Politics has changed but may yet deliver more of the same

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The Scottish and local election results are catching headlines but there were also two Westminster by-elections yesterday. I thought this result in Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough was telling:

Labour held the seat with 14,087 votes (62%). In second place was the Ukip candidate, Steven Winstone, with 4,497 (22%), followed by the Lib Dems’ Shaffaq Mohammed on 1,385 (6.09%), and the Conservative candidate, Spencer Pitfield, with 1,267 votes (5.57%).

Labour’s share of the vote went up 5.8%. Ukip came second, but their share of the vote was down 2.2%. And the Conservatives saw their share of the vote fall by 5.4%.

The result was broadly similar in Ogmore, except the Tories and LibDems swapped places.

Now of course these were safe Labour seats, but three things stand out. The first is that Labour increased its share. Corbyn did not put people off. The second is that UKIP came second. This is worrying. The third is the failure of the Conservatives and Lib Dems to make ground: UKIP is the opposition protest party now.

What does this say? That Labour is probably doing acceptably in England and Wales and there isn't a Corbyn backlash. Second it says UKIP is surviving on the fringes. And thirdly, there is no doubt that polarisation is a theme of UK politics now.

Politics has changed - and not just in Scotland - but who is where on the map may become more entrenched and not less if UKIP become a de facto but nonetheless unelectable opposition in many seats. That's  not necessarily good news for democracy, good government, or change.