Why are the Tories panicking?

From: Wayne Andrews, Whiteacres Close, Broad Oak

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 8:21 am
Ed Davey, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, out canvassing with Sarah Green, candidate for Chesham and Amersham, on June 15, 2021 in Amersham, England.  (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images) SUS-210207-081818001
Ed Davey, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, out canvassing with Sarah Green, candidate for Chesham and Amersham, on June 15, 2021 in Amersham, England. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images) SUS-210207-081818001

Since the result of the Chesham and Amersham by-election result became known, I have been shaking my head with bewilderment at the curiously misplaced overreaction of panicking Tories to what was an admittedly surprising result.

Talk of ‘crumbling blue walls’ (with the Lib Dem leader cartoonishly knocking one down) and ‘Lib Dem inroads into Tory heartlands’ ignores the mathematical details of the result. I used to be a Conservative voter, but they turned their backs on their core supporters (people like me) many years ago, so I don’t really care what happens to them, but a simple analysis of the votes cast - or not cast - will benefit them greatly.

Compared to the 2019 General Election, turnout in Chesham and Amersham fell by almost exactly 18,000 votes. And what was the fall in Tory votes? About 17,400 - a broadly similar number. Moreover, the Lib Dem vote rose by almost 7,000 votes. But what was the fall in Labour votes? About 6,500 - again, a similar number.

So, Tory voters didn’t vote Lib Dem - they simply stayed at home. But Labour voters did switch to the Lib Dems. It was indeed a poor result for the government, but the now likely prospect of Labour and the Lib Dems splitting each other’s votes in the coming years should reassure them. So why are they panicking? It would be interesting to read the Tories’ own analysis of the situation.

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