I’ll preface this by saying that I have never spoken to nor met Mr Lloyd and until a few hours ago I wouldn’t have been able to name him as the Eastbourne MP. So it seems a bit daft that I should be writing a blog with such a title but this piece is actually based on the words of another.
In a piece by Cole Moreton in The Independent entitled, Stephen Lloyd: The Lib Dems ‘saved the country, but we destroyed ourselves,’ the journalist speaks about how when the Lib Dems pulled off what was a bit of an upset by taking Eastbourne in 2010, it was the Anti-Tory vote that won him the seat and the fact that the party then went into coalition with the Tories then he felt (like many others) that it was an act of betrayal.
This sums up one of the core issues with the political system that we have. When no party wins outright and a coalition or indeed supply/confidence is in place then many voters will not be happy with what happens. The most likely example going into 2015 is if the SNP go into coalition with the Labour Party that they are fighting a bitter and nasty battle with. If the SNP do get together with Labour then will SNP voters be betrayed because they actively voted against the Labour Party and not for the SNP? It is one to ponder and one that we may well come across in the coming months.
Back to the matter in hand. The journalist feels betrayed as he voted for Mr Lloyd primarily as he was the Anti-Tory ticket that could actually beat the Tories. This is a scenario up and down the country, there are many seats where because of demographics, historical voting patterns and the like that it will only be a two-horse race in the running to actually win the seat. So the electorate have to decide whether they are going to vote with the party they feel the most comfortable with or whether they are going to vote for the party they prefer out of the two that can actually win.
He was initially happy that the Tory was beaten but then he wasn’t so sure. ‘I put his big yellow board up in my garden last time because I wanted anyone but Nigel Waterson, the veteran Conservative MP who, I felt, was taking the mickey by living far away and popping down for visits like a minor royal,’ says Mr Moreton. He goes on to say a couple of paragraphs later, ‘He’s (Stephen Lloyd) not slick and says he has never been trendy. People like him, though, because he works like a devil for the town and obviously really cares.’
This my friends (and I suppose foes who are reading this for some unknown reason) is in large part why I think the Presidential style of politics that we are moving towards in a fallacy. People aren’t voting for Ed Miliband, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage, Natalie Bennett et al unless they live in a constituency where they are a candidate to become an MP. People are voting for a person who they feel will best represent their values and make the best decisions on their behalf in parliament.
I maybe a card carrying (well actually I’m not, my membership card is probably in a drawer or something) but I am a member of the Lib Dems but if I lived in a constituency where the Lib Dems weren’t a realistic player and I truly believed a candidate from another party who could realistically win would be much better than the alternative then I would tactically vote. The fact is I don’t, I live in a safe Conservative seat with an MP who apparently had the idea that I was going to his the Lib Dem candidate here (this actually happened). So my vote here will be relatively pointless and I know that.
In the council election last year I voted Lib Dem but only because I knew the Independent was winning waltzing away. Had it actually been a tight Tory/Indy battle I may well have lent my vote to the Indy as I believe Martin Terry is actually a decent hard-working councillor. You see that is the thing, you aren’t just voting for a party but you are also voting for the person on the ballot. This is why MPs such as Mr Lloyd should get another term. The general consensus is that he is a good hard-working local MP who has constantly fought the battle for Eastbourne both in the House of Commons and in the media. Isn’t that exactly what an MP is supposed to do?
Iain Dale has him losing his seat with it being a Probable Conservative Gain. On his predictions blog he writes, ‘Won in 2010 from Nigel Waterson, Stephen Lloyd may hang on, but I’d expect the Labour vote to at least double at the expense of the LibDems, so yet again, a lot depends on how many votes the Tories lose to UKIP. Lloyd has been a hardworking MP but rather preposterously resigned as a government PPS as his constituency didn’t get enough ‘pork’ in the autumn statement.’
The bookies though, they disagree, with the Lib Dems odds on everywhere to retain the seat, mostly around the 2/1 on mark with the Tories floating between 11/8 and 13/8. This is the type of seat where we’ll see whether national disenfranchisement with the Lib Dems will lead to the Tories winning. Some people won’t vote Lib Dem because they didn’t like the fact they joined the Tories in coalition but by doing so will only heighten the chances of getting a Tory MP. It is very much like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
My point though is thus (and it isn’t just to do with Lib Dem incumbents), if your MP is doing a good job in your eyes both representing your views and representing the area which they represent then vote for them to continue doing their job. so many seats are ‘safe seats’ but if you live in a seat which is live then look both as the party and the person. It is better to have a good MP from a party that you may not fully agree with than to have a poor MP who represents the party that you identify with.
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