I don’t really do politics. Not on here, and not that much anywhere else. I’ve commented enough on my political evolution to delve into it once more.
However, this has been a remarkable week in politics and I’ve been unable to reflect on it. The major political event locally has been the victory of Kim Caddy, the Conservative candidate in the Southfields by-election.
Congratulations are due to her on her victory, I have no doubt she will be a great asset to the council and Southfields.
But local politics do not exist in a vacuum. Unfortunately.
The past week will never be considered the coalition’s zenith. We have a petrol crisis that seems to have resulted entirely from a few ill-thought pronouncements by ministers. Granny tax was joined by pasty tax and I don’t think the public perception of politicians was enhanced one iota by the various photo opportunities provided by Gregg’s.
A few polls have even showed Labour with a double-digit lead, equating to something like a nine or ten per cent swing from the Conservatives.
So for us, locally, to hold a council seat in a by-election with only a 3.5% swing away from us is pretty good going. And given the national mood music must leave the opposition wondering what on earth they need to do to win a seat.
And then there’s Bradford West.
Only hours have passed, but I’m pretty sure the only rational response is to laugh at the absurdity of George Galloway being elected again. But what is particularly crushing for Labour is the scale of the defeat.
I’m sure that Bradford West may not have been the cleanest election in history. And I’m sure that the large Muslim population was a key factor. But those alone, and even together, surely cannot account for the 10,000 vote majority for Galloway.
If this week hasn’t been the coalition’s zenith, it might well be Labour’s nadir.
Did you skip the maths lessons when you were at school, James? Let’s try that swing calculation again, shall we? Tory vote down 0.2%, Labour vote up 17.3%. That’s a total of 17.5%. Now halve it: 8.8%. That’s the swing from Conservative to Labour. Not 3.5%.
An 8.8% swing nets Labour two in Roehampton, three in Queenstown, three in Bedford and seats in Earlsfield, Nightingale and West Hill. If you regard a swing that would slash the Tory majority from 34 to 10 as a triumph James – well, I’ll be delighted.
It’s the same complacency and arrogance that produced the biggest swing in any by-election anywhere since 2010 in Thamesfield last year and the biggest increase in Labour’s vote in any by-election anywhere since 2010 in Southfields.
That last paragraph is interesting in the context of the Bradford West by-election: a by-election since 2010; a swing of 36.6% from Labour to Respect; and a bigger swing from the defending party to the winner than in either Thamesfield or Southfields. (I can’t compare the increase in Labour’s vote in Bradford West to Southfields as there, er, wasn’t one.)
If you actually look at what James wrote (rather than what you think he wrote), he refers to “a swing away from us” i.e. the swing from the Conservtives to the other parties rather than just the swing from the Conservatives to Labour. The former approach is more meaningful in the context of a multi candidate election and in the context of the Lib Dem implosion in Southfields. Unfortunately for Labour, it also shows how resilient the Conservstive vote is proving to be and how Miliband is failing to convince the electorate that Labour, under his leadership, are a viable alternative.
Adam, it’s the same lack of attention to detail that worries so many voters in Southfields, Bradford and everywhere else.
George Galloway won by a huge majority. Get over it.