Tag Archives: Elections

A solid performance

Back in blogging mode after about ten weeks of solid electioneering, it’s time to pore over the results and see what we have learned – and where we are.

In true blue Bucks (the only council in the land which has been continuously Tory for 120 years), we made a net loss of one seat. Disappointing, but probably not that surprising. What that doesn’t tell you is that we gave them a hard fight – and had them looking very worried at the count. We also triumphed in our target division where our two Labour defectors retook their seats handsomely under the Lib Dem flag.

The wider picture is that our share of the vote nationally was 28%. That we made a small net loss of councillors says more about the unfairness of our electoral system than it does about our level of support.

An interesting exercise is to plug the vote shares into an electoral prediction tool, like the one at http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/. If you input 38% Tory, 28% Lib Dem and 23% Labour, you could be forgiven for expecting to see the Lib Dems forming Her Majesty’s Opposition! Those of us who know better will groan when they see that that still delivers twice as many Labour MPs as Lib Dems.

Still, if I were the PPC in any Labour held seat, I’d be quietly rubbing my hands now in anticipation of a very interesting battle. If I were PPC in a Labour/Lib Dem marginal I’d be chatting to my employer about possibly not being around in twelve months time!

We have much to be optimistic about, but there’s also real danger too. Many of our finest MPs will be defending themselves against a Tory onslaught. We must not allow them to be swept away. The good news here is that there is evidence that many are not yet convinced by Cameron’s Tories. Turnout was low, and the results yesterday were partly a result of voters voting ‘anyone but Labour’.

The Labour vote is blowing away in the wind, but if want to pick up those votes, we have to earn them. We cannot sit back now, we have less than twelve months (maybe much less) to show people why we deserve their support!

Are we ready?

Tories are very quiet this morning, and with good reason. As the gyroscopic spinning subsides, it becomes apparent that they are in trouble.

Labour will rightly crow about how they hung on to their safe seats with respectable majorities. For anyone to overhaul either of these seats would have taken a massive swing – and we all knew that from the outset. But no seat is completely safe in a by election – as the Tories almost found out in Bromley. The fact that Labour maintained these two seats comfortably is evidence of the ‘new leader bounce’ that Gordon is currently enjoying. It is proof, if proof were needed, that Mr and Mrs Average have not yet transferred all of their antipathy to Blair to his successor.

For ourselves, we can look at these results and take comfort from the fact that our hard work produced two solid second places in seats that were unlikely to fall anyway. Hopefully, the whispering campaign can subside now, for it deflects our focus from the hard work we need to do.

The Tories at Ealing Southall looked gutted – and well they might, for all their efforts have been rewarded with sweet nothing. Even Iain Dale has been honest enough to admit as much:

…let’s not pretend this was a satisfactory result. It patently was not…

The fact that David Cameron nailed his colours so firmly to Tony Lit’s mast (oo er) turns out to be a clanger. Tony Lit was a risk – and it has backfired. Imposing a candidate is also a slap in the face to hard working local activists and budding politicians – some of whom will have worked hard for the party for years. The local party morale has been sacrificed on the alter of a gamble, and a gamble which failed spectacularly.  In fact, Tony Lit could almost be a local metaphor for Cameron: photogenic, glossy presentation – but scrape away the veneer, and there is little of political substance behind it. When will they ever learn?

All this must be manna from heaven for Gordon Brown. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to calculate that a snap general election would almost certainly result in a increased Labour majority. Cameron’s Conservatives are clearly a million miles away from looking electable or having a programme for government. They are still warring with themselves just as Labour were in the eighties. They are riven between the choices of modernise or die. Too many would still prefer to die. But modernise means more than just having a pretty, witty leader. There has to be a vision to communicate to the electorate – and they are nowhere near to having one that they can all agree on, let alone sell to the public.

Gordon Brown likes to spring the odd surprise – and bucking the trend of hanging on for as long as possible would become one of his most famous. The only question Gordon has to ask is ‘can the Labour Party afford the campaign?’ Election campaigns are costly, and the ‘dodgy loan’ route has now been effectively closed. That is, of course, for him to calculate and for us to guess.

So are we ready? Can we, as a party, hold our own in a snap general election in the face of the New Labour election machine promoting ‘New Gordon’? We can and we must. We have some clear, distinctive policies. We have a clear agenda for radical tax redistribution that would begin to address how unfair this country still is. We have a clear vision on the environment, civil liberties and respect for international law. And we have some of the best local activists ready to give everything for the cause. We must stop doubting ourselves – in particular, our choice of leader, and we must keep pushing our selection programme so that every seat has a locally chosen candidate in place.

Go back to your constituencies – and prepare for a fight!

A Natural Home

Iain Dale was, I think, first with the news that five Labour Councillors have defected to the Tories in Ealing. He goes on to quote their joint statement thus:

‘we believe the Conservatives have become our natural home’

I have a mental picture of some of the dyed in the wool Telegraph reading blue rinse and bow tie brigade choking on their cornflakes at the idea that five Labour councillors now find that they feel at home in Cameron’s Conservatives!

Wheels come off Tory campaign in Ealing Southall

As I blogged earlier, it was clear that many of the local Tories in Ealing Southall resented having a candidate imposed on them while local talent was passed over. I think this will prove to be their undoing, since having a demotivated local team is not a good start!

Now I hear that a senior local Tory has had enough. Brij Mohan Gupta has decided enough is enough, and has joined the Liberal Democrats. Mr Gupta specifically cited the centrally imposed candidate as one of his reasons for the decision.

I would like to welcome Mr Gupta to a party which is democratic, and values it’s local teams.

Something to make you laugh

Whether you had a good or a bad result yesterday, here’s a chuckle for Lib Dems everywhere.

We embrace technology in Wycombe, so my wife was trained on inputting telling numbers into EARS on polling day. Tellers were equipped with mobile phones to text numbers back from our target polling stations.

At about 6.30pm, one of our activists, Richard, took over on a polling station. My agent gave my wife his mobile number and she sent a message to ‘Richard’ saying ‘send me numbers as you get them. Unfortunately, the mobile number was wrong – but coincidentally someone called Richard.

Wrong Richard was intrigued by the request and began texting random numbers to my wife, which she duly entered into EARS.

My EARS data had been going badly all day, predicting the defeat which I eventually suffered – but it did seem to be improving as the evening wore on! So we went into full blown ‘knock up’ mode. We were all chasing around my ward dragging reluctant voters out to my lost cause.

Just now we discovered our error!

Another embarrassment for me was that as a result of this last minute push, I dragged some poor unfortunate with a slipped disc hobbling into a polling station. It turned out he wasn’t on the electoral roll!

Still, it wasn’t all bad. Our frenzied activity in this ward drew the Tory knock-up machine into action – and while they piled up votes they didn’t need we easily took our other target ward from them on the other side of town.