Nick Robinson has had to row back from his initial implication that the Conservatives were struggling to victory in the Norwich by election. The BBC’s political correspondent speculated that the Tories would fall far short of the 17% swing which saw them win in Crewe and Nantwich and insinuated that even an election winning target of 6.9% might be beyond the party. The final result actually brought a 16.5% move towards the Conservative candidate, Chloe Smith. She took the seat with a comfortable 7,348 majority.
David Cameron and his team will be delighted with the outcome, which comes at a time when some commentators have suggested that the Tories have lost momentum. Labour’s collapse might well partly be ascribed to the unpopular deselection of sitting MP, Ian Gibson, but even so, its share of the vote disintegrated dramatically, from forty four to eighteen per cent. This is yet another indication that Gordon Brown’s government is irreparably damaged in the eyes of voters.
And the triumphant candidate, Chloe Smith? As a late term by election winner she has a difficult year ahead. She will not get a flavour for the parliamentary side of her new job until October and she shall scarcely have become accustomed to membership of the Commons before a general election. Iain Dale suggests her priority should be to get started on constituency work, so that the foundations can be laid for another victory next spring.