Archive for the ‘lib dems’ tag
The media and activists are obsessed with Nick Clegg potentially going down in Sheffield Hallam despite all the signs pointing towards a Lib Dem win. If they really wanted to get excited about a potential cabinet big-wig going down though then they should go into the Scottish highlands where a real interesting battle will play out between the SNP and the Lib Dems.
Whilst the public polling has Nick Clegg in a nip/tuck battle in his seat, the public polling has Danny Alexander getting a right mullering in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey. As we all know, the public polls don’t generally name a candidate and the power of incumbency is diluted. Still though this wouldn’t account for the seemingly big hole than Danny Alexander finds himself in.
Still the so called, ‘ginger rodent’ seems cheerful enough and doesn’t think it is such a foregone conclusion. In what I have to say is one of the rare pretty fair long political pieces I’ve read in a while, BuzzFeed followed Danny Alexander around for a day in a piece published today entitled, Danny Alexander Fights To Save His Political Career: “The Tories Piss Me Off”.
The key for Danny is clearly to paint himself (as is the case with many Liberal Democrats MPs across the country) as not being Tories and that being in government has helped stop the Tories from pursuing their own agenda. This is not an easy sell and many will just not buy into it but the key will be to get a proportion to do so. Also of course trying to squeeze the Labour and Tory votes as he’ll try and make it an SNP v the world argument.
Speaking about the Tories taking full credit for the turnaround in the economy, Alexander said, ‘It sticks in the craw. It really pisses me off that the Tories try to claim credit for everything we’ve done in government. Tax cuts – none of that would be happening if it wasn’t for the Liberal Democrats in government. If we allow the Tories to govern by themselves, it frightens me actually, because I think it’s a wrecking approach. Beyond a certain point it becomes ideology.‘
This is going to be a key issue across the country. The coalition has turned the economy around, unemployment is down and continues to drop with every set of results, employment is unsurprisingly up as well along the same lines. The economy will always be the biggest issue in any election. Other factors will come and go but the economy is key and if the public believe that a party can improve the economy then that will often the key issue – especially for swing voters.
So the fact the public as a whole do not give the Lib Dems credit for things like the rise in the Income Tax threshold, something which David Cameron said we couldn’t afford to do in the first leaders debate in 2010, is something which sticks in the throats of many. This policy effects more people directly than any other policy in the coalition government because it effects everyone who earns more than £6,475, which was the personal income threshold under the last government.
If Danny can persuade enough voters that he (and his party) should take just as much credit for the economic recovery as the Tories, then the party will do ok on May 7. Danny’s issues in Scotland are not helped by the collapse of the Labour vote, which is drifting to the SNP in droves. Having two strong opponents is something you can feel comfortable with in our FPTP system but when one of those strong opponents loses a significant proportion of their vote to the other strong opponent then you have issues.
Looking at the betting trends and the SNP are very strong favourites ranging from 1/12 to 1/3 depending on your bookies of choice. Danny and the Lib Dems are between 9/4 and 11/2. The other parties are all beyond 10/1. Most of these betting movements have been predicated on the seeming strength of the SNP in Scotland coupled with Labour’s fall.
I was looking at some ICM fieldwork from the constituency taken in May last year and one table I found more interesting than others. According to the fieldwork, more of the responders voted SNP than Lib Dem in 2010, despite their being an 22% difference in the actual result (19% SNP, 41% Lib Dem) but according to this poll, of those who responded, 19% voted LD whereas 22% voted SNP. The fieldwork also didn’t take into account the likelihood of voting.
It all makes is rather interesting. The SNP are favourites and rightly so but Danny isn’t out of it just yet. If Danny Alexander holds on in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey then the Lib Dems will probably be in for a good night. If he loses then it means that Scotland will be voting very strongly for the SNP, leaving maybe only 10-15 non SNP seats across the country.
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey is more of a bellwether seat for the SNP than it is for the Lib Dems but it is certainly one more media folk should be paying attention to, it will be a very good indicator for how the SNP and the Lib Dems are doing and how they’ll do on May 7.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.
Last week I noticed that Jeremy Browne had said something that seemed to piss off some folk. That is all I noticed as I didn’t investigate further as it just passed me by. Well last night whilst sitting in the Chinese waiting for my beef with fried rice and slightly too overdone Chicken Balls (chicken balls need to have very soft batter, crispy batter is a no-no in the Neil Chinese takeaway world) I was reading the newspaper and the paper laying there was Friday’s edition of the i and in it was an article about Jeremy Browne’s ‘controversial’ interview and I read the story. I didn’t find it as dramatic or insulting as I had been led to believe by the comments I glanced at on Facebook last week.
Speaking in said publication, the outgoing MP said:
We are defining liberalism as the precise mid‑point between conservatism and socialism. Whatever liberalism is, it is not defined by where the other parties choose to pitch themselves or by measuring the distance between them and splitting it in half.
All we offer is a desire to water down their strong views. We offer an insipid moderation. Whichever party is the biggest one, we will stop them implementing a large number of their ideas. It is entirely negative. It is a deeply conservative position. We have become the most small-‘c’ conservative party.
Ding. Ding. Ding.
Liberalism should never be defined by offering a watered down version of other ideologies. Liberalism is a fully fledged ideology of its own. Whilst the electorate may well actually like the idea of a ‘Labour Lite’ or a ‘Conservative Lite’ party, that shouldn’t be how the Lib Dems are defined. That may well be how many have seen the party in recent years and in part why many voters are currently switched off from the party. They voted for the Lib Dems not because they felt that they were the party for them because they felt that they were the best compromise of what they really wanted – or in many instances – flat out the best choice to stop the people they didn’t want.
It is no secret that the Lib Dems have been the greatest beneficiaries of tactical voting in the UK for a long time. The party was seen as generally good eggs who weren’t tainted by having to actually make decisions. People remembered the bad times with the Tories and with Labour and went to the party that were different. The problem is of course in coalition (with Lab or Con) then suddenly that taint befalls the party. They are not simply the party of protest any more and you know what – they can’t be for a generation. The party of protest is now either UKIP or Green depending on where your protests lie and north of the border the SNP are hoovering up all that protest with a vacuum cleaner that is on full to keep up with the demand.
Going into coalition was the first step to pissing off a significant portion of the electorate who are just ‘Anti-Tory’ and when the tuition fees issue came then the party had to make a decision. Either walk away then and show the electorate that the party was principled but were unwilling to make compromises in government or decide to show that the party was grown up and not a party of protest but indeed a party of government.
The second avenue was of course harder because many activists actually came in because they were ‘Anti-Tory’ and therefore the activist base faced issues and secondly poll numbers went downhill faster than my chances with a woman once they find out that I own care bears. Having bottle when the ship is careering towards the rocks isn’t easy so what actually happened was a mish-mash that has not sat well with most.
