I have just seen the two by election results. This is what Tory by election manager Grant Shapps had to say about the Ealing result...
"It is usual for the party that starts in third place to end up being squeezed out of contention but in Ealing Southall, not only did Tony Lit maintain our proportion of the vote, he increased it too. During the campaign, five Labour Councillors recognised that the Conservative Party is the Party that represents modern Britain and opted to join us, meaning we now have a solid base in Southall for the first time since the 1920s. Labour's majority in Ealing Southall has been cut in half and this is the first time the Liberal Democrats have failed to win at a Parliamentary by-election from starting in second place since 1989."
The words straws and clutching come to mind. I genuinely thought the Conservatives would come a good second here, but let's not pretend this was a satisfactory result. It patently was not. But Grant is also right to point out the LibDem failure to get their by election bandwagon rolling here.
Questions will and should be asked about various aspects of the campaign, not least the candidate, whether the tactics were local enough and if all the literature was appropriate. These are questions which should be asked after any election.
Although this is not natural Tory territory most observers would reckon that in the middle of the third term of a Labour government the party ought to be able to increase its vote share by more than 0.9 per cent. We need to understand why this didn't happen.