Politics is a comparative business and whilst it’s important to analyse how Labour is doing as the Governing Party, it is perhaps more instructive to see how the Tories and Lib Dems are performing if we want a barometer reading for the next General Election.
The Liberals must have the mother of all hangovers (did someone say Charlie Kennedy? I meant electoral hangovers, obviously) as their vote simply collapsed where they sought to challenge the Tories, which history shows us is their only chance of gaining seats at Westminster.
The East Riding fell in spectacular fashion, as did my old stamping ground of Waverley in Surrey, and all three Liberals lost their seats in our Ward of Willerby and Kirk Ella. I’m not shedding any tears over this, for the simple reason that if you want an efficiently run Council and it can’t be Labour, then the Tory Party can do the job much better than Ming the Merciless and his bunch of incompetents.
The trouble with the Liberals is that they are mainly a group of nosy Neighbourhood Watch types and don’t really know what they stand for (apart from poking their noses in and gossip if my experiences are true).
In our Ward they tried to outflank the Tories on the Right by banging on about Traveller Sites which only affected at the most twenty houses, and that was a couple of years ago. But it appeals to the lowest common denominator.
They profess to be all Green and cuddly, but had no answers except to promise NOT to go to fortnightly bin collections despite empirical evidence that this cuts down on waste. As it happens I’m agnostic on this one, as I can see a lot of arguments on both sides, and as recycling is a sham around here I want to keep weekly collections for general waste until the Council can prove to me that recycling is real and measurable, and that they agree to provide a greater variety of bins plus tackling the scandal of over packaging.
The Liberals won in Hull, pretty easily as it happens but come the General we will still have three Labour Mps, and judging by the last time they ran Hull it won’t be long before their pantomime antics are found out. Simone Butterworth. I rest my case.
Now to Citizen Dave and his New Model Green Liberal Non Racist Non Boggle Eyed Nutter Tory Party.
Oh dear. Not too good me old fruit is it? In 1986 and 1990 the Labour Party polled over 50% in England but still went down to defeat in the subsequent General Elections. 1995 was the year of shift for the Labour Party as once again we topped the 50% barrier and gained over 2,000 seats. The Tories barely scraped past 40% and gained around 300 councillors this time out.
The truth is that after the disaster of 2003, where we got a beating over Iraq (rightly), the Labour Party has improved it’s performance year on year, winning another big Parliamentary majority in 2005 and this year against ALL received wisdom we did better than last time.
So, whilst we should be far from complacent and MUST do better to combat the sense of drift during Tony Blair’s Dog Days, results around the Realm including Scotland (no massive SNP surge) and Wales (still the biggest party) suggest that there is no hint of a meaningful break through for any of the Opposition Parties.
The change of Leadership is a fantastic opportunity to refresh the Party and regain the trust of the Electorate and must not be wasted.
So….Breathe a big sigh of relief and listen to the people. Over to you Gordon.