Peter Bingle sets out five important lessons we can take from the Sleaford & North Hykeham by-election.

So, after all the nonsense spoken about a new Lib Dem dawn, realpolitik has returned with a vengeance thanks to the good folk who voted in the Sleaford & North Hykeham constituency.

The crushing Tory victory will be closely analysed for what it says about the mood of British voters in what is amusingly called a post truth society. In my experience the Lib Dems never dealt with truth let alone post truth!

There are several major lessons from the by-election which need to be noted and actioned…

The first is that Theresa May's government is surprisingly popular with voters eighteen months after a general election. The temptation to call an early general election must now be enormous. Her party is fractious and she has a small overall majority. Yet she knows that the Tories will win a huge majority if she goes next year and she won't need to implement the boundary changes.

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The second lesson is that the Labour Party is in a desperate position. In Richmond Park the Labour candidate polled fewer votes than there are Labour Party members in the constituency. In Sleaford, the Labour candidate came fourth as opposed to second in 2015. For all the enthusiasm of the Corbynistas, the Labour Party is facing a political wipe-out at the next election.

The third lesson is that there is still a section of the electorate who are attracted by UKIP. The new leader, Paul Nuttall, is well placed to exploit Corbyn's unpopularity with Labour voters in the North of England who voted for Brexit and have a Labour MP who voted Remain.

The fourth lesson is that there is no actual or likely Lib Dem breakthrough. Richmond Park was a one off. It doesn't help having a leader who reminds older voters of George Formby. I doubt Tim Farron is en route to Sleaford to congratulate his candidate!

The most important lesson of all is that if the PM holds her nerve and triggers Article 50 she is on course to win a huge political mandate whenever the general election is called.

Imagine if you can what it must be like at this moment to be a Labour MP. You have a leader you didn't vote for, a policy agenda you don't support and a job which is likely to end at the next election. Little wonder they are so depressed. Most of them want an early election so they can be put out of their misery.

The Tories on the other hand are well poised to govern for a very long time. The voters of Sleaford & North Hykeham have brought us all back to our senses for which they deserve our gratitude!

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