Then the result of the by-election was declared and Nick Robinson had to post again. This time he had to accept, presumably through clenched teeth, that:
"A massive 16.5 swing, not far short of what they got in Crewe and Nantwich, will allow the Conservatives to say that this is much better than the results I alluded to in my earlier post.
Labour, on the other hand, will point out that the swing originated largely from a collapse in their vote (-27%) and much less by an increase in the Tory vote (just 6.5%).
The truth is that Mr Cameron has done more than enough to look on course for an election victory and Labour has done badly enough to fear that one is inevitable. "
Here's the result:
Chloe Smith (Con) 13,591 (39.5%)
Chris Ostrowski (Lab) 6,243 (18.16%)
April Pond (LD) 4,803 (13.97%)
Glenn Tingle (UKIP) 4,068 (11.83%)
Rupert Read (Green) 3,350 (9.74%)
Craig Murray (Ind) 953 (2.77%)
Robert West (BNP) 941 (2.74%)
Bill Holden (Ind) 166 (0.48)
Howling Laud (Loony) 144 (0.42%)
Anne Fryatt (NOTA) 59 (0.17%)
Thomas Burridge (Libertarian) 36 (0.1%)
Peter Baggs (Ind) 23 (0.07%)
Con majority 7,348 (21.37%) 16.49% swing Lab to Con
Turnout 34,377 (45.76%, down 15.33% on gen election)
So what do we see? First of all a collapse in the Labour vote, I wonder if they will return at the general election or are they lost for a while yet. A Lib Dem vote that seems not to have benefited from the Labour collapse. A Conservative vote that is increasing but not spectacularly. UKIP and not the Greens are once again shown to be the fourth force in British politics, maybe the BBC could take note. A UKIP vote that increased without adversely affecting the Conservative vote. Minor parties and independents still doing better than in previous elections, will that continue to the general election?
As an aside what was George Galloway doing on Question Time last night? His Respect Party is a very minor party, certainly polling fewer votes than the BNP who I don't recall ever having anyone on the QT panel. Was he there as a serious politician or a celebrity; either way I, for one, would rather not see him again.