Monday, April 11, 2005

Back in Blighty

The British election is shaping up to be a doozy. Blair has called it for May 5th, and until a few weeks ago, the result seemed such a forgone conclusion (a Labour walkover) that most commentators were picking a new record-low turnout.

Aggressive Tory tactics, notably a vicious attack on ethnic minorities and assylum seekers, have given Michael Howards Party a timely boost, and narrowed Labours lead to only a few points in most of the major polls. Additionally, the continued good fortunes of the Liberal Democrats, who hold support in most polls of around 20%, threatens Labour in a number of middle class consituencies.

In recent elections Labour and Lib Dem supporters have voted tactically to keep out the local Tory, but that coalition of support seems to be unwinding under the pressure of Blairs unpopularity and the legacy of the Iraq war. As such, there is a real threat that strong Lib-Dem challenges will let Tory candidates in through the middle.

Still, no one seriously picks the Tories to win. The FPP system is weighted against them and they would probably need to beat Labour by 8-10 percentage points to actually win a majority in the House. More interestingly though are these possibilites:

- a reduced Labour majority increasing the possibility of a leadership change
- a hung parliament requiring Labour and the Lib Dems to work together, possibly with the Lib Dems requiring reform of the electoral system as the price of their support.

A good precursor to our own campaign!

(Thanks to PH for the constant updates on the state of play).


Anonymous said...

Crikey. Stumbled onto this webpage quite randomly. I live in a constituency in Devon (Totnes) where Labour haven't got a hope in hell of getting a seat.

It is quite interesting that commentators are now talking about a Blair-Brown ticket, just like the President, Vice-President ticket that Americans vote for in their elections. Although not a Labour voter myself, I do not the inevitability of a third win for Blair. I certainly do respect many members of Blair's cabinet. Jack Straw and Hilary Benn, are in my opinion underated and much understated assets to the Labour cause.

In the constituency where I live it is a choice between Conservative (Steen) and the LibDems, and on May 5th I shall sway to the latter.

Oliver said...

Hopefully they end up with a Lib Dem Labour coalition to stop Labour running the place into the ground, though the Tories would definitely do worse.

michael wood said...

Thanks Anon, it's good to hear an "on the ground" view of things. Feel free to update us as the campaign progresses :-)

Are you planning on voting Lib Dem for positive reasons, or is it a tactical vote to keep the local Conservative out?

Anonymous said...


Well I am voting for positive reasons, although many indeed will be voting to keep the Tories out.

I'm a Lib Dem supporter, in fact I'm out doing a bit of canvassing tomorrow, which is always an interesting experience.

Wow, I should look forward to keeping you up to date "on the ground" so to speak.

Labour published their manifesto yesterday, and due to its colour and size it is already being compared with Chairman Mao's little red book. Both this and the conference in which it was aired has been lambasted by a very critical The Times. In fact all news stories about the Blair campaign from the Times have been very negative in this election. Another publication, the New Statesman (a Brownite publication) have been telling real labour supporters and others how best to vote out Blairites in the upcoming election.

I'll keep you posted again soon. Watch this space. On May 5th I'll be up to the early hours (I love election nights - sad, eh?). If we had Monteith's Black in this country I'd be supping from a bottle of that, but I'm sure I'll find something.

Anonymous said...

oh and PS for those of you with a more enquiring mind, these are the Totnes results from 2001:

General Election Results For Totnes
At the General Election in Totnes on 7th June 2001, 49246 votes were cast (approximately 68% of the total number of eligible voters) with the following result:

44.5% Anthony Steen (Conservative): 21914 votes.

37.2% Rachel Oliver (Liberal Democrat): 18317 votes.

12.2% Thomas Wildy (Labour): 6005 votes.

6.1% Craig MacKinlay (UK Independence Party): 3010 votes.

It all got a bit personal when Steeny said that Rachel Oliver "was lovely to look at, but a complete nightmare", to which she replied in the Economist that Steen was a "white-haired burnt out old man". None of that so far this year, thankfully.

michael wood said...

Well, I think that we will vote to make Totnes our official sister electorate at our nrext electorate committee meeting - it wounds like a bit of a political hotspot.

Good luck, and I look forward to hearing how you progress!

Anonymous said...

Is there a UKIP candidate this time?
If not the Conservatives should hold.

But there is around half a dozen seats like this in the south-south west of England that could go from the Conservatives to the Liberals. The margin between the two last time was small - 0-5% say - and there was a Labour vote say in the realms of 12-15% that could crumble to the Liberals this time on account of tactical and protest vote reasons. Totnes is perhaps a bit on the outer edge of these though.

Anonymous said...

UKIP are certainly standing for the Totnes constituency (for some unfortunate reason, after the Local Elections and EU Elections, Devon was called one of the "UKIP Heartlands").

And it seems that UKIP are quite interested in the Totnes constituency, with original speculation that Robert Kilroy-Silk (Of chat-show, turn politician fame, and who is also an MEP) would be representing UKIP. When he left the party to found Veritas, Roger Knapman (Leader of UKIP) was rumoured to have taken over the quest to stand for Totnes. However the rumour mill out muddling things up again, suggesting that Totnes, even if it doesn't get Knapman standing for it, will certainly get another high-ranking UKIP member joining the race.

This is anon, reporting from Totnes, Devon, good-night.

Oliver said...

Very interesting, keep up the reporting!