After a run of losses and near misses, there was a sliver of cheer for Ukip in this week’s council by-elections.
In Worthing, the party gained a seat from the Liberal Democrats:
There was a chunky 5.1% swing from the Lib Dems to Ukip here, and the result gives the party its first seat on the Tory-run council.
It was the only seat to change hands in Thursday’s five contests.
Things were even worse for the Lib Dems in a by-election for the Tory-run Epping Forest council, where they amassed a miniscule seven votes:
The Lib Dems performed a bit more respectably in a contest for a seat on the Tory-run Malvern Hills council, coming from nowhere to end up second:
The contest was triggered by the death of the sitting Tory councillor. Huntingdonshire is another council with a big Conservative majority, though thanks to a couple of gains at May’s local elections, Ukip is now the second largest party with seven of its 52 seats.
Lastly, the Greens held off a Labour challenge on Stroud council in Gloucestershire. The vacancy was caused by the resignation from the council of Molly Scott-Cato, who was elected to the European parliament in May. The result saw a 3.3% swing from Green to Labour:
There’s no let up in local by-elections this summer. Next week we’ve got one in the London borough of Lambeth, another in Beaconsfield, a third in Bolsover, and quite possibly more. They’re only micro-snapshots of the state of the nation, to be sure. But as the general election nears, even micro-snapshots help boost the morale of parliamentary candidates and give succour to local activists – especially when, as this week, smaller parties like Ukip and the Greens see off the big beasts.