Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some byelection predictions

With less than 12 hours to go before I guest the contest is nearly over bar the shouting, and hopefully we can avoid that for calm discussion instead. I reckon that most votes in this byelection will be cast by post. So most people who are going to vote have already done so. We have 2200 postal votes out of an electorate of 7000. In May, about 1650 postal votes were cast. About 1200 were cast at polling stations.the polls open in the Whickham South and Sunniside byelection, what is the likely result tomorrow? It doesn't take rocket science to predict a Lib Dem hold. The Tories lost this ward to us over 20 years ago, and they have been dead on their feet here ever since. However, we should not write them off. On the back of no local campaign whatsoever, the beat Labour for second place in May. This was the first time they had gained silver medal since 1992. Conservative supporters who had not voted for years had been inspired to turn out for them because of their successful rebranding nationally. Nevertheless, that had only added 200 to their total. Against that was the 1450 majority we had over them.

For the first time in 16 years, the Conservatives have now put out a leaflet in a local election in this ward. It was quite a poor attempt at communication and looked like something that would have gone out in an election 25 years ago. Nevertheless, it will act as a reminder to their supporters that they should turn out to vote. So watch for a modestly healthy Tory vote in this byelection.

And watch for Labour not doing too well. In fact, watch for their coming 3rd again. In a similar way to the Conservatives, the Labour campaign has been little more that a flag flying exercise. Their candidate is an also-ran who stood against Mam this year in the neighbouring ward and who failed to exhibit any determined desire to win. She also has a handicap in my ward of having allowed her name to be used in leaflets last year (when Labour thought they were going to force a general election) which contained the most preposterous and unbelievable twaddle and drivel which backfired pretty badly on Labour. It is interesting to note that the real author of this material has been dragged out of the Labour bunker and dumped in the middle of the battlefield in this byelection for all to see. Clearly Labour have learnt something and I think it is fair to say that this blog has had a significant role in exposing this person.

The problem of defending a ward that has built up a comfortable majority is apathy. With 68% of the vote going Lib Dem in May, getting people to turn out is not going to be easy. I am hoping for a lovely sunny evening in which people decide to take a walk in the warm summer air and call in at the polling station whilst taking their stroll. We do well in Gateshead where the turnout is strongest. So keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow. I'll be reporting the result live from the count.

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