We have just witnessed a very rare event in British politics: three simultaneous by-elections in England. Naturally, there is a temptation to see these votes as predictors for a General Election that must happen by January 2025.
One of these local elections, in the West London constituency of Uxbridge and Ruislip, resulted from the resignation of the former prime minister, Boris Johnson, after he was found guilty of lying to parliament.
A second resignation followed soon after by one of Johnson’s mates who had represented the constituency of Selby and Ainsty. The third by-election occurred in the West Country seat of Somerton and Frome after the sitting Conservative MP was suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct.
It had looked as if yet a fourth by-election might occur, owing to the threatened resignation of the former minister, Nadine Dorries, but (so far) she has dithered about stepping down.
Nevertheless, one might think that three by-elections were more than enough to give everyone a snapshot of the political situation in the country and a forecast of who would be making the political weather.
It turns out that the political weather is as unsettled currently as the real stuff. As John Crace, the satirical sketch writer for the Guardian, put it: ‘And the winner is... Absolutely everyone.’