The only thing that would have turned the Newark byelection into a big national story was a UKIP victory, and it didn't happen. Instead, people voted Tory tactically to keep UKIP out, in the posh bits of the constituency at any rate – the same thing happened throughout the country in posh bits in the local elections where the affluent owner-occupiers didn't want UKIP victories damaging their house prices. Labour came third in a seat it won in 1997. OK, I know, it's not the same seat (boundary changes in 2010) and there's a lot of local nastiness: Fiona Jones, who won the old Newark seat for Labour in 1997, was accused, found guilty and then exonerated of electoral malpractice (the case followed a viciously contested candidate selection), lost in 2001 and then appears to have drunk herself to death. But that's as maybe, and I'm not feeling optimistic about the bigger picture right now. Newark was all about home-owners voting to sustain the value of their homes as estimated by estate agents. I have a horrible sense that the next general election will be fought on the same terrain in much of the UK ... with added pressure from rentiers ("buy-to-let investors") in our cities and towns. This is not good for Labour.