The by-election could take place on May 2 when the CON will be defending twice as many local seats as LAB/LD combined twitter.com/MSmithsonPB/stâ€¦
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) March 27, 2013
Could it be like the CON 1993 disaster?
To say that the Conservatives have been having a bad time of it lately would be an understatement.
Since the PCC elections across the United Kingdom, if you are a Conservative candidate you have either lost the local by-election that you were supposed to have been defending (31 defences, 16 holds, 15 losses), been hit for six in parliamentary by-elections (Best performance: -7.25% in Manchester Central, Worst Performance: -15.97% in Corby) and suffered the continuing problem of not only losing support to Labour in the polls but now suffering a pro Lib Dem swing and a pro UKIP swing as well. And all these just a mere six weeks from the biggest test of Cameronâ€™s popularity, the county council elections.
The 2009 local elections were an absolute triumph for the Conservatives. They managed to poll 3,382,211 votes (44%) against Labourâ€™s 969,572 votes (13%) who were not only beaten by the Lib Dems on 1,841,845 votes (25%) but managed to find themselves only polling twice as many votes as UKIP at 346,410 (5%) when at the 2005 general election they had managed to poll sixteen times the UKIP vote.
However, as those county council come around again (as the polls show) it is clearly Labour who are going to have a barnstorming election. Since these elections were held four years ago, Labour have seen their national vote share increase by 15% (almost half their 2009 vote share) whilst the Conservative vote has dropped by 10% (almost 40% of their 2009 vote share). Coupled with this you have a swing from Con to Lib Dem (most likely to happen in the Con / Lib Dem battlegrounds of Devon, Dorset and Somerset) and a now surging UKIP (up a third on their 2009 vote share) which could damage the Conservatives all over the south of England especially.
This, to me, bears an uncanny resemblance to the 1993 local elections (an election that every Conservative remembers with a sense of fear).
Going into those elections, the Conservatives had 1,248 councillors (and control of 15 councils), Labour had 845 councillors (and control of 5 councils), the Liberal Democrats had 379 councillors (but no councils controlled) along with 85 Independents and a collection of Social Democrats, Liberals, Ratepayers and Others.
When the results were in the Conservatives stared at the result in complete astonishment. They had lost 397 seats (and control of 14 councils with only Buckinghamshire still Conservative controlled), Labour had made 121 gains (and gained control of Northamptonshire and Lancashire) but it was the Liberal Democrats who were by far and away the winner gaining 360 seats and control of Cornwall, Somerset and Devon and being the leading party in another seven) which as we all know started the masliase that the Conservatives then endured for the 1994, 1995, 1996 local elections and the 1997 general election. So is a similar result likely in 2013 (on the 20th anniversary of those elections)? Well, based on the poll changes since the last elections, it is very likely (but with the added complication of UKIP making gains like never before!)