Daily catch-up: what the by-elections mean, and what if you set the controls for the heart of the Sun?

Our blend of serious political analysis and trivia (which is an invented plural of trivium)

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The Independent Online

1. The lesson of the last five years is: the force of anti-politics is strong. UKIP won the Clacton by-election by a record-breaking margin and came closer than expected in Heywood and Middleton.

In Heywood and Middleton, north of Manchester and normally a safe Labour seat, Ukip came within 2.2 percentage points of winning. Labour's Liz McInnes on 40.9 per cent just held on against 38.7 per cent for UKIP.

A Survation poll in Heywood and Middleton 11 days ago put Labour 19 points ahead, on 50 per cent to 31 per cent.

2. One of the implications of this is that the Conservatives have no chance of holding on to Rochester and Strood, where Mark Reckless will fight another by-election to gain a second elected MP for UKIP.

This is despite the opinion of one of Reckless's constituents, so wonderfully expressed to Michael Crick on Channel 4 News the other day:

"The man's a flouty poundvessel. He should be hodded into solulence. He's a guttering snodgripe."

3. The implications for the general election, on the other hand, are muted. Anti-politics sentiment is strong, but it is directed against Labour as well as Conservatives, and it is the net effect on the competition between those two parties that will determine the outcome of the election. UKIP may do well in the general election, but it is unlikely to gain additional support from the Tories, compared with its level of national support in current opinion polls, 15 per cent.

Meanwhile, there is another form of anti-politics that has been too little commented on, namely the Green Party, now running at 5 per cent in the opinion polls and taking some voters who might otherwise go to Labour.

4. My book of lists, Listellany, was published yesterday, and BBC Daily Politics put together a lovely video compilation of my Top 10 Party Conference Speeches. (Richard Madeley and I discussed it with Jo Coburn afterwards.) The book is number one bestseller today in Amazon's category of trivia, which, as I discovered on Sunday, is a modern Latin plural of trivium, a place where three roads meet.

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5. What would happen if you spent a nanosecond on the Sun? Brilliant What If? (Right.)

Also good to read, for very different reasons: How Not to be a Boy, by Robert Webb, of Mitchell &, in the New Statesman.   

6. And finally, thanks to Chris Heaton-Harris for this:

"Sick of cliques? Join the club."

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