It all began in Barnsley?

Trouble in the north, and not just for Nick Clegg

Modern Barnsley, oh dear!Modern Barnsley, oh dear!
It had to happen. In the Barnsley Central by-election the coalition has hit the floor and what they have to face is that there will be rejoicing. And no, not only from the supporters of Labour. From the outset the coalition has not satisfied grassroots supporters of either the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats. It's ducking out of the issue to pretend that, as the LDs and Conservatives stood as separate parties, the result is a disaster for only the LDs who lost their deposit. For they are, the rest of the time, part of 'the coalition'. They are together in victory and defeat. Nor will it do to point out this is a northern town with all the usual tendencies of political tribalism.

The results -

Dan Jarvis (Lab) 14,724 (60.80%, +13.53%)

Jane Collins (Ukip) 2,953 (12.19%, +7.53%)

James Hockney (C) 1,999 (8.25%, -9.01%)

Ends 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 (Loony) 198 (0.82%)

Michael Val Davies (Ind) 60 (0.25%)

The result for Nick Clegg is not as bad as the one for Brian Cowen in the Irish elections, but it does make you think. There Fianna Fail's crash needs careful analysis as the tribalism in Ireland is of a different structure to here in the UK, (see below). Even so its serves as an indicator of how the mighty can be brought down. So will there be an attempt to put some clear blue water between the Conservatives and the LDs? Time alone will tell but it would foolish not to keep an eye open for it.

On assorted websites that sad band of Tory trolls continue with their work. Their prime target today is UKIP. Coming second, even such a long way off, is for them a very good result. What they will make of it is another matter as the leadership of this party does tend to concentrate on the side issues. In fact there are times when its political skills do make you wonder what they are up to. Also their leader, Nigel Farage, while a long while off in length of service compared to some of the recently deposed North African leaders, is getting to be more of a liability than an asset.

The numbers from Barnsley are worth a look. The LDs are down by just about the same amount as Labour is up. Are these votes simply protesters punishing Clegg for going with the Tories? If they are, then if the LDs sort themselves out, the question is: how many will stay put? But then the same could be said for the UKIP gain which is not dissimilar from the Conservative loss. We should also note the low turnout at Barnsley, when Labour paint themselves as the victors because of anger at, 'Tory cuts', the fact is many people could not be bothered to vote. Angry or what? Another thing about Barnsley is that it's just a short ride away from Sheffield, Clegg's home town.

Finally for the best analysis of the Irish election result see HERE .