The Lib Dem victory in the Lemington by-election in Newcastle on Thursday has sparked some interesting responses from the other parties. The Newcastle Evening Chronicle carried an article entitled "The rise and rise of the Lib Dems" yesterday. It included quotes from a leading Labour member in Newcastle, and a leading local Tory. I guess that with both these people, their respective parties put them forward to the media to give comments because of a complete and utter lack of credible, sensible, level headed alternatives.
Labour Deputy Leader on Newcastle Council, Nick Forbes, in response to the loss of Lemington, said, "I think we will win seats in May...People are already showing disillusionment [with the Lib Dems]....."! (In which case I'd love to see what the people do to Labour when they are not "showing disillusionment" with us!!!
Nick Forbes is of course on Newcastle Council for his entertainment value. I famously dubbed him "Newcastle's Comical Ali" in the press in May after he said that the local election results in Newcastle were a disaster for the Lib Dems as we had only managed to pick up two more seats from Labour following their collapse in 2004.
But what of the Tories? Their response to 4th place and a not very appetising 6% of the vote came from Brian Moore, a member of their Newcastle executive. He said, "The Conservatives are doing well in local government across the country, including parts of Tyneside." Quite which part of Tyneside he is referring to is not explained.
Across the Tyne here in Gateshead we had a by-election in September and the Conservatives were again in 4th place on 6%. Whilst the collapse of the Conservatives is not absolute, in Newcastle and Gateshead, as with many other large cities, they barely register even as a fringe party.