Cowdenbeath by-election: a good night for Labour and a very bad one for the Lib Dems

In Gordon Brown's backyard, Labour won an 11.25% swing from the SNP, while the Lib Dems finished in fifth place behind UKIP.

When I recently interviewed Ed Balls and asked how often he spoke to Gordon Brown, he revealed that he'd just received an email from his old boss "about a by-election coming up in the next couple of weeks". That by-election was held last night in the Scottish Parliament constituency of Cowdenbeath, the area represented by Brown at Westminster, and it proved to be a triumph for Labour. 

After narrowly defending the seat from the SNP in 2011, the party won a majority of 5,488 with an 11.25 per cent swing away from Alex Salmond's party. While it's wise to always be wary of drawing too many conclusions from by-elections, the result does suggest that there is little enthusiasm for Scottish independence among the electorate and that Labour's relentless focus on living standards is resonating with voters. 

It also offers further evidence of the Lib Dems' plight. The party finished fifth behind UKIP (who didn't even field a candidate last time), with just 425 votes (2.1 per cent). It was a better night for the Tories, who finished third and increased their share of the vote by 2.4 per cent. This may have been from a low base of 7 per cent, but at least, as candidate David Dempsey said, the numbers are moving "in the right direction". And it has been a long time since one could say that of the Tories in Scotland.

Here's the result in full. 

Alex Rowley (Lab) - 11,192 votes 55.78% (+9.28%)

Natalie McGarry (SNP) - 5,704 votes 28.43% (-13.17%)

Dave Dempsey (Con) - 1,893 votes 9.44% (+2.44%)

Denise Baykal (UKIP) - 610 votes 3.04% (N/A)

Jade Holden (Lib Dem) - 425 votes 2.12% (-1.78%)

Stuart Graham (Victims Final Right) - 187 votes 0.93% (N/A)

James Trolland (Scotthish Democratic Alliance) - 51 votes 0.25% (N/A)

Labour majority: 5,488 (27.36%)

11.25% swing from SNP to Labour

Turnout: 20,062 (34.78%)

Gordon Brown gives a speech during a United Labour event at the Pearce Institute on September 2, 2013 in Glasgow. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.