For those who want to be a distinctive voice, the party are still in coalition and being a junior partner in a coalition is not the best way to be that distinctive voice. For those who want to embrace government and being grown up and a natural party of government, they are unhappy that publicly all the Lib Dems seem to hang their hat on is blocking bad policies. It is a no-man’s land that is a turn off to many members let alone the electorate at large. Where the Lib Dems will do well in May are areas where the activists have either bought into government and haven’t been disheartened by national politics or areas where the top dog is an extremely distinctive voice (see Russell, Bob, in Colchester).
Browne’s basics points aren’t inaccurate. The 2011 local election results was the point where the party lost their nerve. They decided at that point (whether it was member led or not) that the primary role of the Lib Dems in government was to water down the Tories. This has been a success to a significant degree but that type of government doesn’t lead to the vast majority people being passionate about the Lib Dems let alone vote for them.
Being a liberal isn’t something anyone should be ‘ashamed’ of and instead it should be shouted from the rooftops. The Lib Dems don’t care what your background is and want a fairer society for all. A child’s education shouldn’t be adversely effected by the income their parents have. Equal opportunity for all is where the party stands and that is great position to be in. It isn’t just about pulling up those from poorer backgrounds, it is about creating better education for all whatever school they go to.
The party have done some very good things in government but endlessly picking fights isn’t the way forward. Pick your fights and your ‘differention’ strategy wisely. The Tories are all in a muddle on Europe, the cabinet mostly know that being part of the EU is vital to the UK economy but the backbenches are thinking of their seats and the little England mentality that a significant proportion of the population has. This is something where the Tories and Lib Dems have distinct differences and these should be screamed from the roof-tops.
I don’t care if MPs or councillors are uneasy about the fact immigration is a buzz topic. Be loud and proud that we believe is the EU and its importance in society and the economy. Be loud and proud that we believe in immigration for people as there is a bigger world than just these shores. The economy is doing well, unemployment is going down, more people are in work, job creation and confidence in the economy is high and we should be able to take a lot of the credit for that. Instead many will see the Tories as the reason and will only associate the Lib Dems with the issues that they don’t like. Differentiating is important yes, but where it is needed. The Tories and the Lib Dems together have turned around the economy and should take a significant proportion of the credit each for this, this though will not be reflected at the ballot box.
Should the party not enter another coalition then Browne believes that Nick Clegg will resign as leader and Tim Farron will be the takeover and we’ll return to opposition. I think this is exactly what will happen. The appetite for coalition politics isn’t strong within the party and unless the numbers were such that no other form of stable government could be formed, then opposition is where the party will be watching a Tory minority or a Labour/SNP pact that will just be surreal.
Jeremy Browne’s voice will be a loss in Westminster. Any distinctive voice worth listening to will be a loss. Whether you agree or disagree with him, he stands up and says what he truly believes that that is something I admire not only in a politician, but also in a human being. I’d prefer to disagree with someone knowing what they stood for than not know what they stand for in a luke-warm attempt to get re-elected. So many candidates say what they think people want to hear and not what they truly believe. This is doing the country a disservice. If only everyone said what they truly thought then the electorate would have a clear idea of all the candidates and would be able to make a better informed opinion.
To wrap this up as I have a Chinese to work-off on the exercise bike, I saw someone link Jeremy to Lembit Opik. Oh boy. Yes they both might like the sound of their own voice but there is one distinct difference, one is worth listening to and the other really is not and I’ll give you a clue as to which is which, the one who isn’t worth listening to I can name some of his previous sexual partners. The one who is I have no idea as to his sexual history. None whatsoever.
I promise I’ll write something non-political soon. I promise…
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.
A dramatic thing folks, a political party coming from nowhere to take out a knight of the realm. Well that is what is going to happen in just under three months as the Green Party surge has reached Southend West and the party now have confidence that they can pull off the dramatic upset of all upsets, in what would be a bigger surprise than me breaking my lip-locking duck with members of the opposite sex that I’ve been rolling for a depressingly long time. Well that is if you believe their candidate Jon Fuller anyway.
I have long been the type that believe that personal social media account should be just that and not ‘reported’ on by eejits like me or anyone else in the blogosphere, but the Green candidate has written a long post outlining why he is standing and it is clear that he wants to get the word out. You can read the full thing here but here is the synopsis, he’s running because old Labour don’t exist and because voters are deserting the Lib Dems and drifting away from Labour and the Tories, the Green’s are ready to swoop in and save the day…
Well I’m here to defend my lot (to some degree) and actually bring some realistic analysis to the situation. Yes I know I have ties to a party and to this exact election but I can also write from a detached point of view.
He writes, ‘The electorate has one important function to perform, beyond the obvious role of casting a vote on the ballot paper – we have to punish a political party if it promises one thing and delivers another. That is what the Lib-Dems have done.‘ I have two points on this, firstly the electorates important function is to vote for PPC that they believe will best represent them and their values in the House of Commons. The electorate have to make a choice via our FPTP system whether they want to vote tactically or not but the function of the electorate is not to punish anything. That is warped logic but still I’m going to let it go because if he truly believes that then we need to punish the Green Party too.
‘Why is that oh jogging bottom decked one?’ I hear you cry, well I’ll tell you. The Green’s only have ‘power’ in one area. Brighton. They run a minority council there so are not in a position where they can do everything they want, the opposition parties can vote them down. It is a variation of being in a coalition as the Lib Dems cannot do everything they want in government but if the Lib Dems deserve to be punished then lets look to see if the Green Party have kept their promises to the electorate of Brighton.
Can it be true that Brighton has actually gone down in the recycling stakes since the Green Party took over? By jove it is. Did they promise a brand new secondary school to be built to ease the overcrowding on 11-16 year-old students? They did but with under 100 days to go they still haven’t even identified a plot of land, let alone had plans drawn up or ground being broken. How about that bin strike that led to waste building up on the streets? Not very eco-friendly is it to have litter strewn all over the streets? If you look into the Green’s running of the council there, you’ll see why they’ll be booted out in May. They know it is coming and they have to just hope that the electorate can vote with their heads and vote out Green locally but keep Caroline Lucas in nationally, it is a nip/tuck battle but if she goes it will solely be because the Green’s had power locally and sucked and made things worse.
I think – and have always thought – that it is hard to run anything as a minority administration or be a junior partner in a coalition. The UK electorate aren’t used to these situations and react badly to them. That will happen to the Lib Dems nationally and that will happen to the Green’s locally in Brighton. Unless you have enough power to do everything you want then it is hard to be truly judged. If you have some perceived power though, unless you do everything you want then people will be disappointed. It is just the way it is.
