The Lib Dems came eighth in Rotherham last Thursday, behind UKIP, the BNP, Respect and the English Democrats. That’s the worst ever by-election result for a major political party. The last time anything like this happened was in 1990 when David Owen’s Social Democrats came seventh in a by-election. That result was considered so poor that the party was dissolved soon afterwards.
The Lib Dems didn’t fare much better in the other two by-elections last week and deputy leader Simon Hughes was touring the radio and television stations on Friday trying to put a brave face on their performance.
“The two governing parties suffered as they often do in the middle of a Parliament and we were one of those two parties who suffered,” he said. “This is not unfamiliar politics.”
It wasn’t long ago that the Lib Dems were hailing their strong showing in by-elections as evidence that they were a growing force in British politics. Now that they’re doing badly, by-election results have suddenly become completely meaningless. Funny that. (To read more, click here.)