PM must shrug off mid-term blues and come out fighting
Daily Express|December 04, 2021
‘The warning signs are detectable... the Government needs to up its game’
Patrick O’Flynn

IT IS safe to say the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election will not go down in the annals as any kind of sensation. The result – a Tory hold with a much reduced majority on a low turnout amid a moderate but not mountainous swing to the Opposition – is standard midterm by-election fare.

The Conservative majority tumbled from nearly 19,000 to 4,478, with a 10 per cent swing to Labour in second place.

That still means the Tories secured more than half the ballots cast by the third of the electorate that bothered to vote.

So, it would be tempting for Boris Johnson to dismiss it as the political equivalent of “small earthquake, not many casualties”.

But he would be foolish to do so, because the warning signs are detectable that his administration needs to up its game and start delivering on things the people who voted for it really care about if it is to avoid much bigger trouble next year.

For starters, the threat on the Tory Right flank has grown perceptibly.

Richard Tice, leader of Reform UK, formerly the Brexit Party, came third, easily beating the Greens and Lib Dems.

Perhaps more importantly from Mr Tice’s point of view, his 1,432 votes represented a crushing margin over potential rivals to lead a new Right-wing insurgency, such as Ukip.

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