The latest local by elections with an LD gain from UKIP on a whopping 26% swing top off what has been a good week for the LDs. Firstly there have been the Rallings/Thrasher and Lord Robert Hayward May elections’ projection suggesting that the yellows are in for a substantial number of gains on May 4th.
In addition to that we have had news of the private Crosby Textor constituency polling for the Tories suggesting that the party is set to win back a the bulk of the seats lost in the South West and Greater London that were lost to the Tories at GE2015.
That information is, of course, private, but PB sources have it that all but three or four of the seats could be back in LD hands at the next election and we know that it is Tory MPs who made gains last time who are most opposed to an early general election.
But to assume that this is all down to BREXIT is being simplistic. There are other factors at play as James Kirkup in the Spectator describes:
“…But while Brexit may motivate many Lib Dems, my hunch is that what matters at least as much is something generally overlooked by us chattering Westminster types: organisation.
Part of the reason some Tories are quietly concerned about the Lib Dems is that the Lib Dems are quite good at not just recruiting people to their cause but deploying them on the ground. Pavement-pounding and leaflet-dropping have always been a central part of the Lib Dem experience, along with Glee Club and misleading bar-charts. That makes them tough local opponents.It’s no exaggeration to say that the Lib Dems’ ground-level resurgence is a bigger check on Tory thoughts of an early election than all those Corbynistas liking each other’s posts on Facebook..”
A big test of that organisation will come in the Manchester Gorton by-election which is also being held on May 4th. This is a seat where pre-Coalition they were a good second on 30%+ of the vote. With Labour supporters apparently demoralised by their leader and the threat posed by George Galloway then a good LD result could on the cards. The 6/1 currently available on Betfair looks like a value bet.