News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Friday, July 20, 2007

Calm after the storm

After the last few weeks of manic campaigning with more twists and turns than an entire F1 season, things have settled back to being as they were. Two Labour MPs representing two safe Labour constituencies.

That's not to say that there were no winners or losers but for the most part the main players won and lost in roughly equal measure - as has become customary in recent elections! Sadly, the hoped for Conservative breakthrough in Ealing Southall didn't materialise. Tony Lit remained in third place, closer to Labour but slightly further behind the Lib Dems compared to 2005. That said, his share of the vote did increase slightly, which is unusual for a third placed party in a by-election. The Conservative campaign did well to avoid the customary Lib Dem squeeze. In Sedgefield, despite slipping to third place, Graham Robb did see the Conservative share of the vote rise as well.

The Lib Dems will have been quite happy coming second in both seats. That sums up one of the Lib Dems' main problems - they still can't grasp that in First Past the Post, the only place that matters is, well, first. Second place means loser. They did see their share of the vote rise a little in both seats, but not by as much as we have come to expect from the self-proclaimed by-election specialists. Coming second should be enough to buy Ming the Merciless some more time though.

For Labour, they can take heart from retaining both seats. The swings against them were significant, but not catastrophic. The big swings against the last Conservative government dwarfed yesterday's results. That said, they are currently in their honeymoon period, having just crowned their new leader, so perhaps they should have expected to do better. In the longer term, the Lib Dems might even begin to pose a threat in Sedgefield - an old mining seat which was always unlikely to produce a Conservative MP - so Labour might find themselves having to fight further battles ahead.

For the minor parties, two results stand out. In Sedgefield, the BNP obtained almost 9% of the vote, which was a strong performance and indicates a high level of disatisfaction with the main parties. In Ealing Southall, a very poor showing for the English Democrats (they were the only party to be beaten by the Monster Raving Loony Party) could prove damaging, both to their cause and their party. It was the Bootle By-election that killed the last remnants of David Owens SDP, when they came behind the Loonies. The fact that there was so little interest in voting for a party advocating an English Parliament may see that topic being further sidelined. That said, it may be that the policy is less popular in a constituency with such a large ethnic minority population, so they may well live to fight another day. Democracy can't really be described as a winner either, given that the turnouts were so low. In Ealing Southall, the major and most of the significant minor parties were fighting hard, but none was able to catch the imagination of most electors. To an extent, it may have been because it was a fairly vacuuous election with little substance, that two seats would have little impact in the grand scheme of things and the expectation of easy Labour victories, but I think an awful lot of people simply don't care. That's a symptom of a much deeper problems in both British politics and many British people today.

All in all, I can't say that I'm anything other than disappointed, but I'm not surprised either. This has been the first time that I can remember the Conservative candidates holding their own in by-elections, so that's a small positive to take away. I think that the results also show that the foney war is not over yet - many people are still waiting to see how things bed down with Prime Minister Brown.


Anonymous said...

Spin is not dead then

Jae said...

"For the minor parties, two results stand out. In Sedgefield, the BNP obtained almost 9% of the vote, which was a strong performance and indicates a high level of disatisfaction with the main parties"

That kind of comment excuses the electorate from having to accept responsibility for their actions by blaming "dissatisfaction". It's time we said it like it is: The 9% vote for the BNP shows that there is a small minority of morally defunct, intellectually challenged individuals in Sedgefield who need to be ostracised from our civilised society. They need to be shamed, berated and made into social lepers because of the unpatriotic traitors that they are.

Stop blaming the parties and start blaming the voters.

Dan Hassett said...

I'm affraid that attitudes like that are as bad as anything that comes out of the BNP. Ostracising and shaming people who happen to vote for a different party is a form of fascism, and certainly "morally defunct" to use your words. You display the same kind of intolerance as the BNP themselves.

People vote for the BNP for a reason. I think that they've misjudged, but who amongst us can honestly say that we've never made a mistake ourselves?

The mainstream parties need to connect with those who feel excluded from the political process. It is that feeling of exclusion that drives most people who vote for the BNP.

The fundamental principle of democracy is that our elected politicians should be doing the peoples' bidding. Too often, New Labour seems to think that they are there to tell us what do to.

Dan Hassett said...

Anon - just the world as I see it, which is the point of having a blog. If you read the whole post you'll see that it's hardly a view through rose tinted glasses! It was a bad result for the Conservatives, anyone who tries to claim that it was all good for either of the major parties is the one spinning.

Jae said...

A vote for the BNP is not a misjudgement. It's not a mistake. It's an honest vote for something these people believe in: the destruction of our country as it is and the creation of a country of fear and hatred.

That is morally wrong. I am all for those people having the right to vote for whomever they so please. I also believe I have the right to call them morally defunct (especially considering that is exactly what the BNP and its supporters call people like me).

You think the BNP wouldn't tell those who voted for it (and those who didn't!) what to do?

I'm sick and tired of hearing the media suggest the people who vote for the BNP are stupid, ill informed or dissatisfied with other political parties. It's time they realised these people truly believe in the politics of hate and we must stand against them. They are not stupid. We shouldn't be either.