Why the Wakefield and Tiverton by-elections could be the beginning of the end for Boris Johnson's government
Voters appear determined to vote for whichever party is best-placed to oust the Conservative Party
Governments do not go out with a bang, but with a whimper. Although Labour’s landslide victory in 1997 may in hindsight look like a single seismic shift, in reality it followed years of drift and decay within John Major’s government.
Something similar appears to be happening now. As Professor John Curtice told the Today Programme this morning, you have to go back to the Major years to find a government suffering a similar string of by-election defeats to those we are now seeing.
The results in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton were disastrous for the Conservatives on several levels.
Firstly, the results show that they are losing ground both among the voters in the ‘Red Wall’ seats they took in 2019, as well as their former Conservative strongholds. If replicated at a general election the 12% swing seen in Wakefield would win Labour a narrow majority.
Taken by itself, the Conservatives may have been able to brush that off. Opposition parties often do well in by-elections before falling back at the general election. However, it is the result in Tiverton that should really worry Johnson’s party.