The Lib Dems clearly aren't damaged by the shambles that has been the deposition of Kennedy and the subsequent acandal-ridden leadership election. The results of yesterday's by-election in Dunfermline and West Fife - a neighbouring constituency to the Gordon Brown's. The Lib Dem candidate, Willie Rennie, received a gigantic 16% swing from Labour, and 9% from the Tories, turning an 11,562-strong Labour majority into a 1,800 Lib Dem majority. The results in full are as follows:
Willie Rennie (Liberal Democrat) - 12,391 (35.8%)
Catherine Stihler (Labour) - 10,591 (30.6%)
Douglas Chapman (Scottish National Party) - 7,261 (21.0%)
Carrie Ruxton (Conservative) - 2,702 (7.8%)
John McAllion (Scottish Socialist Party) - 537
James Hargreaves (Scottish Christian Party) - 411
Thomas Minogue (Abolish Forth Bridge Tolls Party) - 374
Ian Borland (UK Independence Party) - 208
Dick Rodgers (Common Good) - 103
Turnout - 59.9%
The press are all raving about it, too. The Guardian claims the result to be " the most famous victory (for the Lib Dems) of them all" The Times says that "The poor Tory showing is an embarrassment for David Cameron" - the Tories achieved just 7.8% of the vote. However, this should not be overplayed - the Tories have always been loathed in Scotland, but a 9% swing from Tory to the currently scandal-ridden Lib Dems is surely one hell of an achievement (or maybe the Scots just don't like Cameron's smarminess). This was in fact the worst Conservative by-election result for eight years - showing that Cameron has a lot of work to do to sway our Northern cousins (free Snickers Pie and deep-fried Mars bars, perhaps?)
With Mr. Blair refusing to provide an answer to the West Lothian Question (the fact that Scottish, Welsh and Northern-Irish M.P.s have a vote over English matters, but the same is not true in reverse, as the other home nations have their own parliaments, in which there is no English representation), the Lib Dems look set to gain even more seats in Scotland, a previous Labour stronghold.
With less that three weeks to go until the results of the Lib Dem leadership election (with Chris Huhne now slipping into the lead), Londonist wonders whether the golden bird that is the logo of the Lib Dems is actually a phoenix, rising from the ashes, with the party emerging stronger than ever. This seemed entirely unfeasible a couple of weeks back, but the party has been injected with new hope after this utter demolition of Labour, right in Gordon Brown's back yard, which of course throws speculation on his readiness to lead his own party. Londonist rubs its hands with glee anticipating one hell of an exciting parliament to come.