On to Southend West as a constituency and whether the Green surge (they haven’t been above the Lib Dems in many national polls in the past few weeks but of course people don’t report this as it isn’t a sexy news story) but that green surge is not going to be felt in Southend West. The demographics are all wrong for where the Green’s are on the political spectrum right now. If Southend West has never gone Labour then they aren’t going to vote in an MP from a party to the left of Labour. It just isn’t going to happen. The constituency has always voted in a Conservative MP and the only time it was even remotely close was in 1997 when the Tory incumbent, Paul Channon, stood down after 38 years, coupled with the Blair surge and the distinct lack of love for the Tories in 1997 led to the Tories winning by only 2,615 from Lib Dem Nina Stimson, yet they still won by 5.6%. Had Labour’s national surge not been so pronounced then the Lib Dems would have won and likely would have held it to this day as they have done in many seats they took for the first time in 1997.
So punters would probably be wise to think that Sir David Amess is going to be the favourite down the bookies. Voters are more likely to leave the Tories for either the lib Dems or UKIP as they are the two parties that are closest ideologically to the Tories than Labour or the Green’s. No doubt many who voted Lib Dem will be unhappy and move to Labour or the Green’s but not everyone will go there and a lot of the protest votes against the Lib Dems will also go to UKIP. So splitting a significant portion of the 2010 Lib Dem vote three ways will dilute any parties hopes of actually taking the seat. It is just basic electoral maths.
The Green Party are highly likely to finish fifth in the constituency, so fifth is quite a long way away from first. I admire his ambition but if I were him, I wouldn’t be going to the tailors for any suit fittings for a new job as an MP. I also want to say that speaking about MP pay rises and bankers bonuses bugs the hell out of me in this respect, MP pay rises aren’t allocated by MPs but by an independent commission so he, even if elected could do nothing about that and as for bankers bonuses, only the banks that are partly owned by the taxpayer can be limited, the rest are independent companies who can pay their staff whatever they like. Bankers bonuses have no effect on nurses pay and vice versa, to link them is lazy politics at best and deceitful at worse.
Realism and politics do not go hand in hand in the blogosphere or amongst many activists. Being starry eyed and projecting hope despite the evidence is the much preferred option. Neither the Southend West nor the Rochford & Southend East constituencies look that exciting at this juncture, plenty of much more juicy seats and and down the land where big swings are possible. To get a big swing you need a disliked incumbent (and/or disliked local party), a big local issue and only one significant opposition where over 50% of the voters are defecting to. This is not the case in Southend in either constituency.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.
‘Let Bartlet be Bartlet’ is one of the most famous sayings from the US show The West Wing. The saying becomes a recurring theme throughout the series and it basically means let the president be himself and the politics and public perception be damned. This is obviously a TV show but if you look at the political leaders in the UK and you’ll see that only two of them have any sort of personality that can engage with people and they are Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg. Cameron doesn’t, Miliband doesn’t and Bennett doesn’t. The Lib Dems are in the tank but their biggest weakness is also their greatest strength – Nick Clegg.
We aren’t in 2010 any more, we all know that. The Cleggmania that swept the nation will not happen again, not by a long chalk. However whilst many, many people are completely closed off to the Lib Dems – and Clegg in particular – because of mostly the tuition fees issue and the coalition as a premise when they voted strategically for the best possible Anti-Tory party in 2015, there are people out there whose minds aren’t closed off just yet and who are willing to listen and to get through to those people Nick Clegg has to be himself, warts and all.
I know of many Lib Dems who don’t like him because he took the party into coalition with the Tories and because despite his popularity, the party actually lost seats in 2010. This is just one of the warts of the FPTP electoral system. UKIP and the Green Party will find that out in May. Lots of votes and national vote share means relatively little until you hit a certain mark and neither of those parties will even approach this. Therefore they’ll have to target their resources wisely and fight ground battles in targeted seats, just like the Lib Dems will do this time around (albeit playing defence much more than offence).
Nick Clegg has his pitfalls as do we all, his personality though is not one of them. He is an engaging individual who if let off the leash can possibly help the party not suffer the crushing defeat that most pundits are gleefully predicting.
The Lib Dems are not the choir boys any more. They have held some power in a coalition government national, with all the issues that brings. They will take some blame for things they have done but on the flip side they should also take some credit for positive things that have happened that wouldn’t have happened with a Conservative (or indeed Labour) government. Clegg has been tainted somewhat and he has seemed too comfortable in the coalition for most people but then you look and he helped provide a stable government that has turned the economy around.
Clegg is not the poison that people think he is. Let him off the leash and whilst he’ll not get near the heights of 2010 – certainly not nationally – in the seats where the party have a strong ground game, people are still receptive albeit hesitant. The party have to extol the virtues of being a grown-up party and being able to deal with everything that entails. Many people voted for the party because they were untainted but also many people didn’t vote for the party because they didn’t believe they could make the difficult decisions that a government has to. This issue has been resolved.
May is not going to pretty for the Lib Dems, most pundits and activists know this but it doesn’t have to be that bad. Nick Clegg impressed most reporters with his appearance on The Last Leg that Friday night. It reminded some people that he is human and he got through a difficult interview very well. Whether it will make much of a difference is unlikely but it showed us that the Clegg we liked is still knocking about in there.
There are three growth up parties now and not just the two. Put Clegg, Miliband and Cameron up against one another in a debate form and Miliband will be squeezed. This is part of why the Lib Dems are so desperate that Clegg get on a platform with just Miliband and Cameron. The debates as currently constituted would not favour the Lib Dems at all, they need Clegg to be able to be himself as much as possible and as openly as possible. Clegg’s biggest hope now is for the broadcasters to change their minds (again) or that Cameron bottles it and they empty chair him, which would leave the Lib Dem leader as the only person with government responsibility at the debates, leaving him free to take as much credit as he likes for the good things the coalition has done.
Whatever happens though the Lib Dems are (rightly or wrongly) married to Nick Clegg at this point and need to let him off the leash completely. He is the biggest asset and also the biggest problem. To use a cricket analogy, his best shot is the free flowing cover drive a la David Gower but the best way to get him out is nicking off to slip outside of off stump. He’s going to nick off a fair few times over the course of the General Election campaign so its best to let him try and hit a few cover drives and score a few runs (points) whilst he does so.
Let Clegg Be Clegg.
Southend’s newest sensation of the political blogging scene has finally turned his attention to the Liberal Democrats after his recent attacks on the Greens, the Tories and UKIP. In a piece entitled, ‘Where have all the Liberal Democrats gone?’ he opines about the parties fortunes in the borough.
Now I’m not going to fill in all the blanks for him as I don’t want to spoil his fun by bringing knowledge to the situation, that isn’t seemingly what his blog is for. Julian Ware-Lane has always led the field in local political blogging but now he forms a two-headed tag-team and whilst I would love to sit here and be aggressive about it, it is actually fun reading and credit where credit is due, between them they do lead the way in Southend political blogging. Whether much of what they write is fair or written with strong Labour specs on is another matter but they do churn out content.
