Crewe and Nantwich by-election: open (speculation) thread

by Stephen Tall on May 22, 2008

There are just four hours til polls close in today’s by-election to decide who will succeed the formidable Gwyneth Dunwoody as MP for Crewe and Nantwich.

Everyone’s expecting a solid Conservative victory, which would be their first by-election triumph against the incumbent party since 1982. The key question seems to be: how big will be their majority? (Though, as this will largely be a factor of turn-out, the percentage swing away from Labour is the figure to look out for. An 8% swing is all that’s needed to change Crewe from red to blue).

Here’s what happened the last time the seat was contested, in 2005:

Labour (Gwyneth Dunwoody): 21,240 (48.8%)
Conservative (Eveleigh Moore-Dutton): 14,162 (32.6%)
Liberal Democrat (Paul Roberts): 8,083 (18.6%)

The real question for the Lib Dems is: will we be able build on our 18% vote, or will we end up being squeezed out by Labour and the Tories (as per the London mayoral election)? Might we also shed some of our votes to some of the minor parties – eg, Greens – contesting the election this time around?

Lib Dem by-election guru Lord Rennard isn’t giving much away, but did tell the Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow – live-blogging Crewe here – that:

If you could have a ballot paper with ‘Not Labour this time’ on it, that would be the box that most people would tick. I would say there’s no positive enthusiasm for a Conservative government.”