On 27th May 2010 the Thirsk and Malton deferred general election will be held, electing an MP to this new nominally Tory seat with a Lib Dem runner up. One would assume the Tories will carry it easily, but it does raise questions about future byelections.
What happens if the Coalition parties win a majority of the vote but Labour wins the seat? How is that interpreted? Might it make Tories take a different view of the Alternative Vote? Could we see AV brought in, assuming a win in the referendum, for byelections?
Or: Can the Lib Dems now win ANY byelections if the Tories are standing, if people see a byelection as a mini-referendum, as they often do, on the government? Will the Lib Dem vote collapse by going to support either the Tories or Labour?
Thirdly: Would it be interesting if the pollsters were to start polling Lib Dem and Tory voters as to where their second preferences might go? Would that allow the Tories and Lib Dems to then ponder the possibility of standing down candidates in byelections against each other?
Finally, what happens if Lib Dem voters turn out to be (as I suspect many will) far more Tory friendly then Lib Dem activists? What sort of pressure does that put on Clegg?