I was asked the other day if I had any advice for him and I casually replied that he should invest in a copy of McNae’s. All the cool kids have one (myself included) although I aced Journalism Law at university and am pretty confident that my blurbs never skate even near the line.
He questions whether Cllr. Paul Collins’ big defeat (and lets not beat around the bush – it was a big defeat) in Westborough last year is the reason for having no PPC selected for Southend West as yet. I can answer that question, No, No it isn’t. I can give a much more informed opinion of why there is no PPC in place at this point but this is not the forum. I’m being a good boy today.
As for when a PPC will be selected and announced, I’d expect movement to happen on this subject before I’ve raided the Cornish Bakehouse for my Monday four double chocolate doughnuts for £1.50 treat (seriously if I lived within walking distance of that bakery then I’d eat so many freaking double chocolate doughnuts it would be insane).
On the Rochford & Southend East issue, this is a much harder candidacy to fill, I think that is fair comment. The party across the land have lost many members and many good candidates are disillusioned, that is the truth and there is no hiding from this fact. The Lib Dems in Southend are not immune to this but I’m sure there will be a candidate on the ballot for people in Rochford & Southend East to give them a Lib Dem option. Who knows maybe it’ll be a 31 year-old double chocolate doughnut enthusiast? Who knows…? (I know but I don’t want to spoil Matthew’s hypothetical fun)
He really does think the Lib Dems are dead in the water as he predicts that the party will lose Leigh ward but still be a junior partner in the administration come the summer. Well with four councillors (which is the number he predicts) then the Lib Dems would be the smallest party (or group) on the council. If that is the case I’d hope the Lib Dems step aside and allow the other four groups to form an administration. I said this in 2014 that Southend had (rightly or wrongly) rejected the party and should they go down to the fifth largest party then I can see no reason why the party should be involved in the administration in any way. Also losing Leigh ward would be a real kick in the teeth for the party but if I was a bookmaker I wouldn’t be putting my mortgage on that result just yet.
Also he sincerely doubts that the party will be able to find a full slate of candidates across the borough, well lets see what happens eh? I’m not saying I know the answer as nomination papers etc. haven’t been sent out yet but I have an idea as to whether the party will go 17/17 I wouldn’t want Matthew to be unduly surprised so I’ll give him fair warning to not worry too much about the Lib Dems in Southend on this front. If the party goes 17/17 it won’t be a shock but if they don’t I wouldn’t exactly have a heart attack either. Sincerely doubts is probably over-stretching.
I’m not going to sit here and say everything is rosy in the Southend Lib Dem garden because it isn’t. I’m a realist but I also wouldn’t be writing the obituary just yet either. I expect a very good person will be selected as the Southend West Lib Dem PPC within a few days. Just because Matthew Dent isn’t briefed on the inner workings of the local party doesn’t mean nothing is happening. If he is so interested in finding out all the gossip before everyone else I will happily offer him the chance to resign from the Labour Party and join the Lib Dems, then he can write with all the facts, wouldn’t that be novel?
Look I enjoy his blog, I really do but I always struggle to trust any politco (including my lot) who basically say that the party they are a member of is great and everyone else sucks. The political spectrum is relatively narrow as the main political parties are all realists but when in opposition they’ll widen that spectrum to appeal to a wider set of voters before actually narrowing what they do in power because sometimes there is only so much money in the pot etc.
Labour introduced tuition fees and they introduced privatisation to the NHS. The two big sticks they use to attack the Lib Dems and Tories respectively, they actually started. This isn’t political rhetoric, it is fact. It just goes to show that all political parties will often take the same road when presented with similar financial options. The whole funding of new hospitals and new hospital wings with private money was fantastic short-term but has crushed many NHS trusts financially but as Julian Ware-Lane told me on twitter, ‘The GE will be a chance for voters to pass judgement on the ConDem Govt. What happened before is history.’
So the Iraq War, introducing (and trebling) tuition fees, starting the privatisation of the NHS, crushing NHS trusts long-term with sky high rental costs of new buildings, being in charge of an economy that collapsed and let the bankers run wild is all in the past and doesn’t matter. Therefore by the 2020 General Election I’m sure the fact the Lib Dems were in a coalition or anything the Tories did in power between 2010-2015 if they find themselves in opposition won’t matter and won’t be mentioned by any Labour candidate. Yeah right…
I’m not saying Labour are bad. I’m not saying the Lib Dems are great. The truth lies somewhere in the middle and determining where that is for all of us personally should determine where our vote goes. Same with the other political parties. This is one of the things that I really deplore about politics, just how black and white politicos and candidates get whereas in reality most things are a shade of grey to some degree. I’ve written many blog posts both praising and attacking the Lib Dems for what they are doing in government and I like to think that this is a mature attitude and not just acting like a political sheep.
So anyway that will be all. Short version is the Lib Dems in Southend aren’t dead yet and things are going on. Many local candidates are in place and just because they haven’t been announced yet, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. I think it is fair to say that bountiful success is not expected in May but nor do I expect being last in every seat with no votes whatsoever. The reality will be somewhere in the middle. The Southend West PPC will get selected and announced in the very near future and the Rochford & Southend East candidate will be next on the list but who knows who it will be…? *has a twinkle in his eye*
Oh Sheffield Hallam. The baying public are looking for this seat to provide the Michael Portillo moment. The evil bugger Clegg who sold his soul for a car. Sold out Forgemasters for reasons unbeknown to his mere mortals. Laughed in the faces of students when he turned around and not only didn’t consign tuition fees to history but in fact actually increased them. He also married someone he loved but she was foreign, I mind how fucking dare he fall in love with a non English person and then naming his kids with traditional Spanish names, who wears the trousers Clegg, who wears the trousers? I know that happened ages ago but it still needs to be reiterated.
There is of course no doubt that he’ll lose his Sheffield Hallam seat because he is the most evil of the evil. A man so evil that Montgomery Burns bows down to him as a hero. A man so two-faced that he actually wears a prototype invisible neck brace that was paid for by you – the tax payer – after millions of secret pounds of research were poured into it to stop him feeling the effects of whiplash. A man so dastardly that Mutley now lives with him. A man so blue that unlike every other smurf, he even pisses blue and not yellow.
In case you can’t tell I’m being sarcastic.
The Guardian wrote an article that they have written before and will write many times between now and May over the weekend, Could Nick Clegg lose his Sheffield seat in May general election?. The first five paragraphs of the article concentrate on an encounter Clegg has with a 53 year-old who usually votes Lib Dem but intends to vote UKIP this time. Is he voting against Clegg because he thinks that he is evil? Well no, he’s voting UKIP based on the issue of foreigners and actually says he likes Clegg and has listened to him talk many times and is impressed by him. However his vote is going to someone who hasn’t been selected yet based on reasons that Clegg couldn’t actually do anything about.
