Romsey Bi-Election Bad News for Blair, Haig, Bush and Gore

Last week's Romsey bi-election in the United Kingdom is bad news for the Conservative and Labour parties, and the Republicans and Democrats, their supporters in the United States.

In spite of losing over 10,000 votes between 1992 and 1997, the Conservative incumbent managed to hold Romsey 23,834 to the Liberal Democrat's 15,249. In that General Election, an alleged Labour landslide, the Labour candidate only gained 2,641 votes, less than the Liberal Democrat who gained 2,753. Two small independent parties took 1,824 and 1,291 respectively.

Romsey, in 1997, had a total turnout of 51,821, some 2,148 less than the 53,696 in 1992. So, in 1997, everyone gained strength except the Conservatives who lost massively. The turnout also dipped a little.

In the 2000 bi-election, the Liberal Democratic candidate managed to turn an 8,585 vote loss in 1997 into a 3,311 vote victory margin. Continuing the trend of 1997, women, regardless of party, fared well. Gidley, the Liberal Democrat candidate, is a woman pharmacist.

Residency was also a factor. Romsey, the constituency of the Liberal Prime Minister Gladstone, was contested by Palmer, a Conservative candidate who did not live in the district.

The 1992 - 1997 trends continued, with one notable exception. Whereas only the Conservatives lost massively in 1997, this year Labour joined them. The numbers are truly frightening.

Only 37,282 voters went to the polls, compared with 51,821 in 1997, a decline of 14,539.

While the Liberal Democrats were gaining 4,322, which shows their support rising at a faster rate than in the five years between 1992 and 1997, the Conservatives continued their decline.

The Conservatives lost 7,574 votes, showing they are still losing support at only a slightly slower rate than the did between 1992 and 1997. But, while Labour gained votes at the 1997 General Election, this year they lost even more heavily than the Conservatives. Labour lost 8,172 votes, getting just 1,451 votes and losing its deposit.

It is hard to tell who was the biggest loser in Romsey, the Conservatives or Labour. Both were humiliated. The Conservatives by losing the seat and Labour by losing its deposit.

This is bad news, not only for Prime Minister Tony Blair and William Hague, the leaders of the Labour and Conservative Parties in the United Kingdom, but for Gore and Bush, too. The elder Bush and the Republicans delivered the 1992 election for the Conservatives and Clinton and the Democrats were firm supporters of Labour in 1997.

The Romsey bi-election shows that the major parties are losing support and turnout continues to decline. There is nothing on the political horizon in the United States to make a psephologist think there will be a different outcome in America.

Romsey 2000 Bi-election results

Gidley (Liberal-Democrat) 19,571

Palmer (Conservative) 16,260

Howard (Labour) 1,451

Total Votes - 37,282

Romsey 1997 General Election

Conservative 23,834

Liberal-Democrat 15,249

Labour 9,623

UK Independent 1,824

Referendum 1,291

Total Votes - 51,821


Romsey 1992 General Election

Conservative 34,218

Liberal-Democrat 12,496

Labour 6,982

Total Votes - 53,696

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf