Saturday, May 03, 2008

Heffer's not bitter

Simon Heffer's triumphal political analysis continues with a column entitled 'Gordon Brown must go to save Labour necks'. So far, so insightful, until you remember what he was saying on September 5th 2007:
Mr Brown is doing so well not because he has better policies than his rivals (insofar as his rivals have any), but because he is a better politician than any of them.
It is possible that the great intellect is simply parroting the received wisdom of the day? Yesterday the collective wisdom was that Brown was a genius so he wrote that. Today Brown is perceived to be a dithering incompetent so he writes that. Nice work if you can get it.

Simon, has not, however, wavered one iota from his dislike of David Cameron and so attempts to trash Conservative successes on the May 1st elections. His supposedly killer point is this:
The real significance of this election is the 65 per cent who didn't bother to vote. This is a time of economic difficulty and there is deep concern about the record of the Government: yet most people simply couldn't be fagged to take a view.

An opposition that wants to become a government needs to tap into, and mobilise, that vast disconnected group. For all the rejoicing in Tory central office, they shouldn't kid themselves that they have remotely done that yet.
Er...right. The turnout at these elections was pretty much the turnout that you expect for local elections. It was certainly consistent with the turnouts of the mid-90s that were a pretty accurate barometer of the eventual fate of the Major government. Criticising the Conservatives on the basis that they haven't managed to increase turnout at the election is the act of a man desperate to cling to a position that David Cameron would do better by running the sort of narrow right-wing agenda that actually only appeals to a very small fraction of the population. Face it Simon, the man has ignored your advice and he thrashed Labour by 20 points. You either have to admit that you were hopelessly wrong or try and pretend that the Conservatives have somehow still managed to fail. A bigger man might have gone for the first option.

May First in Pictures

This rather handy diagram came from Politics Home and was published before the May first elections as a way to gauge the relative success or failure of the three main parties:

In order to read it accurately you have to remember that the Conservatives gained 256 Councillors, Labour lost 331 and the Liberal Democrats gained 34.

Updated: The latest numbers are Conservatives gained 300 and Labour lost 434(!). Given these seats were last fought at the height of the Iraq debacle then this is extraordinary. The language in the Sundays will be interesting.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Basildon Votes Tory

The Conservatives took control of Basildon in 2003 and we have increased our representation in the years since. Last night was no exception as we held all of our seats and took yet another from Labour, giving us 29 Conservative Councillors against 10 Labour and 3 Liberal Democrats. Our continued electoral success is all the more heartening because the Conservative administration is committed to a programme of change for the District, some of which has proved quite controversial. It is also heartening because our victor in Vange ward, which has historically been a Labour seat, is only 21. Well done Luke Mackenzie, who has stuck to his task despite losing narrowly last year and being attacked by a national newspaper. In politics the people who matter are the voters, not journalists spinning on behalf of the Labour party.

The only bad thing about yesterday was that I have got Chickenpox, which has meant I wasn't there for election night. Perils of having a new immune system and having to rebuild childhood resistance to disease. Still, it did mean that I could savour the media coverage of what was a fantastic night for the Party. As I write Hazel Blears is spinning away that these elections will mean greater scrutiny on Conservative policies, which she thinks will be found wanting. Absolutely moronic. She can't really believe that more media coverage for the Conservatives would be bad for them, and if she thinks that the Shadow team are incapable of coping with more exposure then she is deluded. If this is all Labour could think of to say after what may be their worst night since the War then the sheer political incapacity of this government is clear.