The writer goes on to say that the Labour candidate is playing up two things against Clegg, one the Forgemasters loan and one is he doesn’t care about Sheffield Hallam and is busy in Westminster. The article also states that he actually spends two days a week in his constituency, which is actually a very high number for a minister in a non London based constituency but still. The Labour candidate is getting no central money, is starting from a standing start with no ground game, in a seat which is very affluent and remembers the bad old days of Labour in south Yorkshire before the Lib Dems came in and wrestled the seat from the Tories in 1997. This is not a seat where Labour have any realistic hope of winning yet all the talk from the media will amp it up to a crazy and unfair level.
I have just had a look at the Betfair Exchange and Nick Clegg is 1/10 to win. Labour are hilariously at 3/2 – I mean lay that bet as much as you can folks. If people want to throw their money away then feel free to help them. Labour are 19,000 odd votes behind in a seat with no history, where the council seats even in recent elections have been flat out dominated by the Lib Dems and people don’t think Clegg is evil.
As I’m a kind type of person I’m going to help you try to understand how likely a Nick Clegg defeat in May in Sheffield Hallam.
List of things that are as likely as Nick Clegg losing:
Kermit the frog coming out and admitting that he has cheated on Miss Piggy with George from Rainbow.
Pat Sharp not being greeted as the second coolest student union visitor (Karl Kennedy from Neighbours will always be #1)
Jeff Stelling resisting a pun whenever Gareth Jellyman scores.
I get asked to be the fifth coach on The Voice and the fifth judge on The X Factor is a shock duel role as the main influential voice in the music industry.
Kevin Pietersen captaining England in the World Cup.
The existence of dragons gets confirmed and they in fact don’t like the Welsh.
Kay Burley gets through the General Election campaign without being involved in a clash with someone on camera.
Nigel Farage quits his role of leader of UKIP to play basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Ginger kittens will stop being cute.
Ginger women will stop being feisty and extremely attractive.
The People’s Republic of Southsea finally declares independence from the UK.
Leprechauns not liking Lucky Charms.
The Mirror publishing the Ed Miliband bacon sandwich photo on the front page for every day of the General Election campaign with the headline, ‘Ed has Tommy K instead of HP Brown because he’s red through and through’
I’ll attract a female partner before the General Election.
I think that sums up the odds of Labour winning Sheffield Hallam seat once and for all. Look I know Nick’s majority will be reduced, I know he won’t waltz it based on his name but I also am a man of numbers and logic. Despite what Labour activists believe, not everyone pours scorn on Nick Clegg. Plenty of people still believe that the Lib Dems are the better option than the Tories and in seats like these, that is the decision they have. UKIP will take votes from all three parties but nowhere near enough to challenge. Labour will pick up some disaffected Lib Dem voters, of that I have no doubt but look at the numbers. I know in politics people like to publicly say that they are always in it to win it but most of the time candidates are in it to fight the good fight, to give the electorate the option and to build momentum going forward.
So lets not all get our knickers in a twist (for the record at this juncture I am not wearing knickers but boxers) about Labour’s chances of pulling off a Michael Portillo moment. It isn’t going to happen. There will be 100 more interesting battles in March-May but sadly because of the narrative the media will have this seat as #1 because it fits their storyline and that my friends is oh so depressing, the media attempting to create the story because they want sex and excitement. The fact Labour aren’t giving their candidate here any money shows what they really think but still it is the good local man trying to beat the evil Nick Clegg, I mean who wouldn’t want that to be the big story of the campaign? It isn’t the big story of the campaign but the news media don’t report the news these days, they direct and set up the news narrative and that is a problem with modern society and modern news companies.
I suppose I should open this blog post with posting my personal knowledge on drugs. I have never taken them, no politicians answer of ‘I had a toke once but I never inhaled’ – I have just never done drugs. It has never interested me. So take my views with that knowledge out there.
Sensible debate is something that isn’t conducive to politics in democracies. It is often about who can shout the loudest and who are are voting against and not for. It is one of the large drawbacks of politics and it saddens me deeply. Listening to opposing viewpoints and evidence and coming to your own conclusion is one of the best things about being human. I don’t surround myself with people who agree with me as that would be boring. I enjoy actually talking with people who have differing points of view.
One of the big discussions that is starting to once more makes waves is how to deal with drugs. Following a fierce internal battle, Norman Baker the report Drugs: International Comparators published and if you don’t have the time to read the whole thing, here is a snapshot of the conclusion – our drug policy doesn’t work and hasn’t worked for decades. This is not the biggest surprise in the world but it is good to see a study actually state this.
The man who fought to get this published was Norman Baker, who resigned yesterday in essence because his boss Teresa May wanted a Conservative Home Office and not a coalition one. He said this last week:
“The Liberal Democrats believe drugs policy should be based on evidence, not dogma or the desire to sound tough. If you are anti-drugs you should be pro-reform.
“For too long successive governments have been unwilling to look at the evidence. This comprehensive report shows that other ways of tackling drug addiction and supply can save lives and cut crime.
“It’s time for a radical change in British drugs policy. The fact is we should spend more time and effort cracking down on the Mr Bigs’ and criminal gangs who traffic drugs than users and addicts who should be helped to recover, not put behind bars.”
It is immensely hard to read the report and Baker’s words and with an open mind actually disagree with him. Polls on the subject are relatively mixed but whilst the overall numbers are split down the middle on how to deal with the drug issues, the problem is the majority of those who vote are still in favour of a hard line on drugs. As long as this is the case then politicians whose primary objective is power will pander to these people.
Political parties in general want to get into power to carry out their agenda, however it is hard to get into power and to do so you have to not appeal to the widest possible electorate but the widest possible electorate…who vote and therein lies the biggest problem. Not everyone votes. In fact those who are least likely to vote are often the most disenfranchised and the unhappiest believing that their views aren’t taken aboard by politicians and they are right – because they don’t vote and the circle is complete.
To have a sensible discussion on real subjects in this day and age is always going to hard. We live in a 24/7 rolling news cycle world and the broadcasters and other media outlets want to attract viewers and readers and you don’t do that by opening up to actual discussion. You do that by shouting the loudest or sounding the toughest. Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime goes down well with those who don’t actually want to see the real world for what it is. This is why I admire Norman Baker so much for trying to get this discussion out there and trying to engage with people on this important topic.
I want to live in a country where politicians make decisions based on evidence and not rhetoric. This is the dream. I won’t sit here and say I know exactly what we should do on drugs but I do know that what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working. I also firmly believe that adults should be free to make their own decisions on how they live their lives as long as it isn’t at the direct detriment of others. I would maybe hark back to education and educating people on drugs and if they still use to use then that is their decision.
