David Cameron’s all new touchy feely conservative leadership was given a harsh rebuff by voters in Chislehurst and Bromley last night. Although the seat was won for them by Bob Neill against a Liberal Democrat challenge, the level of victory was just 600 votes. This compares to a resounding 13000 Conservative majority at last year’s General Election.
Conservative party chairman Francis Maude said Bromley was "a bit of a wake-up call for us - that we've got a long way further to go. David's (Cameron) been rightly, driving a process of change in the party - and the simple truth from this election result is that we have to drive that change faster, wider and deeper.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell praised his party's near-miss as a stupendous result in one of the safest Conservative seats in the country. “It shows that there is no confidence in Cameron's Tories in the Conservative heartlands," he said.
In the same By election Labour's Rachel Reeves gained les than 2000 votes and was pushed into fourth behind UKIP candidate, MEP Nigel Farage.
Labour has failed to win back a former stronghold of Blaenau Gwent last night. Independent Dai Davies won the south Wales seat, which Labour lost in 2005 to fellow Independent Peter Law. Labour party chairman Hazel Blears said Blaenau Gwent was a "unique set of circumstances" branding the situation in the Welsh constituency a "family feud. Labour had not had enough time to turn it round from the general election but insisted the result was "coming in the right direction".
This seat was previously held by Labour legends Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot. It was previously one where the Labour vote was weighed rather than counted
The Even Worse
A YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph suggests Mr Cameron is more popular than Tony Blair and that 6% more people would prefer a Tory government led by Cameron to a Labour one led by Gordon Brown.
The moral of this tale?
The Tories may have some way to go before they can win an election comfortably but we are gifting them an open goal mouth at present. If we do not do something fast we will see Labour will be condemned to the opposition benches. This does not just mean looking to sweeten middle England but reaching out to our core vote. As I have said before this job must fall to a new leader.