Last night there was a council by election in Bowthorpe ward in Norwich. The Conservatives held it with an increased majority of 154. What's remarkable in that, you might ask? Well, this is a ward which up until the last few years the Tories came third in. It's near the university and has a very high level of council housing, including the massive Larkman and Earlham estates. But a few years ago, against all the odds, a young candidate called Antony Little won the seat by sheer hard work and indulging in clssic LibDem pavement politics. Last year the Tories won a third seat in the ward but sadly the councillor died recently.
Both Labour and the LibDems threw everything into this by election. They had dozens of people from outside bussed in and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb was even there last night knocking up. They came third.
Antony Little, who is fighting Charles Clarke at the next election, deserves huge credit. There are now 5 Tory councillor on Norwich City Council, the highest for forty years. His campaign strategy has been one which others would do well to emulate.
I am off up to Norwich today to speak at my old university with Steve Richards about the state of the media. I'm also going to be looking up a couple of old friends, so blogging will be rather lighter today than usual!
UPDATE: Antony Little explains here why this is a good result for the Tories and why the LibDems didn't get the victory they thought was theirs.