One thing though is very clear to me. Those who are addicted and want to get off should be helped and not treated as criminals. We all make mistakes in life, some more serious than others I grant you, but everyone deserves help if they reach out for it. We shouldn’t give up on members of society just for making mistakes. Rehabilitation is by far the best way to fight addiction and until the moment a government sees this then I doubt we’ll see any significant progress.
The Lib Dems have made a step on this and are talking very loudly and proudly on this matter and I praise them for that. It is just a shame that many won’t listen because they’ve already made their minds up about the party because of past issues and that shows that many vote because of emotions and not because of policy but that is a story for another day. For now the Lib Dems are trying to bring real topics to the forefront of the discussion and for that we should all be grateful. I just hope people actually engage and not just dismiss because of emotions.
Nick Clegg has spoken today about how too much teacher time is taken up with box ticking and paperwork, which is pretty fair but he doesn’t speak about just what is wrong with our education system but also about the mindset of far too many people.
This is something that has been building inside of me for a long time and I have written about it several times in recent weeks and months. The crux of the issue is I disagree with what the primary function of schooling seems to be – exams. I would love to know a breakdown of parents thoughts as to whether they would prefer their child to be as best prepared academically for the world to give them the best career options or whether they would prefer their children to be as best prepared to make their own decisions and be the person they want to be.
This falls under the whole envelope I think about regarding the future of society and I could draw inspiration from many places. Last night I flicked over and saw a bit of a TV show called, ‘Secret Life of Living Dolls’ and it was about guys that like to dressing up as latex dolls. Not a fetish I’ve ever dabbled in I must admit but I can see the appeal. A group of them went out in public and got a pretty positive response until some douche started hassling them and screaming at them for doing it. Were they harming him? No. He just didn’t think that people should be allowed to express themselves in a way that he wasn’t comfortable with.
It didn’t shock me but that one person will have undoubtedly caused them more distress than all the positive the other people did. As a race we are generally accepting of those who are different and we are making strides towards making it even better. Homosexuality is now much more, I want to say mainstream but that isn’t the word, it is generally more accepted although some people still can’t do so, many of these people look at religion for a reason to treat these people differently. Religion is the biggest problem that the human race faces but that is a story for another day.
Going back to the education point. A few weeks ago I saw a piece on the BBC News where a failing school had been ‘turned around’ and the headmaster was telling the reporter how he’d done it. The kids are literally not allowed to talk at any time except in break and lunch times unless told it was acceptable by a teacher. Walking between classes had to be done in silence. He had the children line up in register order on three separate occasions during the school day in the main hall to take a register to ensure no-one was truanting. Of course this was in silence. Add to that incredibly strict uniform rules and people wonder why children do not feel free to express themselves.
I am sure Middle England loved it but I wanted to throttle the guy. He is doing so much damage to these young minds yet he is there patting himself on the back because exam results are up. The fact he has robotic children who I suspect are scared to find out who they are seemingly means very little to him.
The young mind is one of the greatest things about our formative years. We all have dreams and aspirations and good schooling can help that. I know what I wanted to be all the way through my younger years and I dabbled in it but here we are at 31 and that part of my life is seemingly in my rear view mirror. You grow up and you have other priorities. Yet I think every adult at some point comes to the realisation that all they truly want is to be happy. Oh happiness. There is a blog post all in itself. Money is great and having a good career is great but that alone won’t make most of us happy.
We all find happiness in different ways and what makes us happy as a teenager may well not make us happy in our 20s, 30s, 40s etc. We continue to grow and evolve as adults but for many of us that involves going back to our teenage years and remembering what our dreams were then and trying again as adults to achieve them. Last week Byron, a 27 year-old contestant in Masterchef Australia was eliminated but said that he now knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, he wanted a career in food because it made him happy. He hadn’t got involved in food after school for a variety of reasons but many of the contestants are like that. They chose a career path that they were expected to do or just fell into instead of going for what they truly wanted. This is a flaw in education and in society. We do what is expected of us instead of what we think will make us happiest.
I am all for being realistic but also I am slowly coming around to the fact that we are often better than what we think we are. We are amazing creatures who can adapt and grow in ways many of us never thought possible. Personally I have only taken one big career gamble in my life. One leap of faith that was not to do with happiness but in fact the total opposite. I was so unhappy and frustrated in what I was doing I had to break free and try something different, even if it didn’t work out. Luckily for me it did work out but it did feel like a huge risk at the time and it was done with my mental health squarely in mind.
This is what I want to see in our education system, people daring to be who they want to be. Being brought up in a very tolerant environment where people don’t judge you based on what sex you are, what sexual orientation you are, what colour you are, what clothes you wear, what make-up you wear, what style your hair is, what your teeth look like, what you do in your spare time, whatever. This all sounds very Utopian I know but unless we dare to dream and have the guts to act then we’ll never create the society that would be a truly wonderful place to live.
I want to see an education system where children have a plethora of opportunities and are able to explore them to the best degree possible instead of being taught a regimented syllabus that gives them the best academic possibilities as defined by the government of the time. Another thing I want to throw in here is the why schools deal with social studies. It is laughable. Social studies are marginalised for more academic lessons. I had five lessons of maths a week but in Year 10 & 11 I had no social studies lessons at all, at all. I’m not even sure I had any in Years 7 & 8 so it was only Year 9 where I had any social studies lessons at all and that was a joke.
Social studies is more important than algebra. It is more important than history, more important than geography, more important than science, more important than foreign languages and I could go on, I think you get my drift. Young people need to learn about the world and being part of a positive and welcoming society. This encompasses sex education as well. The hardest part of growing up is not learning academic things but learning about being part of society. These are the skills that many young people struggle with but we shun it as to give more time to academic pursuits.
Putting the social aspect firmly at the heart of education policy would be a giant step forward both for the children of today and for society as a whole. Teach young people about tolerance and about how our differences are only on the surface. Teach them about how to treat one another. Teach them that just because they dress or act a certain act then you shouldn’t treat them any differently. I know it sounds obvious to many of us but we are seeing a lurch away from tolerance and it scares the living bejesus out of me. This is coming mainly from the elder generation but it filters down.
We need a generation of people who feel free to express themselves without fear of persecution in any way shape or form. It isn’t going to be easy but until we understand the whole journey of life starts how we perceive ourselves and the world around us, allowing us the freedoms to live our lives how we see fit and how how society dictates that we should then we’ll always have a problem. I don’t mind taking small steps but we need to know what the end goal is and find the best way to get to that end goal. Ridding society of intolerance should be that end goal at it starts with our education system. Letting young people discover who they are and letting them express themselves is the starting point as the more different people we are exposed to at the young age then the more accepting we are.
We are all different and until we understand that and embrace that then we’ll never get to where we want to be. So it is time to be radical. Put forward a plan to let our young people grow and if they grow outside of the perceived norms that society expects then so be it. A diverse future will lead to a happier place and isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day – to just be happy?
