Will B&C be the first Tory by-election hold of the 21st Century?
For a party whose performance at by-elections can best be described as pitiful the Tories have had a remarkably good new millennium. For the only seat they have had to defend was Romsey in 2000 – a seat made vacant by the tragic fire in which Michael Colvin died. They lost it to the Lib Dems.
The party went through the whole of the 2001-2005 Parliament without the need for a by-election and of the five vacancies that have been created in the current Parliament Bromley & Chislehurst will be first one where they are defending.
The last Tory seat which they retained was Kensington and Chelsea in 1999 when Michael Portillo replaced Alan Clarke on November 25th.
So what about B & C? Is this going to be an easy hold or could Cameron’s Conservatives come unstuck?
Last May these were the shares:- CON 51.12%: LAB 22.20%: LD 20.30% so a very comfortable 13,000 majority in a seat where you would have expected the Lib Dems to be doing better.
Given the national situation Labour have not got an earthly but could the Lib Dems be a threat from their third place? Certainly there is a significant Labour vote to squeeze and the Lib Dems are past masters at this sort of contest. But they could be hindered by their relative poor showing in local elections indicating not that much strength on the ground.
I can see Ming’s party getting 35-40% but the David Cameron must feel pretty secure. All the evidence is that he loves face to face campaigning and he’s bound to spend a lot of time there.
One thing’s for sure – Cameron’s not going to screw up his first by-election defence as Tory leader.
No betting markets yet but these will be opened.