David Frum

03.01.13

A Bad Night for British Conservatives

Conservative party candidate Maria Hutchings and Prime Minister David Cameron is seen at the headquarters for B&Q, the DiY superstore during the campaign period prior to a by-election on February 14, 2013 in Eastleigh, Hampshire. ( Ben Gurr - WPA Pool/Getty Images) ()

The UK Conservatives finished a humiliating third in a by-election yesterday.

How humiliating? This humiliating:

The Eastleigh constituency had been held by the Liberal Democrats. The seat was vacated because the previous LibDem MP, Chris Huhne, had resigned after pleading guilty on charges of "perverting the course of justice" arising from attempts to evade traffic tickets.

The by-election occurred as the LibDem party was battered by allegations that its leader had ignored an in-party sexual harassment scandal.

Yet still the LibDems won. The Euroskeptic UK Independence Party finished second, scoring its best-ever single-seat vote total. And the Conservatives?

Conservative Maria Hutchings won 10,559 votes, representing a 14% reduction compared with her share of the vote at the general election, when she came second to Mr Huhne.