An excellent example of the BBC reporting some of the news this morning. I'll show you what I mean:
Labour have won the Barnsley Central by-election, while the Lib Dems slipped to sixth in the South Yorkshire seat.
Who finished second, then?
UKIP, the Conservatives, the BNP and an independent all finished ahead of the Lib Dems, who had finished second in the seat in 2010's general election.
Blimey, but who finished second?
Lib Dem candidate Dominic Carman said his party had been given "a kicking", while Labour's victorious Dan Jarvis said it was a message to the coalition.
I think it will be the first of a number of protracted and very painful kickings that the LimpDims will get over the next few years, it will culminate in an almighty tonking at the next GE which will probably see them in ICU on life support. Errrrm, who came second?
The contest followed the former Labour MP's resignation over his expenses.
Second place though? Who was it?
At the general election Eric Illsley had held Barnsley Central with a majority of just over 11,000 and 47% of the vote, with the Liberal Democrats in second place.
OK, so who finished second this time?
But the MP resigned his seat after pleading guilty to falsely claiming £14,000 in parliamentary expenses. He was later jailed for a year.
Yes, yes, we know that, but let's get back to last night, you know, the new bit of the news? Who ended up in that position between first and third place?
Labour got 14,724 votes in the by-election, extending their majority slightly to 11,771, but the turnout fell to 36.5%, compared with 56.4% at the last general election.
Yes, come on, come on!
Labour took 60.8% of the vote, UKIP's Jane Collins 12.19%, the Conservatives' James Hockney 8.25%, the BNP's Enis Dalton 6.04%, Independent Tony Devoy 5.23% and the Liberal Democrats' Dominic Carman 4.18%.
Boom! There it is, even if they don't actually say UKIP came second, there it is, in plain sight, UKIP came second. Why did it take them eight paragraphs to actually give us the news?
More to the point, and at the risk of being accused of accusing the BBC of pro-Tory bias, why is there no mention of UKIP seeing off the Tories, their closest (in terms of policy) rivals?
Yes, Labour won and increased their majority, but this is Barnsley, hardly a shock that. The fact that UKIP beat the Tories, by taking getting on to half again what the Tories managed to poll is big, big news. The LibDems? Meh, their goose was cooked the moment they entered into a coalition, because there's a big difference between the voters and the top table; the voters wanted LibDem policy, the top table wanted a go at pressing the buttons, and now Clegg and chums look like the little kids who press the buttons and waggle the joystick on an arcade machine even though no-one has put any money it. They're playing at being in government, bless.
The media, and the BBC particularly, are banging on about a disaster for Clegg, which it is, but it is oh so predictable. The real sit up and take notice headline is UKIP. They were never going to win this seat, not in a million years, but I would expect them to coming in behind the big three by some distance, perhaps even behind the BNP in a Labour seat as well, the question is, how many Tory voters abandoned the ship and plumped for a seat in the anti-EU lifeboat? Their share of the vote went up from 4.7% in May to to 12.1% yesterday, they've almost trebled their share of the take. The Tories have gone from 17.3% to 8.2%, so is it fair to assume that the 8% extra UKIP gained came from the 9% loss suffered by the Tories? I doubt many of them came from the 13% that deserted the LimpDims, who probably account for the biggest portion of voters who stayed at home in a turn out that was significantly less than was seen in May.
It is always difficult to tell in a by-election, but if we see the same in a general election, where the traditional Lib Dem voters decide that they don't want anything to do with the party, (or probably more likely, Clegg, anyone notice how quiet Vince Cable has been recently?), but have no intention of turning out for the other big two, then the next general election, especially if AV is carried in May, could be very interesting indeed.
What I'd really like to see is a by-election in a 'safe' Tory seat, it would be interesting to see how UKIP perform there, and also to see how much the BNP would take from a no-hope Labour candidate.
The coverage, such as it was, of the campaign in Barnsley was dominated with people bemoaning the general crapness of the big three. Change is on the wind, it is only a little breeze at the moment, but it could turn into a gale, given the right conditions, and they are conditions the big three are unwittingly bringing about.
As for the BBC? Of course they're not biased towards the Tories, that is a ridiculous notion. The only thing that trumps their hatred of the Tories is their love of the Euro-project, and so UKIP will get no recognition at all. Indeed even if the totals for Labour and UKIP in this by-election were transposed, the news would still be about the collapse of the LibDems. Yes, it was predictable, but that's news, isn't it? As far as they are concerned we want dog bites man, what happened was man bites dog, and the EU is a big, ugly, mangy dog.
No, we don't need to know about that at all.