Sometimes folks I get frustrated. No not at my pathetic lack of a private life but more at how some people can read what I write here yet not understand a word that I have written. In the past week I have written extensively about Labour’s decision to select Cllr. Ware-Lane as their PPC for Southend West. In isolation it was the obvious choice but in terms of delivering a Labour MP for one of the two Southend seats then it was not so much of a good move. I explained my reasoning in a simple and logical way. However unsurprisingly said councillor missed the point entirely, which isn’t the biggest shock in the world considering but still.
He writes in his blog post, whose title is taken from a Dale Winton Lottery Programme, In it to win it
I am not sure quite what Neil’s campaigning credentials are although I do know he stood in Westborough ward in 2012. He came sixth place in a ward that at the time had Lib Dem representation; sixth out of six, with a 90 votes and 5.4% of the votes cast. I will leave it to the reader to pass judgement on this but if the strategy was to do as badly as possible then Neil’s campaign was a roaring success.
So he’s not quite sure what my credentials are but he does throw out my Westborough result in 2012 to pass judgement on my credentials. I would expect nothing less from said councillor. I got smashed in 2012 but also I didn’t run my campaign. Also my dad died during that election process so I had no time to actually campaign. I’m sure even Cllr. Ware-Lane would concede that my dad having a major stroke, being on life support and subsequently dying is a fairly good reason for not being busy campaigning but you never know.
My credentials are simple. I work in my day to day life in analytics. I analyse data, a lot of data, for a rather big company. I suspect said councillor is not a fan of sabermetrics, heck I wouldn’t be surprised if he had never even heard of the term. There is a reason Nate Silver correctly predicted all 50 American States in the 2012 US Presidential Election and it isn’t because he is a soothsayer. It is because he analysed numbers and analysed them well. The more data you have them the better your accuracy of predicting a result can be. This data isn’t just about canvass data but looking deeper. It is what I do to earn a living and I like to think I’m at least semi decent at it so my credentials in analytics and therefore reading data aren’t too shabby.
Politics isn’t just about banging on doors and writing leaflets these days (and it should be said to my lot that this is something to learn as well) but the world of politics has moved on. An energetic campaigner can bang on say 200 doors in a canvass session but may only find 50 doors that open for them. People want their information as and when it suits them. Advanced sabermetrics, demographics, social media etc. are all vital tools in analysing a candidates chances of winning an election.
The rest of his blog is a meandering prose of limited facts and more dye in the wool hope. The fact is even in Tony Blair’s surge in 1997, when Labour were sweeping all before them and the Tories were as popular as I am…well anywhere, Labour still fell 8,000 odd votes short. If Labour can’t get remotely close when the Tories were embarrassingly unpopular and Labour were the great hope and riding as high as Ricky Williams did whilst on his year out of the NFL in India, then why would anyone with any semblance of nous believe that Labour can win this seat in 2015?
Another part I want to opine on:
The Nick Clegg bounce significantly boosted the Lib Dem vote; this time around it will be what is known as a dead cat bounce – voters are deserting a party that has kept Cameron at number ten and enabled him to foist all sorts of unpopular legislation on the UK.
The Clegg bounce. Yes it was very significant and very much helped the Lib Dems in Southend West. However the degree of the national Lib Dem bounce wasn’t as much down to Nick Clegg as I think Cllr. Ware-Lane believes. Again I have number crunched and I know more than I suspect he does. Will the Lib Dem vote go down in 2015? I fully expect so. However the last time the Lib Dems (or Lib Dems in previous guises) failed to reach the 9,000 vote mark in the constituency was 1970. What does that tell us?
Well it tells us that a significant number of people in the constituency are inherently liberal. The fact is that the Tories have only once come remotely close to losing the seat (in 1997) and that was to the Lib Dems. In fact had the national Tony Blair bounce not been a factor then it is eminently possible that Nina Stimson would have won in 1997. What would have happened had we seen that result we’ll never know but it does show that Labour do not poll well in Southend West and the reason isn’t because of poor PPCs or councillors or anything like that it is because the demographics aren’t right for them to succeed.
Southend West is generally relatively affluent, certainly when you compare it to Rochford & Southend East. Like most seats there are wards and polling districts that look good for Labour but in general the people in the ward would lean towards voting for the party they trust most on the economy. The Conservative party always poll higher in economy trust compared to Labour.
However this is what I want to write about – Cllr. Ware-Lane’s belief that lots of unpopular legislation has been foisted on the UK. Whilst it may be true that a lot of people are unhappy with the ‘Bedroom Tax’ as the Labour Party and media have dubbed it, more people in Southend West will be effected by the rise in the income tax threshold and the Pupil Premium and the free school meals for under 7s than will be effected by benefit changes. The fact that a million public sector jobs have gone is an issue but not a big issue in Southend West, the fact over 1.5million private sector jobs have been created is just as big a factor. That isn’t spin, it is just demographic fact. If the economy is on the up then Southend West constituents will vote Conservative or Lib Dem and even when it wasn’t – they still voted Conservative or Lib Dem.
Just because one person believes something is unpopular then it doesn’t automatically equate to others believing the same thing. If you put me in a room of fifty blondes and they all turned me down then it wouldn’t necessarily mean the same would happen in a room with fifty brunettes or redheads, oh wait, maybe that is a bad example but you get my point. People come from different backgrounds and have different thoughts as to what is important to them.
He says that voters are deserting the Lib Dems, I would say deserting is a strong adjective in Southend West but a significant proportion are indeed leaving but they aren’t all flocking en masse to Labour. They are going back to the Tories or they are staying at home. Labour will not sweep up 2010 Lib Dem votes in Southend West to any significant degree. In fact I would suggest that more people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 but won’t in 2015 will vote Conservative than vote Labour. So a collapse of the Lib Dem vote actually doesn’t help Labour one jot in their goal is indeed to unseat David Amess.
Next his opening paragraph:
My selection as Labour’s General Election candidate in Southend West has inspired the Liberal Democrat’s sole surviving blogger in the borough to write not one, but two, pieces about it. You can almost sense the rising panic at Southend’s equivalent of Lib Dem Central, so much so that they want to me to give in just as I am getting going.
It is nice that he considers me a Lib Dem blogger now as he questioned whether I should be classed as such when I pointed out to them that my blog is actually far more well read than his, ‘Maybe, although if it is yours that out-performs mine I could question whether yours is really a political blog, or a blog that occasionally has political bits in it, he typed. Not that he has a big ego or anything but when I said there was a blog more well read than his in the local blogosphere them boom, he tried to find a way around it. Genuinely amusing.
