- The result is a reminder that a political party is not always tainted by the shaming of one of its MPs. It's true that Phil Woolas was shamed for over-vigorous attack campaigning rather than fingers-in-the-till – and to my mind was far too severely punished – but that augurs well for Labour, if it selects a clean candidate, in the forthcoming Barnsley Central by-election, brought about by the resignation of Eric Illsley over expenses fiddling.
- Even though Labour won, the willingness of voters who supported the Tories at the general election to switch tactically to the Lib Dems – which resulted in the Lib Dem candidate retaining the share of the vote he won last May – is a little worrying for Labour. It suggests that the party is vulnerable to negative tactical voting in the (few) seats held by the Lib Dems where it came second in 2010.
- It is impossible to tell how the by-election would have turned out under the alternative vote – the electoral system hardly anyone wants that is to be the subject of a referendum in May. But Labour opponents of AV have a point when they say that the pattern of Tory to Lib Dem tactical voting yesterday, along with the showing of UKIP, suggests that the result might just have been a narrow Lib Dem victory.
14 January 2011
MIXED NEWS FROM OLDHAM EAST
Labour's victory in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election was hardly a surprise, though it was more emphatic than I expected. But a few things are worth noting:
Posted by Paul Anderson at 11:45