Congratulations to Nigel Bakhai in Ealing Southall and Greg Stone in Sedgefield on their superb results in the by-elections held on 19th July.
The results showed loud and clear that it is the Liberal Democrats who are challenging Labour strongly on the ground. In Ealing, the Conservatives thought they could win with a glitzy campaign of razzmatazz, a local celebrity candidate and little content. And their belief that Labour heartland areas are an electoral desert for David Cameron was revealed when they chose to stand their Ealing candidate as “David Cameron’s Conservative” whilst their Sedgefield standard bearer was described simply as “Conservative”.
The by-elections were a disaster for the Conservatives. Even their members are admitting it. Rumbles of discontent can be heard from MPs who know that to win a general election, the Conservatives need to be romping home in seats such as Ealing Southall rather than remaining stuck in third place or, as happened in Sedgefield, slipping back from second to third. So the wheels have well and truly come off the Cameron bandwagon.
The Liberal Democrats can be well pleased with the results. We have shown yet again we can challenge Labour in their heartlands. We have shown yet again that we can take votes from Labour, votes that the Conservatives cannot reach. And we have shown yet again that the people see the Liberal Democrats as the real alternative to Labour.
The by-election results are also a strong warning to Gordon Brown and the Labour party that the Liberal Democrats are a serious threat to them. We can hit them hard in both the south and the north. The so-called Brown Bounce did not happen in either by-election. Faced with real polls, rather than opinion polls, Labour’s vote took a serious tumble.
Whilst Labour and the Conservatives wish for a return of the political duopoly they enjoyed over 30 years ago, it is clear that we are in a period of three party politics. And the by-elections show there is all to play for at the next general election, whenever it is held.