A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

Bromley By-election Today

Bromley & Chislehurst polls today, as does Blaenau Gwent. Both are electing new MPs to replace Eric Forth (Con) & Peter Law (Ind) who recently passed away. Blaenau Gwent is also electing a new Member of the Welsh Assembly.

Blaenau Gwent appears to be a contest between the Independents and Labour, with the latter throwing everything they can into the constituency. The Lib Dems came 3rd in 2005 and will be looking to build on this position.

Bromley is the latest test for the new Tory leader and their campaign there is looking suprisingly wobbly. Having made no impact in Dunfermline & West Fife the Tories did fairly well at the May local elections, althought their performance was far from sweeping and there was a lot of churn in seats between all 3 main parties and several smaller ones too.

Historically, the Lib Dems do not fair well in byelections where the Opposition is incumbent. Romsey and Bermondsey are the few recent examples where they have won. The Tories have held Uxbridge, Beckenham, South Staffs, Eddisbury and Kensington and Chelsea since they went into opposition in 1997. Romsey is the only one of these Tory defences where the Lib Dems both started from a good base (29.4%) and went on to win.

However in Bromley and Chislehurst the Lib Dems are starting from their best base since Romsey, having polled above 20% in the preceding General Election. Their campaign appears to have built up some momentum and the Tories have gifted plenty of ammunition to their opponents. UKIP are also weighing in with their own campaign, threatening the Tories
with legal action.

The Lib Dems do pull off big by-elections wins from time to time but if the Tories are really serious about building up a head of steam under their new leader they should be getting the sort of thumping by-election defences that Labour got in the early 90s.

There should not be even a sniff of a Romsey in the air. Yet there is.

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