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Maybe Ukip could be doing to the Tories what the rump of the SDP did to the yellows nearly a quarter of a century ago

March 23rd, 2013

See the by-election that made William Hague an MP

This week there’s been a bit of focus on the creation of the Lib Dems which was formed by the merger of the old Liberal party and the SDP exactly 25 years ago.

It wasn’t so easy for the new party and within the first year it dropped to just 4% in an ICM poll. One problem was the Owenites who refused to be part of he merged party and would run candidates against it.

One such was the Richmond by-election in February 1989 caused by Leon Brittan becoming an EU Commissioner. The outcome is above.

This wasn’t an isolated case. When I was first elected as a Lib Dem county councillor three months later my biggest battle was against an Owenite SDPer.

The lesson for today is that the same sort of split vote dynamic could hurt the Tories if the Ukip band-wagon gets even stronger.

Mike Smithson

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