Will this have an impact on Brown’s survival?
As predicted and recommended here over the past week the most certain bet on the Henley by-election was that Labour would lose its deposit which they did dropping from 6,862 votes at the general election to 1,066 and end up in fifth place behind both the Green party and the BNP.
With the Lib Dems fighting hard it was always going to be that the Labour vote would get squeezed and in the event the overall percentage of 3.1% was not as bad as the party has seen in other similar contests. In Winchester in 1997, for instance, Labour was reduced to just 1.7%.
But given the current precarious position for the Prime Minister the result could ratchet up the pressure and raise further questions about his future.
Perhaps the most significant thing about Henley is that alongside Crewe and Nantwich it shows that the Conservative have a proven capability of doing reasonably well in by elections – a form of campaigning that they have struggled with for decades.
The Lib Dems will be disappointed that they didn’t get closer and this might have consequences for their general election strategy. How much effort should go into trying to win Tory seats or should all their focus go into defending what they have got and looking for opportunities against Labour?
There will be relief in the three mainstream parties that it was the Greens and not the BNP who finished in third place.