Source: BBC. Majority: 4,478. Turnout: 34 per cent.

As Andrew Gimson anticipated when reporting from the seat earlier this week, the Conservatives have held Old Bexley and Sidcup and Louie French is on his way to Westminster.

There isn’t all that much to say about this result.  The Liberal Democrats are reported to have given Labour the run of the campaign.  It didn’t do either of them much good.

The former won only 830 votes, 2.9 per cent of the poll, and came fifth.  The Greens gained 3.8 per cent, and came fourth.

Richard Tice of Reform came third with 1,432 votes – a 6.5 per cent share. That may be the start of Nigel Farage succession party, as I think of Tice’s enterprise, making progress in Westminster by-elections.  And it may not.

Labour won 6,711 votes – 30.9 per cent of the poll, and were second.  At the last general election, its share was 23.5 per cent.

Matt Singh, the pollster and founder of Number Cruncher, tweets that “this is Labour’s first double-digit by-election swing from the Conservatives since Wythenshawe & Sale East in 2014”.

Over at Playbook, James Johnson from J.L. Partners, notes that “looking across all defensive governing party by-elections since 1997, the 10.3 per cent swing was significantly lower than the average of 16 per cent since 1997.”

So Ben Walker of Britain Elects surely had it right shortly before the result was declared: “Labour will gain ground by default, netting little new support.”

Which left Louie French victorious with 11,189 votes, 51.4 per cent of the vote.  On the one hand, Labour failed to get the Conservative share below 50 per cent.  On the other, the latter got 64.5 per cent in 2019.

Johnson says that “the swing against the Tories…was actually the smallest since Sleaford in 2016, and before that the smallest in more than a decade”. He thinks “this is a result the Conservatives can be happy with”.

These are low numbers of actual votes all round, which suggests that the real winner was apathy.  At 34 per cent, turnout was low for a by-election in a Conservative-held seat.

In Chesham and Amersham recently, it was 52 per cent.  In Brecon and Radnorshire during the last Parliament, it was 59.7 per cent.

In a nutshell, this result suggests that voters are unhappy with the Government, but aren’t convinced by anyone else, at least yet.

James Brokenshire was respected in his constituency as well at Westminster, and that his party held the seat is an appropriate tribute to him.

And Oliver Dowden could have got off too a much worse start as co-Party Chairman, had this contest taken place elsewhere.

But Old Bexley and Sidcup is a safe Conservative seat, the 121st most secure on Electoral Calculus’ List, and it was always going to be very hard to lose.  The challenge in North Shropshire may be more formidable.