But the real story, to my mind, is not how well the Tories did but just how badly Labour did. As the Tories are gleefully pointing out, Labour’s 18 percent vote share was the lowest ‘of an incumbent MP’s party in any UK by-election for at least 40 years’.
To John Rentoul, this result is an illustration of just how electorally unappealing Gordon Brown is, especially in England. Rentoul expects ‘that there'll be another Labour leadership spasm in September, and a fourth and final one in January. Alan Johnson could be in Number 10 in six months' time.’ I’m not so sure. I suspect Martin Kettle might be right that Labour hasn’t the will to change leaders even though it knows it would do better under someone other Brown and is ‘now now just waiting for the end, boys, waiting for the end.’