Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barnsley: A Lib-Dem Nightmare Comes True; Established 1827

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barnsley: A Lib-Dem Nightmare Comes True; Established 1827

Article excerpt

LAST night's result in the Barnsley Central by-election was welcome enough for Labour, pushing up the party's majority despite low turnout. But for the Liberal Democrats it was an unmitigated disaster, with their candidate pushed into sixth place, losing his deposit. The Lib-Dems managed second place at last year's election.

Barnsley is significant because it is stark confirmation at a real poll of the disastrous erosion of Lib-Dem support since the general election. Then, they took 23 per cent of the popular vote; since late last year, their support nationally has bumped along at around 10 per cent.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will hope, like the Tories, that public anger over cuts subsides by the time of the next election and that an economic recovery will cast the Lib-Dems in a better light. From the perspective of this result, though, that sounds like whistling in the dark. Today's news that eccentric former Lib-Dem MP Lembit Opik intends to stand as a mayoral candidate in London next year will only rub salt in the wound. …

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