26 July 2008


OK, I know Glasgow East was a very bad result for Labour, but can we have a bit of perspective, please? It is not unprecedented for a governing party to suffer spectacular mid-term by-election defeats in apparently safe seats – and then go on to win general elections.

Most recently, Labour managed it in 2005 after the 2003 Brent East by-election, which the Lib Dems won with a swing nearly 30 per cent from Labour. And the Tories pulled off a similar trick in 1992 after the disasters (for them) of the Mid-Staffs, Eastbourne and Ribble Valley by-elections, in March 1990, October 1990 and March 1991 respectively, in all of which there were swings of more than 20 per cent from Tory to Labour (Mid Staffs) or Lib Dem (the other two).

Which is not to say that Gordon Brown should stay or that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds for Labour. But now is a time for keeping your head when all around are losing theirs – and working out how Gordon can be persuaded to go quietly some time next year.

Update I notice I chose the same headline for this post on Glasgow East as Luke Akehurst chose for his. Which goes to show either that great minds think alike or that no one can resist an obvious cliche.

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