However it is the panic rising at Southend’s equivalent of Lib Dem Central bit that is truly misplaced. I blog purely in a personal capacity here. I always have done and always will do. I have blogged openly and critically of the Lib Dem party both locally and nationally should I feel it was warranted. I can detach myself from typing with a Lib Dem hat on. I have heard absolutely nothing from Lib Dem Central as to their reaction to Cllr. Ware-Lane’s selection as the Labour PPC, so as for how anyone can sense rising panic is beyond me.
My blog posts were purely looking at things objectively. If Labour do intend to run two significant campaigns across both constituencies instead of prioritising the one that they are more likely to win then it is just poor strategy. Plain and simple. In a Utopian world then every voter gets the full attention from every party at every turn but this is the real world and that just isn’t possible.
I am in the contest to win it. Southend West Labour Party members deserve a candidate who tries his best, Labour supporters deserve a candidate who tries his best, the electorate in Southend West deserve a candidate who tries his best. David Amess deserves an opponent who will take the fight to him. That a Liberal Democrat views this as bad news merely serves as an additional incentive.
One day Julian will learn to comprehend basic English, sadly this is not that day. I said that it is bad news for the Labour party in their hopes to get an elected member of the House of Commons in 2015, I never said nor implied it was bad news for the Lib Dems. If Cllr. Gilbert won in Rochford & Southend East, it would give Labour a foothold in SE Essex, it would also bring more money from Labour HQ, also they would be able to afford full-time or part-time people on the payroll to help spread the Labour word. Getting an MP in an area which isn’t natural home to a party is key because local activists can rally around that seat and numbers can swell if the MP is doing a good job. It is like a snowball, you have to start the snowball rolling to see speedy progress and to get the snowball rolling you have to win, so when you have a chance to win you go all out for it as the long-term benefits will be far greater.
If Labour want to help ensure the Tories win both seats in 2015 then keep doing what they are doing. Labour have a chance (albeit not a big one but significant enough) to stop the Conservative monopoly in Southend in terms of parliamentary seats, it is a shame for those non-Tories out there that they are doing their best job to pass on this rare opportunity. The Perfect Storm is brewing for Labour in Southend and instead of planning for it, they are busy shooting themselves in the foot to make the task much harder for themselves than they need to.
You know what, I’m going to miss this when I’m gone. I hope my next home will be as interesting politically speaking. Considering I have an inkling of where this may well be, it might even be more exciting!
In 2010 a lot of political analysts believed that Labour wanted to lose so they could sit on the opposition benches for five years, throw stones whilst the economy turned around and then promise the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to lure people back. It was a very persuasive argument and one that I thought actually carried some merit. Sometimes in life it is better to fight the good fight but lose and say that you’ve fought the good fight without actually then having to make the big decisions.
Yesterday I wrote what I thought was a fair and honest critique of the decision by Labour to essentially run two legitimate campaigns in Southend next year instead of really aggressively targeting one of the two seats. There were two people I expected to rile by my comments and unsurprisingly they both were. I maybe a member of the Lib Dems and therefore I may have a vested interest in things but I can also look at things from a logical point of view and not just spin and push the bandwagon (I initially mistyped that as bangwagon and have smirked to myself).
The fact is political parties do not have an infinite amount of resources, either in terms of dollar dollar bills nor in terms of manpower. Labour of course know this and that is why I never see a Labour leaflet in Thorpe Bay despite living here for several years. They know it is a waste of time and money to write, publish and deliver leaflets in this area. Thorpe Bay is not what you’d call Labour territory as the demographics and mathematics are all wrong.
Cllr. Ware-Lane tweeted me last night that my blog post reminded him that he needed to start his Leigh ward campaign. A nice shot at saying that he was coming to get the Lib Dems at the heart of their western operation. I cried all night I was so frightened at the thought of Labour pulling in the votes in Leigh to come through the pack and beat out the Tories and the Lib Dems in a General Election year. Give me a fucking break. There are votes to be had for Labour in Leigh of course but they’ll be third at best, they will not beat either the Tories or the Lib Dems there even if they ran their whole GE campaign on a ‘Leigh Independence Movement’ backdrop. The numbers nor the demographics are there. It’s not rocket science.
This is where I think a lot of people fall down. Just because I myself am a liberal doesn’t make me think that other people will be just because I am, or I talk to them about liberal values. The same with all the other parties from across the political spectrum. There are swing voters out there, a good chunk of them, but the vast majority will only swing between two parties (although having said that I did meet someone the other day who told me they had voted Lib, Lab and Con within the past five years) but those people are few and far between.
Matthew Dent says that in part he suspects my blog post was at least partially motivated by my own party’s interests, you can read his full blurb here. I can assure him it wasn’t. I know the Tories are winning Southend West next year and deep deep down whilst being second would be great, second gets you nowhere in this game bar momentum. I’m all but certainly out of Southend in the near future (landlord wants to sell and it is time for me to go elsewhere) but even saying that, I still fully expect the Lib Dems to be second next year in the west, with or without a concerted effort by Labour there and even if they aren’t – it won’t be by any significant amount. The Tories will still run away with it and long-term the demographics of the west is more Lib Dem than Labour.
Lets put it into context, Labour came last in five of the west wards in the 2014 local elections, last. It would have been six had it not been for the Greens. They won one ward (the same as the Lib Dems) but the Lib Dems were only last in Chalkwell and Belfairs. Here is the breakdown of the 2,014 council numbers in the west (I have only used the top result for each party in Westborough as two seats were up).
3645 – Labour
4126 – Lib Dems
7945 – Conservative
So even in a down year for the Tories where UKIP had a significant impact on their vote, the Tories cleared Labour by more than double in terms of votes cast and the Lib Dems by nearly double. I just don’t see any reason for any optimism for any party to overtake the Tories next year, certainly when you look at the 2010 numbers and see that the Tories may lose split votes locally but gain them nationally (Amess received around 3,000 more votes than the Tory council candidates in 2010). Of course UKIP could impact the Tory vote should they field a candidate but I would expect their impact to be less dramatic than in the east.
I maybe a Lib Dem member and activist but I am not blinded by loyalty and believe that we can win every battle no matter what the realistic situation is. I can write open and honestly and do so frequently without my Lib Dem hat on but more my Journalism degree hat on and yesterday’s post was one of those occasions. Labour’s high mark in the west is second, Labour’s high mark in the east is first, why not just go for it and go for the win instead of fighting to be best of the rest?
I think the best metaphor I can give is if you are a sprinter going for the Olympic double and someone offered you a chance for a gold in the 100m and a bronze in the 200m or a guaranteed silver in the 100m and a chance for a second silver in the 200m then which do you take? Do you go for gold or do you set your sights on two silvers? I know what I go for…
Politics is not ideal. Yes all parties should be able to put their full resources behind every potential councillor and every potential member of the House of Commons. Every single voter should get the full treatment and should be treated as equal but we all know that is impossible under the current system. You have to prioritise otherwise you risk not getting any member of your party elected. People understand that and strategically I wonder just how much Labour do…