by Ray Fleming

The Conservatives expected a poor result in Thursday's by-election in Corby -- and they got it when their general election victory by 1'915 votes was turned into a Labour win by almost eight thousand. There were special factors, of course -- there generally are with by-elections and in this case Conservative supporters were obviously fed-up with Louise Mensch, the MP they elected in 2010, who caused the by-election by jumping ship to be with her husband in New York. She had been on Conservative Central Office's A-list of candidates deserving a constituency, so Corby Tories will feel they were misled. Their defeat was the Conservative's first to Labour in a by-election since 1997 Labour will want to make capital out of this victory; it claims that Corby is “a microcosm of the country”, the kind of “middle England” seat it must win if it is to get a majority in 2015. That's still some way off but the Conservatives will have noted with some alarm that UKIP came third in Corby, enabling its leader Nigel Farage to say the result establishes UKIP as the third party of choice in the country. What about the Liberal Democrats? Don't ask, their candidate lost the deposit.

Results from the PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) elections on Thursday showed a pathetically low voter turn-out. The government has mismanaged this important innovation appallingly.