We have become, over some twenty years and more, so used to the Tories losing seats at by-elections and failing spectacularly to win eminently winnable seats at others, that the vibes emanating from Ealing Southall suggesting that The Tories’ charismatic candidate Tony Lit, a wealthy Sikh entrepreneur prominent in the area, might do well enough to come a very close second and even, whisper it not in Gath, to win the seat are beginning to waken the media up to a possible earthquake.

Sometimes a by-election comes round where the resulting upset has the ability to put the skids firmly under the governing party which begins to take on a sickly hue and never seems quite to recover. One thinks of Eric Lubbock’s victory at Orpington in 1962 which did just that to Harold MacMillan’s administration which then went on to suffer a number of other serious blows.

The result last time (general election of 2005) was:

Piara Khabra [Labour] 22,937 48.8 %

Nigel Bakhai [Liberal Democrat] 11,497 24.4%

Mark Nicholson [Conservative] 10,147 21.6 %

Sarah Edwards [Green] 2,175 4.6%

Malkiat Bilku [Workers Revolutionary Party] 289 0.6 %

Majority 11,440 Turnout 56.2%

This time Labour has opted for chasing the youth vote – by picking an elderly gent of 70 to run under their colours. The LibDems too have chosen a lacklustre candidate. So far the contest has ben charcterised by several defections, most particularly by several labour councillors to the Tories. Only the Tory candidate

Victory here would be of earthquake proportions for the Tories. It would almost certainly end any talk of a snap Autumn election and will send tremors throughout inner and outer London as Labour MPs with marginal seats begin to scan the Guardian for jobs as Gender Awareness Officers. It will be an enormous fillip to the party which has gone through a couple of months of wobble (much of it of Mr. David Cameron’s own making, one is sad to say) which will enter the last couple of years of this Socialist Administration with a distinct spring in its step.

It will show that Macavity’s great clunking fist is a mere Chimera and sow all sorts of doubt in all the unserried ranks of the Reds about their ability to win in 2009 or 2010.

For the LibDems, they may, as Ben Brogan opines here, be squaring up to blame a poor local candidate, but they chose him so whose fault is that? The Old Zimmer Frame himself will find much muttering amongst the nut-cutlet brigade and will find further pressure being placed on him to perform or stand aside.

For the Tories a close second will do many of the same things as adumbrated above whilst not being quite so much fun as an outright win.

A win would wipe the smug smile off the faces of the likes of Hazel Blears, Ed Balls, David Milliband, Harriet Harman et al. (The Smuggies, for the want of a better collective noun) For a change the BBC will have to give wall-to-wall coverage of a great Tory victory, which will stick in their craw.

Down boy, down: no counting of chickens before they hatch! But, please, someone, make The Huntsman’s day.

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