The Crewe and Nantwiche by-election is exciting media interest not least because of Labour's ultra-negative "anti-toff" campaign. Coming on the heels of disastrous local election results in one of the safer Labour seats, this single constituency has taken on national significance, frankly well beyond that which it would normally merit. No disrespect like, but Nantwiche High Street does not normally get flooded with MPs of all parties during an election campaign - and it wont be again for some time, so "enjoy" it while it lasts folks.
The New Labour government is beset with woes and can seemingly do no right. The hapless Brown is so discredited that Labour's by-election candidate, Tamsin Dunwoody, has refused to endorse him and he has been notable by his absence from the campaign. The golden boy who was to rejuvenate the post-Blair party has made the old days look a little brighter than they seemed at the time.
Key to the current problems is the ten pence tax rate fiasco where New Labour decided to double the rate of taxation - but only for the lowest paid workers in the country. Even the well off understood that this is simply unjust and no amount of buying off MPs dissent changes the fact that Brown will carry a ten pence shaped black spot with him until his ever approaching political demise.
Tamsin Dunwoody's response to the ten pence tax scandal? Well, it's two fold and I'm not sure which is the more brain numbing. Firstly she "critiques" the fact that the Conservatives are mentioning it at all, saying the Tory candidate "ran on the 10p issue being the only issue in the campaign. Actually it is all about the local people and local issues. Cameron refused to say he would reverse the 10p change." (source)
Abolishing the lowest rate of tax is a local issue - all over the country. The arrogance to think that hitting low paid workers isn't significant is astonishing - as if it's all a media fuss. No Tamsin, lots of the poorest working people you're talking to at the moment have just been punched by Brown's clunking fist. That matters. Also your government abolished it, so you don't get to score points off Cameron for not reversing your decision. They even have leaflets criticising the Tories over the 10p tax fiasco, ummm, hello?
Just to be clear David Cameron was not the Chancellor of the Exchequer who decided to abolish the ten pence tax rate and he's not the Prime Minister who's pushing the decision through - that's your bloke Tamsin. What sort of muppet is running their campaign? Surely Labour should have had the sense to try to divert people's attention from this rather than actively brag about the whole affair.
Incidentally, all this stuff about her understanding the issues of local people. She lives in a big house in Wales ffs where she's been pursuing a less than illustrious political career, with a brief spell in the Welsh Assembly. For all her talk of the Tory being an outsider she comes from a family totally alien to most working class people.
So we come to the infamous attack on the Conservative candidate for being a "toff". Not only do a lot of voters find this sort of personalised attack distasteful it's not even the kind of class warfare that the left of the party approves of, who have the sense to understand it's the person's politics not the school they went to that matters. Some of the finest socialists this country has produced have been "toffs" Tony Benn and Paul Foot spring to mind for starters.
Dave says that "New Labour might just as well have gone the whole nine yards and got the hapless Dunwoody woman to don a flat cap and lead a whippet around throughout the campaign, while stressing her leisure time pursuits of pigeon fancying and growing marrows at every available press conference." This crudeness embarrasses even those who still hold to the class conflict ideals of Labour's long dormant left.
Left wing Labour MP John McDonnell said yesterday on Cif that "As the economy gets worse, [the left] need not only robust alternative policies (that we're happy for Brown to borrow), but strong and creative campaigns to defend the victims of an economic downturn". In other words the left should be advocating political ideas not spouting hypocritical crap about toffs.
Anyway. Tamsin Dunwoody's grandmother sat in the House of Lords, her grandfather was the General Secretary of the Labour Party and both her parents were government Ministers, if we're going to start levelling accusations of privilege around Tamsin you should be warned - you're on that list. Dunwoody belongs to a political class that thinks it has the birth right to rule and the fact that the seat is being handed down from mother to daughter simply leaves an even more bitter taste to the whole thing.
Don't tell me to be afraid of what the Tory elites want to do, I am, but I'm afraid of the New Labour elites too. What's your alternative? What political differences are there between the candidates? Dunwoody may have a more ruddy accent (although I think she might actually just be thick, apologies if that's untrue) but on a whole series of questions she seems to be to the right of the Tories, not their left. This bogus class warfare is an attempt to disguise the absence of Labour values, not signal a return to them. The only thing that isn't fake about Labour's anti-elitist credentials is that the guy they had dress up as a toff actually is one, but the rest is balls.
Dunwoody is the only candidate in favour of extending detention to 42 days because "my concern would always be for the people of Crewe and Nantwichs safety." Yes, I believe the area is the top of Al Quaeda's hit list isn't it? Anyway, her protestations that it would only rarely be used doesn't fit with the fact that the police use every power that they are given and they don't care if Parliament only meant it to be used in clear cut cases of terrorism. Again, so we're clear, none of the other candidates support this. None of them. She is the most right wing candidate.
Labour bloggers seem to be keeping their hands over their eyes and maintaining a deep silence on the by-election, in general, and that's very understandable. They know they'll take a pasting but don't know how to reverse their fortunes. Any Labour campaign under current circumstances would be ridiculed and look frayed and tired - because it has the tattered shadow of Gordon cast across it. If this by-election had been taking place during Labour's upswell the incompetence and borish stupidity of the campaign would have gone unnoticed - but now it contributes to Labour's national troubles.
The Green Party are standing in this election too, but we're realistic about our chances. There is no question that our profile will be all but totally obliterated in the melee between the big two camps. Peter Cranie's piece on the Green campaign, whilst upbeat, is realistic too and doubtful as to whether we'd save our deposit. Our local website can be found at Green Crewe for those with a curious streak.
However, it comes to something when the Labour candidate's campaign is made to look oafish and politically illiterate by the independent candidate Gemma Garrett (who is Miss Great Britain and standing on an anti-sleaze platform, apparently). She is reported to have said that;
"It is risible and sad that they have stooped to this level of personal abuse which even included a barrage of verbal abuse directed at me by party workers. It all tells me that we need a new sort of politics which will engage peoples' interests and help turn back the dull tide of cynicism which has dogged this country's political life for so long now."
Look Gordon, you don't want the Tories to win the next general election, I don't want the Tories to win the next election, none of your colleagues want them to win the next election (probably) so let's talk turkey. It's not about you, your ambitions, your career, your place in the history books - so stop making it about you.
Just step aside mate.
Everyone would respect that. Your days in front line politics are over, you could take some time off, get to know your family, go fishing, write your memoirs, enjoy yourself. Your party needs you to do this one last thing in order to win the next general election. Go. Be a man and do the right thing, with dignity. God knows your Parliamentary colleagues are too craven to do you in, so you'll have to help them out. Please.