into a narrow win. But that is speculation based on small margins and extrapolations.
The main outcome of the Peterborough by-election will be, most likely, to vindicate the Magic Grandpa’s Brexit strategy (if you can call it that) and to push the Conservative party in a more Brexity direction – if it needs pushing (which it doesn’t).
Farage did not win, enough for me. Open the Champa’s!!!
I think you are missing one of the most important points about Farage and the Brexit Party. Farage copied the Italian 5*M (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/may/21/brexit-party-nigel-farage-italy-digital-populists-five-star-movement) and that means that it is essentially a top-down model, not a bottom-up model like other political parties. If Farage could not manage to make his top-down model work in a single by-election, then it is going to be much worse for him in a General Election, which is essentially 650 by-elections held on the same day. Euro-elections, by contrast, require much less local involvement and this is the situation in which Farage excels.
A schop says
If del boy cannot win in a constituency that supports leave by over 60 per cent
His one trick pony is in big trouble
First past the post will kill his party
As for the toxic Tories RIP
Corbyn will now win the general election by default and govern with the SNP if need be
Dont let anyone ever again say that labour is in the SNP pocket as in 2015
The Tories have been married to the liberals and are contracted to the DUP coalitions of chaos
Paul W says
“Don’t let anyone ever again say that Labour is in the SNP pocket as in 2015”.
Hmm. That one’s already pencilled in for the next Conservative election campaign – because it works.
I can see the headline now: Stop Corbyns’ Coalition of Chaos.
Paul W says
A schop says
A Tory party copying a hard right party bent on Brexit slash and burn regulations ripping up good Friday leading to break up of the union talking about suspending parliament
Led by a serial liar charlatan
I would vote for Corbyn chaos any time than that crock of shit
Paul W says
Exactly how will it break up the Union? No UK prime minister or parliament worth their salt would countenance it.