A very bad night for the Lib Dems in Barnsley

Clegg's party are pushed into sixth place and lose their deposit.

Byelections, so often an occasion for Lib Dem joy, have become an occasion for Lib Dem woe. Last night, in Barnsley Central, they were pushed into sixth place and lost their £500 deposit after winning just 4.18 per cent of the vote (down 13.10 per cent since the general election). It's hard to overstate what a humiliating result this is. Having finished second in the seat at the general election, the party now sits behind UKIP, the Tories, the BNP and independent candidate Tony Devoy.

As ever, one should be wary of drawing national conclusions from a byelection, but the result is further evidence that the Lib Dems' northern vote has collapsed and that they are bearing the brunt of the anti-cuts backlash (see Olly Grender's blog for some of the lessons the party can learn).

Labour's strong performance (their vote share is up 13.53 per cent since the general election) comes as no surprise. Given that the former constituency MP, Eric Illsley, has already been sentenced to twelve months in prison for expenses fraud, there was no reason for voters to punish the party last night.

Percentage of the Vote


Of the remaining parties, it's UKIP that will be most encouraged. Their share of the vote rose by 7.53 per cent and they pushed the Conservatives into third place. The evidence that there are votes to be won by running to the right of the Tories will undoubtedly increase the pressure on David Cameron to promote a more distinctly conservative agenda in government.

Here's the result in full.

Dan Jarvis (Lab) 14,724 (60.80%, +13.53%)

Jane Collins (UKIP) 2,953 (12.19%, +7.53%)

James Hockney (Con) 1,999 (8.25%, -9.01%)

Enis Dalton (BNP) 1,463 (6.04%, -2.90%)

Tony Devoy (Ind) 1,266 (5.23%, +3.58%)

Dominic Carman (LD) 1,012 (4.18%, -13.10%)

Kevin Riddiough (Eng Dem) 544 (2.25%)

Howling Laud Hope (Monster Raving Loony Party) 198 (0.82%)

Michael Val Davies (Ind) 60 (0.25%)

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.