By Lord Ashcroft
The mood at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference this weekend will perhaps be more cheerful than at any such gathering since the start of the coalition. The Eastleigh by-election apparently vindicates Nick Clegg’s approach to government, and his party’s approach to campaigning.
His activists will be relieved to think that pavement politics is back; that despite the polls, strong local government and an invincible leaflet-dropping network will see many or even most of their incumbent MPs safely back to Westminster in two years’ time. Certainly the Eastleigh victory was a considerable achievement for the Liberal Democrats, and there is no doubt, as my research has suggested for some time, that the party remains stronger as a local force that the national numbers suggest.
But that is not the whole story.