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The run up to Eastleigh: Tories suffer 2nd local by-election set-back in 3 days following big move to Ukip

February 22nd, 2013

Another gain for the Lib Dems

With all eyes looking for pointers on Eastleigh the Tories have suffered another big local by-election blow with the Lib Dems chalking up their second gain in three days.

The latest was in North Norfolk where the Lib Dems have built up a good base following their win of the North Norfolk consitutency in the 2001 general election – a seat they held in 2005 and 2010. In 2005 the Conservative candidate was Iain Dale, hence his close interest in the outcome.

The full result with %age shares was: LD 558(47%), LAB 240(20%), UKIP 218(18%), CON 181(15%).

North Norfolk’s MP, Norman Lamb, is a minister and one of the favourites for next LD leader.

    Like in Chelmsford on Tuesday, where the LDs had their first win of the week, there was a significant vote for Ukip which had not stood when the wards had last been contested in 2011.

Ahead of the result PB’s local election expert, Harry Hayfield, wrote the following preview about Cromer contest giving some of the background.

Cromer Town on North Norfolk (Con Defence)
Last Local Election Result (2011): Con 28, Lib Dem 18, Ind 1, UKIP 1 (Conservative majority of 7)
Last Election Result (2011): Con 985 (40%) Lib Dem 679 (28%) Lab 618 (25%) Green 154 (6%)

Normally when previewing a local by-election, I mention something about the history and the past electoral geography of the council where the by-election is being held. However for Cromer Town, it seems extremely unsuitable as this by-election was caused by the “murder / suicide” (as the Americans would call it) of the leader of North Norfolk council and his wife. The tributes that poured in to the local newspaper website not only from the Conservative grouping but also the Liberal Democrat grouping as well showed that despite North Norfolk having a Liberal Democrat MP and the council being Conservative controlled, when you have a tragedy like this, nothing can be said that will make the situation better.

Mike Smithson

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