by MONITOR
IT is difficult to say which of Britain's two main party leaders should feel the more worried by the results of the Bromley and Chislehurst and the Blaenau Gwent parliamentary by-elections. In South London a Conservative majority of more than 13'000 was reduced to a derisory 633 advantage over a resurgent Liberal Democrat campaign; in South Wales a constituency that once returned Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot to Westminster preferred an Independent candidate to Labour's representative by more than four thousand votes. In Bromley and Chislehurst Labour was shunted into fourth place behind the UK Independence Party while in Blaenau Gwent the Conservative candidate came last but one with 816 votes. Difficult to choose between the two disasters. On balance, though, David Cameron should probably be more worried than Tony Blair (or Gordon Brown). Labour is going through a very bad patch and the voters know it. The Conservatives, however, are supposed to be the flavour of the year with a popular leader and good poll ratings. Yet the Conservative voters in London's leafy outer suburbs ignored Mr Cameron's agenda for change, refused to choose one of his A-list as their candidate and preferred a man who has three jobs already. The worry for Mr Cameron and his reformist party chairman, Francis Maude, is that they probably do not know how many more Bromley and Chislehurst Conservatives in the country who would rather risk defeat at the next general election than change themselves for victory.

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