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Day: November 16, 2012

Is the UKIP trouncing of the Lib Dems in Corby actually a good result for the Lib Dems?

Corby has elected a Labour MP. It isn’t the biggest shock in the world lets put it that way. Corby is a clear swing seat with people who are not entrenched into their positions. It is proper floating voter territory and lets be honest – any by-election in a seat like this should be won – and won big by a party of opposition but that isn’t the story that I am going to concentrate on. The story Lib Dems care about is how we did and we didn’t do well but this is not a story – well it shouldn’t be one anyway…

Here are the top four results:

LAB 17267
CON 9476
UKIP 5108
LD 1770

The fact UKIP got 3x the LD vote has caused a proper stir. I have seen tweets from many Labour folk who have basically said that this proves the Lib Dems are now a non-entity and are not worthy of their time. They seem to forget that the Lib Dems are still a party of government but of course that isn’t something they are willing to acknowledge. Nor is the fact that the Lib Dems didn’t lose any council seats yesterday but won five across the county and held three. Again not something you’ll see a lot of prose about over the next 24 hours.

So should the Lib Dems be either worried or surprised that UKIP did so well here? Of course we shouldn’t. What a stupid notion. People that think that clearly are not people who study by-elections too closely. What do we know about close by-elections? That parties of government in bad times do really really badly. How about when we have a coalition government? Then both parties do really badly. How about when one of those two parties is traditionally the protest vote in these instances but can’t be because they are a party of government? Then boom goes the dynamite.

Look Louise Mensch really did screw over the Conservative Party here and the defeat can be laid squarely at her feet. Had she stayed and fought the election in 2015 when it isn’t a protest vote but more of an election then it would have been close once more. The UKIP vote soared because they became the party for the protest vote and they took a lot of the Tory vote because a lot of Tory voters were pissed off with both the government and Louise Mensch.

The Lib Dem vote dropped by around 70% but again that was to be fully expected. They are a party of government, the squeeze was very much on, they aren’t a protest vote. Put all that together and you have a huge fall in votes and that doesn’t even get into the fact that the Lib Dems are truly far more unpopular among floating voters than they were in 2010.

I fully expected the Lib Dems to be well beaten into fourth place. UKIP will say this gives them legitimacy and that they are now the third party in British politics. Well when they have the third number of MPs and third number of councillors across the country then come back to me. Until that point though they are still a protest party with very little to actually speak of. Heck even the Respect Party has an MP so UKIP have a long way to go.

We’ll see how they do in 2015 and lets put it this way…I suspect UKIP will still be way behind the Lib Dems in terms of MPs and it wouldn’t stun me if UKIP still had none. UKIP are basically Tories and they are taking the Tory vote and not the Lib Dem vote. If UKIP have a great national presence in 2015 then it would actually help Lib Dems in many Lib Dem/Conservative marginals in the south so this is not a bad result for the Lib Dems. If I’m being really forward thinking then it might even be an encouraging one…

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