Friday, June 26, 2009

North Norwich thoughts

Hey guys, how you been? Back from my blogging break with a few quick thoughts about the Norwich North by-election which looks like it's beginning to hot up.

First of all the polling. As I thought it looks like the Greens could make a very respectable showing in this by-election. That's not always the case, in fact for some reasons the Greens tend to do far worse in by-elections than they do in the same areas for wider elections, even when they're target seats. We've pulled off increases before but generally we struggle - this time it looks like everything points towards a solid Green vote.

The results of the UCU poll (and it is only a poll) are;

Party.............UCU Poll..........2005 result.........Difference
Labour.................30%............... 44.9%.............-14.9%
Conservative...........34%............... 33.2%.............+ 0.8%
Lib Dems...............15%............... 16.2%.............- 1.2%
Green..................14%................ 2.7%.............+11.3%
"Others"................7%.................................... n/a
UKIP ..................................... 2.4%
Independent .............................. 0.7%
This essentially teases out something I was saying last week - that whilst we're unlikely to win the seat we can make a real dent in an area where we've previously been weak. If Ian Gibson stands as an independent we might even beat Labour as well as the Lib Dems. That would be only what they deserve frankly.

It doesn't surprise me either that the Tories and Lib Dems are treading water here, but if the Tories can hold up their end then the seat is almost certainly theirs, although it's unlikely they'll be doing anything with any victory they might scrape together.

One Lib Dem blogger thinks that the Greens represent an existential threat to the Lib Dems and finishes a post saying;
While we behave like a protest party we will always be vulnerable to a sudden surge to another protest party. So, I guess I have in a sense come to a cogent conclusion than I aimed for; if Nick Clegg is serious about us replacing Labour then he has to be weary because the Green’s are starting to pose a serious danger to the realisation of that goal.
Whilst I think Darrell is rather over egging the pudding here it is heartening to see him stating; "We could be saying that we are in favour of green investment and for environmentally friendly cuts in wasteful areas of public investment but we clearly are not." I sincerely hope that the Lib Dems do move towards that kind of approach, and sooner rather than later.

However, they're support has been sliding for some time now. With Clegg at the helm they appear directionless and Tory-lite in approach, even though some of their MPs are among the best in Parliament. They might try a dodgy barchart or two in the coming election but frankly I suspect it will damage them to come out with a political analysis that even those voters who don't pay much attention can see through.

Anything that pretends the Lib Dems are the only challengers to either Labour or Tories will undermine their credibility because it's palpably false. For them the main focus must surely be not getting beaten by the Greens. Christ, Ladbrokes has the Greens at 12 to 1 to win with the Lib Dems flapping about down at 33 to 1 - and you know bookmakers make their decisions on facts, not love. That's how they make their money after all.

The other interesting fact of note is that many in the Labour Party feel there is a double standard at work in the slaying of Ian Gibson by the Party top brass. Potentially criminal activities by high ranking party members seems to be acceptable, unethical (as opposed to illegal) behavior of a Labour lefty is treated as a hanging offense. That doesn't seem right and Martin Booth, a Norwich Labour stalwart, has gone on record as saying;
The next morning [after Ian told him he was going to stand down immediately] I woke early. Angry and unable to get back to sleep, I decided that I had to resign from the Party. I just could not stay after I had seen the way that they had destroyed such a good man as Ian. He has been a wonderful constituency MP. When you went canvassing with him, it seemed he had helped nearly every other person you met. His involvement in outside causes, from beekeepers to ME sufferers, is amazing. That the NEC could destroy him because of the poisonous writing of the Daily Telegraphand use retrospective rules to do so was just too much.

As far as I know the NEC has not told Ian what rule he actually broke, even though he has asked them. If the Green Book rule is now applied retrospectively, an awful lot of MPs will be appearing before the Star Chamber, including Hazel Blears. They will not do so: this was just a cynical exercise to look tough and get rid of a trouble-maker at the same time.

Therefore, on Friday, 5th June I announced my resignation from the Party when Ian announced his resignation as MP. I have made many excuses for the Party in the past, but I just could not make any more.
If Ian stands I suspect there will be dozens or more of previously loyal Labour activists joining Martin and slashing the projected Labour vote, dismal as it already is.

All in all the tide is turning towards the alternatives and I for one want to make sure that it is the progressive left that win out rather than the far right. That means the Greens creating a good result here to prepare the way for Charles Clarke in Norwich South at the General. I don't want to jinx it, but frankly I've put money on Adrian Ramsey winning so he better pull through for me!


Strategist said...

I agree this is all very exciting, and shaping up to be one of *the* great by-elections.

Coupla thoughts, if I may be so bold.

1. This must not be allowed to become, or be portrayed as a two-horse race between Tories & Labour. That's the cartel we've got to bust open.

2. Nu Labour must not be allowed to get a free ride on the legacy of local affection for Ian Gibson. It's Labour who have shafted him! Gibson running as an independent would really blow this open. Let's hope Labour are dumb enough to select a robot who everyone can happily attack. But even if they select a good lefty candidate with a spotless record, we must still attack Labour mercilessly, because this is no time for anybody to be voting Labour, whatever the virtues of the candidate.

3. Related to (1), the LibDems and Greens must not (please please please) turn this into a pathetic nasty little fight to knock each other out of the equation, turning it into a mini-battle for third place. The key task is to turn a merciless spotlight on what is coming our way if we elect a Tory government next summer: vicious cuts, insane privatisations and shameless featherbedding of the rich at our expense.

If I could, I would come up and campaign for Rupert Read, Craig Murray and Ian Gibson!

Strategist said...

PS What odds did you get on Adrian Ramsay, Jim?

Jim Jay said...

I definitely agree on 3 although sadly I'm not in charge of either campaign.

It was some time ago so you wont get these odds now - a sweet 30 to 1 - I should have put more money on!

Strategist said...

By all means retire from your job, but please don't retire from blogging when he romps home!