Friday, July 24, 2009

Random thoughts on the Norwich North result

First of all, the result suggests that the scandal over MPs' expenses is already fading into memory.

The Conservatives, despite being as deeply mired as anyone else, had no difficulty winning the seat. More than that, Ian Gibson (who was deselected over his own claims) emerged as a popular hero amid widespread claims that he would have won if he had stood as an independent. And the most plausible anti-party candidate, Craig Murray, failed to make much of an impact.

The result was a triumph for the Conservatives, but it is hard to be too enthusiastic about their candidate. Chloe Smith, though she did her best to hide it, is a wonk from Conservative head office. She is a female Miliband. She even looks like a female Miliband.

Labour's performance was a disaster, reminding them uncomfortably of the days when they hardly held a seat south and east of that mythical line from the Severn to the Wash. By succumbing to swine flu their candidate made himself the embodiment of this government's decline.

The Liberal Democrats worked incredibly hard and could not quite manage to stand still. No doubt a longer campaign would have suited them and enabled them to overtake Labour, but we still need to have a long, hard think about what we now offer that could possibly excite the voters. A Fresh Start for Britain does not promise to be much help.

It was a good result for UKIP, suggesting that they will now be a presence in elections at all levels. I suspect they are mopping up a lot of disaffected traditional Labour voters at present, but in the long run this may pose a threat to the Conservatives.

The Greens will be disappointed by their showing. Could it be that, though everyone feels warm to them, being presented with Green policies in an election campaign puts people off them? Still they did win an impressive local by-election in Hove yesterday.

And the Libertarian Party put up an 18-year-old and got 36 votes. The revolution may have to be postponed.


dreamingspire said...

So I read again your post 'A Fresh Start for Britain', including the comments, went to the Fresh Start web site. From the web site downloaded the pdf version. Its 5Mb and its a sales brochure! Lesson 1: understand that publishing on the web is not the same as printing fancy sales brochures with high res photos.
I looked in vain for anything on the web pages that gets to grips with the real problems of a dysfunctional public sector. The MPs expenses scandal and the bear pit of the Commons are symptoms - Clegg needs to get past that and write about dealing with the reasons why. He also needs to show us that LDs know what the country can afford, but he writes "nobody can yet be certain what the country can afford".
So I turned to the sales brochure, and found "The political system is rotten, but the establishment is still blocking change". No, its not that bad that its rotten (if it was, they should pack their bags and all go home). And I know that the establishment is still blocking change, so what will LDs do about that? Priority 3 is "cleaning up politics", Westminster, voting - nothing else!
After that, the brochure descends into waffle.
So I'm over 65, went to university, vote LD, think that I understand the grip of the establishment, am encountering them from time to time and discovering how they are out of touch with the people - a rare beast, it seems. Behind Clegg are some much better than me at understanding the establishment, so let us see some positive proposals to harness what they are good at, in partnership with those who are determined to take the country forward. Evolution, not revolution.

Chris H said...

I am not at all surprised that the UKIP did so well and the Lib Dems so poorly.

I've been in Norfolk for the last couple of weeks, house hunting, and the subject of the election came up several times.

I know you Lib Dems don't want to hear it but there's a lot of anti-EU sentiment here; everyone I spoke to is fully aware that the Lib Dems broke their manifesto pledge on the Lisbon Treaty (and get even more annoyed at the claim that the Lisbon Treaty is some how different to the Constitution when this excuse comes up).

Salmondnet said...

Chloe Smith may look like a female Milliband, but that is mostly because Milliband looks like an androgenous Milliband. There is no ambiguity about Ms Smith's gender. The first of the Cameron Crumpets.

WV horrer

Ajax said...

we still need to have a long, hard think about what we now offer that could possibly excite the voters

With respect, is this the right way to look at it?

Surely it should be a case of "what do I believe truly and honestly" - and stand on that - or fall. That is the new politics.

Otherwise, it is a case of "here am I wanting to be a politician, so I will sell any tat that people will buy", that cannot really be right. We have had that for over 13 years.

Anonymous said...

Nick has work to do, he's no Charles Kennedy! He doesn't yet have the perceived warmth and trust and quite the knack of crafting engaging sentences which actually deliver key messages. But then it took the exposure of one or more general elections for Charles to have the chance to put himself across to the voters.

Charles was our single biggest asset - our top salesman. When he was let go, we had to start from leadership scratch - twice if you recall!

It's early days for Nick. I do get the feeling that he really needs to work on key messages and how he delivers them. Really think about the impact on voters. In opposition, you don't have to be quite the killjoy - leave that to the PM and Ministers - feed on them to make yourself look good. You don't need to look like you're carrying the weight of office on your shoulders. Just be energetic and believable.

lifeonmars said...

It didn't help the Lib Dem cause that Clegg anounced a review of all the policies their candidate had been campaigning on THE DAY BEFORE THE ELECTION! The words 'piss up' and 'brewery' come to mind.