Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Question: Is it still possible to buy yourself a seat in the Commons?

Answer: Willie Rennie says YES!

Spending over £70,000 on a by-election campaign should NOT be legal (and I couldn't care if other parties have or haven't spent similer amounts in the past; this isn't partisan bitching) and the current £100,000 limit for by-elections is just a sick joke.

Bad news from Mexico

Friday, February 10, 2006

Post Mortem

Unusually for this sort of thing, it's fairly clear why the Liberals were able to gain Dunfermline; there were some rather high-profile divisions within Labour, Rennie ran a *very* local campaign (note that the LibDems have a strong local base in Dunfermline itself) the Tories had similer candidate *selection* problems to Labour, and finally there was some plain bad luck on Labour's part (with the job losses announced as soon as the by-election was called).

Looking at the raw votes, it's pretty clear that (once again) Labour were unable to get out enough of their core vote in a by-election and also lost a few votes to the Liberals (not many, but when combined with other factors, enough), while the Liberals were also able to peel off a few votes from the SNP and also take close to *half* the Tory votes from the last election (note that due to the Tories candidate troubles this probably wasn't all down to tactical voting). Oh well... at least the Nats didn't win. And McAllion lost his deposit as well... as for national implications... beyond cheering up depressed LibDems I don't think there will be *that* many; it's quite clear that the by-election wasn't decided on "national issues" for one thing. It's possible that it might have some effect on Gordon Brown (who's seat is next door after all) but that's not certain; beyond short term bitching I don't think much will change as far as that goes. Maybe not; wait and see I guess. That said I think this raises questions about Labour's problems at getting out the vote in Westminster by-elections; the machine is good in General Elections so why not in by-elections? It's pretty clear that there's a problem and I hope it gets fixed.

One other thing; the media have been doing their usual trick of painting the seat as a "heartland Labour area" and so on; this isn't true.
Dunfermline & West Fife isn't quite the seat that it's location inbetween Clackmannanshire and the Little Moscows would suggest; in fact (going off labour market statistics here) Dunfirmline itself is pretty middle class these days (with the exception of parts of the east of the Burgh and the run down town centre) and the West Fife villages are pretty mixed. Only the Rosyth/Inverkeithing area looks to be solidly working class (and that's due in part to a Defense presence). In other words, the seat has the demographics of a seat that leans towards Labour rather than that of a safe Labour seat; and that's what it usually was from it's creation in 1974 until the big win in 1987.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


When I was a boy I was brought up not to swear (much). Please excuse me:


Ah... feel better now... I might post a post-mortum tomorrow or I might decide not to... depends... hmm... a question to ponder: Labour's General Election machine is pretty good all told. But it increasingly looks as though our by-elections machine is dire; once again we lost because we couldn't convince our voters to head to the polls. Something has to get done about this...

Oh and more Canada stuff will be posted tomorrow as well...