Friday, October 31, 2008

Disappointing result in Kentish Town

I spent most of yesterday rushing about a slightly damp and cold Kentish Town for election day. Unfortunately the Green result was a bit of a disappointment despite all the hard work supporters put in. The Lib Dems held the ward and Labour managed to push back into second place.


LibD 939 36.48%1,09338%
Lab 863 33.53%808
Green 518 20.12%812
Con 171 6.64%1987%
BNP 62 2.41%
UKIP 21 0.82%

We went into the by-election knowing it was a good opportunity for us, and it was. However, we weren't able to capitalise on the moment and have slipped back into third place. I don't think it would be doing anyone any favours to pretend this was a great result.

Naturally people will look to what the campaign could have done better. Labour put it down to the Greens having a new candidate, I don't think that was ideal. The Lib Dems thought it was the pub issue, and again I think that was a (very localised) difficulty which did not help. We were also significantly out mobilised on the day itself - but none of these things "cost" us 400 votes.

I'm sure anyone involved could point to this or that specific point they think could have been improved, and that's all welcome among friends, but personally I think Adrian (the campaign manager) and Victoria (the candidate) did their jobs in an exemplary fashion and deserve to be commended for their hard work, as do the dozens of helpers who put in their time from the area and elsewhere.

In my view we could have had the same campaign and won this election, coming from second to first place was always possible, had we put in the consistent work over the last two years. To be slightly hard about it we didn't deserve to win because we had not been the kind of consistent presence in the ward that you have to be in order to win people's confidence and their votes.

There's a good lesson here for members, even if it has a slightly obvious flavour. If you are a constant friend to an area you're going to do better in elections there than if you only leaflet and speak to people during election periods. We can't predict where by-elections are going to appear so there is no shame in the fact that the hard working Camden Greens happen to have been targeting their working elsewhere but it helps illustrate the point that it's long term relationships between communities and activists that are at the heart of winning their trust.

We won one in five votes in Kentish Town which is excellent of course, and still makes it a strong area for the Greens, but it's human nature to mourn what we lost rather than be thankful for what we have and it has been a blow that we weren't able to at least hold second place.


Red Green Nick said...

I wonder how much its down to local circumstances and how much the current economic climate.
Makes it vital that we promote the "Green New Deal" as vigourously as we can.
We never seem to perform well in Bye elections, I was glad to beat an English Democrat and not come last in a recent one in Bristol (not a target area though)
If we keep up the work we have a much better chance in June.

Jim Jepps said...

My sense, when talking to people, was that economics didn't play much of a role. Although having said that I think the issues around the Green New Deal are definately the way to go - to show that's we're a serious organisation that has real solutions to real problems. It is difficult to extrapolate from various conversations though.

You're right that we have historically done badly in byelections although i'm not sure sure why. It could be that the party is better geared towards long term planning and digging in than it is at jumping on uunexpected opportunities... or it could be something we can do nothing about.

Rayyan said...

The Lib Dems are historically good at by-elections - perhaps we should look at their campaigning methods for these particular contests. I'm sure there's always something we can do about it!

Part of the problem is that in an area like Kentish Town I would imagine Lib Dem voters and Green voters share similar demographics, as do some Labour voters. It might be a question as to who gets to them first, and who gets to them regularly over the years.

peter said...

It's the Maslow effect. The Greens are still seen as overly focussed on lifestyle issues, which doesn't play well in a recession.