Friday, 24 July 2009

Yet another Labour hammering at the polls...

Drawing the political lessons from by-election results is a tricky business - but it's now clear that a bad day for Labour ran so much deeper than just a little local difficult here in Brighton and Hove.

Haemorrhaging votes in the Goldsmid area of Hove will trigger political shock waves across the city - but its wider geographical impact will be limited.

Not so, perhaps, the result of the by-election in Norwich North sparked by a Labour resignation during the MPs' expenses scandal (remember that?).

The result, in a city not entirely dis-similar to Brighton and Hove, saw the Tories take the seat from Labour with a majority of about 7,000.

This is all bound to cause something of a crisis for the Labour Party - but no-one'll have the appetite for another leadership challenge, and clearly Gordon's not in the business of resigning.

But it shows how Labour are no longer capable of beating the Conservatives in parliamentary elections - regardless of who has held the seat previously, or by how big a majority.

The lessons, from both Norwich North and Goldsmid, seem pretty clear to me.

Both here in Brighton, and nationally, Labour are a spent force. Chances are we'll end up with a Conservative Government next year - and that'll be a disaster, for fairness, tackling poverty and deprivation, protecting the environment - and not least for the NHS.

But they won't win in a 1997-style swing to a charismatic leader and a whole new way of doing business - it'll be a victory by default.

And therefore all of us who want to protect public services and work for a fairer society should think about how to ensure the next parliament contains as diverse a group of opposition policies and ideas as possible - and here in Brighton that means returning Green MPs.

It's here we'll make the breakthrough of getting the first Green MPs elected. Challenging the Tories and working for both a fairer Brighton and more sustainable world is just too important a job to leave to the now fatally-wounded Labour Party.

1 comment:

  1. Don't get me wrong Ben, but when parties that only managed to get half the votes Labour got start talking of Labour being 'finished', it smacks a little short sighted.

    Fair enough in Goldsmid, the Greens won the seat, but in Norwich, 3,500 votes is only 10% of the vote on a very poor turnout - no-where near enough for the Greens to start crowing about how they are better than Labour, who got twice this figure.

    Of course this is a big increase for the Greens but hardly satisfying to finish fifth behind UKIP when Labour are clearly in a complete mess at the moment.

    The way turnout is going and the way the vote is starting to splinter between the parties - we are going to get plenty more seats where MPs are elected on less than 13,000 votes. I believe Pavilion is winnable on 11,000 votes and we are going to see some 'safe' Labour seats won on less than 10,000. Terrible mandates when constituencies have 60,000 potential voters.

    The electoral system means that most of these seats are going to be hoovered up by the Tories on pitiful shares of the vote.

    Freemania has done a good analysis of this and demonstrates that even if the Labour and Tory share COMBINED fell to 49% they would still hoover up 75% of the seats between them. Surely there would be an outcry and no party could claim a mandate on this? But then again hardly a mention was made of Labour's 60 seat majority on just 35% of the vote. You would have thought there would be marching in the street against such a travesty, but people just accept it, very sad.

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