Friday, February 14, 2014

Wythenshawe and Sale East: Time for Nick Clegg to show his party some love

At the last general election, as Chris Mason points out on BBC News, the Liberal Democrats polled 22 per cent in Wythenshawe and Sale East - a share of the vote that almost mirrored our national performance.

So it was not encouraging to see the party lose its deposit by failing to reach even 5 per cent in yesterday's by-election.

And Stephen Tall's conclusion on Liberal Democrat Voice that the result is a reflection on the impact on joining the Coalition, "especially in northern areas like Greater Manchester," is more depressing when you recall that we hold two of the neighbouring constituencies.

And it's worse than that: as Tony Dawson points out in a comment on the same post:
The Liberal Democrats in Manchester, having been an effective and credible opposition to Labour in the City up till 2010, have lost ALL of their Councillors two years in a row. Following a ‘gap year’ they have just lost a deposit in a by-election.
But leaving the result aside, there was something odd about our team's reaction to the result.

Chris Mason goes on to say:
All the Lib Dem activists at the count, and the party's candidate, Mary Di Mauro, refused to talk to journalists. 
And after the votes had been counted, she still wouldn't talk.
At the very best, she was the victim of some very poor media advice. But maybe there is more to it than that.

Mason continues:
It's not unreasonable to say she wasn't exactly overwhelmed by support from the party nationally in this campaign. 
A few local MPs chipped in, but the big guns in London clearly concluded it wasn't worth the train ticket.
Fighting a parliamentary by-election when you have know chance of winning is a thankless task, but some - notably Zuffar Haq and Jill Hope, in neighbouring constituencies to Harborough - have done so with a good grace.

If Mary Di Mauro and her team were left feeling so unloved, it is a poor reflection on the party's leadership.

Part of David Cameron's problems with his own backbenches stem in part from his refusal to make any effort to woo them. I hope Nick Clegg is not making the same mistake.


Andrew Hickey said...

I wasn't at the count, but I've been told by those who were that Mary's not giving an interview was not down to 'bad media advice', and nor was it bad grace on her part, but rather that it was a horribly emotionally fraught situation.

Without going into too many details, because I'm not sure what's allowed to be talked about publicly, it appears that some people in some other parties came very close to blows. Given the local reputation of one of those other parties, that wouldn't surprise me *in the slightest*. There were various other factors as well, which by the accounts of those who were there meant that it would not have been a good idea for Mary to give an interview.

I also know for a fact that it's simply not true that activists, as opposed to Mary herself, refused to talk to journalists.

I know Mary -- not well, but I've campaigned with her on many occasions, and the idea of her acting with bad grace is a quite ludicrous one.

Antiochian said...

Our best wishes need to go to Mary for the work she did.. It was truly a case of Lions led by donkeys.. 2014 appears to be shaping up, 100 years on, as our own Passchendaele with brave volunteers being left to their own devices in a sea of mud and barbed wire.

We should never have contested this seat and should instead have a spun a "leave it to the cats to fight in the bag" dialogue about that decision..