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    Hey guys,

    I would like to know how significent by-elections actually are?

    Thanks

    Amit
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    They're unlikely to have much impact on the day-to-day running of the government. Although John Major's government effectively had a majority of 0 by 1997 thanks to losing several by-elections.

    I suppose they're only as important as the media portray them to be. Seats lost where the governing party has a big majority can be seen as significant, "a referendum on the government," a sign of an unpopular government (recent examples being Crewe & Nantwich and Glasgow East).

    A by-election is coming up in Glenrothes and looks likely to be a similar situation to Glasgow East. Labour would be very upset to lose a seat in their heartlands, particularly as it borders Gordon Brown's constituency.

    It'll be interesting to see what date is set for the Glenrothes by-election. If they're not confident about winning it they might choose a day close to the US Presidential election.
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    Thanks, keep the answers coming guys !
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    if a government has a big majority they can shrug them off. But a marginal government is a hostage to them. Both Labour 1974 -79 and the Tories 1992 - 97 found each one eroded their power and room to breathe. Even winning a narrow victory can cause public perception of govt ability to drop as Lab found out in winter 78.

    For the Lib Dems they are important as they are just as good as the other two parties in a single seat fight - some would say superior. Often the Libs have won a by-election only to lose the seat at the next general election (although this has become less common since 1997) but they get a temporary boost. Some senior LDs started out this way - notably Simon Hughes.
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    By-elections can also demonstrate the popularity of a certain party. For example, it was evident that the Labour Government was declining in popularity during the summer, however the by-election results in Crewe & Nantwich in May cemented this. Losing a traditionally safe-seat to the Conservatives showed the extent of how unpopular the Government was/is.
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    In terms of anything innovative, - new ideas / policies - by elections arent really that significant, they can tell you a limited amount about the popularity (or more often how unpopular) the government are, and they raise morale for the winning party, but 1 out of 646 seats isnt a great deal of difference (although we may soon get a hung parliament at the next election so things could change)
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    Let's see how significant the forthcoming by-election in Scotland this month is for Gordon Brown....
 
 
 

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