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%)