The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Posts Tagged ‘by-election’

Glasgow North East: Who Will Win

Posted by The Futility Monster on August 18, 2009 @ 08:09

This morning Politicalbetting.com is leading on the issue of what exactly is going to happen in the Glasgow North East by-election.

For those considering a punt on the outcome, clearly nothing would be closer to the front of their mind, and the site’s punter-in-chief Mike Smithson has yet to come to a considered judgement on the issue.

It’s understandable why. As we know, the three “main” parties didn’t stand against Michael Martin at the last election by convention. The result looked like this:

glasgowne

As you can see, Michael Martin managed to secure over 50% of the vote. Probably easy considering the paucity of the opposition. But the presence of the SNP is an important factor. I would venture to suggest that the serious party opposition may well have hoovered up a significant degree of the votes that the other opposition candidates would have got.

Nevertheless, the suspiciously large vote share for the Socialist Labour party would also suggest that a significant proportion of these voters were confused and could well return home to the Labour Party when they get the chance.

I’m prepared to assume that most of the vote for the Speaker will return to Labour at the by-election. Michael Martin was well known locally, and Scottish Labour is particularly tribal. Most of its supporters will have been well aware who the “Labour” candidate was.

For those who voted for him but were not supporters of Labour, perhaps they will return to their natural party. But I think this will be balanced out by those returning from Scottish Labour.

The outcome, I think a similar vote of 15,000 or so for the Labour Party candidate would not be unreasonable. In the circumstances, I reckon that would be sufficient to win the seat.

The SNP, Tories and the Lib Dems will be all be competing to say which amongst them is the best home for the “only we can beat Labour” vote. Yet, clearly, only the SNP will have the genuine right to claim that. The Lib Dems, alas, don’t have a chance. And I think the anaemic performance of the Conservatives in the 2008 Glasgow East by-election, held at the height of Labour’s unpopularity (another one), will naturally rule them out for this one.

I just don’t think, though, that the SNP will be able to get enough traction. The Glasgow East by-election victory last year was unprecedented. For lightning to strike twice is surely asking too much. Last year the opposition to Labour was extraordinary; and yet they still achieved a vote of 10,000. Those levels of fever pitch are not quite so strong now. Bear in mind that only a few months later Labour sailed home in Glenrothes. Not entirely comparable, but a good sign that Labour aren’t doomed to failure at every single by-election they encounter…

My conclusion: this will be a Labour victory. It will be a well fought battle,  and the SNP will indeed get close. But I think a Labour majority of some two to three thousand over the SNP the most likely outcome.

Of course, we haven’t even had an “official” election campaign yet as no by-election date has been called and won’t be until October. Maybe something exciting will turn the tables by then. We can but hope…

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Norwich North: It’s Over

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 26, 2009 @ 17:21

I see the Tories have been taking lessons from Lord Rennard...

I see the Tories have been taking lessons from Lord Rennard...

As always around these parts, when I speak, the world listens.

See, yesterday I delivered my reasoned and not-so-humble opinion on what is likely to happen in the forthcoming by-elections.

And today, my superb foresight has been proved right. ICM report that the Conservatives are on course for victory, with 34%, and Labour slipping back over 15% to 30%.

It’s tight. It’s within the margin of error. But my position is that if these are the opening numbers, the game is over already. With the release of this poll, it becomes obvious to all the electorate that this is, in the usual by-election parlance, a straight choice between the Conservatives and Labour. I would expect to see the remaining parties (including a very large “others” share of 14%) squeezed most horrendously.

That will be interesting in itself – as we will see the Lib Dem share drain away – to watch where the support transfers to. It is my belief now that more Lib Dems will go for Cameron than Brown if forced to choose. That wasn’t the case at first, but as time has gone by Lib Dem supporters are less prepared to forgive Gordon Brown for his endless silly mistakes. The dithering over a private Iraq war inquiry is just the latest that will rile Lib Dems. I know it’s annoyed me!

A Conservative win here is, to my mind, a certainty (and you know I don’t pull any punches with my predictions, even if they make me look stupid). The numbers will get stronger for the Tories as the weeks go by, especially once the campaigning gets into swing. It will be intriguing to see what kind of campaign Labour go for this time though. They did, after all, pull off a very good defence in Glenrothes. Perhaps they will apply some lessons from that campaign… but bear in mind that Scotland and England are very different beasts electorally.

Nevertheless – there is one thing that could upset the applecart. Could current MP Ian Gibson run as an independent after all? If he does, he may be our first “test case” of how the electorate reacts to very specific expense allegations. That in itself will be a real insight into what kind of “anti-incumbency” reaction we’re going to get come the General Election.

In the meantime, of course, the most likely outcome would be to split the Labour vote, making a Tory MP even more likely.

Time to place a small wager, methinks.

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Election Withdrawal Symptoms

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 25, 2009 @ 18:17

We won't be seeing much of this...

We won't be seeing much of this...

As alluded to in my previous post, elections are the raison d’etre of all politicos worldwide. Without them, we are naught.

So it is indeed fortunate that we have two by-elections around the corner. One in Glasgow North East, Michael Martin’s old constituency, and Norwich North, where former MP Ian Gibson did the honourable thing by resigning (though curiously, people with worse expense claims than him are still in situ).

First off: the question of timing. Labour hasn’t yet moved the writs, so it’s very clear they intend to kick these by-elections as far into the long grass as they can. It also means they are running scared. After so many months of terrible headlines, they clearly do not want to risk any more. The consequence of that is we’re definitely going to have an election free summer. Bah!

As usual, there is another flaw in the British constitution. There is no requirement to move a writ for a vacant constituency. Ever. Convention suggests it be done within three months of the vacancy arising. As far as I’m concerned, convention is useless. Something else that needs ironing out in a written constitution.

Of course, Michael Martin’s seat has only just become available, so I suppose there’s no real surprise there. But Ian Gibson resigned a couple of weeks ago and nary a peep has been heard. And as both by-elections are the result of resignations, the writ for a new election can only be moved while Parliament is sitting (there is no provision for a recess writ in the Recess Elections Act 1975). So if Labour doesn’t do something about it by the middle of July, these seats are going to be vacant for a very long time. Even if they did move the writs on the very last day of the recess, 21 July, that would make for a by-election on or about the 6th August. A more unlikely election date you can’t imagine.

In other words, I don’t see the writ being moved before the resumption of the Parliamentary session on 12 October. Which would mean by-elections towards the end of October or early November.

As for the circumstances surrounding the two by-elections, well – they couldn’t be more different. One is a seat the Conservatives have an excellent chance of winning, Norwich North, and one they really ought to be winning in a General Election if they were to form a government with a healthy majority.

Meanwhile, Glasgow North East is anyone’s guess. There hasn’t been a competitive parliamentary election there since 1997. That one will be fascinating to watch.

And to think, so many by-elections, and not a prayer for the Lib Dems anywhere. We really are getting out of the habit of winning them! Difficult times ahead…

UPDATE 30/06/09: it seems Labour took the bait and are up for the fight in Norwich North after all. But nothing yet about Glasgow North East. Could they be held on split dates after all? Seems very likely now. Interesting tactics – could potentially lead to two very bad days. Mind you, I don’t think it matters to Brown any more…

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