Eastleigh by-election were not the Tories or the Labour Party, they were the Monster Raving Loonies, whose candidate received only 136 votes, about 100 fewer than the man from the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party.
When the Lib Dems first won Eastleigh at a by-election in 1994, profiting from the sitting Tory MP being found dead wearing stockings and suspenders with a flex round his neck and an orange in his mouth (ah, those were the days when sex scandals were done well), the Loonies received 783 votes.
The UK Independence Party, whose candidate was one Nigel Farage, polled only 170 votes more.
That was the same year that a Monster Raving Loony candidate, "Top Cat" Owen, got 2,859 votes in the European elections. Truly, 1994 was a halcyon time for the loonies.
Mais ou sont les Loons d'antan, as Farage is always saying. They have faded from our scene. In the previous by-election of this Parliament, in Croydon North, the Loonies got 110 votes, just pipping the candidate standing on the platform that "9/11 was an inside job".
No one votes Loony these days in part because the joke has worn thin. The death of their founder, Screaming Lord Sutch, in 1999 also robbed them of their charisma. But perhaps it is also because people feel that loonies are now in the mainstream.
That is certainly the feeling I get looking at the post-Eastleigh reaction in the Tory Party. Stewart Jackson MP writes a piece in the Spectator blaming the result on David Cameron’s support for gay marriage and the response is loads of comments attacking Jackson for not being right wing enough.
As Jerry Hayes, one of the remaining voices of sanity in the Party, wrote today: "Of course there will be the usual primal screams for a change of course. More traditional policies, anti-Europe, anti-immigrant, anti-union and an abhorrence of same-sex marriage. The delightful irony was that Maria Hutchings represented all of these things. She was the standard bearer of the Amish wing of the Tories.
"The electorate had no doubt what her views were. They were not remotely Cameroon. So when the usual suspects demand that the party drifts to the right and abandons modernisation they should be reminded that voters were offered all that they consider to be a masturbatory dream and rejected them."
I doubt that Cameron’s backbenchers will make that link. They will look at the decision by Tory High Command to keep Hutchings away from the media after she told them that the local state schools weren’t good enough for her son and decide that if only she had been allowed to speak up more often, votes would not have leaked to Ukip.
Maybe not, but the Tories would still not have won and perhaps some of their votes would have gone over to the Lib Dem candidate. I know that I, as a former Tory Central Office staffer, would struggle to put my cross next to someone like Hutchings.
Ironically, this result, looked at with calmness and sanity, is a good thing for David Cameron. Instead of the election of a candidate from the loony wing of his party who would no doubt be a troublesome and gobby backbencher, he has gained a loyal member of the Coalition. This vote was a victory for the Government, not a defeat for the Tories.
And perhaps that is the biggest lesson to be drawn from Eastleigh, that this was a disaster for Labour and Ed Miliband. On a decent turnout their share of the vote went up by 0.22 per cent and remains less than half of what it was at the 2005 General Election. All talk of being a One Nation party that can win seats around the country was just froth. They have as much work to do as the Tories, maybe more.
The key to winning the next election will be the state of the economy in 2015 and how people feel about the future. Petrol prices, inflation and jobs are what matter, not Europe, gays and immigration. When people cannot afford to feed themselves, they tend not to give a toss about same-sex marriage.
The candidate ahead of the Loonies in Eastleigh may have it spot on. To twist Bill Clinton’s adage: it’s the beer, baccy and crumpets, stupid.