Friday, June 19, 2009

Salford Labour - doh!

Salford Labour Party have decided to commit electoral suicide by allowing Hazel Blears to continue as their Parliamentary candidate, 31 to 13. I have to say I don't think this was wise of them.

If you look at the last Parliamentary election in 2005 there was a very low turn out (42%) but the results look pretty handy for Labour. However, I don't think Blears will get as easy a ride now and she did then, particularly as the Labour government will be on their way out.

Hazel Blears Labour 13,007
Laetitia Cash Conservative 3,440
Lisa Duffy UK Independence Party 1,091
Norman Owen Liberal Democrat 5,062

Evidence? Well, two weeks ago the vote share looked like this in Salford, which is part of the North West where Nick Griffin won a seat.

Labour 23.45%
Tories 21.32%
UKIP 15.75%
Lib Dems 11.94%
BNP 10.46%
Greens 6.97%
English Democrats 3.38%
SLP 2.11%
No2EU 1.60%

So whilst Blears got over 50% in the General election Labour got less than half that in the Euros in that area. Voters weren't even being asked to vote for one of the most divisive Labour figures of the day! Consider then that the Tory vote was split here in a way it wont be for the general and you're looking at a definite Tory win unless an alternative candidate (in or out of Labour) can be found to galvanise that lost support.

Labour does this though. It selects the wrong people. In London in 2000, in Blaenau Gwent and in Falkirk West Labour made the same kinds of mistake and what happened?
  • London: Ken Livingstone stood against the official Labour candidate and won.
  • Blaenau Gwent: Peter Law stood against the official Labour candidate and won.
  • Falkirk West: Dennis Canavan stood against the official Labour candidate and won.
In the process Labour did irreparable damage to its own party and lost the seat anyway. Far better to deselect Blears and select someone who bares as little resemblance to her as possible. A Wookie wearing a CND badge might do it.

I've seen a couple of people suggesting some kind of primary process for the seat to select a candidate that represents real Labour values... or at least the ones we like! I think that's a splendid idea although I suspect the most powerful candidate would be from amongst Labour's own ranks and if that happened I'd hope we (the left and the Greens) would throw our weight behind that candidacy.

In years to come I wonder if we'll still be asking - were you up for Blears?

1 comment:

Strategist said...

Not so sure about this one, Jim.

I think six months going round in sackcloth and ashes and all will be forgiven for Hazel in Salford. She is a local lass after all.

I'm more interested in the fate of James Purnell in Stalybridge, very similar flipping offence, very similar constituency, but altogether different guy, nasty slimy posh Southern blow-in who no doubt would defect to Cameron if he thought he could get away with it.