This is a confusing moment for both the political parties and the electorate. Over the coming weeks and months psephological experts wil be telling us what happended in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by election and who really lost and won. But the position when taken together with national political polls is reasonably clear. For the Tories we are at an important moment. Since the Coaliton was formed in May 2010 their national standing has held firm at above 40 % in the polls. In local elections they have held their own. Their members and much of the general public supported the Coalition have been solid, for the most part. Over recent weeks this has changed with the Tory poll ratings slipping and now in Oldham their vote collapsed. Of course, there was the third party by election syndrome of support switching to the best placed challenger to the incumbent party holding the seat. However, it is far more importan and disturbing to the Tories to contemplate that the Tory vote in the North among both the working class and disadvantaged sections of the middle class has collapsed. It is difficult to see just how the Tories will win them back.
For the Lib Dems their vote holdin up is a massive relief. Working in their favour was public distaste for the departed Labour MP Phil Woolas and some Tory switching but nevertheless it could have been much worse. Why not? I wonder did the Oldham electorate think that it was time to get at the real villains of the piece, the Tories. And is this how it is going to be now? The Lib Dems have reached an historic low point in the polls and surely they can go no lower. Now is the voters opportunity to take it out on the Tories. It is not how the script was written.
The Labour Party is very relieved. It was a solid victory in Oldahmeon a rainy day with the Lib Dem activists gathered in large numbers – and to their credit. The Labour leadership has done little to deserve a victory. Perhaps Labour needs to do nothing at all at the moment. Never mind the lack of judgement, maturity and flair of Ed Miliband and the inadequacies of Alan Johnston. Less said soonest mended seems to be the policy at the moment.. Stand by while public wrath washes about the Coalition. It isn’t a winning policy in the long run. It is not enough to repeat the dirge of a curse on both your houses. What did you Daddy in the great war? Well son, I survived. Good on you Daddy. But what did you do next.