Thirsk and Malton 2010
The delayed poll in the UK constituency of Thirsk and Malton was held on May 27, instead of May 6 because of the death before the election of a UKIP – only the eight candidate to die during a campaign since 1918 (though it already happened in 2005…). Thirsk and Malton is a large rural seat in the south Yorkshire covering the Ryedale and the Vale of York (which are also the name of the two old seats which made up the new Thirsk and Malton). This agricultural seat, relatively well-off for a rural area, is, like most of south Yorkshire, very very strongly Tory and the area has returned Tory MPs vitam aeternam (though a Liberal won a 1986 by-election in Ryedale, but lost in 1987), and according to Wikipedia, since 1885 at least (it’s another of those few areas which have voted Tory since the Victorian era). Here are the results:
Anne McIntosh (Con) 52.87% (+1%)
Howard Keal (LDem) 23.30% (+4.5%)
Jonathan Roberts (Labour) 13.55% (-9.8%)
Toby Horton (UKIP) 6.56% (+3.5%)
John Clark (Liberal) 3.72%
Turnout was 50.3%
I know it’s more than tempting to twist this as a by-election and early test for the very mediatized Tory-LibDem coalition government, but it isn’t a by-election, and an election held so soon after the regular election is still, usually, in a government’s honeymoon period and at a time when the recently thrown-out government is divided, absent and embroiled in a leadership contest, reducing their media visibility as a viable alternative for those partisans opposed to the government. It isn’t different here, and it would extremely stupid to try to pick out stuff from these results.
If the LibDems are to suffer loses from their association with the Tories, it isn’t in seats like this, but rather in Labour-LDem marginals or seats where the LibDem electorate is young, socially liberal and by tradition and ideology quite anti-Tory. The LibDem voters here are certainly not of that type. The bottom line is that this is not the type nor place to test LibDem support post-coalition, though the decent Liberal Party (which are nowadays to the left of the LibDems) showing could be a result of that (and the UKIP showing could be either sympathy votes, anti-coalition Tories or people voting UKIP because it won’t impact the final result much).