Monday 28 July 2008

Sweeping up around the edges.

Glasgow East now being over and activists' sleep balance restored, minds will be starting to move on (some will, of course, wander), and all that has been excitement and breathless enthusiasm will become footnotes in history.

So, at the last caring, let's serve up a few wee thoughts and tales.

Inside the campaign -
I can exclusively reveal (well, he told a few other people as well), that Alex Salmond (he of the Firstness of Ministers) was leaving a restaurant in Edinburgh during the campaign after buying dinner for his Special Adviser staff when he was accosted by a gentleman who informed him that he had an associate who lived in Glasgow East who had not yet decided who to vote for.

Never one to let an opportunity slip by, Salmond asked the chap to call his associate (to my shame, I can't recall whether it was a family member or a friend) and the surprised voter at the other end found himself talking to the First Minister. Needless to say Mr Salmond was pleased to hear that he had spoken to the chap just as he was sitting down with his postal ballot paper in front of him to decide who to vote for - only several thousand more calls to make then ...

Pity them not
In her concession speech - which was more gracious by far than her victory speech last year - Margaret Curran said that "Labour is a cause not a career". If that were true then not only would it not need stated, it would never have entered her mind as a possibility. It is also strange to consider your party as the cause rather than as a vehicle. For example, nationalists view Independence and the improvement of Scotland as our twin causes and view the SNP as the vehicle to carry us there. It is as foolish to confuse your party and your cause as it is to confuse your car and your journey.

Ms Curran did, however, say that Labour has to listen to the message from Glasgow East and to act on it. I'm sure that she will be among those who make sure that Labour hears the "Go away" voiced by Glasgow East - accepting that they have done wrong and seeking ways to make amends is the only way in which Labour members can start rebuilding their party for the future. It will take more than one decade, but, if there are still any Labour members left who believe in what Labour once stood for, they may consider it a worthwhile exercise.

Two left feet
An interesting observation and no more, perhaps, but the SSP gathered in 555 votes while Solidarity brought in 512 votes - a total of 1,067 to compare to the 1,096 votes that the SSP took in this constituency in 2005. If there had been no split, it's entirely possible that the Lib Dems would have been fifth (no way to prove this, of course).

Hoi! Put that back!
The LibDems should not be happy in the slightest about the result. With a decent candidate trundling along, the LibDem vote was simply lifted and carried away - probably in perpetuity, there is no apparent reason for it returning. The campaign gaffe over the fire station (demanding it stay open when it was LibDem Ministers who pushed through the legislation that allowed it to shut) was allowed to pass because no-one thought that the party mattered - and Rennard's teams just never showed up.

As noted by a poster on the Lib Dem forum, the LibDem core vote does not exist - and that's going to cause them major problems in the next Westminster election as the focus in England will be on the Labour v. Conservative battle; in Scotland on the SNP beating Labour; and in Wales on Plaid Cymru and whatever elements of Welsh Labour feel motivated to campaign. The Liberal Democrats will all but disappear under that kind of pressure.

The Conservatives
Well, much as they'll have been delighted to have saved a deposit in this bye-election and come ahead of their imitators, the Conservatives will be very well aware that Scotland still isn't going to be fertile territory for them at the next election - a few seats, nothing more - and they'll know that the battle to be joined in Scotland doesn't include them.

Here's how the votes changed:

SNP: +6,009
Labour: -7,836
Conservative: -496
Lib Dem: - 2,750
The Red Corner: -29

That means that
SNP increased the 2005 vote by 114%

The Assorted Socialist Parties' vote dropped by 2.6%
The Conservative vote dropped by 23.2%
Labour lost a whopping 41.9% of its vote.
But the LibDems were the biggest losers, almost exactly three-quarters of the LibDem 2005 vote going elsewhere (75.03%)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of what is Labour a cause this time? Mass disillusionment?