Barnsley by-election – after the rout

Posted on: 04 March 2011 by Alexander Hay

Who got hit, and how hard?

Beaten at the ballot - unless you're Labour

Congratulations, then, to Dan Jarvis, ex-paratrooper, single parent, and now MP for Barnsley Central. But what now for the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in the Coalition, with one half in the doldrums and the other utterly routed?

According to the BBC, last night's humiliation for the Lib Dems was total, with them coming behind the BNP and an independent candidate.

Tim Farron, Lib Dem MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, and President of his party, concurs. As The Telegraph reports him saying: "At this time of the evening, there's nothing more laughable than a politician who's got a kicking pretending it's all right."

Indeed, the stomping his party got last night might be as nothing compared to what's ahead. The Daily Mail, for instance, notes a grass-roots rebellion is already brewing.

And Sky News adds that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will have to face up to those in his party who fear last night's result is a bleak omen for local elections in May.

Meanwhile, Labour has pulled off quite a comeback, notes The Guardian, given that its last incumbent MP is in jail right now for fiddling his expenses. However, this comes with the caveat of a mere 36.5% turnout, which may pose problems for all the main parties if repeated elsewhere.

Not least for the Tories, who not only came third, but - as The Independent observes - at the hands of the UK Independence Party, a fringe outfit for those who complain about political correctness gone mad, the EU being a front for the Bilderberg Group and Climate Change being a sinister plot against decent, hard working polluters.

Finally, the blogosphere has its own insights into what happened yesterday. Guido Fawkes dissects the poll results and discovers a major Eurosceptic swing in the results, and not just on the right.

But Harry's Place says that it's still a major victory for Labour, which has increased its share of the vote to 61%, making Ed Miliband Barnsley's overall winner, which is hard by any yardstick to argue against.

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Alexander Hay

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