Of the three main parties, Labour will be happiest with today’s results. They’ve won Corby, the contest that was always going to get the most media attention. But, I think, there are things to worry all three parties in the results.
Last week, Labour sources were talking about how the big two tests for them of the night were Corby and the Bristol mayoralty. In Bristol, they’ve been beaten by an independent candidate. Ben Bradshaw is already complaining on Twitter that this defeat can be put down, in part, to the party’s resource allocations for these elections; the fact that Corby was prioritised above everywhere else. The Police and Crime Commissioner elections also haven’t been great for the party. John Prescott suffered a spectacular defeat in Humberside.
For the Tories, the obvious concern is the 12 percent plus swing against them in Corby. This is a mid-term result and Louise Mensch quitting so soon after being elected was hardly helpful. But it will increase backbench nervousness. UKIP’s strong showing in Corby and elsewhere will undoubtedly lead to more pressure from within the party for Cameron to reach out to UKIP’s voters on immigration, Europe and human rights.
The Liberal Democrats are keen to stress this evening that their vote share has held up far better in the parliamentary seats they hold than it has nationally. They will have more MPs after the next election that a headline reading of the polls would suggest. But they can’t hide the fact that in national vote share they’re in a battle for third place with UKIP. The danger for them is that these elections push the Lib Dems in trouble, Clegg under pressure story up the political agenda again.