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

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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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An alternative Trainspotting script for John Humphrys’ Radio 4 “Choose Life” tribute

Born chippy.

Your mole often has Radio 4’s Today programme babbling away comfortingly in the background while emerging blinking from the burrow. So imagine its horror this morning, when the BBC decided to sully this listening experience with John Humphrys doing the “Choose Life” monologue from Trainspotting.

“I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got Radio 4?” he concluded, as a nation cringed.

Introduced as someone who has “taken issue with modernity”, Humphrys launched into the film character Renton’s iconic rant against the banality of modern life.

But Humphrys’ role as in-studio curmudgeon is neither endearing nor amusing to this mole. Often tasked with stories about modern technology and digital culture by supposedly mischievous editors, Humphrys sounds increasingly cranky and ill-informed. It doesn’t exactly make for enlightening interviews. So your mole has tampered with the script. Here’s what he should have said:

“Choose life. Choose a job and then never retire, ever. Choose a career defined by growling and scoffing. Choose crashing the pips three mornings out of five. Choose a fucking long contract. Choose interrupting your co-hosts, politicians, religious leaders and children. Choose sitting across the desk from Justin Webb at 7.20 wondering what you’re doing with your life. Choose confusion about why Thought for the Day is still a thing. Choose hogging political interviews. Choose anxiety about whether Jim Naughtie’s departure means there’s dwindling demand for grouchy old men on flagship political radio shows. Choose a staunch commitment to misunderstanding stories about video games and emoji. Choose doing those stories anyway. Choose turning on the radio and wondering why the fuck you aren’t on on a Sunday morning as well. Choose sitting on that black leather chair hosting mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows (Mastermind). Choose going over time at the end of it all, pishing your last few seconds on needlessly combative questions, nothing more than an obstacle to that day’s editors being credited. Choose your future. Choose life . . .”

I'm a mole, innit.