IT takes a special kind of carelessness for a political party to lose a seat that it has held for 200 years, but that's what happened to the de Pfeffel Johnson Christmas party in the North Shropshire by-election.

The former safe seat, which the Conservatives held at the last General Election with a near 23,000 majority, was taken by the LibDems with a swing of 34% - which allowed their candidate Helen Morgan to take the seat with a majority of close to 6000.

Their candidate's victory allowed senior LibDems to celebrate in the exact same way that Nicola Sturgeon celebrated in December 2019 when the SNP candidate Amy Callaghan took the East Dunbartonshire seat from LibDem leader Jo Swinson, for which the SNP leader was roundly condemned by a succession of po-faced LibDems. Not that I'm accusing the Alex Cole-Hamilton shaped void of a lack of class, oh no.

The National:

The by-election was called following the resignation of Conservative MP Owen Paterson, after he had been censured by Parliamentary authorities for inappropriate lobbying on behalf of companies which employed him.

Johnson's attempts to protect Paterson and neuter independent scrutiny of MPs' outside activities sparked off a succession of scandals involving allegations of corruption, conflict of interest, rule-breaking, and entitled behaviour which the party has been unable to move on from. Many of the allegations centre on the behaviour of the Prime Minister himself, who has been accused of ignoring lockdown restrictions on numerous occasions and of lying habitually.

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The common thread running through all these allegations is the entrenched belief of senior Tories that they are not bound by the rules and norms of behaviour expected of everyone else, starting with the Prime Minister and running right through the party. The Tories chose Johnson as leader, not despite his manifest character flaws but because of them…

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